The pueblos blancos (white villages): Cádiz's most authentic locale
Cadiz is not only sea but also mountains. Now and forever. The Pueblos Blancos are a landmark that has made the mountains of Cadiz a unique space, with its own personality, attracting more visitors than any other place in Andalusia.
The route includes 19 municipalities that, as its name suggests, have in common an albino architecture, which dots much of the Cadiz mountains in white.
Arcos de la Frontera, Bornos, Espera, Villamartín, Algodonales, El Gastor, Olvera, Torre-Alháquime, Setenil de las Bodegas, Acalá del Valle, Prado del Rey, El Bosque, Ubrique, Benaocaz, Villaluenga del Rosario, Grazalema, Benamahoma, Zahara de la Sierra and Algar all share the common denominator of a generally low, whitewashed type of construction.
Originally designed to protect people from the heat and to avoid illnesses thanks to the disinfectant properties of lime, today it is the distinguishing feature of a tourist complex full of other attractions, in addition to the purely artistic and architectural ones.
Therefore, while some towns like Arcos de la Frontera offer amazing landscapes thanks to their hilltop location, which is accentuated by spectacular cliffs; others like Ubrique are world-famous for being part of the leather manufacturing circuit of international brands such as Dior or Chanel, among many others.
For its part, Grazalema rightly boasts its membership in the marvelous national park with which it shares its name and extends its albino character to some of its most typical products: Payoyo cheese, and the wool produced by a variety of goats of the same name.
But the Pueblos Blancos also have a history of their own. For example, El Bosque, a town that is also known for the resistance that its inhabitants put up against the French army in 1815, and their collusion with the bandits of the area to protect King Ferdinand VI.
The bandits also populated other municipalities of the Cadiz mountains during the 19th century and in particular some like Olvera, whose location allowed them to flee quickly to the mountains when the situation demanded it.
In addition to their white appearance, some of the villages in this conclave stand out because they are literally built on rock. This is the case, for example, of Setenil de las Bodegas, whose urban center blends in with the mountain, making the whole a unique picture of sublime beauty.
For those who long for being close to the water, but not to the sea, Zahara de la Sierra makes a beautiful balcony over the reservoir of Zahara - El Gastor.
From the top of Puerto de las Palomas, its castle presides overviews of infinite blue and invites visitors to combine hiking with a wide range of water activities.
Many of those who travel each year along the route through the Pueblos Blancos de Cádiz are tourists who stay on the coast, and, in just an hour and a half, come to the mountains to enjoy the two great attractions of Cadiz: the sea and the mountains.
If this describes your situation, and you plan to make a day trip, you can easily visit 4 or 5 villages easily feel the pulse of this wonderful corner of Cadiz, strolling through its whitewashed streets, visiting churches and historic buildings, and, of course, tasting its most typical products, among which are the different varieties of cheeses, delicious sausages, and meats everywhere.
On your return to the coast, try staying at a resort that offers you a prime beachfront location such as Valentin Sancti Petri. Enjoy its comfortable facilities and spacious rooms, and remember this final experience that will cap off your getaway to the south, leaving you with spectacular views of paradisiacal beaches and a mountain range full of white villages.