The White Hill Towns, or Pueblos Blancos, of Spain are the tiny jewels of Andalucía. The villages are located in the sierras and are characterized by whitewashed walls and red or brown tiled roofs. A popular travel itinerary is to visit a number of the villages on a driving tour. However, we chose to spend two nights in the quiet town of Arcos de la Frontera.
Perched on top of a limestone cliff, Arcos de la Frontera is one of the most striking villages in Spain. Its whitewashed houses and stone churches wind upwards into the old town, stopping abruptly as the sheer cliff face dramatically plunges down to the valley of the river Guadalete below. Towns with ‘de la frontera’ in their names were situated on the front line of the centuries-long fight to recapture Spain from the Muslims, who were slowly pushed back into Africa.
Public transportation from Sevilla to Arcos involves both train and bus, with reviews of potential unreliability, and several hours of travel time. Therefore, we decided to travel by private shuttle. This was an excellent choice and within 1.5 hours, our Daytrip driver took us from our Sevilla hotel to within walking distance of the Airbnb we had booked. The streets of the old town are so narrow that the vans aren’t allowed to enter them. Stay tuned for my trip review and recommendation post if you would like more info on Daytrip.
Our Airbnb was a 17th century townhouse located in the heart of old town. It has been completely renovated from its origins as one of Spain’s first public granaries, and now is a wonderful place to call home in Arcos. Again, I will include more info in my review post.The rooftop terrace was a great place to relax with snacks and a glass of wine.
Arcos is low-energy – a great place to rest and recharge part way through our trip. It did seem as if time stood still, as we spent a day and half exploring and relaxing. We had a bit of a strenuous hike back up to the top of the hill after visiting the lower town and walking along the river.
There are few real ‘sights’ in Arcos, but we encountered a couple while strolling about. San Pedro Church is from the 16th century, with an 18th century Baroque main facade. The Basilica de Santa Maria de la Asuncion was built atop a mosque after Arcos was retaken from the Moors in the 15th – 16th century. The bell tower appears somewhat chopped off as it fell in the 1755 earthquake and money ran out before the replacement was completed.
Arcos is really a photographer’s dream town, with it’s many narrow streets and back lanes, artisans and courtyards. Here are just a few of the many shots we took during our visit.
The Convent of the Mercedarian Nuns is the only remaining cloistered convent in Arcos. Hand made pastries can be bought at a special revolving window in the entrance. We thoroughly enjoyed the delicious cookies we purchased.
It was fun to visit Arcos de la Frontera and we would love to return and visit some of the other hill towns in Andulcia.
Bev & Harvey