Ugíjar’s cultural heritage can be seen in its monuments, folklore, fiestas and typical cuisine. Jorairátar is also home to the Museo Histórico de La Alpujarra, the largest collection of historical objects in the whole of the Alpujarra.
The food in Ugíjar is best eaten accompanied with a good local wine. Arroz liberal is a popular dish, made with rabbit, garlic, tomatoes, rice and almonds. Cabrito al ajo cabañil is made with goat kid, garlic, chillies and olive oil. Desserts include turrón, a sort of nougat made in the traditional way by a turronero, one in a long line of turrón-makers in the same family, who take their products from market to market to sell.
It is believed that Ugíjar was mentioned as long ago as the 1st century, by Homer in his epic poem Odyssey. As the sediment in the river was rich in gold, the Greek philosopher and historian Strabo believed that Ugíjar could have been the city of Ulyssea, where a temple dedicated to Athena was built. During one of his journeys, Odysseus
(Ulysses) is thought to have left his shield and the battering rams from his ships in the church as an offering to the Greek goddess. Some historians believe that Ugíjar was a settlement during the Roman Empire, and that it was called Hortum Sacrum, which means “Sacred Garden” in Latin. Certainly, the village is mentioned for the first time in the 11th century, in the chronicles of Al Udri.
During the Nasrid period, it belonged to the taha (administrative district) of the same name, and it was declared a city in 1493, when Boabdil, the last Nasrid monarch, moved to the region after Granada was handed over to the Catholic Monarchs. At that time, it was a prosperous municipality with a flourishing agricultural sector. It was defended by a fortress in Cherín. However, this boom period was cut short by the Rebellion, when the Moors were driven out of the area.