Zahara de la Sierra- Pueblo Blanco
Geograpical situation :
In the heart of the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park
500 metres above sea level
Area: 72,4 square kilometres
Number of inhabitants: 1.523 approx.
Monuments to visit:
The remains of the Watch Tower, the Torre del Homenaje
The church of Santa Maria de la Mesa
The Chapel of San Juan de Letán
The Clock Tower
The white village of Zahara de la Sierra is found in the heart of the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park and situated in the province of Cadiz on the white village route.
The meaning of the name “Zahara” is not quite clear and there are many opinions concerning the history of the word. The village was once a Moorish outpost and some believe that the name comes from the name given to the fifth daughter of a Moorish King, Princess Zahar. It could also have derived from the Arab occupation of the village and the abundance of “azahar” – citrus blossoms that lace the streets and grow in the fields nearby.
Zahara de la Sierra was declared of historical interest in 1983. The Coat of Arms dates back to 1483, when Rodrigo Ponce de León conquered the village and received the title ”Marquis of Zahara”. The coat of arms can be seen inside the Town Hall and on a red silk flag on the main balcony. The village has two central squares where two beautiful old churches stand, each with differing architecture. The church of Santa Maria de la Mesa with its baroque altarpiece is worth viewing and also the remains of the 16th Century Watch Tower, the Torre del Homenaje, the views are spectacular from there. The typical whitewashed houses of the area los pueblos blancos (the white villages) line the streets adorned with flowers, together with other interesting buildings. The views are stunning and best appreciated from the look-out balconies or by climbing higher up to the Moorish castle. A very popular destination for rural tourism Zahara provides a variety of accommodation, excellent small shops, good bars and restaurants where you can sit outside, savour the sights and in the late summer and autumn breathe in the fragrance of orange and lemon blossom.
The main occupation of the area is agriculture, cultivating olives and cattle farming with a landscape of rich valleys and striking mountains that are a haven for birds and wildlife of all kinds. Successful local winemakers produce quality wine from vineyards in the locality.
Zahara is well known for its beautiful turquoise lake. The river that flowed through the valley was dammed and the valley flooded providing water for irrigation and livestock. The water that comes from mountain springs is clean and inviting and the reservoir is a popular venue for swimming in the summer months and a man-made beach provides a super recreational place for picnics and general relaxing. Activities such as walking and horse-riding through the lush valleys and mountain tracks give you an opportunity to experience first-hand the real beauty and enchantment of this fascinating area.