By Robin Graham
One of the most striking features of Andalucia, Spain’s southernmost region, is the pueblo blanco – a white village teetering on a ridge or mountaintop. There are many, and they range from tiny and obscure hamlets to sizable, monument-filled towns. Most will have roots going back to the era of Islamic rule in Spain and will have been fortified strongholds, each one visible to the next for purposes of communication but divided by treacherous valleys where enemies might easily be encountered.
As the Moorish part of the country shrank southwards many of these towns found themselves in frontier territory, facing the advances of Christian forces from the north. To this day the transition is reflected in the names of some of these places in the form of the words ‘de la Frontera’ after the town’s name: Arcos de la Frontera, Castellar de la Frontera, Jimena de la Frontera and, perched on a height halfway between Tarifa and the city of Cádiz, perhaps the most visually spectacular of them all – Vejer de la Frontera.
It is easily driven past if you aren’t looking up, but if you are you will be presented with a spectacular and uniquely Andalucian scene – whitewashed walls built right into the cliff-side of a steep hill, like the foam on a breaking wave.
Once up there you’ll find yourself in an antique maze of stony white streets and squares. The town is visitor friendly with many menus printed in English and German (not usually the case along this costa) and shops catering to tourists and collectors. Accommodation is plentiful but La Casa del Califa would be hard to beat.
Something of a food destination, the renowned Patría restaurant is very nearby and for the gastronome looking for a more interactive experience, Annie B’s Spanish Kitchen offers a range of cookery courses so the visitor can leave Vejer with some serious know-how and enjoy Spanish food in Vancouver, Vienna or Vilnius.
Robin Graham writes at http://alotofwind.com/