Towns of the province of CÁDIZ: Algar - Algeciras - Arcos de la Frontera - Barbate - Benalup-Casas Viejas - Cádiz - Castellar de la Frontera - Chiclana de la Frontera - Chipiona - Conil de la Frontera - El Bosque - El Puerto de Santa María - Grazalema - Jerez de la Frontera - Jimena de la Frontera - La Línea de la Concepción - Los Barrios - Los Caños de Meca - Medina-Sidonia - Olvera - Prado del Rey - Rota - San Fernando - San Martin del Tesorillo - San Roque / Sotogrande - Sanlúcar de Barrameda - Setenil de las Bodegas - Tarifa - Vejer de la Frontera - Villaluenga del Rosario - Zahara de la Sierra - Zahara de los Atunes -
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The white villages route - Grazalema natural park, province of Cadiz.
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.
Stories still survive here about how people lived during Al-Andaluz period: the urban layout of their streets, the economy linked to producing oil, the traditional means of producing leather goods and the typical sweets dating back to the Andalusi era. A noted presence even 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.
Towns of the White Villages Route
Arcos de la Frontera
The Route begins at Arcos de la Frontera, that sits on a 96-metre high peak and has been declared a historic-artistic monument. It is home to numerous mansions and, as is the case in many of these upland towns, churches that were built on the sites of old forts and Moorish mosques.
In this town you find fine examples of aristocratic architecture like the Ribera Palace and the Renaissance garden around the Fontanar Castle.
Water is another of the main feature of the town: in the lake, which is the perfect setting for fishing, canoeing, rowing and other water sports, and in the country, as crops expanded notably under the Muslims, who were experts in irrigation systems using waterwheels and irrigation channels.
You can decide to continue to Algar, founded by Domingo López de Carvajal, from El Puerto de Santa Maria , who made his fortune in Mexico and who set up the town thanks to the colonist policy of King Carlos III.
Algar sits on the top of a 200 metre high hill and each spring, a large number of motor fans gather there to enjoy the hill climb rally up to the town.
Espera and Algodonales
In Espera, you can visit the Roman city of Carissa Aurelia and the Fatetar Castle, together with the parish church of Santa María de Gracia, which was built in the 16 th century.The 19 th century was noted in the Sierra de Cadiz for the battles against the French troops and the 20th century for the local residents emigrating in search of a better future.
Algodonales is one of the gateways to the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park and it is, from the Sierra de Lijar, one of the most attractive places for people to enjoy air sports, such as paragliding, hang-gliding and ultralights.
Villamartín and Puerto Serrano
Before arriving at Algodonales, it is worthwhile visiting one of the oldest megalithic monuments on the Iberian peninsula: the Alberite Dolmen, which is proof of human presence in Villamartin 6,000 years ago.
Puerto Serrano is close to Villamartín. It is home to a former railway station where the train never run, but which has been revived thanks to tourism and the love of hiking, horse riding or cycling. Visit the "Via Verde" (PDF)
Zahara de la Sierra
Next to Algondonales you find Zahara de la Sierra which offers one of the most beautiful views of the White Villages Route from its tower on the highest point of the town looking over the Zahara reservoir.
1) Green Guide of Cadiz (in spanish)
2) White Village Route in Cadiz (in spanish)
3) Visit the Via Verde(PDF).
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Olvera, Torre Alhámquime, El Gastor, Setenil de las Bodegas and Alcalá del Valle are located in the far north-eastern part of the province.
This town has been declared historical-artistic ensemble and is home of the "Frontier and Castles” Museum. The Peñón de Zaframagón, a nature reserve with one of Europe 's most important Griffon vulture colonies, is located within its municipal district.
Here you find the Museum of Popular Customs and Habits, dedicated to José Maria “El Tempranillo”, the most famous bandolero, in what was the house of his fiancée.
Setenil de las Bodegas
This must truly be one of the most unusual villages in the Sierra de Grazalema natural park and, in fact, the whole of the province of Cadiz, as the houses are built into the rock face of the river gorge. A maze of rock, caves and narrow streets.
Alcalá del Valle
Its history can be traced back to 1484 when 25 Morisco families from Setenil founded the village. It has a Visitors' Centre where you can learn about the way of life and customs of the men that inhabited the area 4,000 years ago, proof of which are the Tomillo dolmens.
Torre Alhámquime is located around a former Nasrid fort, part of whose walls are still preserved. Special mention should be made of the "Souls" painting that is attributed to Murillo that hangs in the Church of Our Lady of Antigua.
The green heart
The countryside that surrounds the route of the White Villages, the Grazalema natural park, is declared a Biosphere Reserve by the UNESCO.
It is very peculiar area. It has the highest rainfall in the Iberian peninsula, it is full of numerous caverns 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.
Benamahoma and El Bosque are located at the greenest tip of the White Villages Route . It was founded as the hunting lodge for the Ponce de León, Dukes of Arcos and lords of various towns, Benaocaz, Ubrique, Villaluenga del Rosario and Grazalema, which gives its name to the natural park and is a real must to visit.
They are all located within the Sierra de Grazalema natural park, with a landscape as varied as spectacular.
CÁDIZ - Cadiz White Village Route. Information and photos of Cadiz White Village Route in CÁDIZ. SOL Spain On Line.
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