While on a family holiday to Spain, we had the opportunity to visit the famous White Towns of Andalusia. It was such a fascinating and historical experience! We wandered the streets of Vejer de la Frontera in Cadiz, Spain and were completely overwhelmed by the simplistic beauty of it.
Vejer de la Frontera is in the southern portion of Spain in the Provence of Cadiz. The town is located on a hilltop near the southern coast and like most white villages contains a fortress and a principal church. The white town’s architecture is fascinating, as it shares Roman, Iberian, and heavy Moorish influences. Vejer de la Frontera was in a greatly disputed region and was actually under Morrish rule for about 500 years. The name “La Frontera” refers to the fact that the town was located on the frontier or border of Christian and Arabic rule.
The Arabic influence can be seen in the principal architechture of the town with thin alleyways and high walls and towers. At times the alleys were so tight they were a bit clausterphobic. I couldn’t imagine trying to walk throughh the town when the streets were filled with it’s ancient residents on foot.
Like many old fortress cities there is an inner wall that runs throughout the city that could be sealed off during siege. You could see scarring and pits all along the wall. I could only imagines how many battles we fought where we now stood.
The Arch had several names including Puerta de Berberia and Puerta del Sur. It was known as the southern gate to it’s Jewish Quarter residents and was shut for Centuries. The name Puerta de Berberia referes to it’s use for fending off the Barbary Coast pirates.
One of the most interesting traditions we found were tributes to La Mujer Vejeriega. There were several statues and other works of art depicting a woman wearing the traditional black dress and head covering. Even though this was instituted during Moorish rule, it continued as a tradition until the 19th Century.
As we wandered through the city streets we marveled at how quiet and peaceful the town was. The inner portion of the town is so well preserved it’s easy to imagine strolling through the streets in olden days. A turn around each corner brought new visual delights and architectural wonder.
It was also fascinating to see the juxtaposition of Christian and Arabic styles side by side mixed in with a few modern touches.
One of the white towns most stunning works however, is the fountain in the towns center. The colors and decor stand out twice as strongly against the stark white background of the rest of the village.
It’s easy to see why the White Towns of Andalusia are such a draw to both foreign and Spanish tourists. Steeped in history, Vejer de la Frontera is definitely a must see in Cadiz and certainly worth the drive out to the coast. We spent the majority of the day there entranced by its exoticism and stark simplistic beauty.