Just a short drive up from the motorway and only a 10 min drive from the coast is the mountainous village of Iznate. It nestles into the hillside at 303 m above sea level and has the most incredible views to the north, east and west, with the mountain ranges of Sierra Tejeda (La Maroma) Sierra Almijara and Sierra de Camorolos marking the horizon, majestically towering over the lower vinecovered hills. This area is famous for its scrumptious muscatel grapes from which come delicious wines and raisins and every August the village holds a festival to celebrate this main form of economy. As well as grapes there are local dishes to be sampled with music, dancing and lots of wine flowing all night long.
Like many villages in the Axarquía, Iznate is full of narrow, steep streets and the houses literally cling together in a tight cluster. Eight centuries of Islamic occupation have shaped the architecture. Some of the streets have steps and others are just very steep inclines which seem almost impossible to ascend. Actually going up is not the hardest part providing you stop for breath occasionally. It is going down again that's the scary part as it's easy to slither and slide.
Many houses have beautiful patios with a plethora of colours spilling over the assorted terracotta pots; there are balconies filled with plants of every shade of green imaginable. The women of the village all seem to have green fingers or perhaps it's something to do with the fact that they wipe the leaves with beer. There are three ways into the village, coming up from Benamocarra there is an entrance by the village garden complete with sturdy gym equipment to entice the villagers to exercise. Following on, the long main square with the Town Hall, several bars and a lookout point with fantastic views. A steep street leads up to the church square, the Plaza de la Virgen de los Dolores, with the 16th century parish church of San Gregorio VII and the Fuente de la Palsonada which has a little shield and two spouts, part of the towns architectural heritage. The second way in to the village is by taking the road up from Cajiz and after the Iznate sign, there is an entrance which takes you down past the municipal swimming pool, and the third way is up the street concrete track from the river bed. You can drive quite easily along the dry river bed from Benamocarra village, or beyond to Triana, Almáchar and Benamargosa.
For several years, around 1570, the village was practically uninhabited with the expulsion of the moriscos (Muslims forced to convert to Christianity) who left for Tunisia and North Africa. The new inhabitants arrived from Antequera and Estepa but the economy was ruined with the outbreak of a phylloxera plague followed by the Andalusian earthquake.
These days Iznate is a busy, thriving village, full of a good mixture of all nationalities rubbing along nicely together. If you go for a visit be sure to wear good walking shoes, take a bottle of water and don't forget your camera.