Grazalema Arrival to a 10 Gun Salute!
Have you ever wondered why traditions and customs are so well kept in the white villages Iberia?
I chose Grazalema village for my next visit on my tour of Cadiz province because it is in the heart of the Natural Reserve of the Sierra de Grazalema range of mountains.
Cork and Cheese
My journey from Gastor where I had booked my rural villa for the tour, took me through narrow winding roads of the cork tree groves of Cadiz Province. Up and up, past sheep and goat cheese making farms stopping here and there to give way to the clanking sound of a heard of goats crossing the road.
A Grazalema Welcome
Eventually arriving at the village of Grazalema and acquiring parking just on the outskirts, I found myself in the midst of a 19th Century re-enactment of “Blood and Love in the mountains”. At first I thought I would be seen as an outsider, come to voyeuristically take photos of them, and then hurry away with my prize. “Why would the English woman come here alone and want photos of us?” However, I was there because I have a passion for culture and tradition, and was curious about what makes this one so special. Accompanied by loud explosions and firecrackers I wended my way through the village and met some of the locals. I asked them about the festival, and how all the colourful costumes were made. They proudly told me that they were all hand made by the people of the community, men and women both. The antiquarian guns and swords were family heirlooms. The planning was meticulously done via various clubs and associations throughout they year. Generations are involved and this is what makes it so special.
Must Do List
- Gastronomy You will be enchanted as much the friendly people as the rustic gastronomy, with its base on hunted game and local artesan produce, such as cheeses and honey.
To sample the divine gastronomy is a must. With traditional country dishes from hunted game such as roast pheasant, venison stew, wild boar casseroles, together with the faboulously diverse wines from Cadiz bodegas you can find a high quality menu in many restaurants, at very reasonable prices. Typically a 3-course meal for two with a bottle of good red wine will set you back around 60 Euros.
The world famous award winning Payoyo Cheese is particular to Grazalema and Villaluenga del Rosario and is noted as the “best cheese in the world”. Made from sheep and goats milk, it can be found in the little artesan shops in and around the villages.
For tourists who like activity breaks Spectacular views from 2 View Points. First the Puerto del Boyar View Point can be found on a mountain pass at a height of 1103 metres. From Moorish times of old where a strategic lookout post was essential, this is the best way to view landscape. When sky is clear, also the bay of Cádiz can be seen. This point can be reached by car or hiking, or for ones with strong legs, cycling!
Second the The Puerto de las Palomas is a road through two mountains inside the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park, connecting Grazalema and Zahara de la Sierra villages.
Fabulous views again, and a good hiking path (senderismo) to see the northern part of provinces of Cadiz and Málaga as well as the southern part of the Seville one.
- Local traditions and customs
Ideal for a wet day, discover the history and craftsmanship of the villages in the myriad of historic centres, local museums and around the Sierra de Grazelama. The Artisan Blanket Factory of Grazalema, is testament to a long tradition of wool weaving, spinning and textile design, and makes a fascinating tour.
Casa de Mantas – Blanket Factory of Grazalema
Where to stay
To fully explore the beautiful Grazalema and the white villages of the Grazalema national park, an ideal way to make a base is by renting a villa. There are many “casas rusticas” or privately rented houses and cottages on offer and you get a real feel for the local way of life and culture in this way.. Rented on a weekly basis, this works out to be a very economical and enjoyable way to spend your Andalucian holiday and ultimately you will find out just what makes these communities so proud of their history, tradition and culture.