Land of historical heritage

The history of the Pueblos Blancos cannot be written without mentioning the numerous civilisations that have inhabited these lands. Since the first settlers, the Sierra de Cádiz region has witnessed centuries of history and has been home to cultures, some now extincted and others that have survived so far. As a result, the architectural heritage of the Pueblos Blancos is extensive and exquisite. A great tourist attraction that captivates thousands of visitors every year and is just one more proof of the cultural wealth and importance of the province of Cadiz.

If we organise chronologically this heritage, in the region we can visit prehistoric sites. A wide variety of archaeological remains of the first settlers that have managed to be preserved up to the present and allow us to learn about the lifestyle and customs of our ancestors. In addition to the remains of millenary dwellings, ancient walls that served as protection against possible aggressors, old necropolises have survived. These tombs expose us to the funeral rites and the first religious beliefs in history.

The Roman Empire meant a period of great prosperity and wealth, which resulted in a huge investment in infrastructure. In the Pueblos Blancos there are still remains of settlements, hydraulic structures and burial sites. We can also highlight the excellent state of preservation of a Roman road that belonged to the Empire’s road network.

After the fall of the Empire and the subsequent Nasrid invasion, the Muslims settled in the region and brought with them a deep cultural, social, architectural and religious change. From this period, we find above all, structures belonging to ancient castles and forts, ruins of old dwellings and some burial sites.

The Reconquest by the Christian troops and the recovery of the territory shook the foundations from the era in all of their aspects. The new trends in architecture, art and thought, such as Gothic and Baroque, left a deep stamp on the new society, leading to a break with everything that had been established and a change in what had been imposed up to that time. Gothic art in the Pueblos Blancos merges with traits of the Mudejar style and is present at the structures of religious temples or in elements such as apses, doorways or mansions. Baroque was an architectural style that is widely spread throughout the region. The exuberance that characterises this style is tangible in basilicas, convents, churches, doorways, altarpieces, columns and façades.

Despite the fact that many of these elements are the result of the merge of these expressions with other styles such as Mudejar, neoclassical or flamboyant, the influence and weight that these two styles had is evident.

In addition to the large number of temples, convents, hermitages and other religious buildings to visit in the Pueblos Blancos, we can also visit the former homes of wealthy families, now turned into mansions. Other buildings have also been adapted as town halls, museums and interpretation centres.


Pueblos blancos, millenary heritage

To discover the origins of the Sierra de Cádiz region, we will go back to the Lower Palaeolithic period. This means that we count on a rich heritage of archaeological sites with more than 2.5 million years of history scattered throughout the area. Up to the present, numerous civilizations -and their respective cultures- have settled in the hill geography, leaving a legacy that has lasted until the present day.

From the Palaeolithic period we must highlight the preservation of necropolises, collective burials of great value through which can approach us to the millenary customs of our ancestors. Along with the remains of Iberian settlements, tools and artefacts that we can visit, we will get a fairly clear picture about the lifestyle of the first settlers of the Sierra de Cadiz.

The greatness brought by the Roman Empire control also reached the towns of the region, which reached a prosperity era reflected nowadays in the remains preserved. Vestiges of castles, towers, roads or walls and ancient cities scattered throughout the area confirm the opulence experienced during this period.

The fall of Rome by the Nasrid forces meant an absolute rupture with all the pillars and values established so far. The changes brought about by the Islamic settlements are evident in aspects such as religion, gastronomy or architecture. The convulsive nature of this period implied the construction of walled enclosures, towers and castles that are still partially preserved. New traditions are also reflected in burial sites, leaving proof of the dissociation with ancient Roman practices.

The Reconquest by the Christian troops brought once again a schism in the life and habits of the citizens of the hill region. The deep religious sentiment, together with the influence of new architectural trends, meant that many Islamic buildings were replaced by gothic and baroque churches, temples and chapels. Furthermore, huge country houses, farms and buildings for civilian use began to be built in which the different decorative styles intermingled.

The rich heritage of Pueblos Blancos is just one more proof of the irrefutable historical value of the Sierra de Cádiz region which, despite having witnessed great milestones and events, is still more alive than ever.


Cheeses, gourmet products with highland certificate of origin

The gastronomy of the Pueblos Blancos is one of the most complete and varied in the Cadiz province: from the flavour of its game meats, to the horticultural and agricultural tradition and the succulent diversity of the municipality’s pastry cook.

However, the Sierra of Cádiz has managed to position itself as a national and international gourmet reference point thanks to one of its most emblematic products, cheese. Centuries of tradition are evidence of what today is one of the main economic engines and tourist attractions of the region. Figures corroborate the importance of this sector in the area. According to the Sierra de Cádiz Cheese Producers’ Association, 70% of the province’s handcrafted cheese production is gathered in Pueblos Blancos. In addition to the high volume of sales and the popularity of these products, the track record that has been awarded to local companies now exceeds one hundred.

The lack of automation in the production process and the important role played by artisans are two essential pillars of the cheese industry. However, the quality and flavour of the final product is influenced by other factors of great importance, such as the raw material. The milk used in the manufacture of these cheeses comes from native breeds – the Payoya goat and the Grazalemeña merino sheep – which are exclusive to the area and endangered species. The particular climatic conditions of the area have made the Sierra of Grazalema the suitable habitat for shepherding of these endemic species.

Although the traditional recipes have managed to outlast up to today and keep achieving a huge success, the palette of flavours has expanded thanks to the new adaptations that have emerged. The possibilities range from goat’s, sheep’s or mixed cheeses for conventional palates, to the most daring versions, with toppings made of butter, rosemary, thyme, oregano, cumin or paprika.

There is no doubt that the cheeses of the Pueblos Blancos have acquired such relevance that to describe them as cultural and gastronomic heritage is just a reality.


Motor Racing in Pueblos Blancos

The passion for motor racing can be felt in Pueblos Blancos, the close relationship between motor sport and the hill municipalities has been very close for decades. The number of enthusiasts thrilled to enjoy this sport in Sierra of Cadiz, which has become the perfect setting for these events, thanks to its incredible landscapes and retreats.

Several municipalities have been hosting different motor events for years. Although some of them, such as the Raid Guadalete TT, which took place between Villamartín, Bornos and Espera, have not endure over time, there is currently a wide variety of proposals that continue to be very well accepted amongst the public.

For more than ten years, Provincial Council of Cádiz has been organising its annual Open Provincial de Automovilismo, made up of 9 competitions in different categories. Rallyes, mountain disciplines, timed races or slalom comprising some of the modalities of this provincial championship, which aims to reward not only drivers, but also professionals, collaborators and volunteers who make this incredible competition happen.

The Sierra de Cádiz Rally is a must for all motor lovers and a unique opportunity to enjoy rural tourism and live shows on the Sierra de Grazalema. This event has already been held for more than 20 editions and its route embraces solely of the Pueblos Blancos. El Bosque, Benaocaz, Ubrique, Grazalema, Olvera, El Gastor and Zahara de la Sierra constitute the itinerary of this race, which is part of the Campeonato de Andalucía de Rallyes de Asfalto and scores towards other regional competitions.

One of the major events on the sporting calendar of Cádiz is the Subida a Algar, the oldest motor racing event in the province. The large number of participations is proof of the popularity and importance that this event has acquired since its debut. There will be areas to watch the race at different points near the town centre. The possible weather inclemency plays a defining role in the difficulty of the tour, which is made up of a very technical route with very narrow tracks.

Another acclaimed race in the region is the Subida Ubrique-Benaocaz, which is close to the Algar race in terms of antiquity. There have been already 25 editions of this thrilling competition, which links both towns and is included in the Andalusian and Spanish Mountain Championships. With a new route and 60 participants in different categories, the Subida Ubrique-Benaocaz is one of the most awaited events for bikers.

It is not surprising that, due to the popularity and expectation generated by motor sports in Cadiz, the Rally Andalucía has its headquarters in the province. More than a hundred cars and almost a hundred motorbikes participate in this 4-days competition, which is a stage of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies. The starting and finishing point will be the Hacienda El Rosalejo, located in Villamartín, where the bivouac will also be set up. It should be noted that this event serves as a qualifying race for participants who want to take part in the Dakar.

And as if this were not enough, Andalusia also hosts its own annual Slalom Championship. This discipline tests the driving and control of the vehicle to overcome obstacles. The competition, which has been held for more than thirty editions, is divided into ten events, distributed in different towns through the province, including Arcos de la Frontera and El Bosque.

The Pueblos Blancos and the province of Cádiz play an essential role in the motor racing and competition sector at a regional and national level. The large number of sporting events spread throughout the calendar allows a perfect symbiosis between tourism, gastronomy, nature and leisure at any time of the year.