Maria La Canastera and
the caves of Sacromonte

María la Canastera

The Sacromonte is a hill next to the Albaicín which is the old Arabic quarter of Granada. The Albayzín is situated in directly in front the Alhambra. To the right of the Albayzín is a large hill which forms the neighbourhood of the Sacromonte. For many centuries it has been populated by the gypsy community. The rock structure in this area is a mixture of clay and round pebbles which are soft enough to excavate and cohesive and stable enough to form the walls of a cave. See geological details. Consequently most of the dwellings in this area are caves.

The mixture of Arabic influences combined with many centuries of gypsy influence eventually created flamenco. Some of the best flamenco performers turned their caves into public places where visitors could come to hear and see flamenco in its natural habitat. Knowadays the caves have electricity and modern plumbing although these modern facilities have only been introduced in the the last 50 years or so. The interior of the flamenco caves are normally adorned with copperware and photos of previous moments of glory. On either side of the caves there are many chairs for the visitors to sit on.

The caves were known by the name of the artists who performed there, for example; Lola Medina, el Pitilin, Manolo Amaya, la Golondrina, la Faraona and María la Canastera. In many cases the artists lived in and brought up their families in the caves and often the entire family were extremely gifted flamenco artists. This type of family flamenco known as Zambra.

Despite their humble origins, the caves of the Sacromonte achieved international fame and they were visited by many artists from Hollywood, nobel prize winners, royalty and famous politicians as well as thousands of flamenco enthusiasts from all over the world. It was a rich environment for the development of flamenco artists.

María la  Canastera

María la  Canastera

The caves of the Sacromonte has always provided a rich pool of artists who are attracted to migrate to the most famous flamenco shows in places such as New York or Paris. In the large cities of the world you can see wonderful performances of gypsy folklore featuring the most highly talented artists. However here in the Sacromonte you can see authentic flamenco performances which maintain their original, indigenous colour and character and they still manage to attract the interest of the many visitors to Granada who wish to see flamenco performances in the original setting.

This web site contains the following pages:-

The dancer María "La Canastera"
Famous visitors
The cave as a dwelling
Geological origin of the caves
See map
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