Don’t miss out on the exciting tour through the culture and traditions of the White Villages of Cadiz!
Andalucia is renowned for its weather, culture and history. In this post, we are discovering the spectacular White Villages route of the province of Cadiz, located in a landscape characterised by high mountains and smooth hills.
The peculiarities of these towns are their white houses, which were painted in this colour to keep away the unbearable heat of the Andalucian summer. However, plainness is far, far away! In fact, the towns are also provided with bright colour spots, thanks to the scented flowers that decorate both houses and streets, giving birth to a fantastic show of colours in the callejuelas of these little towns.
The towns were built on the top of the hills and were fortified to defend their inhabitants from the possible enemy attacks. The narrow, but charming streets clamber up steep slopes, giving magnificent views of the surrounding mountains and the nearby beaches of the Costa de la Luz.
The White Villages’ essence will move you into the andalusí atmosphere and the Al-Ándalus culture in a matter of seconds, although they can rely upon a much older tradition, from the Romans to the conquest of the French troops, its archaeological patrimony being about 250.000 years old. For this reason, many of the surrounding areas, together with some of the white villages, have been declared Reserva de la Biosfera by the UNESCO.
To discover the White Villages, we suggest you a 145-km route, which starts in the town of Arcos de la Frontera and ends in the magnificent Setenil de las Bodegas. The best way to enjoy the trip is renting a car or going with yours, and then spending the nights in one of the holiday homes in the White Villages area in the province of Cadiz. This way, you will have the possibility to deeply get to know the history and the secrets of the White Villages and relax in one of the best holiday homes you could ever imagine.
Get ready, for we are getting started!
1. Arcos de la Frontera
Let’s start with Arcos de la Frontera, a white village situated only 65 km far from the capital Cadiz. The Berbers ruled it for a short time, and in 1255 it became part of the Seville reign of King Alphonso X. Arcos features the White Villages’ most recognisable characteristics. For example, the old town relies upon a magnificent parador to leave you breathless, thanks to its location on a hilltop. Likewise, you will have many opportunities to rest here, and have it as a base to discover the charming surroundings.
Once you get there, you should visit the Plaza del Cabildo and its mirador that provides incredible views over the river Guadalete and the nearby White Villages, while the 11th-century Castillo de los Duques looks after the tourists roaming in the main square.
You can’t miss out on the marvellous churches that populate Arcos de la Frontera. Among them, the Basílica de Santa María, whose paint and architecture masterpieces will leave you amazed; the Convento de las Mercedarías, where lovely nuns will sell you their delicious biscuits; and the Saint Peter Church, whose interior is considered one of the most magnificent of Andalucia.
5, Calle Cuesta de Belén
Monday-Saturday: 9.30 pm – 2 pm and from 3 pm – 7.30 pm
Sunday and bank holidays: 10 am – 2 pm
The passage of different cultures is still visible in this 30.000-year-old white village, which was declared B.I.C. Historic-Artistic Grouping in 2003 and whose plenty of monuments and hideouts will make you jump in the past. Among the immense quantity of traces left by the Romans, the Arabs, the Iberians, the XVI-century Castillo – Palacio de los Ribera (also declared Bien de Interés Cultural) and its Renaissance garden, where there is the only Pompeiian Loggia in Andalucia, is undoubtedly the main focus of this little, but picturesque, white town.
If you fancy spending some time in nature, you can’t miss visiting the lake and the mountains that surround Bornos, where you can practice various sports and activities, such as horse riding, cycling, hiking, birdwatching, sailing, windsurfing and so on.
1, Plaza Alcalde José González – Palacio de los Ribera
Winter: 10 am – 2 pm and from 4 pm – 6 pm
Summer: 10 am – 2 pm and from 5 pm – 8 pm
This leather-making centre is situated close to the Grazalema Natural Park and the Alcornocales Natural Park, both belonging to the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism. It presents various monuments left by its formerly inhabitants. The Roman funerary site of Ocuri, the Muslim Castillo de Fátima, the Baroque Public Fountain or the Andalucian fountain of Nueve Caños are only some of the picturesque traces of this town’s glorious past.
If you are a sports lover, in Ubrique you will have the possibility to go hiking, do some fishing, birdwatching, and take part in countless cultural routes. And after that, go back to your holiday accommodation to recharge your batteries.
19A, Calle Moreno de Mora
Monday-Friday: 10 am – 2 pm and 4 pm – 7 pm
Saturday: 11 am – 2 pm and 4 pm – 7 pm
Sunday: 11 am – 2 pm
At the foot of Sierra del Piñar, in the norhern area of the Natural Park of Sierra de Grazalema, you will find the charming white village of Grazalema, 812 m above the sea level, as well as some of the most fantastic holiday villas to spend your well-deserved holidays. Grazalema is situated on the highway that connects Arcos de la Frontera with Ronda, and its origins date back to the Romans time, whose traces you can admire throughout this picturesque white village. The town is famous for the production of blankets, which are still weaved in traditional methods, home-made honey, and meat-filled stew.
The town’s main square is the precious Plaza de España. Once you get there, your attention will be driven to the spectacular medieval fountain and the magnificent 18th-century Iglesia de la Aurora. If you love the Medieval era, you can jump back in time by following a recently-restored path leading you into the valley below the town.
And if you fancy doing some sports, Grazalema is the ideal place where to go hiking and practice adventure sports, the town being renowned for its Green Tourism, as well as Nature and Adventure experiences provided here. Among the hike routes you can enjoy, choose the 40-minute walk from the top of the town up to the hermitage El Calvario, where an enormous statue of Jesus (Corazón de Jesús) is kept, and whose views over the surrounding mountains and the town are truly breathtaking.
3, Plaza Asomaderos
Monday – Friday: 10 am – 2 pm and from 4 pm – 7 pm
Saturday: 10 am – 2 pm and from 4 pm – 6 pm
5. Zahara de la Sierra
If you suffer from vertigos, let someone else drive the car, for the linking road that connects Grazalema with Zahara de la Sierra goes over the steep 1331m Puerto de las Palomas. The town of Zahara is located at the foot of the Grazalema mountains, and it is pervaded by the Moorish spirit.
The 12th-century castle, reachable trough a 10-to-15-minute steep walk, is famous for its recapture, which starts the last phase of the Catholic Renconquista in 1481.
If you fancy taking a dip and sunbathing after the whole day spent walking, visit the nearby artificial beach of the Embalse de Zahara – Grazalema. The town is also famous for its rural tourism (impulsed by the many possibilities to accommodate here), and the possibility to practice caving, climbing and hiking.
3, Plaza Zahara
Monday – Saturday: 9 am – 2 pm and from 4 pm – 7 pm
Sunday: Only in the morning
The town of Algodonales finds itself on the cusp of the Natural Park of Grazalema, and it is known for its guitar-making workshops. Moreover, thanks to its favourable position and climate conditions, it is the ideal place for air sports lovers, who here can practice paragliding and hang-gliding, followed by well-deserved relaxation in a charming holiday villa.
The town’s most important monuments are the twelve fountains, the most famous being the Fuente de Algarrobo, the prehistoric site of Cueva Santa, and the parochial Church of Santa Ana.
2, Avenida de Andalucía
Monday – Friday: 9 am – 2 pm and from 5 pm – 8 pm
The origins of the white village of Olvera date back to the Romans time and, as any other White Village, it traverses the whole human history, until reaching the contemporary era. Nowadays, it supports more family-run farming cooperatives than anywhere else in Spain. Experience them first hand while staying at one of the holiday homes in the town’s surroundings.
In addition to the magnificent 12th-century Arabic castle that looks after the whole town, Olvera has many more monuments you can’t miss if you are planning to stop by. The Church of Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación, the charming La Cilla and La Frontera museums, and the impressive Vía Verde are all unmissable spots, which take no long to be seen.
The town of Olvera had been a Christian frontier for over 150 years, and it was used by its inhabitants to defend themselves from the dangerous Moorish town of Zahara de la Sierra.
Plaza de la Iglesia – Edificio La Cilla
Winter: Tuesday – Sunday: 10.30 am – 2 pm and from 4 pm – 6 pm
Summer: Tuesday – Sunday: 10 am – 2 pm and from 4 pm – 7 pm
(Monday closed, except for festive Mondays)
8. Setenil de las Bodegas
Last, but surely not least, the town of Setenil de las Bodegas is one of the most peculiar and impressive White Village in the province of Cadiz. Its dug-in-the-mountain white houses were built as a defensive strategy against the enemies’ troops and the unbearable heat of the Andalucian summer. Nowadays, the houses, which are located on different levels, have been converted into picturesque bars and restaurants. The Medieval Castle on the top of the mountain and the 16th-century Casa Consistorial protectively look out on the town.
Setenil de las Bodegas is the White Village that is located the nearest to Malaga, only 18 km far from Ronda, and therefore, it is the perfect start to keep discovering the White Villages in Malaga. Find out where you can stay while planning your next Andalusian route.
2, Calle Villa
Monday – Sunday: 10 am – 2 pm and from 5 pm – 7 pm
The White Villages route in Cadiz is just one of the possible White Villages route you can take part in if you are a nature and history lover!
Discover these picturesque and magnificent towns, characterised by a centuries-old art and tradition.
Have you been to any of these White Villages? Would you recommend visiting any other White Village? Leave a comment and tell us about your experience!