I have always liked the sound of the name “Atalbéitar”. It has conjured many exotic images in my mind. Yet it took a long while for me to decide to investigate it. One fine day, driving back from Trevélez, I saw the sign and instinctively veered left and there I was on my way down the track heading towards this place that had filled me with curiosity.
I expected something bigger, but small as it was, the village didn’t disappoint me: it was full of traditional architectural details. The only sign of life were just two men sitting under a “tinao” on typical old wooden chairs talking. Surely they couldn’t have been comfortable on these, though they looked relaxed! Their eyes followed me curiously as they shook their heads in greeting and continued their conversation. These were the only two people I saw during my brief visit.
The buildings were the best examples I had yet seen of the Moorish architecture of La Alpujarra. The church was tiny, neglected and old. Very few houses had been refurbished leaving the original features intact. It felt like the place where reality and dreams mingled in a well choreographed dance or a well coordinated piece of music.
I hurried back to Ole’s house to tell him about my discovery. He laughed indulgently and produced an article from a local magazine. Atalbéitar lies at an altitude of 1.150m above sea level and is situated below the mosque of Busquístar. It is the smallest village in La Alpujarra. Its inhabitants amount to eight in the winter and some forty during the summer when the immigrants who left in search of work would return home for their holidays and to celebrate the fiesta of the patron Saint, Nuestra Señora de la Gracia in August. Its name derives from Arabic “Haratelbeitar” meaning the district of the veterinary.
Photo 1, Entrance of the village
Photo 2, A typical "tinao" in Atalbeitar
Photo 3, Concert by the Alexander Music School on the Square