The Romans and Moors have left an unforgettable footprint in southern Spain. We follow their paths on a tour through Andalusia's picture-perfect Los Pueblos Blancos
Kaleidoscope of colourDriving along the circuitous routes of the mountainous hinterland of Andalusia you are met with one extraordinary site after another. Los Pueblos Blancos – The White Villages – are 19 picturesque settlements that, to many, are synonymous with southern Spain. Clinging to hillsides, these communities – who trace their existence back to pre-Roman times – are made up of knots of whitewashed homes with their accompanying brown or red-tiled roofs. One of the most beautiful sections of the ‘Ruta de los Pueblos Blancos’ is the panoramic stretch between Arcos de la Frontera and Ronda (the latter of which we have previously visited).
With each winding kilometre, the charm of this road, heading from Zahara de la Sierra towards the province of Granada, increases exponentially. A land of twisty mountain passes, ancient towns and villages and countless olive groves, where the scent of pine trees fills the air. It’s a soothing tapas of colours – the vivid green of the hills and valleys, the intense blue of the Andalusian sky and the luminous white villages on the horizon.
In villages like Grazalema and Setenil de las Bodegas, small white casas seem to cascade down the hillsides like a waterfall. The white walls of these angular, mostly single-storey structures, with their trademark tiled roofs, attract the sun while reflecting the heat back outside. Many residents lovingly decorate them with colourful plant pots against the limestone walls. Orange and lemon trees, laden with their bounty, line the tight little streets. It’s a travel experience that satisfies all the senses.
Where history seeps from every brick, every tileThe Moorish roots of this region are still visible wherever you look. You can see it in the curvaceous, decorative ironwork on windows and balconies. The entrances and patios decorated with brightly-coloured azulejos tiling also bear witness to the Moorish culture that dominated this region for hundreds of years. With their mansions and baroque churches, these historic towns and villages are like an open-air museum of shifting cultures, religions and centuries-old architecture.
Drive on, dream onAhead of us lies Ronda – la Ciudad Soñada, the City of Dreams – perhaps the best-known mountain town in southern Spain, and one of the highlights of the Porsche Southern Spain Travel Experience. The view of the city and the Puente Nuevo bridge, with its gigantic round arches, perched high on the rock plateau, is an iconic one. Ronda’s beauty has inspired many writers, including such literary greats as Ernest Hemingway. We park up at the Plaza de Toros. From here it is just a short walk to admire the view of the old stone bridge over the gorge and then continue into the old town to our lunch appointment.
After a light lunch, we’re in the mood again for the open road. We wind our way through the Los Alcornocales Nature Park, whose cork oak forests are the largest on the Iberian Peninsula. The wonderful assault of colours we have experienced these past few days continues to delight, this time in the shape of the muted orange of the freshly-peeled cork oaks, lit by the descending afternoon sun. A tour through Andalusia’s delightful villages on the Porsche Southern Spain Travel Experience is more than just a vision of white. It’s a memorable explosion of colour.
This story is part of the 25 Years of Porsche Travel Experience anniversary series. We take you on a virtual world tour around the globe – with a new, fascinating episode each week. Click here to read all stories.
Màlaga. Casares. Sevilla.
Discover the Porsche Travel Experience Southern Spain