So many of us have experienced the joy of visiting foreign countries. Often the first thing that hits you when those aeroplane doors open is the smell of that country, so different from your own. You breathe it in knowing an adventure is about to unfold. You’ve read the guide books, decided what sights you want to see, booked the hotels and you are away………but who do you share your laughter, thoughts and feelings with when you are alone. I know from first hand experience that although you will enjoy your visit it isn’t the same without someone to share that with.
You board the aircraft hoping you will be seated next to an interesting but not too voluble person, especially on a long haul flight. Of course the reality is that you are often next to someone who immediately goes to sleep, snoring loudly for the whole flight, a chatterbox who interrupts your great book or the movie you are trying to watch or they are just dull, dull, dull. Sigh!!
I should explain that I am an English woman living in Seville, Spain for the last ten years. I love to travel and don’t allow doing so solo to interfere with my plans and plough on regardless. Spain is an amazingly beautiful country and I live in one of the best places to see it’s full glory.
Seville itself is a fascinating place and the cathedral, where Christopher Columbus is entombed, is the largest in the world. Well…. that’s one of those interesting statistical variations depending on whether you judge by land mass covered, height or volume! The Cathedral’s Giralda minaret tower has only a few steps at the top so is an easy ascent for magnificent views of the city. The main ascent was ramped so horses could be ridden up. Hey, this is Spain. We like to be ‘tranquillo’. The literal translation is peaceful and calm. But in Spain it is more a state of mind.
Next to the cathedral is the Alcazar. This Palace is the oldest Royal Palace of Europe still in use. Constructed in the 11th Century it’s Moorish, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture takes your breathe away. The colours in the plasterwork appear to have been painted yesterday. The Palace gardens, although in the middle of a city, are quiet and peaceful with the sounds of fountains and peacocks the only thing to disturb your reverie.
A short walk away is the Plaza de Espana, set on the edge of the stunning Maria Luisa park. It was constructed for the Ibero-American Expo of 1929. Surrounded by intricately tiled alcoves representing each of the provinces of Spain, it’s centre is a beautiful fountain. Some of the largest mansions from the fair are now museums.
Another short walk away is the Plaza de Toros (Bull ring). Now, I don’t want to get into a debate about the rights and wrongs as Spaniards and foreigners alike are on opposing sides over this. However, built in 1761, it is one of the oldest buildings in Spain and represents a long standing tradition. Corridas (bullfights) take place from the April Fair to September and are attended by members of the Royal family. If the idea of being a spectator is too much to bear, you can take a guided tour and visit the on-site museum to gain a greater understanding of this sport.
One of the things Spain is best known for of course is the food. Tapas (literally caps) are delicious small snacks served with drinks. The origin of these is lost in the mists of time. Some say the King ordered them to be served to the university students in Madrid decades ago, to stop the drunken brawling which ensued when they drank without eating. Others say it gradually occurred by putting your slice of bread on top of your glass to stop the flies drowning in your beer, then adding a little tomato, jamon or chorizo. Then different toppings, culminated in the delicious selection we have come to know and love.
Now if you like food and you want to see flamenco, there are an abundance of places to visit in Seville. However, be prepared for a late night as dinner in Spain starts around 9-10 at night, followed by flamenco into the small hour! One of the best places I know is El Rinconcillo. A loose translation would be ‘The little nook on the corner’. It’s not so easy to translate sometimes! It was built on the site of a convent in 1670- ironic for a drinking house! Owned by the De Rueda family since 1858 and passed from son to son, it is one of the most famous inns in Spain. You need to establish yourself at the bar early and book for dinner in the restaurant area if you want to see the flamenco. The bar is slate and your order is marked in chalk in front of you for the barman to tally when you leave. The bar is surrounded by ancient bottles of port and sherry produced in Jerez de la Frontera. As an aside, a place well worth a visit for tasting sessions in the producer’s bodegas. It is rumoured that some of the bottles are the last of their kind in El Rinconcillo and they have been offered inordinate amounts of money by the producers to purchase these items but the owner refuses to let go of these dusty, priceless treasures. For they are and always have been part of the decoration. The tapas is excellent- anchovies, salt cod, wild asparagus, spinach and chickpeas and so on. Service is not always very fast but hey, this is Spain. Relax, enjoy, unwind and people watch. Famous writers, artists, celebrities and eccentrics are the norm here.
One of the best times to visit Seville is Semana Santa (Easter). Then you can see the spectacular sight of the Catholic processions through the streets of Seville. Organised by the hermandades (religious brotherhoods), enormous floats abound with ancient representations of Mary and Jesus. Members of individual churches carry these outrageously heavy floats in penitence wearing robes and hoods eerily Ku Klux Klan like in a variety of colours depending on your affiliation. Sometimes barefoot, or wearing hair shirts they struggle along, putting the float down when it becomes too heavy to bear. They are accompanied by brass bands and members with candles making an amazingly atmospheric scene. It can take up to fourteen hours to reach their particular church and various processions take place daily between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday. A timetable of events is produced each year and this ancient event is followed by the Spring Fair where virtually all including some tourists are clad in traditional flamenco costume and you can see some of the best Andalucian horseflesh in the world.
Do I sound proud of the culture and history that surrounds me? It’s to be expected when you live in a place like this. I have been fortunate to live in two of the most beautiful places in the world. Firstly in Warwick, next to Stratford upon Avon, England. It has the best preserved castle in Europe on a beautiful river, in some of the most glorious countryside, close to the Cotswolds. And now here. What can I say. I have been blessed. I would love to accompany you and show you some of this fabulous country. If you are alone like me and want to visit this beautiful country, the only thing holding you back is that you don’t want to experience it solo. You don’t need to. I will take you to any of the places you want to visit in Seville or further afield. Just contact me and I can arrange a bespoke holiday just for you.
I have many guests who want to lie by a pool, soak in the hot tub and read with a glass of wine by their sides. Then there are others who want an historic site visiting holiday soaking up the beauty of the Seville and Malaga areas of Andalucia. Then there are those who want an active, adrenalin rush holiday! It is those I appeal to today.
If you want to try something unbelievably dangerous and I must say, illegal, there is only one place to go. The Camino del Rey just outside Antequera. You can watch a video on Youtube which was filmed by a ‘guide’ talking and walking as if he is on a Sunday stroll in the park.
The walkway was built to provide workers at the hydroelectric plants at Chorro Falls and Gaitanejo Falls with means to cross between them, to provide for transport of materials and to facilitate inspection and maintenance of the channel. Construction began in 1901 and was finished in 1905.
In 1921 KingAlfonso III crossed the walkway for the inauguration of the dam Conde del Gaudalhorce and it became known by its present name.
In many places the walkway has collapsed and this is the thrill for the adrenalin junkies. The walkway is one metre wide and rises 100 metres above the river below. Constructed of concrete, resting on steel rails supported by stanchions at around 45 degrees into the rock face, it is currently in a highly deteriorated state and there are numerous sections where part or all of the concrete top has collapsed. The result is large open air gaps that are bridged only by narrow steel beams or other support fixtures. Very few of the original handrails exist but a safety-wire runs the length of the path. Several people have lost their lives on the walkway in recent times and after two fatal accidents in 1999 and 2000 the local government closed both entrances, due to the fact that Caminito claims over 500 lives a year.
In June 2011, the regional government of Andalucia and the local government of Málaga agreed to share costs of restoration (including car parking and a museum) of €9 million. The project will take approximately three years to complete.Many of the original features will remain in place and the new materials that are used will be in keeping with the old design.
Even if you can’t face the camino, the walking in this area is stunning.El Torcal de Antequera, the largest mountain in this region, is a nature reserve in the Sierra del Torcal mountain range located south of the city of Antequera, in the province of Malaga. It is known for its unusual landforms, and is one of the most impressive landscapes in Europe. The area was designated a Natural Site of National Interest in July 1929, and a Natural Park Reserve of about 17 square kilometres was created in October 1978.
The Jurassic age limestone is about 150 million years old and was laid down in a marine corridor that extended from the Gulf of Cadiz to Alicante between the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. These sea beds were uplifted to an elevation of over 1300 meters during the Tertiary era, resulting in a modest mountain range of flat-lying limestone, which is rare inAndalucia. Later, a series of fractures, cracks and faults at right-angles were exploited by erosion and produced the alleys between large blocks of limestone visible today. The various shapes resemble, and have been named after, everyday objects such as the Sphinx, the Jug, the Camel, the Screw, etc. Other flat surfaces have been karstified into rugged, rocky lands where travel on foot is difficult.
Like many massive limestones, the Torcal includes cavesand other underground forms, some of them of historical importance like the Cueva del Toro (Cave of the Bull) with its Neolithic artifacts. Their origins are also related to the dissolution of underground limestone by rainwater. The following are two photos of the unusual formations.
El Torcal supports an impressive array of wildflowers including lilies, nazarenes, red peonies, wild rose trees and thirty varieties of orchid. The many species of reptiles include the Montpelier Snake and Eyed Lizard. Other life includes the Griffon vulture, the Andalucian mountain goat and nocturnal mammals such as badgers, weasels, rodents and stoats.
El Torcal is accessible by paved road from the village of Villanueva de la Concepción. A small gift shop and interpretive center at the parking area is the starting point for a short walk to an impressive viewpoint and three color-coded hiking trails of 1.5km, 2.5km and 4.5km length which include many scenic viewpoints.
Because of temperature extremes, most visitation occurs in the spring and fall.
So if you are up for it don’t miss it. But I did warn you.
Córdoba is one of my favourite cities in the World. It’s greatest years of glory were from 756 to 1031, when it was the capital of al-Andalus (Islamic Spain). It was during this period that it’s most famous piece of architecture, the Mezquita (Great Mosque), was built. The first part in the 8th century and the fourth and final section, in the late 10th century. The beautiful red and white interior is stunning. It would have originally been open on all sides for prayer as a mosque during the Moorish rule but was closed in when it was reclaimed as a Catholic church. Marked out for demolition, it was ultimately saved by the King as he couldn’t bear to see it’s beauty destroyed.
It has been estimated that in the 10th century Córdoba was the most populous city in the world and under the rule of Caliph Al Hakram II it became a centre for education. One of the World’s first universities was established here. The contribution to mathematics and astronomy were huge. Córdoba became the intellectual centre of Europe. Christians, Moslems and Jews lived side by side with little disharmony. The city boasted street lighting, paved streets, luxurious villas, stunning parks and real water closets with plumbing. The height of sophistication! I would love to have seen it in it’s heyday,
The city is located on the banks of the Guadalquivir river and trade from the Far East was prevalent. Spices, silks, foodstuffs etc. all came through it’s port. Alas the river has silted up dramatically since those days and is now impassable for big ships.Near the Mezquiita is the old Jewish quarter which is worth a visit as well as in the Old Town, the original seat of the Spanish Inquisition. The Roman bridge over the river has recently been tastefully renovated and there is beautiful architecture to see everywhere.
Tourism is especially intense in Córdoba during May because of the weather and as this month hosts three festivals.
The May Crosses Festival takes place at the beginning of the month. During three or four days, crosses of around 3 metres height are placed in many squares and streets and decorated with flowers and a contest is held to choose the most beautiful one. Usually there is regional food and music near the crosses.
The Patios Festival is celebrated during the second and third week of the month. Many houses of the historic centre open their private patios to the public and compete in a contest. Both the architectonic value and the floral decorations are taken into consideration to choose the winners. It is usually very difficult and expensive to find accommodation in the city during the festival.
Córdoba’s Fair takes place at the ending of the month and is similar to the better known Seville Fair with some differences, mainly that the Seville one is private, while the Cordoba one is not.
Please take a day out to visit the gem that is Cordoba. You won’t regret it.
Carmona is only 20 minutes from the villa and I always recommend a visit there to guests who want a half day trip so they can enjoy a lie by the pool and a leisurely dinner after days of hectic sightseeing!
The beauty of the drive up the hill to this ancient fortified town is worth the visit but the breathtaking views from the top are amazing. South and north are huge flat plains patchworked with fields of grain crops, olives and sunflowers so you can understand why it was a strategic military point. Invading soldiers could be spotted from 30 miles away! The only problem was water supply but the Romans used large rainwater collectors to remedy that. Necessity is the Mother of invention.
There is a tourist eco-friendly electric bus and the driver is very knowledgeable. He speaks English, French and Spanish and works for tips. He will show you the original Roman gate, the monastery, the ancient marketplace, town walls and much more. He turns around at the top of the town at the Government owned Parador Hotel. For those who don’t know them, Paradors are 4* hotels in beautiful Spanish landmark buildings and worth a visit. A walk around the town will reveal further gems, including a Roman Necropolis. For further information visit the Tourist Centre at the main gate. After your tour take an hour or more to enjoy coffee and tapas in the town plaza (square) in the beautiful surroundings. Relax Spanish style before a trip around the lovely shops and then back down the hill for further spectacular views. All my guests come back telling me what a wonderful time they had.
According to the 2005 census there were 11,000 people in my little town and I don’t suppose it is very different today. It is a typical whitewashed Spanish town with a pretty mustard, white and blue town hall right in the centre. These are the traditional colours of Andalucia. There are several Catholic churches, the main religion in Spain. Around 80% of people are Catholic although only 38% now claim to be practising the faith on a daily basis. There is a large car park area in town which doubles as the venue for the market on Fridays as well as circus, fairground and festival events. Around the fountain nearby are many bars where you can sit on the quiet street and watch the world go by with a small beer (cerveza) or a cafe con leche (coffee with milk). Bliss.
Although small we do have a convent, an archaeological museum as well as a contemporary art museum.
The town festival in September brings out the locals in their beautiful flamenco dresses. Often handmade and spectacularly colourful with matching huge earrings, mantilla (hair ornament) and shoes. The men wear black and white riding clothes and parade on the backs of their stallion horses. Never a mare. This would not be dangerous enough for the macho Spanish male. He must show his prowess in controlling the animal!
On 13th July this year Ursula Moreno, a world famous flamenco artiste will be giving a seminar in our small town. This is a great honour. There is hardly a child who can’t dance or sing in the style so typical of Spain. It is taught at school and many still attend classes as adults.
If you get the chance to visit me and stay at my Bed and Breakfast, La Puebla de Cazalla is worth a little visit.
With it’s population of only 20,000 Marchena is 10 minutes drive from my Bed and Breakfast establishment. The town dates back to the time of the Moors.The name comes from that adopted during the Moorish invasion, Marssen-ah. Although it’s history can be traced back to 168 the city was conquered by Fernando III in 1240 and given to the son of Pedro Ponce de Minerva for honouring Fernando IV with the lordship of the town. In 1812, following the abolition of the feudal system by the Constitution, Marchena reached its peak, which is manifested in its beautiful architectural constructions.
Marchena has important archaeological heritage, as can be seen at the Bronze Age Montemolín site. Not to be missed is a stroll through the the medieval San Juan neighbourhood, with its Moorish defensive wall and Sevilla and Morón gates. Stately houses, churches and palaces can be found throughout the old town. The Zurburán Museum is also interesting. It has works by this important Spanish artist. The Easter week celebrations in this town have deep-rooted tradition. if you attend in the evening the eerie candlelit procession is moving even if you are non-religious. Definitely worth seeing!
If you visit the Tourist Information Centre you can find many important and beautiful places to visit as well as routes of different distances to walk according to your fitness level.
Shopping is very good here. There are lovely little family run places as well as all the major supermarkets for that must have souvenir!
This is a photo of Osuna’s beautiful university. About 15 minutes drive from Los Paraisos, my guests are always stunned by the beauty of the ancient architecture.
The origin of Osuna goes back to about three thousand years, when it was known as Urso, around 44-43 A.D. serving as a posting for Julius Caesar. Refounded by Mark Anthony with veterans of past civil wars, it was given the status of a colony for Roman citizens.
There is a wide variance in terrain within the municipality, such as the Sierra areas, the farmlands and Wetlands Lagoon area of Calderon (Fuente de Piedra). Osuna presents an interesting variety of landscapes, vegetation and wildlife. From typical forest, Rio Blanco (river area) to olive groves of the countryside. Flamingos and herons at the Calderon de la Laguna, robins, Spanish Imperial eagle, vultures, foxes, hawks of Rio Blanco, and everywhere small game, rabbits, partridges, etc. Birdwatchers are always stunned at the vast array of specimens. This is some information from www.fatbirder.com for those avid fans looking for new adventures:
Osuna is in the heart of Steppe country and is surrounded by various lagoons and wetland habitats. It is a rich area for birds and of particular interest is breeding Great and Little Bustard. The focal points forming the Osuna triangle are Marchena, Lantejuela and of course Osuna itself. Between these towns and village is a maize of roads and well maintained tracks, which serve to allow visiting birders to explore and find the area’s specialities such as Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Stone Curlew, Black-winged Kite and a host of other much sought after species. During the summer months Roller, Collared Pratincole and Montagu’s Harrier are common breeding birds, whilst the wetlands hold numbers of tern species and waterbirds. Winter sees Common Crane and raptors stopping over.
Come and visit and see for yourself. No need to travel great distances. From my sunloungers by the pool you can see most species.
Until I accommodated an avid birdwatcher last season who was thrilled to be able to watch so many species flying overhead while lazing on a sunlounger, I had no idea what an amazing area this was for serious ‘twitchers’. Here is his testimonial which he posted on my site.
What a find this was, we wanted a quite homely stay and central base for our hiking excursions We were definitely not disappointed. The room and facilities were first class as was Elaine’s hospitality. The breakfast was always delicious with a fine selection of home grown produce including some fantastic breads. The real added bonus of Villa Los Paraisos was the bird watching, from the sunlounger the following where frequently spotted Spanish imperial Eagles, Griffon Vultures, Buzzards, Black Kites, Shrikes and hundreds of huge Storks, a quite amazing site. As part of our visit included eagle spotting in the mountains this was a well received surprise. Whether you want a relaxing poolside break or a comfortable base for an adventurous escape Villa Los Paraisos has it all, book now to avoid disappointment… Thank you Elaine x
Now that I have my super website set up courtesy of my adorable son Dominic I want to share that information with anyone looking for a relaxing holiday combined with their passion for birdwatching. I love birds but don’t know enough about them so I did some research and here is what I found:
PHOTO OF THE SPANISH IMPERIAL EAGLE
Number of bird species: 554
The impressive abundance of birds that can be found in Spain is due both to its geographical location (it is a natural route between the European Continent and Africa) and its varied landscapes and climates. Over 456 different species of birds are quoted – 285 breeding – some of them having here their last European strongholds. This is the case with Purple Gallinule (3,500 pairs); White-headed Duck (1,164 individuals) and Marbled Teal (250 pairs); and they are on the increase in most of the Iberian wetlands. Other species, like raptors, are also recovering: Lammergeier (+80 cc.); Griffon Vulture (16,590 cc.); Golden Eagle (+1,200 cc.).
I am only 15 minutes from Osuna and 30 minutes from Fuente de la Piedra ( the best place to see flamingos in Europe).
The Osuna Triangle
Osuna is in the heart of Steppe country and is surrounded by various lagoons and wetland habitats. It is a rich area for birds and of particular interest is breeding Great and Little Bustard. The focal points forming the Osuna triangle are Marchena, Lantejuela and of course Osuna itself. Between these towns and village is a maze of roads and well maintained tracks, which serve to allow visiting birders to explore and find the area’s specialities such as Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Stone Curlew, Black-winged Kite and a host of other much sought after species. During the summer months Roller, Collared Pratincole and Montagu’s Harrier are common breeding birds, whilst the wetlands hold numbers of tern species and waterbirds. Winter sees Common Crane and raptors stopping over.
If you are serious about your birdwatching don’t miss out on this amazing opportunity to indulge your hobby while your partner can relax, unwind and read that bestseller they have been saving for a poolside sunbathing session!
Fuente de Piedra is a village in the Málaga region of Andalusia in southern Spain. The municipality is situated approximately 19 kilometers from Antequera and 73 km from the provincial capital of Málaga.
The small town is based in a dry basin amongst the Southern Spanish mountains. The village itself is typically Andaluz with its whitewashed houses with wrought iron protecting the balconies. As well as a few impressive houses built for noblemen of the past, there is also the palace of the Marques of Fuente de Piedra, which dates back to the 19th century and is built in the neoclassic style.
There is only one church – that of the “Virgen de las Virtudes” – the patron saint of the village. It was built in 1891 in the neo-mudéjar style and has an interesting main façade, with a rather gothic like stained glass window over the main entrance. The village is most well known for the local Laguna de Fuente de Piedra, home to one of the largest populations of flamingoes in Europe. This is represented in the town by the summer celebration of the festival of ringing the Flamingo.
Fuente de Piedra Lagoon is a wetland situated outsideof the town. It is used by the pink flamingo for its annual reproduction cycle, constituting the largest colony on the Iberian Peninsulaof this beautiful and delicate bird. The lagoon is fed by underwater springs that pass through mineral salt deposits, so the lagoon is saline indeed salt was havested until recently. The lagoon covers an area of 13 square kilometres, it is elliptical in shape, its major axis is 6.8km and the minor one is 2.5km. However it is very shallow, in a good year it is less than 1m deep at its deepest point. Evaporation is a major factor for the lagoon. The Flamingos need a certain amount of water to breed and will desert the eggs if the lagoon dries out too soon. 2009 was a good year for the Flamingos just over 5000 young fledged. 600 of these were ringed.
Due to the presence of the lake, it seems that man has been in this area since prehistoric times. Later, commercial links were maintained with the Phoenicians and the Carthaginians. During Roman times, the lake was named “Fons Divinus” or divine spring, due to the medicinal properties of the water. In 1461 Rodrigo Ponce de León of Marchena took possession of the area, overthrowing the Moors. A prosperous time followed, until the beginning of the 19th century, when continued drought caused a fall in the population. Now, in modern times, it is once again a thriving town in exceptionally beautiful natural surroundings.
THE DONKEY SANCTUARY
While in Fuente de Piedra, it is well worth visiting the Donkey Sanctuary, where nearly 50 donkeys from all over the world have been saved and are being well looked after.
From miniature to giant donkeys, here size really doesn’t matter. In Spanish it is called “El Refugio del Burrito‘ and is easy to find by turning off at the Hotel Conde de la Laguna until the end of the track. Open to visitors 7 days a week.
Tel: 952 735 513
If you like to see traditional village fiestas, there are various celebrations throughout the year:
January 6th. The ‘Cabalgata’ when the Three Kings go through the streets on decorated floats, giving out sweets to the children for Christmas.
February 1st and 2nd is Carnival time in the village.
Day of Andalucia
February 28th is the Day of Andalucia. Shops shut and the village celebrates.
The second Sunday in May is the day when the people of the village have a huge celebration picnic in the country – the‘Romería’in honour of the patron saint, the Virgen de Las Virtudes.
Feria de Santiago
July 25th and for some days after, is the Feria de Santiago – the Santiago Fair.
Virgen de las Virtudes
September 7th and 8th sees the village fair in the name of the patron saint, the Virgen de las Virtudes. There are horse races, fireworks and a very interesting array of traditional outfits worn to celebrate this annual event.
There are five or six small local bars and restaurants, where you can sample traditional dishes, such as gazpacho, rabbit in garlic or chickpea stew.
It is worth a day of your holiday to explore this lovely area.
The unspoiled, traditional white walled, red roofed village, with its castle dating from the 8th century and church from the 16th century, has spectacular views over a 32 km long lake which hosts a variety of water-sports and fishing.
Valdearenas Beach is a beach on the lake where you can swim, rent pedalos and canoes, and learn to sail (and possibly other water sports). It tends to be busier on Sundays but is very quiet during the week, even in the height of the season. The water is beautiful to swim in, the bathing is safe and the beach has sand to lie on or for children to play in.
The lake reportedly provides excellent course fishing. Many competitions are held along its banks. It is just over a quarter of a kilometre to walk through the olive groves and on down to the lake or you can take the car down very close to the water.
Iznajar is situated near the southerly border of Córdoba province, and serves as a natural entrance to the Sierra Subeticas Natural Park. From the south, it is best reached from Junction 175 on the A92 Sevilla-Granada autovia and is only 20km from the turn off.
From the top of the town there are tremendous views where, on a nearby hillock, the old Moorish castle frowns down on the lowly houses. Also worth visiting is the Iglesia de Santiago church, built over time during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, with a remarkable late addition in the form of a Baroque altar piece. The cemetery next to the church only dates back to 1806.
The most interesting barrio (district) of Iznajar is the Barrio del Coso, a labyrinth of typical whitewashed Andalucían houses dotted around a labyrinth of narrow lanes that criss-cross the promontory. As if often the case in these hill towns, the lower part is also the newer part of town, and the central Plaza Nueva affords excellent panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. Similar views can be found at the miradores La Cruz de San Pedro and the Paseo de la Constitución. With time, it is also worth seeking out the small barrio of cave dwellings known as El Caganchuelo.
Local cuisine reflects Iznajars position in a prime pork production region, as well as variations on classic Andaluz platos. During the February carnaval, the traditional pork sausage filling is stuffed with eggs, bread, jamón and breast of turkey. Other specialities include the rich salmorejo (a thick cold tomato soup) with orange and cod, and La Porra, a cheap and filling stew of tomatoes, bread, peppers and jamón. A typical local postre (dessert) is natilla (cold creamy custard).
Unsurprisingly, Semana Santa, Easter week, is the most important festival here. Perhaps uniquely, townsfolk come together to present a religious theatrical epic in which amateur thespians take on the roles of figures in key scenes from the bible and the crucifixion. The inhabitants celebrate the day of San Marcos on April 25 by quitting the town entirely for a mass picnic in the countryside at Valdearenas, a recreational area close to the embalse. Iznajar’s annual September feria usually takes place from September 7-10. .
The principal economic activity of the area is the cultivation of olives although tourism is increasingly becoming an economic factor.
Iznájar is a classic “pueblo blanco“, or white village and I can’t impress enough upon you how stunning it is from the highest point in town.
I have been meaning to visit since I moved to this region and finally visited recently with my sister and brother-in-law. I was not disappointed. The first sight of the lake took my breath away. It is about an hour from here but a day trip is thoroughly recommended.