Are you looking to spend some time exploring Spain's White-Washed Villages? Make sure and include a stop at Zahara de la Sierra located in Spain's Grazalema Mountains. This picturesque hilltop village is dominated by an ancient castle and overlooks the stunning turquoise blue waters of Zahara-El Gastor Reservoir below, creating one of the most beautiful 'White-Washed Villages' you will find anywhere in Spain. Exploring this stunning medieval village will make you feel as though you have stepped into a fairy-tale!
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The first thing you will notice about Zahara de la Sierra is how steep the entire village is! From the bottom (where the main parking lot is located), you will immediately begin climbing up towards the main part of town towards the Plaza Mayor. Right away this will get your heart racing - plan on a good 15 minute walk until you reach the main plaza. Upon reaching Plaza Mayor which is located along the main street of Calle San Juan, you are greeted to a quaint town square surrounded by cafes, shops and a couple beautiful churches - Capilla san Juan de Letran and Iglesia de Santa Maria de la Mesa. Stop for a drink or bite to eat at one of the cafes surrounding Plaza Mayor and catch your breathe! Relax and enjoy the views of this charming area! After catching your breathe, spend some time browsing the shops for local goods such as candies or olive oil - keep an eye out for some Oleum Viride which is a brand of olive oil produced locally in Zahara de la Sierra. This brand of olive oil can be found throughout numerous shops in Zahara de la Sierra or you can even book a tour with them directly to learn more about the production of making olive oil.
CAPILLA SAN JUAN DE LETRAN
Located right in the main square of Plaza Mayor is the charming, yellow church of Capilla San Juan de Letran. Built in the 20th century over the site of a previous mosque, the bell tower is all the remains from the original 16th century structure that once stood here. Pop inside for a quick look at the small quaint chapel.
SANTA MARIA DE LA MESA CHURCH
From Playa Mayor keep walking thru the village towards the castle and you will come to Santa Maria de la Mesa Church. This beautiful church was built in the 18th century and was built right into the rock on the hillside. Entry is free, but a small donation is appreciated.
PUERTA DE LA VILLA
As you continue climbing up the village towards the castle, you will pass thru the ancient gates known as Puerta de la Villa which means 'Town Gate'. The two large stone walls on either side of the road are all the remain from the original village gates. Previously these stone walls were topped with a stone archway that has since collapsed - at one point the arch was rebuilt but sadly was destroyed once more by the French in the early 1800s. From this area, take a look around, the views of this beautiful medieval town are stunning!
ZAHARA DE LA SIERRA CASTLE/HOMAGE TOWER
Continuing the trek up to the castle, you will encounter a steep, rocky path - watch out for loose rocks and uneven footing. For us, we pushed and carried our 2 1/2 year son and his stroller up this pathway - and boy was that a workout! But as we gained in elevation, the views became more and more spectacular, making all the effort completely worth it! Reaching the top you will see the Zahara de la Sierra Castle which is also known as the 'Torre del Homenage' or Homage Tower. The tower that you see today was built between the 13th and 14th centuries and played a vital part in the battle between the Moors and Christians. Between 1407 to 1481, the Christians had conquered and controlled this tower only to lose it back again to the Moors in 1481. This loss caused so much anger with King Ferdinand and Queen Isabel that it led them to conquer the Moors in Granada leading to the Moors loosing their foothold in Spain. After you have caught your breath, climb the spiral staircase inside the tower for even more rewarding views over Spain's Grazalema Mountains.
ENJOY THE VIEWS
Wow - some of the best views you will find anywhere in Andalusia are your reward for the steep, tiring climb up to Zahara de la Sierra's historic Homage Tower. Looking out over the countryside below was absolutely phenomenal, the white-washed village below, olive groves and the blue waters of the Zahara-El Gastor Reservoir provide for endless photo opportunities! Visiting Zahara de la Sierra should not be missed and should be included on anyone's itinerary when visiting the gorgeous countryside of Spain's Andalusia!
Interested in planning your own trip to Zahara de la Sierra, Spain? Below is our summarized itinerary for you to follow or adjust to your own preferences. ENJOY!
One Day in Zahara de la Sierra: From the parking lot located at the bottom of the village, start heading up the steep hill into the main part of town. Take a food or drink break in Plaza Mayor, explore the two churches: Capilla San Juan de Letran and Santa Maria de la Mesa Church, walk towards the castle thru Puerta de la Villa (Town Gate). Then head up to enjoy Zahara de la Sierra Castle/Homage Tower and the beautiful views over the countryside.