The territory occupied by the so-called Siete Villas (Seven Villages) matches up almost entirely with the current Montes de Granada region. It is located inside the most northern alignment of the extreme Baetic System, in the medium and internal SubBaetic domain. It lies to the north of the province of Granada, having an area of 1.601,65 km2 and being a topographical unit which borders, on the north, with the province of Jaén, on the east, with the valley of the Guadiana Menor and the corridor of Pozo Alcón, on the south with the valley of the Genil, and on the west, with the road from Córdoba (BEAS, MATEOS and ARJONA, 2008).
Map of Granada with locattion of the Montes de Granada region
It is structurally divided into an eastern and a western subregion. The eastern subregion has a more complex topography, although both of them present a hilly landscape, based on the existence of hillocks topped with more or less steep outcrops, alternating with limestone ranges of low and medium heights. Loamy areas intended for cultivation are predominant, which results in agricultural landscapes of great value.
Montes de Granada region and all its towns, Las Siete Villas (The Seven Villages) highlighted in turquoise
The river network of the region is part of the Guadalquivir Basin. Rivers Cubillas, Piñar, Colomera, río de las Juntas, Velillos, Fardes, Gor, Guadahortuna and Cirvelos begin in this area and drain into the left bank of the Guadalquivir Basin.
The region stands out for its historical border character, covering the territory which traditionally was the frontier of the Nasrid Kingdom, working at the same time as a forward guard for one of its most vulnerable sides: the Vega (lowland area) and the city of Granada. Therefore, there is a high concentration of towers, watchtowers, strongholds and castles.
It has never been very densely populated, although settlements dating back to the prehistoric period are documented. In general, the particular physiographic features of the region have allowed, throughout history, a singularly scattered habitat, with a proliferation of big population centers together with little ones, which dot the landscape as well as characterize it. There is also a dense network of rural tracks.
Vista general del paisaje de la Comarca de los Montes
Fuente: Ayuntamiento de Montejícar
The current urban layout is very similar. In the oldest towns, it is usually irregular, because they are placed on the slopes of hills, under a castle. More regular layouts derive from the time of the repopulation, with wide streets placed in flat areas. The main architectural typologies are the traditional house, the 19th century manor house and the isolated cortijo (farmhouse).
It is mainly an agricultural region, whose land-ownership system is based on large estates, to which the Christian conquest (15th century) and the ecclesiastical disentailment (19th century) contributed.
There is a very rich heritage within its towns, consisting in the legacy of the different cultures which have shaped the history of the region.