5 white villages in Andalucia
The South Western part of Andalucia with the historic city of Seville to the north and Jerez with its sherry bodegas and dancing horses to the south and eastwards there’s the Sierra de Cadiz where 5 famous Spanish white villages lie. The rugged hills of the sierra are densely wooded with pine trees and cork oaks. Here, clinging precariously to the edges of deep river gorges or perched on rocky cliffs, are a series of fascinating fortified towns known simply as “los pueblos blancos” the white villages. Every year the villagers white wash their houses creating an amazing contrast with the flower filled streets. They still bear the imprint of their defensive function in the 13th to 15th centuries, with ruined fortifications and walls, demarcating the former frontier (frontera) of the Christian and Muslim kingdoms. The parkland surrounding many of the villages is home to mountain goat, red deer and wild boar and in the skies above one can often see griffon vultures as well as golden, booted and short-toed eagles. It’s a great area for touring or hiking and there are plenty of great places for lunch stops.
Arcos de la Frontera
It is famous for its architectural heritage, a mixture of arab, gothic, renaissance and neoclassic design. The old town is a labyrinth of small, undulating streets good for exploring. The Plaza del Cabildo is worth visiting and is where you will find the castle, the basilica of Santa Maria and the Parador hotel where you can stop and have a drink whilst taking in the great views of the surrounding countryside. El Convento de las Monjas Mercedarias dates back to the 17th century and used to be the town prison, it is the only remaining convent in Arcos still home to nuns. They are well-known for the biscuits and cakes they bake and which can be bought from the convent.
It sits at the entrance to the Grazalema Natural Park. The river Majaceite runs through the village and provides fresh running water to the trout farm which you can visit, it also provides hydropower for Molino Abajo, an 18th century traditional flour mill museum, which is still in working condition. The area is good for hiking and there is a nice walk that starts from the Trout farm (piscifactoria) and follows the river for aprox 5 km to Benamahoma.
It is considered by many to be the showcase White village, it stands nearly 915 mt above sea level and was once famous for its cottage weaving industry although sadly today just one mill remains; la Antigua Fabrica de Mantas which makes blankets, throws, rugs and shawls all of which are sold in the shop. There are some fantastic walks in the surrounding countryside to enjoy this amazing area.
Zahara de la Sierra
It is worthy of a visit and reached by a dramatic mountain road from Grazalema. Its Moorish castle is a focal point of the village. Below it is a beautiful reservoir with amazing views where you can swim in the summer. If you wish to see a traditional olive mill in operation you can visit Molino El Vinculo just outside the village.
Villaluenga del Rosario
It is famous for the exceptional cheese produced. Queso Payoyo is a local cheese produced here. It is named after the Payoyo goat native to the sierra and is considered one of Spain’s finest cheeses.