NIJAR

Cabo de Gata
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Welcome to Nijar

The picturesque white village of Nijar is located in the interior of the Cabo de Gata nature preserve. The village is made up of narrow labyrinth-like streets that are home to approximately 3000 inhabitants. It’s famous for its many ceramic and textile ateliers which are part of its lasting Moorish heritage that has survived since Nijar’s founding in the 13th century. Jarapas, which are colorful rugs made from leftover fabric, are one of the village’s most iconic handcrafts and can be found around almost every corner. A visit to Nijar is one of the top things to do in Cabo de Gata.

Town of Nijar – Cabo de Gata, Almeria
White houses in Nijar

Nijar is a 30 min drive from the beaches of Cabo de Gata and 25 min away from Almeria’s Airport. In addition, in the outskirts of the village there is a cactus garden and a butterfly park.

Colorful corner of Nijar – Cabo de Gata, Spain
Colorful corner of Nijar

Handcrafts in Nijar

CERAMICS & POTTERY

Ceramic atelier in Nijar – Cabo de Gata, Almeria
Ceramic atelier

In times past, pottery played a very important role for the residents of Nijar. Since the climate is so dry, the formation of earthen vessels to store and transport water has been essential for survival. It is an art form that has been refined over hundreds of years but unfortunately, it is slowly disappearing. Just three decades ago there were as many as 30-40 workshops in the village and today there are only three left.

Although you will find a wide range of ceramics and pottery in the shops in the center of the village, we recommend to venture into the Barrio Alfarero – the pottery quarter. There you can visit the workshops of artisans and see the traditional methods they use at work. The glazes still originate from the same sources as they did generations ago: yellow comes from iron, green from copper, blue from cobalt, etc.

Ceramic & esparto crafts for sale in Nijar – Cabo de Gata
Ceramic & esparto crafts for sale

Besides getting an intimate look at the entire ceramics process in the Barrio Alfarero, it is also a way to directly support the last remaining local artisans.

Workshops/shops worth visiting in Níjar: taller de Baldo García, taller de Rafael Granados, tienda de Ángel y Loli

TEXTILES (JARAPAS)

The most traditional textiles from Nijar are known as jarapas, which basically means rag-rugs. These colorful rugs were originally made from left over scraps of fabric. This tradition goes all the way back to the Moorish times.

As with ceramics in Nijar, the textile workshops have also seen a huge decline in the past 30-40 years. Instead of being full of weavers, today, there are only a handful left.

Weaver working on traditional loom – Nijar, Cabo de Gata
Weaver working on traditional loom

It’s possible to find jarapas for sale in shops throughout the village, but you can also still see them being woven by hand using the traditional loom. You can find working looms at the following locations:

  • Tourism Office
  • Tienda de los Milagros in the pottery quarter sells both ceramics and textiles. It is the shop outlet for the art/craftwork of Matthew Weir and Isabel Soler Hernández. On any given day, you can find Isabel working at her loom, the same than her parents and grandmother used before.
  • Tienda la Jarapa

In addition to weaving textiles, it is also common to find crafts (such as ropes and baskets) that are woven from esparto grass. Esparto was once very abundant in Almeria but today there are only a couple of shepherds and senior citizens that know how to work the material.

Things to Do in Nijar

ATALAYA (WATCHTOWER)

The Atalaya is located just above the old town. It’s an uphill walk through the Barrio de la Atalaya (watchtower quarter) which is probably the quaintest area in the village. The tower was built in the 12th century, in the site of a former castle and defensive wall. It offers great views of the village and the surrounding hills.

MAIN SQUARE & CHURCH

The main square of Nijar is called Plaza la Glorieta and around it are the church and the town hall. The Iglesia de Santa María de la Asunción is a church dating back to the 16th century. The interior features woodwork from Mudejar craftsman. The church’s tower was built first and was used for defensive purposes.

CACTI BOTANICAL GARDEN

The Cacti botanical garden & nursery sells plants and also has an acre of well maintained gardens that can be toured for free. It’s open everyday: 10AM–2PM & 5–8PM.

MARIPOSARIO DE NÍJAR (BUTTERFLY PARK)

The Nijar butterfly park is home to over 300 butterflies of 30 different species that come from all over the world. There is a 20 minute guided visit (in English, Spanish & French) and afterwards you are free to walk around the gardens, enjoying the butterflies for as long as you want. It’s open from April to the beginning of November. Price: adults 9€, children 7€.

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