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Maps of Spain by Data Spain  2006

Pueblos de la Fronteras, for scenery, history & mystery

Images of the Fronteras region


In the Province of Cadiz, between the Atlantic coast to the west and the Ronda Mountains to the east, are a cluster of some of Andalucía's most beautiful mountain villages, the enchanting Pueblos Blancos (White Villages).Every year, once the spring rains have passed, their houses are meticulously whitewashed to a state of pristine splendour and the white provides a dazzling contrast to landscape in which they sit. The most famous of the Pueblos is Arcos de la Frontera, perched high on a limestone ridge overlooking the fertile valley of the river Guadalete. Arcos is also the most accessible of the villages, only thirty-five kilometres from Jerez.

Arcos has a long history of occupation, with archaeological remains being found from the Neolithic, Bronze Age, Phoenician and Roman period. The Romans called their settlement Arx-Arcis ("High Fortress") because of its prime location and strategic importance. Arcos' modern name, 'de la Frontera' reflects it's importance during the Moorish period; the Pueblos, on the border between Castille and Moorish Granada, changed hands numerous times between the first Arab conquest in 711 and the final Spanish victory in 1492. The signature grill-covered windows reflect the defensive nature of the history of the villages.

Arcos de la Frontera

Arcos is the perfect location if you are looking for a few days of pure relaxation. With some of the most spectacular views in Spain, especially from the bell tower of the Santa Maria church (which dates from the 7 th Century) in the Plaza Cabildo. Also overlooking is the Castillo de los Arcos, the sandstone castle which was so important during the 'Frontera' days.

Running out from the plaza are a labyrinth of pretty, and often strikingly narrow, streets and alleys. These streets are a mixture of modest homes, sporting the signature barred windows, and the more impressive homes of the nobility, sporting large arched and carved doorways; the latter tend to date from the period of the Spanish renaissance which followed the final Spanish victory. Scattered throughout the streets and plazas you will find small restaurants, tapas bars and little craft shops selling distinctive local ceramic pieces.

Down below the town is the Guadalete river lined with olive and orange groves. There is also a reservoir, the Lago de Arcos, which is often used for swimming during the summer months.

Beyond Arcos.

Arcos is also makes a convenient home base from which to explore the other Pueblos Blancos, particularly El Bosque, Benahoma, Grazalema and Zahara de la Sierra (with it's Moorish castle and mosque).

It is also an ideal place from which to visit the Sierra de Grazalema natural park, one of Spain's most ecologically outstanding areas. The 51,695ha park is famous for its spectacularly rugged limestone landscape of cliffs, gullies, caves and gorges. By far the most impressive gorge is Garganta Verde, with its exceptional griffon vulture colony and rocky walls that tower vertically for 400m. Andalucia's largest cave system is also here, the Hundidero-Gato with its biggest cavern measuring 4km long and an entrance of 60m tall.

The region is well known for being the rainiest place in Spain, with an annual rainfall of 2,200mm, which means that the 1,300 Mediterranean plant species that have been registered here, many of them endemic and some of them unique to the Sierra, flourish. There is a magnificent and well preserved forest of the rare Spanish fir, a relic from the Tertiary period, in the Sierra del Pinar on the slopes of Cadiz province's highest peak at 1,654m, El Torreón.

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