The White Towns of Andalusia
Whitewash is the common denominator of the villages along the route that cross the north of the province through the Sierra de Cadiz mountains, a rugged, delightful, green and exciting route: the White Villages Route.
This extensive area is filled with spectacular landscapes, unique species and beautiful white villages, of an extraordinary architectural and ecological wealth, and is known for its gastronomy deep-rooted in age-old traditions that have managed to retain the charm of the genuine article.
The villages are snapshots of everyday life of Al-Andalus, thanks to their urban layouts, the economy linked to producing oil, the traditional means of producing leather goods and the typical pastries dating back to the Andalusi era.
ARCOS DE LA FRONTERA, GRANTED THE HISTORIC-ARTISTIC DESIGNATION, IS ONE OF THE MOST FAMOUS WHITEWASHED VILLAGES.
And the Moorish influence can even be seen in the name of the majority of the 19 villages along the route: Benamahoma, which means the house of Mohammed, Alcalá (the Castle), Algar (the cave), Zahara (the fort).
Yet the Berber heritage here blends in with the Roman roads, the Christian invasions, the American conquerors, the arrival of the French troops, the legends of the bandits and the railway track of a train that never ran and which today is the Sierra de Cadiz Greenway.
An important legacy of hydraulic engineering structures has been generated by the use of water and the production of oil, including mills, oil presses and other buildings.
Sierra de Grazalema countryside, declared to be a Biosphere Reserve by the UNESCO, is as full of history. It is the area with the highest rainfall in the Iberian peninsula, full of numerous caves and canyons as amazing as the Garganta Verde (Green Gorge). It seems unbelievable that this countryside is only just a few kilometres from the coast.