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Would You Live Like This? Meet Spain’s Nomadic Cave Gypsies

Sorina the Gypsy in Spain

Sorina from Romania prepares dinner

Granada, Spain

There is a fascinating community of people living in Spain who make their homes out of abandoned caves. Join me on a photo tour through Sacromonte’s gypsy neighborhood.

In the hills above the beautiful Spanish city of Granada lies the Roma/Gitano/Gypsy cave community of Sacromonte. After the fall of the Moorish empire in the 1500’s, the Roma arrived and carved cave homes into the hillside. These days much of Sacromonte has become a tourist spot.

Visitors flock here to watch the famous Gitano Flamenco dancing shows.

But if you hike above the visible neighborhood of Sacromonte, you’ll discover a slightly different community made up of nomads, hippies, and modern gypsies who now live in the previously abandoned caves. There are about 30-40 who live here full-time, with many others passing through, staying for a few months before moving on.

It’s an eclectic mix of people from all over the world.

Most of the caves have electricity, either from solar panels or grid power wired in from outside. Some have TVs. Running water and outhouse-style toilets are often shared between a few neighbors.

I spent a couple days hanging out, taking photos of and learning about the community. Even spending one night in a cave. Please enjoy this rare glimpse into the life of a wandering cave gypsy.

Sacromonte Cave Home in Spain

A colorful gypsy cave home

Luis is a Gypsy in Spain

Luis is from the Canary Islands

Sacromonte Cave Community Spain

The hills above Granada are covered in caves

Sacromonte Cave Kitchen Spain

Cave kitchen with electricity and appliances!

Anais lives in caves in Spain

Anais from Germany is just passing through

Who Are The Gypsies?

Ok, due to the increased popularity of this post combined with random commenters claiming I don’t know what a Gypsy is, I’ve decided to go into more detail here. The neighborhood of Sacromonte in the city of Granada is a Gypsy neighborhood. Gypsy with a capital “G”.

These are people from Romani or Gitano decent. The english word “Gypsy” comes from “Egyptian,” based on a false believe they came from Egypt (they came from Northern India).

The caves above Sacromonte were originally inhabited by these people (Gypsy/Roma/Gitano).

Now, the caves are being used by modern gypsies (with a lowercase G). As in free-spirited travelers, hippies, and foreign refugees.

The neighborhood of Sacromonte and the old caves above it are two separate things. However there are also cave homes within Sacromonte owned by actual Gitanos/Roma/Gypsies. I think this is where some of the confusion comes from.

The people in my photos here are not Gitanos/Roma.

Granada Spain Views

The best views of Granada & Alhambra Palace

Tania Gypsy in Spain

Tania from Spain and her dog Wanda help plant a garden

Inside Sacromonte Cave in Spain

The view from inside a cave

Sacromonte Gypsy from Senegal

Ella is one of many cave gypsies from Senegal

Sacromonte Gypsy Cave Spain

This cave has a solar panel above the door

Irit the Gypsy Sacromonte Spain

Irit moved from New York City into a gypsy cave

Gypsy Pony in Spain

Some of the gypsies own horses and ponies

Sacromonte Gypsy Iwan in Spain

Iwan from Romania studied film in college

Sacromonte Community Toilet Spain

Saved the best for last: overflowing outdoor community toilet!

READ MORE SPAIN TRAVEL TIPS

I hope you enjoyed my story about Spain’s Nomadic Cave Gypsies! Here are a few more wanderlust-inducing articles that I recommend you read next:

Would you be able to live like this? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Catherine Humberg

Saturday 27th of February 2021

I MAY be able to come here some day!! I have ALWAYS BEEN DRAWN to this sort of thing; it has been in my soul for a long time. I LOOK like my dear late mother's (G-D rest) side of the family ---Nordic extremely light , but a few years ago I started polarizing to my father's , G-D rest, and finding the most remarkable stuff. ( He was very swarthy, with thick wavy hair; his people were all about Czech/Polish/Romani. In fact my great uncle, G-D rest, died in Auschwitz. ) SOoooo I would like to humbly declare myself an OFFICIAL GYPSY. THANK YOU !!!

Kristýna

Wednesday 22nd of May 2019

I love that place! One year ago me with my boyfriend we were on the roadtrip across the France and Spain, we lived in the van for 3months, when we came to Granada we was blessed ♥ we met there a lot of nice guys from Germany, Greece, France, Spain, Portugal, America and Switzerland, they aren't live in the caves, but they are on the trip with van like us or live in the tent, we spent there one month and make a lot of friends :) ♥

Victoria Rios Terheun

Sunday 12th of May 2019

There are no "modern gypsies" with a lower class g. It is an act of racism to say that there are. Even if you didnt mean it. It still is. Gypsy is a racial slur, and adopting a racial slur as a name for oneself and imitating an erroneous stereotype of some free spirited, mystical, wandering, beautiful vagabond counter culture is offensive to us Romani people. You should cut that shit out and just don't ever say it. isn't a good look from any direction. And no, whether or not is feels or seems racist to you doesnt matter - because we are the ethnic group who bear the weight and the consequences of that stereotype that you bolster. You can't punch somebody and then tell them it didnt hurt...I mean unless you're a jerk or something....same so here...heeeey - no G word. Also...its sooooome kinda cultural chauvinism to think its fine and dandy to minstrel about using a racial slur for a minority group....it's almost like you can only get away with that shit because we don't have a loud enough political voice...yet....please....just write Gitano or Romani and be set....and school and privileged character who has enough privilege to put on a costume and name themselves with a racial slur....thanks, preciate cha :)

GyspyRoseLee

Sunday 22nd of March 2020

There’s no racism here. Stop being so Sensitive (with a Capital S) -and grow up already. Your comment was completely ridiculous and waaaaayyyyyy off mark. If anyone here is using a racial slur, it’s you, when you say “and school and privileged character who has enough privilege to put on a costume and name themselves with a racial slur”. -Simply assuming you know the author and his background and livelihood.

Jen

Monday 20th of November 2017

I was visiting Albaicin yesterday and saw the hillside caves. There are quite a few hippies/Nomads roaming around in Albaicin endlessly or selling trinkets in front of the church to tourists taking photos of Alhambra. They all have the sun baked, dreadlocked, rag wearing unwashed homeless I see everyday where I live. Perhaps these ppl like having very little possession and barebone daily life on little money. Based on seeing them selling or roaming streets, they all seemed guarded and sullen, none looked like the 1960's flower child hippies with that drugged out blissfulness. I personally would prefer Granada city to eradicate these hippie caves. They make the hillside look like a homeless encampment with junk and trash.

John S Jenkinson

Sunday 9th of September 2018

I spent a couple of nights in a cave there in 1974 -- it was beautiful to wake up and see the fog lifting to reveal the Alhambra across the valley. Although I found a number of counter-culture folks, it seemed that the majority of cave-dwellers were still Gitanos. Gitano women set up wooden tubs at the top of the hill and gave baths for almost nothing! Not so erotic, though -- they used some strong bristled brushes! If they were still there, no one would complain about the reeking homeless!!!

Sarah Hope

Monday 24th of July 2017

These images are candid and beautiful. Thank you for this inspiring story. I love this blog.

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