Zahara de la Sierra has all the makings of the fairytale Spanish village. Its collection of white houses, or pueblos blancos, are nestled on a hillside with a crumbling castle perched on top, all of which overlook a turquoise lake. This beautiful destination was our first introduction to Andalusia, Spain.
After saying goodbye to Portugal, we crossed the border into the Spanish province of Heuvla and headed for Seville. However we bypassed this bustling and beautiful city, (to return at the end of our travels through Andalusia), and headed towards our first over-night stopping place Ronda.
En route to Ronda, we passed through stunning countryside. At first we saw rolling hills and newly plowed fields.
These soon made way for olives. Lots of olives. More olives than any of us had ever seen.
As we progressed toward our destination, the hills became mountains. Dotted among the mountains we caught our first glimpse of Andalusia’s famous Pueblos Blancos. The Pueblos Blancos, or white villages, are found throughout northern Cadiz and Malaga provinces, primarily in Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park.
The Pueblos Blancos are known for, you guessed it, white buildings with red tiled roofs. Most of them are built on hillsides and are fortified by walls or citadels. The brilliant white paint makes them easy to spot, contrasting with the green of the hills of the Sierra de Grazalema.
The Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park spans a collection of mountain ranges and covers 51,695 hectares (127,740 acres). Twisting roads wind through the mountains, from village to village, and lucky visitors may spot some of the local wildlife including several species of vulture.
Zahara de la Sierra is one of several of the pueblos blancos found within the park. We spotted it by accident as we saw the castle jutting up from the hilltop. It seemed like a great place to explore and stretch our legs.
It turned out to be the perfect rest stop on our road-trip. By pure accident, we discovered a lovely restaurant, Al Lago, which had a table on their terrace just for us. Even if the food hadn’t been excellent, we certainly couldn’t fault the view.
Luckily the food and the sangria was divine and the sun kept us warm and happy throughout our meal. Then we were back in the car and headed to our destination for the night – Ronda, Spain. Stay tuned for our look at this most famous of Andalusia’s pueblos blancos.
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