Best Kept Secrets: Pueblito Within The Castle Walls, Andalucia

white villages of andalucia

Castillo de Castellar, a white village in Andlucia.

Beautiful medieval villages that tufted the Andalucian country side are now sparsely populated.  Within a half an hours drive from each other, a great day trip is to explore these quiet villages.  What is a pueblito?  Robin Graham, our guest writer and expert on southern Spain will let you in on the secret. 

By Robin Graham

Two emblematic sights that always come to mind when one thinks of Andalucia are castles and pueblos blancos, the white villages.  Andalucia is littered with them. You have to watch yourself ; you can get a little bit “castled out” if you’re not careful, a little blasé about the generous sprinkling of white villages over the slopes and heights of the region.

If you find yourself affected by Andalucian apathy however, there are antidotes. For example, food festivals. You might just be aware that the Spanish quite like a bit of food now and then. This region alone plays host to dozens upon dozens of festivals annually, and I’m not talking about farmer’s market mish-mashes – I’m talking about single product, bacchanalian orgies of worship; jamón festivals, snail festivals, morcilla (blood sausage) festivals, cheese festivals – you name it.

Other themes that can join the dots of your disappearing enthusiasm are flamenco, with its constant stream of events and festivals (that word again – welcome to Spain) and music in general; particularly the Circuitos Andaluces project which organises free concerts of folk and classical music around the region with an emphasis on beautiful venues, inside and out. Can’t beat that.

Or can you? While other towns and villages resort to festivals, ferias and fiestas to reinvent themselves and drum up some interest amongst weary locals and expats, there is one place that doesn’t have to. It alone enjoys a quality that trumps all of the castles and the pueblos that surround it on every hilltop; it is both a castle and a pueblo blanco.

Castillo de Castellar has a history that has continued to twist and turn right up until the last few decades. The castle was put here by the Moors in the 12th century when every square foot of this country was being fought over, and inside the castle walls they put a pueblecito blanco. The visitor nowadays, therefore, walking beneath the arch of the great gate and expecting an alcazar, is confronted with that most Andalucian of scenes; bougainvillea draped cottages with whitewashed walls, sprawling in a maze of winding, cobbled streets.

Fairy-tale doesn’t cover it. It even has a lover’s balcony, built right into the cliff side, that over looks the mountains of Cadiz province and the beautiful lake below (shh, it’s a reservoir). Up here at altitude, one can sit on a turretted terrace and sip wine while eagles swoop silently  overhead, their shadows dragon-sized on the medieval castle walls.

In the 70′s a new town was built a few kilometres away and the resettlement of the residents was partially successful. Only a few of them remain. The houses that were left empty have been bought up by holiday home owners and a good number of ageing German hippies, so the crooked little streets are lined with artists’ studios and handicraft displays.

It’s well worth a visit for the views alone, and is one of the more unusual locations in this beautiful province.

Related Spain Scoop:  Check  out more posts by Robin Graham.

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7 Comments

  1. Posted March 12, 2012 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    Amazing shots, great writing. I enjoyed this very much.

  2. Posted March 12, 2012 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    Gorgeous photos – you’ve made me want to buy a train ticket south:) I want a house like that!

  3. admin
    Posted March 12, 2012 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    Hi Julie, Yes, meandering from village to village is a great way to spend one or a few days. The views are excellent from the villages.

  4. admin
    Posted March 12, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    Hi Christopher, Thanks for writing. Have you visited the villages?

  5. Posted March 12, 2012 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

    Based upon your post with such lovely photos, I can’t imagine developing Andalucian apathy in Castillo de Castellar. I’d at least like to visit and find out.

  6. Posted March 13, 2012 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful photos! Andalucia looks amazing!

  7. Posted March 15, 2012 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    Robin, I love this. Those white villages are one of my favorite parts of Spain. Nice photos of the windows and walls with flowers and plants. I miss Spain.

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