10 reasons why Grazalema is not to be missed
Settled in the Sierra de Grazelema Natural Park, which gives it its name, is a picturesque town that is one of the most beautiful stops on the White Village Tour of the province of Cadiz. In addition to its mountainous charm, it offers the best location with regards to appreciating this park, declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco, that is more than ideal for lovers of nature and active tourism. We have ten reasons why you can´t miss out on Grazalema!
1. Take advantage of its unique setting
Thanks to Grazalema´s exclusive location in the heart of this natural park separating the provinces of Cadiz and Malaga, it has become a strategic spot for enjoying the traditional towns on the White Village Tour. This beautiful route, which is defined by its rural charisma, its local gastronomy and its white-washed hoses, is formed by the villages of El Bosque, Prado del Rey, Zahara de la Sierra and its mountain side beach, the castle of Olvera, Algodonales, El Gastor, Grazalema, Villaluenga del Rosario and its famous Payoyo cheese, Benaocaz (all belonging to Cadiz ), as well as the majestic Ronda and its gorge, Montejaque, Benaoján and Jimera de Libar on the Malaga side. Not forgetting the famous Setenil de las Bodegas and its fascinating architecture built into the rocks.
2. Visit the two viewpoints
Scenery like that of the Sierra de Grazalema deserves to be admired, and what better place to do so than from a natural balcony with panoramic views of the wild beauty of an area that is home to one of the most curious plants in the world, the Spanish fir. We highly recommend these two viewpoints:
Puerto del Boyar View Point
Found on a mountain pass at a height of 1103 metres, it is considered one of the most important viewpoints of Cadiz. It is the best way to take in Grazalema and appreciate the scenery that is on offer; from the Spanish fir tree forest and the Sierra del Endrinal to the Cabrero valley. Furthermore, this view point features tables, drinking water fountains and everything that you need to enjoy an authentic day out in the countryside.
Puerto de las Palomas Viewpoint
From this viewpoint you can expect sights of predators as outstanding as vultures and Egyptian vultures that nest and fly over this area. The point can be found on a cattle track from where you may appreciate the Alcornocales Natural Park.
3. Go hiking
This park offers hikers and nature lovers a wide variety of trails to please all tastes and levels, which may be followed on foot, horseback or on a bike. The El Pinsapar (Spanish Fir) Route is a particular highlight, home to the hidden treasure of the largest forest of this fir in Europe, a wonder that has survived over time in this isolated setting. Another recommend trail for hikers is that of the Garganta Verde, whose extremely high stone canon, where vultures dwell and observe the deer and goats below, will leave you in awe.
Another walk we would single out for those lovers of “two-wheeled” tourism, is that of the Via Verde de la Sierra, that meanders by a former railway track running through some of the most picturesque villages of the area. Don´t miss out on other paths such as those of the Llano del Endrinal, the Salto del Cabrero or the River Majaceite. Furthermore the Sierra de Grazalema has several places on offer where you can participate in a whole range of water activities and other adventure sports for the experts amongst us.
4. Sample the local gastronomy
The richness and variety of the gastronomy of this area makes it impossible not to stop off in Grazalema to savour the traditional dishes largely focused on game meat, cured meat, homemade recipes or the typical desserts and confectionary. The star delicacy of the region is the Payoyo Cheese, made from local goat´s and sheep´s milk. If you wish to see the cheese´s manufacturing process, don´t forget to visit the cheese factory in Villaluenga del Rosario. Other unmissable dishes, to be enjoyed in a local restaurant, are the Grazalema Soup and the Asparagus or tagarnina (Golden Thistle) scrambled egg.
5. Explore the caves
There are dozens of caves in this area that offer the possibility to go caving or simply to visit. The well-known caves are found in the district of Benaoján, in Malaga. The Gato Cave is one of the most important in the whole of Andalusia and one of the most outstanding in Spain, with more than 9,000 metres already explored, boasting of lakes, chasms and water all year round.
On the other hand, la Pileta, declared a national monument in 1923, features cave paintings of goats, bulls, a seal, a bison and horses, making particular drawings like “The pregnant mare” and “The fish” famous. Here you will find unique natural landmarks that definitely deserve a visit.
6. Share the local traditions and customs
You may discover the history, craftsman ship and customs of the villages through their grand relics of their pasts today collected in information centres, various museums and permanent exhibitions in and around the Sierra de Grazelama. The Artisan Blanket Factory of Grazalema especially stands out, founded upon a great tradition in this art, as well as the Bread Mill, the Oil Mill in the village of El Bosque, the Water Museum in Benamahoma or the Leather Museum of Ubrique. This final village exports its hide all over the world for some of the most recognized and exclusive fashion firms. Don´t forget the saving you can make by buying a handmade leather bag directly from the craftsman.
7. Discover the old town
Grazalema has preserved the architecture from its very beginnings, both in its low houses as well as its churches and squares which have all maintained their historical uniqueness. Strolling through its historical centre, declared a Spanish heritage site, you may appreciate the typical untouched Andalusian architecture in the village´s narrow streets that shade passers-by from the sun´s glare, the balconies with hanging carnations and geraniums and the water fountains that you could listen to for hours. The Barroque chuch of Our Lady of the Aurora adds the finishing touch, a particular highlight amongst the other religious buildings, with the Calvaro and Ángeles Hermitages not far behind.
8. Live a reconstruction of the life of the Spanish bandits
There is no better way to get up and close to the culture of this area than going to a performance recreating the lives of the Bandits that once roamed here, that takes place every year in the village of Grazalema. In a complete transformation the village travels back in time to the 19th Century. Its habitants dress up in traditional clothing to relive the daily life that was typical to Grazalema and witness to the birth of one of the most well-known bandits of the area, El Tempranillo. This time every year the town becomes the setting for the show of his life, watched by thousands of visitors who wish to experience in person this infamous bandit´s wedding, the death of his wife and the birth of his son.
9. Feel at home
The citizens of Grazalema are one of the biggest incentives for visiting this village. Their kind nature, modesty, willingness to help and interest will guarantee that you will feel completely at home. Their good-naturedness and talkative personality is well-known, come and see for yourself!
10. Visit Seville
Barely a few kilometres from Grazalema is the unforgettable city of Seville. When talking of the Andalusian capital, it is impossible to know where to begin, although perhaps the emblematic Giralda is a good place to start. The cathedral of Seville´s tower is found alongside the Royal Alcázar, a both artistic and historical combination that leaves all visitors impressed. To continue on to the Torre del Oro (Golden Tower) on the banks of the River Guadalquivir and close to the bridge which leads you over into the neighbourhood of Triana, where art and Andalusian “spirit” can be experienced in the local taverns and “tablaos” and through the reputable flamenco singers. Don´t miss out on the Cartuja monastery, the Medinaceli Palace or the monumental Plaza de España.
Where to stay:
Fuerte Grazalema Hotel is located in the beautiful Natural Park of Sierra de Grazalema, 5 km away from the village of Grazalema for which the park is named after; and only 20 kilometres from the famous Ronda, a must see in Andalusia.
The establishment has 77 rooms with private balcony and spectacular views over the valley of the river Guadalete and the village of Grazalema, air-conditioning, satellite TV, minibar, Wi-Fi, bath with amenities and hairdryer.