By Christine Medina
After driving past a particular white village several times, set high atop a steep hillside off of the highway between Tarifa and Cadiz, I was intrigued. I set off in the peak of Spain‘s boiling summer to seek shade among the labyrinthine walls of Vejer De La Frontera, a traditional Andalusian pueblo blanco (white village) that’s been ruled by Phoenicians, Romans, Moors and Christians.
The five-century-long Moorish rule had the biggest influence on Vejer De La Frontera. You’ll find it in the architecture of many door frames and spot it in paintings scattered around the town depicting women in burka-like apparel. Until as recently as the end of the 20th century the women of Vejer wore long, black cloaks that veiled their faces.
Vejer De La Frontera has an unmistakably mysterious feel to it, perhaps due to its diverse and intriguing past, or its dramatic location and even present-day isolation. Here’s what’s worth seeing in Vejer:
Stand at any high point in the town and you’ll be offered either stunning views of the whitewashed buildings, a peek at the Moroccan coastline on a clear day, or overlook the winding highway and fields that sprawl out before you. Vejer’s unique location in a cleft between two high hills make the views outstanding.
The Church of the Divine Savior is unique in that it combines two distinct architectural styles: Gothic and Mudejar, left over from the Moorish rule of the city.
My favorite aspect of the pueblos blancos is their shared commonality. No, not the fact that they are indeed white, but the curvy, narrow streets they offer are perfect for exploration. You’ll be treated with discovering touches of Arabic influence and feel almost like you’re in a different time, especially in Vejer.
Playa El Palmar
The beaches on the Costa de Luz are some of the best along the Andalusian coastline. Unlike the neighboring Costa del Sol, the beaches of much of Cádiz aren’t packed to the brim with people. You’ll share Playa El Palmar’s long stretches of white sand with just a few other beach-goers.
Vejer De La Frontera is dotted with several flour mills, located in the highest part of the town. Nearly all of the mills have been repaired by the Andalusian government (unless privately owned) and offer a unique peek into Vejer’s agricultural past.
Christine Medina shares her travel advice, anecdotes, and photographs at http://www.christineinspain.com/