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Pueblos Blancos

Pueblos Blancos

Exploring the white villages of Andalucia

The pueblos blancos ("white villages") are situated in the foothills of the Sierras de Cádiz y Serranía de Ronda, built atop hills and steep cliffs, which granted them control over the surrounding location. They appear in the distance like white patches over the landscape, dominant and proud.

Their role as border towns (which explains some of their name: Arcos de la Frontera, etc.) in the century-old struggle between Moors and Christians explains the common presence of castle fortresses, and the Muslim occupation, together with the mountainous characteristic of these villages, left a strong mark on their architecture: steep, narrow and winding streets, entrance passages to homes and patios, small arches over alleyways.

They are not unlike some of the the Berber towns of Northern Africa, which isn't surprising considering Berbers were the main population of these villages for many centuries...

I'm starting this collection with the first pueblo blanco I visited, Vejer de la Frontera. I didn't plan it, but the rooftop of my hotel gave me an unprecedented view of the town, which I photographed at both sunrise and night fall.

  • Click on an image to take a closer look!

Gaucín (pictured below at sunrise) was also a highlight. As I came back to the village from a morning hike in the surrounding forested valley, I observed an old lady painting the street railings in black, under the scorching midday heat. Later in the trip, in another white village, a French traveler I was having a conversation with put into words what I had observed: "Compared to France, the people have a much stronger sense of pride here; they put a lot of love and effort in maintaining their villages: streets are clean and well-lit at night, they regularly paint their walls and railings..."

I hope some of the photos below convey that "Pueblo Blanco" spirit which we've observed. One where young and old hang out in the streets late into the evening, eating some delicious pluma iberica and salmorejo, enjoying their peaceful towns which they work so hard to maintain.