The legend

The inhabitants of Soportújar have been known for centuries as “wizards and witches”. This small village of barely 300 inhabitants is settled in the Alpujarra Region  of Granada, in a privileged setting to the south of the Sierra Nevada and, as in so many other places, reality and legend get intertwined.

Some would say that this legend, which is more a folk tale than a real story, has been transmitted from generation to generation and that it is very similar to the stories told in the North. It is necessary to move to the village to find the origin.

These witches and wizards of Soportújar were not natives of the village, but were in fact emigrated Galicians who had taken to their new home their stories of meigas -women who were respected for being healers and having powers of clairvoyance, but who, according to tradition, had acquaintance of magic and occult arts.

The stories spread like wildfire throughout the region, and the new inhabitants were soon fingered and referred to with one word: witches or wizards. The Galicians brought along their own customs and beliefs. They were therefore considered strange people at a time when, in addition, the Spanish Inquisition had great power.

The suspicions of the locals were passed on mainly by word of mouth, although there are also writings that attest to this popular legend. Particularly well-known is the one that states that these witches used to smear lard on their armpits in order to fly, a certainly controversial belief.

The real history of the village

Soportújar was founded around the 13th century by one hundred Morisco (Moorish) families. Their importance in this region grew from the second half of the 16th century, after the uprising of Aben Humeya. This uprising was also the first origin of the legend. During the reign of Philip II, the revolt known as Rebellion of the Alpujarras broke out in 1568, when the Moorish families refused to accept the impositions and prohibitions by the monarch. The king, determined to restrict their culture, fought against a large population which he ended up expelling from the region after his victory in 1571. The area was practically depopulated, and this is where the Galician people came in.

In order to recover the region, Philip II called on the northern population who, as it has already been said, arrived with their beliefs and  legends. The truth is that this legend has a rather interesting basis: the suspicion of those who receive strange settlers, so different culturally.

Nowadays, the witchcraft component is still very present in Soportújar. In fact, those who dare to visit this village in the Alpujarra will find an honourable welcome: a sculpture of the witch Baba Yaga. This work, by José Vera has a massive size and represents the well-known witch who lives in the depths of the Russian forests, one of the most important figures in Slavic mythology.

The whole village is full of details that remind us that the inhabitants of this place have witch or wizard ancestors. From the streets and squares, to the fountains and caves, the restaurants and the local people themselves, the witchcraft symbolism is important.

Visitors will find places such as the Dragon Fountain and the Embrujo (bewitchment) viewpoint, where two witches prepare their potions and spells. From the Aquelarre (witches’ Sabbath) viewpoint you can see the place where, according to the ancient stories, initiation rituals were carried out for those young people who wanted to take part in the covens of the place.

With all this, it is understandable that Soportújar is considered the village of the witches of the Alpujarra and one of the most haunted places in Andalusia. Because of its history and tradition and because it is also home to different cultures, Soportújar has become a place where to be permeated with witchcraft and magic.

Entrance sign to Soportújar. Photo: Jesús Rodríguez.

Tinao alpujarreño with a snake. Photo: Jesús Rodríguez.

Head of the witch Baba Yaga. Photo: Jesús Rodríguez.

House of witch Baba Yaga. Photo: Jesús Rodríguez.

House of Hansel and Gretel. Photo: Jesús Rodríguez.

Patronato Provincial de Turismo de Granada. (2022). Ayuntamiento de Soportújar. Premio Turismo de Granada 2021. [Video File].