Zahara de la Sierra is a most impressive town situated between Ronda and Sevilla in Andalucia. Among its many attractions is the castle, Castillo Nazari, whose keep is all that remains, sitting high above the town like a watchful guardian.
And for centuries that was its job as it formed part of a defensive line across the mountains (now part of the ‘Route of White Towns’) and was a strategic point for whoever controlled it. That is where its history becomes interesting as battles waged for control.
Castillo Nazari was actually built in 742ad and the village below is said to have been built by the Moors. The keep is all that remains of the castle today but it is a distinguishing landmark and certainly one of those guaranteed to bring on a bout of ‘wows’.
Having been burned down, rebuilt, remodelled and eventually all but destroyed during long running battles between Christians and Moors, Francoists and anarchists, its only invaders now are click happy tourists like me who come by the truck load to see Zahara de la Sierra and soak up its historic atmosphere.
Ascending the bluff, no mean feat due to the steep and slippery pathways, you soon come to what was once a museum which now sits in a state of shock and disarray. Teh windows are broken and the place is all but boarded up. The little kiosk furhter up the path and toilet blocks are in a similar state, indicating that the locals gave up charging people to see the castle some time ago.
Wooden walkways and staircases lead you steadily to the top and rising above the last set of stairs you get your first glimpse of the keep up close – it is quite awe inspiring, evoking notions of swashbuckling, crusading and adventuring.
At the keep you’ll find the main door open but be sure to pack a torch as its pitch black inside and in truth there’s not much to see now.
The top of the bluff is incredible; old walls remain just about visible and the views are out of this world. It is well worth the climb just to enjoy the majesty of the Andalucian landscape.
Castillo Nazari may have been the site of bloodshed and fury in the past but now it stands as a reminder of man’s finer achievements; a piece of history with so many tales to tell and no voice to share them with. Perhaps it’s best that way and now we can just appreciate it for what it is.
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