Many of the traditions that have accompanied the Pueblos Blancos for centuries have managed to survive until now. Besides local festivities and customs, handmade products have become one of the great economic engines and an indisputable tourist attraction of the Sierra of Cádiz. The use of materials and techniques dates back to ancient times and is just one example of how well received this activity continues to be.
The close relationship that the Sierra of Cádiz still maintains with livestock farming evinces with the manufacture of horse-riding products. Boots, saddles and chaps are some of the saddlery items that can be purchased in local establishments.
The millenary work with clay is still common in many workshops. The quality of the ornamental work captivates many visitors, who often decide to come back home with an ornamental craftwork to remind them of their visit. Moreover, Grazalema is home of one of Andalusia’s Maestras Artesanales (Master Craftswomen), Montserrat Hidalgo, who has devoted her whole life and work to this sector. An honorary recognition for her professional career and her contributions to the industry.
Other materials such as wrought iron, a characteristic element of traditional Andalusian architecture, esparto, beech and pine wood, palm leaf and cork are also used in Cadiz manufactures. Rustic chairs, baskets, mats and decorative items are added to an extensive list of handcrafted products made in the Pueblos Blancos.
Such is the variety of articles that are made, that we can even acquire musical instruments of great quality and ancient tradition. The guitars made in Algodonales or the historic bagpipes of El Gastor are just some of the examples of the handcrafted wealth from Pueblos Blancos.
In addition to the dairy products of the grazalemeña sheep, their wool is used in the weaving of blankets, of exquisite quality and suitable for endure typical mountainous areas’ temperatures.
Undoubtedly, the distinguishing feature of the Pueblos Blancos is leather work. Leatherwork has a great weight in the industrial activity of the whole region. This craft, which dates back to the majestic times of the Caliphate, has now achieved worldwide recognition. The quality of the work is such that even well-known luxury fashion brands commission local workshops to make articles for sale. In addition, a large part of the production is exported to European countries, the United States, Australia, Canada and Japan, among others.
The wide range of products and articles made with care and attention to detail demonstrates the affection that the inhabitants of the Pueblos Blancos still have for handcraft, a manufacture that is increasingly hard to find in a globalized and overcrowded world, but which still finds its place in the Sierra of Cádiz.