Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Los pueblos blancos

Most of the towns in the south part of Andalusia are old, old, old ones dating back to the time when the Moors occupied Spain or even before. Some of them are 6 and 7 centuries old built with narrow twisting streets and houses close together tumbling down from a hilltop tower. All of the buildings are whitewashed with tile roofs, hence the name pueblos blancos, which in Spanish means white towns. And they are gorgeous!

There are dozens of these towns scattered across the countryside, some high up in the mountains, others on little hills in the middle of the plain. For the past three days we've been driving through this area and we saw a few of them, some close up and some from a distance. Although they're all white, each one has a different feeling. The two above we just drove by on our way up from the coast heading for Ronda.

Here's our little white Fiat Panda parked at the top of one of the towns. Sadly I don't even remember its name, as there are so many of them on this route. Along the road there are viewpoints that you can look across the valleys to see white villages clustered here and there.

This is part of map from one of these viewpoints. It's kind of hard to see but there are at least a dozen villages shown here--and that's just a small part of the area.

The first one we visited in depth was Ronda, which is really more of a white city as it's quite large with a population of 37,000. It's situated high up above a gorge and has been there since the 9th Century BC.  The city was an important Islamic cultural centre and it has a colourful and romantic past in Spanish folklore. We actually stayed about 10 miles outside of Ronda in an old olive mill that's been converted to a lovely hotel, so our experience of it was limited to a walk around the following morning.

The next pueblo blanco we visited was Vejer de la Frontera, which had been recommended to us by the girl in the car rental agency when we asked her about places without a lot of tourists. This town is very old and surrounded by walls. It's absolutely jaw-droppingly beautiful. It did have some visitors but essentially it felt like a real living town with children and dogs in the plazas and people walking by on their way home from church. Here's what it looked like inside the walls.

Finally, just before you get carried away in romantic fantasies, here is a view from the top plaza of Medina Sidonia, another of the car rental girl's recommendations. This may be the oldest city in Europe according to some sources. It's set on a huge hill that rises above the plain east of Cadiz and may have been founded by the Phoenicians in the 2nd Century BC.  The name in Arabic means City of Sidon.

It has medieval walls and narrow cobble streets and a castle too. We walked up to the top of one corner and found this ancient church and had a lovely lunch looking down over the plains below.

Tonight we are in Arcos de la Frontera, yet another white town. We haven't walked around yet as we're in out hotel getting ready for our flight to Lisbon tomorrow. We'll head down to the centro for dinner and I'm sure it will be as beautiful in its own way as the others.

By the way, our hotel is in a white building with a top floor that's like a large open patio. Here is where I'm sitting writing this post. Isn't it lovely?  It's actually called a Hostal, a basic hotel, and we love it, especially for the 33 Euro price.


  1. I've loved travelling with you through these posts, and think I have a new destination on my bucket list. Kevin Mooney and our friend Fiona Black love Portugal completely, so I know there's more to come.

  2. WOW !
    Reminds me of the villages in Greece ?
    I did not know about these villages. Beautiful and sunglasses are a must.

    cheers, parsnip


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