Date: Dec, 2014
Location: Zahara de la Sierra, Cadiz, Spain
The peublos blancos (white village) of Zahara de la Sierra, built on the sides of the hill ranging between 300m and 1100m high, covers over 70 sq km and is one of the most stunning settings in the province of Cadiz. The remains of a Moorish castle, built on the rocky peak high above the pueblos and turquoise waters of a man made lake, is visible from both the A382 road, which links Arcos de la Frontera with Antequera, and the A376 from Seville to Ronda.
Zahara de la Sierra (believed to be derived from the Arabic word “sahra” meaning desert) dates back to Moorish times and was once described by the 19th Century British writer Richard Ford, as a “Moorish eagle’s nest”. It was an ideal place to build a fortification located between Sevilla and Ronda and the earliest documented reference dates to 1282. It was first captured by the Christians in 1407 and then recaptured by the Nazaries (Moors from the Emirate of Granada, often known as Nasrid Kingdom of Granada). This surprise loss gave the Castile Catholics a pretext to mount the final advance. By 1483 the Castilian troops recaptured the castle, thanks to the leadership of Rodrigo Ponce de León. For this conquest he was honoured as 1st Duke of Cadiz in 1484. In the 18th century the Duke of Arcos had a stately home in Zahara, giving greater importance to the area. It was declared a Conjunto Historico-Artistico in 1983.