Loja, Andalucia, Spain
Loja, known as the City of Water, sits at the western extreme of the Granada Province in an area known as the Poniente Granadino, the last frontier of al-Andalus and the key to the final conquest by the Catholic Monarchs. It has been populated since prehistoric times, Roman’s settled here with evidence in the ground floor of Loja’s Imperial Cinema then Islamic Loja in 893 saw the construction of the city fortress, Medina Lawsa (guardian city) then in 1226 the fortress was devastated by Fernando III and then re built. The city was again captured by the Catholic Monarchs in 1486 and renamed Loxa.
Today there are many surviving monuments including the Alcazaba District, the only remaining walled district of the Medina Lawsa muslim area which includes the defensive tower view point, the Main tower of caliphal origin, the arms courtyard and Nasrid cistern, now all part of a very interesting museum.
There are 42 fountains in the historic centre of Loja including the Fuente de la Mora o de los Caños (25 spout fountain) near to the Lavadero de la Alfaguara (a covered laundry area from early 20th century) and over 100 in total, hence the City of Water name.
Loja also appears in the Marx Brothers film, "Duck Soup", made in 1933 and again in "The Pride and the Passion" in 1957 which starred Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra and Sophia Loren when it was made to appear to be Santander. The Mirador de Sylvania includes metal sculptures of the Marx Brothers and the view of Loja is the one chosen by the brothers when Loja was named Sylvania for the film.
Loja is very famous for its Holy Week processions, the Volaera Flamenca flamenco singing competition and the international paragliding week held each September and this plus its numerous walking and running trails, the Hatcho mountain, Charco Negro, Via Ferrata Cueva Hora, Zorreras climbing zone, Al Andalus Ultimate Trail, Ultimafrontera trail and numerous smaller events all make for Loja being one of the best areas to base yourself for a good active holiday or just to enjoy the area, tour and relax.
Although Loja and the immediate area can provide so much for the walker or runner its easy access to the main Malaga-Granada autovia means we can also visit areas like El Torcal near Antequera, Monachil for the gorge and suspension bridge walk, Sierra Nevada for the highest mountains, Iznajar for the lake, beach and canoeing and El Chorro for the famous Caminito del Rey. (this requires pre booking and a night away in a hotel so it adds a little to the price of a week).