We remember some trips for the people we meet, some for the music we discover, some for the adventures we stumble upon… And some trips remain forever defined through color.
In my mind, Andalucia was always a destination represented by color: blue – like the sea on the Costa del Sol, red – like the passion of flamenco, black – like the bull, symbol of the region, yellow – like the sun, shining relentlessly, orange – like oranges that Lorca sees from his window in the famous poem. Essential in that Andalucian color palette is white – the color of pueblos blancos, typical Andalucian villages scattered around region’s hillsides, places of tradition and folklore, in which the rural soul of Spain roams free.
While preparing for the trip, I read a lot of articles with titles such as „top 10 Spanish white villages“, „Pueblos blancos that you simply can’t miss“, „Andalucian villages you have to see before you die“, and jotted down these strange village names: Zahara de la Sierra, Puerto de las Palomas, Villaluenga del Rosario, Benaocaz, Ubrique, Vejer de la Frontera… Poetic names evocative of Moorish heritage and exciting history. With each village seemingly prettier than the other, it soon became difficult to pick which ones to visit, so we decided to leave it all to chance, at least partially, and simply visit those Andalucian villages that we would pass by during the different stages of our trip.
Pueblos blancos are characterized by pristine white facades of their houses, magnificent views onto the surroundings and the role that they had in the historic development of the region. While driving around Andalucia, we made frequent detours from the main roads and unplanned stops at the places we liked, as village after village appeared before us, white and crisp amidst olive trees and orange groves. This is another thing that particularly adds to their charm, their relation to the surroundings and the architectural simplicity that reflects the straightforward, simple and clear way of life in harmony with nature.
Frigiliana, located in the province of Malaga, carries a somewhat burdening title of being “the most beautiful Andalucian white village”, which unfortunately results in a slightly less autochtonous visiting experience marred with too many tourists and alll that they bring.
Still, a walk around the village’s quieter, less central streets a real treat. Frigiliana’s organic adjustment to the terrain, beautiful vistas, lonesome benches, strong purple hues and fragrances of Bougainvillea covering terraces and walls, immerse you into the ambient despite numerous visitors.
The village Setenil de las Bodegas suprises with its positioning and unique natural phenomenon of rocks leaning above, under and all around the village, forming amazing natural balconies and tunnels, even “protruding” into houses.
The village appears to be, simultaneously, extremely dangerous, for fear of collapsing rocks, and quite safe, because the rocks appear to protect the village and grace it with special strength and steadiness. And while tourists walk around Setenil in awe, not quite understanding how the village functions, the locals go around their business without any fuss, steering their oversized vehicles through impossibly narrow streets or relaxing on cafe terraces, enjoying tapas, cold drinks and the panicked faces of tourists trying to navigate through the village in their rented cars without any casulties.
White villages are unique and recognizable symbols of rural Andalucia. However, there is a „rebel“ among them, an anarchist of a village that decided to demonstrate its free spirit by rejecting the color white. That village is Juzcar, situated in the vicinity of Ronda, also known as the „first smurf village in the world“.
Juzcar was a typical pueblo blanco until 2011, when, before the premiere of „Smurf 3D“ movie, it was decided that all houses will be completely painted in smurf blue. Although the deal was made with the production company to repaint the village after the movie event, residents of the village decided to keep their houses and public buildings blue, a decision that resulted in the 250% rise in touristic visits to the village.
Upon entering the village, visitors can’t help but smile, turning, regardless of their age, into playful children taking photos in front of blue houses and searching for Smurf figures that can be seen everywhere – on windows, balconies, facades and squares. The blue color gives the impression of airiness, playfulness and pure joy of life – it is difficult to imagine that someone mean or without a sense of humor can live the blue houses of Juzcar. After the dignified, elegant white villages, this blue one comes as a light, entertaining refreshment and a joyful experience that can’t easilly be forgotten.