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Artisan Route

The Pueblos Blancos have a close relationship with the natural environment that surrounds them and the products obtained from it. To highlight only the gastronomy of the Sierra de Cádiz would be an understatement, as many municipalities have for centuries been involved in the artisan tradition, which is a fundamental part of the local economy.

Through the Artisan Route we will visit different villages in the region that have become benchmarks for the quality of their exports. The route will take us through the towns of Villamartín, Arcos de la Frontera, Algar, Prado del Rey, Ubrique, Villaluenga del Rosario and Grazalema.

121 km
2h y 18 min

Villamartín

Our starting point will be Villamartín, a municipality which, due to its close links with sectors such as livestock farming, preserves a strong tradition of saddlery. From centuries ago, to the present day, the production of articles related to horsemanship has been going on for centuries. Boots, saddles and chaps are just some of the most popular products on offer in local shops.

The ceramics industry has recently taken off in Villamartín. Boosted by its development in the streets and squares of the municipality, production is being exported to different parts of the international geography. It is worth mentioning the work carried out in the Puerta de Villamartín, located in the French town of Bellegarde, twinned with the town of Cádiz.

Sitios de interés
Guarnicionería
Adolfo
Guarnicionería
Juan Luis Garrido

Arcos de la Frontera

Arcos de la Frontera, a municipality which, in the craft sector, has achieved optimum levels of development, making a niche for itself in the market recently.

In Arcos different types of craftsmanship are carried out, of which the most outstanding are:

Ceramic work is very popular in the town, where different pottery workshops have been producing different styles for decades.

Wrought-iron work has been a feature of Arcos for centuries. And the fact is that such a traditional element in Andalusian architecture as ironwork cannot be missing in local manufacture.

The manufacture of products from esparto grass and palm as a trade is still preserved in the town. There are many shops selling items made from this raw material.

We can also find paintings and engravings, miniature farm implements and shops where you can buy typical Arcos pastries.

Sitios de interés
Cerámicas La Merced
Galería Cerámica
Andrés Oviedo
Cerrajería
Los Cabezuelos
Cerrajería
Juan El Chicha
Arx-Arcis
Galería de Arte
Golosierra
Productos Típicos
La Casa del Dulce
Comunidad de
Mercedarias Descalzas

Algar

Craftsmanship in Algar is based on the leather industry, which has been growing and prospering over the last few decades. The Pielrovi workshop, which has worked with major fashion brands, is located in the centre of the town, where you can buy products made with top quality raw materials.

Sitios de interés
Taller Pielrovi

Prado del Rey

The next stop on our tour is Prado del Rey, a small village in the region that specialises in two craft sectors. On the one hand, the ancient tradition of chair making, a rustic type of work using beech and pine wood and vegetable fibre, is maintained. Although it is true that in recent years new models have been experimented with to diversify production.

The leather goods sector also stands out, which has been emerging in the town since the 1960s and is now the main economic driving force. The origin of this development comes from the search for workforce in Prado del Rey by the leather workshops of Ubrique. At the end of the seventies, many of the craftsmen decided to create their own workshops and today there are 60 companies established.

Sitios de interés
Carpintería
Diego Calle
Inprasur S.L.
Sillas Núñez SL
Coferpiel SL
Alep Interpiel

Ubrique

We could not do this route without visiting Ubrique, a town that has earned worldwide recognition for its great tradition of leather work, which dates back to the period of the Caliphate’s greatest splendour. The importance that leatherwork has acquired in Ubrique is evident in the construction of training centres such as the Escuela de Artesanos de la Piel, the Movex Foundation and the creation of the Permanent Exhibition “Hands and Magic in Leather”.

The Junta of Andalucía recognises the merit for the experience, influence and contributions to the sector of some professionals through the Master Craftsman distinction. In Ubrique, this title has been awarded to Juan Luis Casillas Lara.

Sitios de interés
Piel Galván
ABC Piel, Calzado
y Complementos
Bolsos Barada
Daviletto
Carla Sade
Pozo Puerto
Ubrique Outlet
Piel de Ubrique
Artepiel
Piel Durán
El Potro
Riderspiel
Invercumbre SA

Villaluenga

After passing through Ubrique, we will go to Villaluenga, a small town where the cork work stands out, thanks to the wealth of cork oak groves in the surrounding area. All kinds of products are made from the bark of these trees, from furniture to decorative items.

The abundance of sheep has also stimulated the production of wool products and especially the manufacture of cheese. The raising of the payoya goat, a breed native to the hill region, has become part of the local culture. Several shops in Villaluenga are dedicated to the production and sale of Payoya cheeses, which are handmade and of great flavour and quality. If you visit Villaluenga at the beginning of April, you can visit the Andalusian Artisan Cheese Fair and throughout the year the Cheese Museum is open to the public.

Sitios de interés
Queso Payoyo SL
Quesos La Covacha
Quesos Oliva
Quesos Villaluenga
del Rosario
Quesos La Abuela
Agustina

Grazalema

Our tour of the best artisan production centres in the region will take us to Grazalema, our last stop. The low temperatures ecosystem and wet winters that makes up the Sierra of Grazalema Natural Park has become the ideal habitat for the Grazalema Merino sheep. This breed is used for meat, wool for making blankets and cloths and, above all, for its milk. Dairy products, of which the cheeses are the most popular, have earned an international reputation.

Made from Merino sheep’s and Payoya goat’s milk, the artisanal production has become a valuable heritage passed down through many generations.

To get a closer look at the process of making blankets and fabrics, we can visit the Grazalema Textile Museum.

One of Andalusia’s renowned Master Craftswomen resides in Grazalema, Montserrat Hidalgo, who has dedicated more than three decades to ceramics. The distinction, awarded in 2012, recognises her promotion of the craft, her training and knowledge acquired and her involvement in competitions and fairs.

Sitios de interés
Tienda Artesanía en
Lanas | Mantas Grazalema
Quesería La Pastora
Finca Las Hazuelas,
Queso Payoyo SL
Quesería
La Abuela Agustina
Cerámica La Jara

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Architectural – Monumental Baroque Route

The Baroque refers to the predominant cultural, artistic and architectural period between the 17th and 18th centuries. In Andalusia, the Baroque does not stand out for the innovation in the plans, the buildings follow the models based on tradition. However, this style did bring novelties in terms of the exuberance and decoration of façades and interiors.

The abundance of buildings in the Sierra of Cádiz region, including the Pueblos Blancos, makes it of great value and interest to present an Architectural-Monumental Baroque Route. This route through different localities aims to bring visitors to those emblematic buildings where this architectural style is the undisputed protagonist.

Due to the number of municipalities in which we find the Baroque presence, we will divide the Route between the northernmost and southernmost towns, with the town of Arcos de la Frontera as the starting point.

Thus, the Northern Baroque Route would start from Arcos and include Espera, Bornos, Villamartín, Puerto Serrano, Olvera, Torre-Alháquime and Alcalá del Valle.

On the other hand, if we take the Southern Baroque Route, we will also start from Arcos and visit Algar, Ubrique, Benaocaz, Villaluenga del Rosario and Zahara de la Sierra.

Whether we take the route one way or the other, we will start the journey from Arcos de la Frontera, a small municipality surrounded by the Guadalete River and situated at the beginning of the Sierra of Cadiz. Arcos has a significant Baroque heritage, although due to the coexistence of different periods, some buildings are the result of the union of various architectural styles.

118 km
2h y 21 min
111 km
2h y 17 min

Northern Baroque Route

Southern Baroque Route

Architectural – Monumnetal Baroque Route Northern

Arcos de la Frontera

The Basílica Menor de Santa María is a clear example of this union of artistic trends. The church, classified as the oldest in the town, is based on an old mosque and, having been built over six centuries (XIV-XVIII), it has Gothic, Plateresque and Baroque features.

This is also evident in the Church of San Francisco, built thanks to Beatriz Pacheco, Duchess of Arcos. After suffering the confiscations of Mendizábal, the attached convent disappeared, but the church has survived to the present day. Three chapels are joined to the central nave, in Gothic, Baroque and Flamboyant styles.

The Convent-Hospital of San Juan de Dios was built in the 16th century and originally served as a clinic to which a chapel was attached. Inside we can see elements of different styles, such as the Baroque staircase in the columned courtyard, a Baroque altarpiece and a Gothic-style image of Christ of the Vera-Cruz.

 

The Church of San Pedro is another religious building in Arcos that we can visit. Built in the 16th century, this church has its foundations in an old Hispano-Muslim fortress. It consists of a nave divided into three spaces to which are added six chapels in Renaissance and Baroque styles. The façade also follows the same style, although it also shows influences from the Sevillian school.

The Convento of las Mercedarias is the only remaining convent in Arcos de la Frontera. It was built in 1642 thanks to the donations of one of the town’s leading ladies, Beatriz de la Calle y Natera. The chapel inside has a Baroque altarpiece with an image of Nuestra Señora de la Merced and San José.

Espera

From here we can continue through the Pueblos Blancos to the north or south to complete our baroque route. If we choose to continue along the northern route our next stop will be Espera, less than 20 km from our starting point. This town is located on the slopes of the Cerro de Fatetar and in the vicinity of the Sierra de Cádiz. In Espera we can visit the Ermita de Santiago, located in the Castle of Fatetar and completely preserved. This chapel, built in the 15th century, has obvious Baroque features on its façade, such as the predominance of the bay.

In Espera we will also visit the Iglesia Parroquial of Santa María de Gracia, a Renaissance temple that began to be built in the 16th century, although the work was not completed until the 18th century due to the damage caused by the earthquakes of 1636 and 1755. It has a Greek cross floor plan and both its façade and main altarpiece already belong to the Baroque style.

Bornos

Our third stop on the northern Baroque route is Bornos, which is only 15 minutes from Espera. In this small village we find examples of Baroque architecture such as the Iglesia Parroquial of Santo Domingo de Guzmán. The date of construction of the temple is unknown, although it is estimated that it was built between the end of the 15th century and the beginning of the 16th century. We should highlight the altarpiece found in the Altar Mayor, of Baroque style and made up of three streets separated by Solomonic columns and with cavities.

A few metres from this basilica we find the Iglesia de la Resurrección, which was originally a house-hospital built in the 16th century by Diego Álvarez in his will. Only the church remains of this building, which houses a majestic gold-plated Baroque altarpiece accompanied by Solomonic columns.

Villamartín

We continue our route for just over 12 km to reach Villamartín, a small village located in the lower part of the Sierra Beticas. In this municipality we can visit the Iglesia Parrowquial of Santa María de las Virtudes, built shortly after the town was founded. Although it was originally intended to follow the style of a Mudejar temple, it was finally decided to opt for a Renaissance design. Among the relics to be found inside the church is the Baroque style ostensory.

In the Plaza del Ayuntamiento is the Capilla of Las Angustias, a 17th century temple with a single nave and a flat chancel. The building stands out for its sobriety, both on the outside and inside, where there is a Baroque main altarpiece.

Puerto Serrano

A little over a quarter of an hour separates Villamartín from our next destination, Puerto Serrano. Located between the Sierras Subbeticas and the Guadalete river, this is the starting point of the Vía Verde de la Sierra in Cadiz. To the west of the municipality there is an old construction dating from the mid-18th century, the Molino de Siré. The building was originally an old Carmelite Convent, although it abandoned its religious function to take on an industrial role. Both its façade and its floor plan are the result of a mixture of Baroque and Neoclassical styles. It is currently considered an Asset of Cultural Interest by the Department of Culture of the Andalusian Regional Government.

In the same street where the mill is, just 25 metres away, we find the Iglesia of Santa María Magdalena. This church is the only religious building in the village and is of a humble character. Although it is neoclassical in style, it has evident nuances and influences from the first stage of Baroque architecture. It has three naves, a double façade and a bell tower, and inside the Baroque canvases by Alonso Cano stand out.

Olvera

After visiting Puerto Serrano, we will go to Olvera, 40 km away. In this municipality we find a rather peculiar and unique building in the region, the Capilla del Arte (Chapel of Art). This art gallery houses the work of the artist Miguel Sevillano, which he also uses as a studio. The monument houses neo-baroque paintings inside.

Near the chapel is the Santuario of Nuestra Señora de los Remedios, a shrine where the patron saint of Olvera is venerated. The temple, which dates back to the 18th century, is clearly Baroque in design and is located on the border between the town and the village of Torre-Alháquime.

Torre-Alháquime

From Olvera, our next destination is Torre-Alháquime, just over 10 minutes away. Located in the heart of the mountain region, in this charming village we can visit the Parroquia of Nuestra Señora de la Antigua, a temple of Sevillian reminiscence by order of the Sevillian archbishop after intervening in the conquest of the town. Its imposing Baroque façade has a split pediment and an oculus. The exterior of the building is crowned by three bells, while the interior has a painting of the Souls, attributed to Murillo, and a baptismal font, considered to be a true relic.

Alcalá del Valle

The northern Baroque route ends in Alcalá del Valle, a small mountain town where our last stop is the Iglesia of Santa María del Valle. The church, dedicated to the patron saint of the town, was built under Baroque architectural guidelines between the 17th and 18th centuries and has undergone various modifications. Its interior is divided into three naves separated by arcades. There is no tower on its façade, but its stepped design culminates in a bell wall with two holes and a clock.

Architectural – Monumental Baroque route southern

Arcos de la Frontera

The Basílica Menor de Santa María is a clear example of this union of artistic trends. The church, classified as the oldest in the town, is based on an old mosque and, having been built over six centuries (XIV-XVIII), it has Gothic, Plateresque and Baroque features.

This is also evident in the Church of San Francisco, built thanks to Beatriz Pacheco, Duchess of Arcos. After suffering the confiscations of Mendizábal, the attached convent disappeared, but the church has survived to the present day. Three chapels are joined to the central nave, in Gothic, Baroque and Flamboyant styles.

The Convent-Hospital of San Juan de Dios was built in the 16th century and originally served as a clinic to which a chapel was attached. Inside we can see elements of different styles, such as the Baroque staircase in the columned courtyard, a Baroque altarpiece and a Gothic-style image of Christ of the Vera-Cruz.

The Church of San Pedro is another religious building in Arcos that we can visit. Built in the 16th century, this church has its foundations in an old Hispano-Muslim fortress. It consists of a nave divided into three spaces to which are added six chapels in Renaissance and Baroque styles. The façade also follows the same style, although it also shows influences from the Sevillian school.

The Convento of las Mercedarias is the only remaining convent in Arcos de la Frontera. It was built in 1642 thanks to the donations of one of the town’s leading ladies, Beatriz de la Calle y Natera. The chapel inside has a Baroque altarpiece with an image of Nuestra Señora de la Merced and San José.

Algar

If we choose to follow the route made up of the White Villages located in the southern part of the region, our next destination will be Algar. The town is just over 20 km from Arcos de la Frontera and here we can visit the Iglesia Parroquial of Santa María de Guadalupe. Considered to be the most important religious monument in the municipality, the church was built between 1762 and 1763. Although its main altarpiece, in the Baroque style, is no longer preserved, we can appreciate the tendency of this architectural style in its façade.

Benaocaz

From Algar we will head towards Benaocaz, a town almost entirely located in the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park, making it an ideal opportunity to visit this beautiful natural setting. Once we arrive at our destination, we will go to the Plaza de las Libertades, where we will find the town’s city hall. The town hall, built during the 18th century, has a Baroque layout and is made up of two floors reflected on the outside by two galleries. On the outside, the roof is made up of Arab tiles.

To the south of the municipality and almost on the outskirts of it is the Fuente de Allá (Allá Fountain). A monumental complex made up of a fountain and a trough in the Baroque style. It currently is part of the town’s water supply network, but until the 1970s it was used by the inhabitants, making it one of the town’s meetings places and centres of social activity. The fountain was built during the reign of Charles III from stone ashlars, and has four spouts, a basin and three steps. Nowadays, this group and some others with similar characteristics located in nearby towns are under study by the Regional Ministry of the Environment in order to classify them as points of interest due to their deep-rooted popular character.

Ubrique

A little more than ten minutes by car from Benaocaz is the town of Ubrique, our next stop. The town, renowned for the quality of its leather goods, has a number of buildings of great value for our route. The Convent of Capuchinos was home to this religious order from its construction in the second half of the 17th century. The church, the convent and the porter’s lodge that make up the stagecoaches of this type of construction present the architectural characteristics typical of the Baroque style. The temple has a single nave covered by a barrel vault and a hemispherical dome and inside there is a main altarpiece with an image of Nuestra Señora de los Remedios.

Very close to the Convent of Capuchinos, in the historic center, is placed the old Church of San Juan de Letrán. The building, which dates from the 17th century and currently houses the Centro de Interpretación de la Historia de Ubrique (Ubrique History Interpretation Centre), follows the Baroque architectural style that proliferated in the province during that century and later. The façade is divided into three streets separated by Tuscan pilasters, of which the central one stands out for being three times as wide and having a recessed triumphal arch. It is worth noting that, after the confiscations in the mid-19th century, the temple was separated from the church and became the property of the Vezago family. The church underwent a thorough renovation at the hands of its new owners with the aim of turning it into a dwelling. The Vezagos lived in the old church until the middle of the 20th century, when they moved to Jerez de la Frontera and the building was bought by the Town Council of Ubrique.

Villaluenga del Rosario

If we continue eastwards for 20 minutes, we reach Villaluenga del Rosario, the penultimate municipality on our itinerary. This town is located in the heart of the Sierra of Grazalema, at the foot of the Navazo Alto and facing the Sierra de Líbar. It is also the smallest and highest village in the province of Cadiz. The Iglesia of San Miguel is located next to the village’s alameda. The church has Baroque architecture with three naves at different heights and separated by wide Tuscan columns. Among the elements that make up the sanctuary there are the Baroque domes of the Baptismal Chapel and one of the side chapels, where the Baptismal font is located.

Zahara de la Sierra

Zahara de la Sierra, located in the epicentre of the Sierra de Grazalema and at the foot of the Sierra del Jaral, is the finishing touch to this architectural tour of the villages of the south. Right in the center of the village is the Iglesia of Santa María de la Mesa, a 17th century church built on the foundations of the old Ermita of San Francisco. It has a Baroque façade of pink marble and three naves, the central one being higher and wider than the side naves. Inside, the main altarpiece, also in the same artistic style, stands out.

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Architectural – Monumnetal Gothic Route

Gothic art was an artistic style developed and established in western Europe between the 12th and 16th centuries. The presence of Gothic art in Andalusia is deep, with buildings and architectural works scattered throughout the region. With the occupation of the Guadalquivir Valley by the monarch Fernando III, this style began to gain special prominence in Andalusian constructions. Although it is true that, at the height of the Reconquest, the architectural characteristics of the Gothic style sometimes merged with the Mudejar style, typical of the Nasrids who dominated most of the peninsula.

The Architectural-Monumental Gothic Route is a journey through 4 municipalities of Pueblos Blancos in which we will visit different emblematic buildings of an eminent Gothic character.

73.3 km
1h y 9 min

Olvera

We will begin our route in the town of Olvera, a town located in the northeast of the Sierra of Cádiz. This small mountain village is home to the Iglesia del Socorro, a Gothic-Mudejar style temple with a single tower, erected by Mr. Juan Téllez. It currently houses the images of Nuestro Padre Jesús Cautivo and Nuestra Señora del Socorro.

The Iglesia of Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación is a neoclassical construction, built on the foundations of an old Gothic-Mudejar temple, of which part of the apse has been preserved.

Algodonales

Just 20 minutes away Algodonales is located, our second stop on the Gothic Route. The municipality is located in the heart of the Sierra of Cádiz and close to the Sierra of Líjar. On the outskirts of the town is the Ermita de la Virgencita, a small neoclassical and neo-baroque sanctuary. Built between the 18th and 19th centuries, it is an important place of worship as it is visited by the whole village during the romería held on the last weekend of May.

Bornos

From Algodonales, our next destination is 40 km away. Bornos is a town located in the Sierra of Cadiz, where we can visit the Castillo-Palacio of Los Ribera, an old Muslim fortress that was restored and converted into a house after the reconquest. Despite being eminently Renaissance in style, it has late Gothic elements such as the decorations on a doorway located on the north gallery. A visit to the beautiful gardens surrounding the building is a must.

Arcos de la Frontera

We then head to Arcos de la Frontera, which is only 15 minutes away from Bornos and is located in the northwest of the province of Cadiz. In this municipality, we can visit the Capilla de la Misericordia, a building founded in 1940 that originally served as a home for abandoned children and a hospital for women. Its façade is Gothic in style and inside it houses the only preserved portraits of the Marquises of Cádiz.

The current retirement home in Arcos was originally the Convent-Hospital of San Juan de Dios. Built in the 16th century, it has a mixture of styles. Of particular note is the image of the Cristo de la Vera-Cruz, which is reminiscent of the Gothic style.

Considered a jewel of the 15th century due to the fusion of architectural styles, the Casa-Palacio del Conde del Águila is an emblematic building in Arcos that we can also visit during our visit to the town. The mixture of late Gothic and Mudejar styles makes it a monument of great architectural value.

In Arcos there are other buildings that demonstrate the coexistence of different architectural styles. The Basílica Menor de Santa María is the oldest temple in the municipality which, having been under construction for six centuries, houses styles such as Gothic, Baroque and Plateresque. Its main façade is a mixture of late Gothic and Isabelline, and inside, the ground plan of the hall is also of an eminently Gothic character. It has three naves of the same height, separated by circular pillars that support complex star-shaped ribbed vaults. Following the same style, there is a mural painting.

Another clear example of the fusion of styles in the same building is the Church of San Francisco, built thanks to donations from Beatriz, duchess of the town. After serving as a Propaganda Fide school and being subject to the confiscations of Mendizábal, only the church remains standing. The church consists of a central nave to which are attached three chapels in different styles, including Baroque.

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Nasrid Route

The Muslims occupied and lived in a large part of the peninsular area between the 8th and 15th centuries. It is therefore, indisputable, that in their stay they left an enormous legacy in many aspects, many of which still survive today. The Nasrid architectural heritage in the Pueblos Blancos is reflected in many buildings and sites scattered among different municipalities.

With the aim of bringing visitors closer to the Muslim legacy located throughout the hill region, we present this Nasrid Route; made up of 8 localities.

159 km
2h y 46 min

Torre Alháquime

Our starting point will be Torre Alháquime, a small town located in the heart of the Sierra de Cadiz. The town preserves the remains of the old fortress, which dates back to the 13th century. Although the Christian influence is evident, the architectural features and the layout of the enormous construction date it to between the 10th and 11th centuries, making it one of the oldest in the region. Remains of the walls surrounding the castle and a large turret are also preserved.

Olvera

The second stop on our itinerary is in Olvera, just over 6 km from Torre Alháquime. This municipality, located in the northeast of the Sierra de Cádiz, has several points of interest on our route. On the one hand, we can visit the Olvera castle, built at the end of the 12th century. The fort formed part of the defence system of the Nasrid Kingdom and thanks to its strategic position it allowed to see the border of castles that separated the Muslim and Christian areas.

Along with the castle, the Nasrid fortress consisted of the Barrio de la Villa, built on the irregularities of the terrain. The Torre del Pan or Torre de los Olivillos, muslim constructions that served as mills, are also preserved.

Zahara de la Sierra

Half an hour from Olvera is our next destination, Zahara de la Sierra. The small hill village preserves its castle and keep, the last remnants of the fort that surrounded the village, built between the 13th and 15th centuries. The watchtower was part of the castle complex, but at the same time it was independent, as its function was as a refuge in case the rest of the town fell.

Puerto Serrano

The third stop on the Nasrid Route is Puerto Serrano, which is less than 30 km from the town of Zahara. At the foot of the Vía Verde, Puerto Serrano was a muslim village of rural occupation, where farming was the main activity. Our next visit is to the Fuente de Ramos necropolis. Consisting of burials from different periods, we can distinguish two burial areas: one from the Bronze Age and the other from the Nasrid period. The Muslim necropolis is located along the slope of the enclosure and is mostly made up of graves oriented north-south. The bodies were placed in the right lateral decubitus position, facing east towards Mecca. The burials were made in simple pits, carved out of rock and generally narrow.

Villamartín

Only 15 minutes separate Puerto Serrano from our next destination, Villamartín. This small town, located in the lower part of the Baetic Mountain Ranges, is home to the remains of one of the buildings of muslim origin in the region. The Matrera Castle, declared a Bien de Interés Cultural (Asset of Cultural Interest), belonged to the defensive architecture of the town. The fortress that can be visited is a Christian rebuilding, which was built over the arab fortress, although the original construction dates from the 9th century and was ordered to be built by Omar Ben Hafsun.

Espera

The next stop on our route is Espera, a municipality situated on the slopes of the Cerro de Fatetar and which preserves the remains of a castle of the same name. The origins of Fatetar Castle are unclear, but legend has it that it was ordered to be built by King Hespero as an observatory. During the muslim occupation, the fortress was erected by order of Abderraman III in 914. In 1755 it was partially destroyed by the Lisbon earthquake, but was restored in 1810 by the French. After the departure of the French troops, the fort fell into disrepair and over time it turned into ruins. It was not until 1985 that it was partially restored. The Torre del Homenaje (keep) is the best-preserved construction from the period of Muslim rule.

Arcos de la Frontera

The next-to-last municipality we will visit is Arcos de la Frontera, 18 minutes from Espera. It was not until the Muslim invasion that the municipality began to prosper, becoming a small Taifa kingdom. Following the objective of our Nasrid Route, in Arcos we can visit the Ducal Castle; a military fortress during the Muslim occupation, composed of four towers in its corners. The state of conservation of the fortress is due to the reforms carried out in the 14th and 15th centuries. According to documents found, a large horseshoe arch still remains from the Nasrid period at the old west entrance and a wall in the southwest.

It is also interesting to visit the remains of the old Moorish wall, vestiges of which have been preserved to the present day and which were built in tabiya. The enclosure had three main entrances, the Jerez Gate, the Carmona Gate and the Matrera Gate, which is the only one that has survived to the present day.

Benaocaz

We cannot end this historical tour of the region’s Muslim architecture without stopping at Benaocaz, our last stop. The town, located in the Sierra of Grazalema Natural Park, was founded by the Arabs in 715, who remained there until the Christian reconquest in 1845.

As an architectural legacy of the Nasrid stay in Benaocaz, we find the remains of the Castle of Aznalmara or Tavizna. Built between the 13th and 14th centuries, it served as a military construction in the highest part of the hill overlooking the banks of the river Tavizna. The site where the fort was built is no coincidence, as it was a strategic place of access to the mountains through the municipality itself.

It is also of great interest to visit the Barrio Nazarí, in the oldest part of the town and considered to be one of the best-preserved historical remnants of that period in the whole region. Nowadays it is made up of ruins of old dwellings that are characterised by the fact that they conserve the urban layout of the streets typical of the Muslims.

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Roman route

Cadiz did not escape the dominion of the Roman Empire since its arrival in the province in the 1st century AD. Nowadays, there are many archaeological remains that bear witness to the prolonged Roman stay and the creation of different settlements throughout the area.

The Roman Route is a journey through the sites of the period, scattered throughout the Sierra de Cádiz region. A total of 7 stops in 8 municipalities make up an interesting route that brings visitors closer to the colonies’ lifestyle that in the future would evolve into the towns as we know them today.

124 km
2h y 17 min

Arcos de la Frontera

Our first stop will be Arcos de la Frontera, a town surrounded by the Guadalete River and located at the beginning of the Sierra of Cádiz. To the southwest of the municipality, we find the Sierra of Aznar site, in the Cerro del Moro. An ensemble of archaeological remains dating from between the 2nd century BC and the 4th century AD. We highlight the good state of preservation of the remains of hydraulic systems, through which water was collected, cleaned and transported.

Espera y Bornos

The second destination on our route is between the towns of Espera and Bornos. At 18.8 and 13.3 km respectively, we find the archaeological sites of Carissa Aurelia, a settlement that gradually acquired such importance that it became a municipality within the Roman administration. The remains were discovered between 1985 and 1988 and have been declared as Bien de Interés Cultural (Asset of Cultural Interest). In the large area occupied by Carissa Aurelia, we can differentiate different areas such as the city, the necropolis to the north and south, the inner path of the necropolis or the siliform structures of an open-air settlement.

Puerto Serrano

Following the Roman Route, our next stop will take us to Puerto Serrano, a town located between the Subbaetic System and the Guadalete River. Close to this village, there are two sites of great interest. On the one hand, in the area surrounding the Ermita del Almendral, there is a group of pitish graves. In the area known as El Chaparral, there are also remains of an ancient Roman villa.

Zahara de la Sierra

Fourthly, we head for Zahara de la Sierra, less than 30 kilometres from Puerto Serrano. The municipality houses, in the area known as Poblado Nazarí, the Museo de Interpretación de la Villa Medieval (Medieval Village Interpretation Museum). Through its exhibitions we can take a journey through the history of the area. There are remains of hydraulic constructions, such as a cistern located on the eastern wall of the building.

Prado del Rey

Our next stop is Prado del Rey, a town just half an hour from Puerto Serrano and surrounded by the Verdugo and Las Lomas hills. Six kilometres away from the historic center we can find the Salinas and Yacimiento Arqueológico of Iptuci (Salt mines and archaeological site of Iptuci), the remains of a settlement of Turdetan origin dating back to the 2nd century BC. During the rule of the Roman Empire is when it experienced its period of greatest splendor.

Ubrique

Our next-to-last destination is Ubrique, a town less than 20 km from Prado del Rey. In this village we can visit the archaeological site of the Roman city of Ocuri, which, due to its high location and the monumental character of the sites that remain, it is thought that the town must have been of great importance in its time.

Between Ubrique and Benaocaz, there is a path formed by a Roman road. The stone pavement connected various towns and villages and formed part of the Roman road network that linked the villages of the Sierra.

Benaocaz

We will finish our Roman Route in Benaocaz. In addition to the Roman road path that connects this municipality with Ubrique, we find vestiges of the late Roman period in the Barrio Nazarí. In this area, the oldest in the municipality, there are remains that prove that Benaocaz was only a transit place to Villaluenga at this time.

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How to arrive

The province of Cadiz has an airport, located in Jerez de la Frontera. From there, it is possible to reach any of the villages that make up the route of the Pueblos Blancos.

Aeropuerto de Jerez

It is also possible to travel to the airports of the nearest provinces, in this case Seville and Malaga.

Aeropuerto de Málaga

Aeropuerto de Sevilla

To get to Cádiz it is possible to use the Spanish railway line that connects the province with different points of the Iberian Peninsula. Thus, on the one hand, we have the Long-Distance lines to the capital of Cadiz and, on the other hand, the Medium Distance rail system, through which we can reach the city.

Renfe

To get to Cádiz by car, it is possible to take the A4 motorway, which connects the centre and the south of the peninsula. It is also possible to do so from the Autopista del Sur or AP-4, which since January 2020 has been toll-free along its entire route.

Dirección General de Tráfico

Ministerio de Transportes, Movilidad y Agenda Urbana

Cadiz is connected by intercity buses to Seville and Ronda (Málaga). The Junta of Andalucía provides users with the websites of the Metropolitan Transport Consortium of both provinces from which they can access all the information about transport lines.

Consorcio de transportes de Sevilla

Consorcio de Transporte Metropolitano del Área de Málaga

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Sports Route

The location of the Pueblos Blancos offers a wide variety of outdoor activities. The municipalities, located in the Sierra region and part of them in the Sierra of Grazalema Natural Park, are surrounded by a natural environment ideal for outdoor sports, hiking trails, water activities, caving or even paragliding.

The aim of the Sports Route is to establish an itinerary through the different localities where these outdoor activities can be carried out, all under the stunning views offered by the Sierra of Cádiz. Due to the large number of villages that make up this route, it has been divided between the towns to the north and south.

Thus, we would have on the one hand the Sport Route to the north, made up of Arcos, Bornos, Puerto Serrano, Algodonales, and El Gastor; and the Sport Route to the south, which is made up of Arcos, El Bosque, Ubrique, Benaocaz, Grazalema, Villaluenga and Zahara de la Sierra.

67.1 km
1h y 6 min
87.5 km
1h y 52 min

Sports Route to the North

Sports Route to the South

Sports Route to the North

Arcos de la Frontera