The cultural heritage of Cástaras is seen in its urban design, houses, fiestas, folklore and superb cuisine. Cástaras and Nieles have their own Cultural Association, which, amongst other things, has published a book on the oral tradition in the municipality. Angelita Rodríguez’s collection of objects also offers a valuable insight into the area’s ethnographic history.
In Cástaras, the food is accompanied by excellent wine. The area is also known for its cheeses. The tastiest dishes include choto al ajo cabañil, made with goat kid, garlic, dried peppers and olive oil.
Potaje de castañas is a typical dessert made with sugar, chestnuts, cinnamon and water.
The name Cástaras comes from the Latin quassicare, which means to shake or to shatter, perhaps because of how irregular the area’s terrain is. Nieles comes from the Latin adjective niger, meaning “black”, which has the diminutive form nigellus, which led to the name nielus.
Archaeological findings in this municipality show that the Romans settled here. Other remnants of past ages have been found in the iron mines at El Conjuro, and the mercury mines at Minas Mancilla. Cástaras was once the old farmstead in the area that used to be known as La Taha de Juviles. It boasts a rich and famous past, thanks to the large numbers of livestock bred here and the area’s prosperous silk industry. After the end of the Nasrid period, and following the repopulation of the area, it entered into a recession.
Most of the municipal district falls within the Historic Site of The Alpujarra, and the Medieval Route of the Alpujarra passes through the Barrio Alto (upper district) of the village of Cástaras.