Spain has a habit of throwing a stunning view and on rare occasions there are sights which induce absolute ‘wow’ moments. Driving along the A-376 presents you with an incredible view of Zahara; once described as a ‘Moorish Eagle’s Nest’ by Richard Ford, a British traveller of notoriety. You will say, “Wow!”
Zahara is almost a perfect village; dating back to Moorish times it was subject to battles of ownership and control, generally waged between Moors and Crusaders (Christian soldiers).
It sits high upon a bluff and the old keep is the only intact part of the castle. The views from the top are stunning and cast your eyes across the vastness of Andalucia’s agricultural heart; golden fields rolling into the feet of mountains where Olives are grown and pressed, while below a man-made lake reflects the sky and peaks on a still day.
Zahara is now a tourist destination which packs in two churches (including Santa Maria de la Meza), the castle ruins and 16th century watch tower and some pretty little squares where the canopy of trees gives welcome shelter from the relentless sun. Our night by the lake was tantamount to sleeping in the firing line of a hair-dryer.
Those white walled houses hide local shops and it is easy to miss out on something you might need. Ordinarily the village is bustling enough but for the Festival of Corpus Christi (which starts on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday – the eighth Sunday after Easter – every year) the locals go all out, decorating their houses with branches and leaves to make them appear as part of nature; an event well worth seeing.
Perhaps the best thing about Zahara is that fact that it remains a true Spanish town and the British influence witnessed to such horrifying degrees along the Costa Blanca and Costa del Sol is not present at all there.
The addition of the man-made reservoir (built in 2002) has given the area an extra edge in attracting visitors as the option of swimming, kayaking and fishing, along with the amazing views are a real pull.
All in all Zahara is a lovely little town with a whole lot of great things to see and do. A few days in the mountains will do wonders for you and the chance to sample real Spanish culture is a real winner.
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