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Rustic Blue Holiday Guide to Zahara de la Sierra

A "must-see" white village, Zahara de la Sierra is one of the most spectacularly situated villages in Spain …

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Between Ronda and Sevilla, Zahara was of vital strategic importance to the Moors It overlooks the fabulous, azure-blue waters of the vast Embalse de Zahara below the village A real taste of Spain Views over the lake are fabulous The village Zahara is the last village perched on the magnificent mountains of the Sierra de Grazalema On top of the world
Zahara de la Sierra, Los Pueblos Blancos



300 - 1,300 metres

Distance from Málaga

135 kilometres

Distance from the Coast

90 kilometres to the Costa del Sol; 130 kilometres from the Costa de la Luz

Patron Saints

San Simón and San Judas

Fiesta Dates

Corpus Chisti (June)

Romería de Bocaleones (2nd fortnight of May)

Romería de San Juan (2nd fortnight of June)

Feria y fiestas de Agosto (3rd week of August)

Día de los Patronos (28th October)


The Sierra de Grazalema is the wettest area of Spain with over 88 inches of rain a year (but please note that almost all of it falls in the winter months, it's as dry and sunny as the rest of Andalucía in summer)



At the northern end of the Grazalema Natural Park, this picturesque pueblo blanco overlooks the fabulous, azure-blue waters of the vast Embalse below.

Forty minutes north-west of Ronda, Zahara de la Sierra is one of the most spectacularly situated villages in Andalucía.

At the foot of the Sierra del Jaralin at the northern end of the Grazalema Natural Park, this picturesque pueblo blanco overlooks the fabulous, azure-blue waters of the vast Embalse below. High above the village, perched on its rocky outcrop, the remains of its Moorish castle stand guard over the whole valley. Scattered below on the slopes are the whitewashed houses of the village.

The town was originally an important Moorish outpost, overlooking and guarding the vast green valley below. The defensive system of the Nazari border consisted of an extensive network of towers and watchtowers that were visually linked along the entire border of the Muslim Kingdom.

Between Ronda and Sevilla, Zahara was of vital strategic importance, the perfect site for a fortress. The castle was built in the 8th Century and rebuilt once more in the 14th Century.

Strategic importance

The town played a vital role as an important Moorish outpost, overlooking and guarding the vast green valley below.

It played a vital role in the conquests and reconquests which took place between 1407 and 1483 when it was finally taken by the Christian forces.

Throughout those years the inhabitants lived in constant danger and on permanent alert as Muslims and Christians fought over ownership. No women or children inhabited the village, just men ready for war.

The coat of arms of Zahara de la Sierra dates back to 1483, when Rodrigo Ponce de León conquered the village and received the title ''Marquis of Zahara'' with the coat of arms that is now the town’s. It can be seen on the main balcony of the Town Hall on a red silk flag and also inside the Town Hall.

Today Zahara de la Sierra is more peaceful! Tourism plays the major role in sustaining the village and its people. Little bars, restaurants and hotels are visited by tourists taking the ruta de los pueblos blancos, visiting the heritage white villages of Andalucía. Zahara is a "must see" on this route.

A "must-see" village

Its little bars, restaurants and hotels are visited by tourists taking the ruta de los pueblos blancos. Here you will get a real taste of Spain.

This is especially true at the famous fiesta of Corpus Christi, which has been declared of National Tourist Interest. The people of Zahara dress up their houses with branches and rushes, making the whole place look as if it were part of nature. It is well worth visiting during this festival.

The huge reservoir, which is a relatively new edition, has made the village even more popular with visitors. As well as being a gorgeous sight, it also offers water sports and swimming.

Other sights worth seeing in Zahara include the Watch Tower, the Tore del Homenaje, the Church of Santa María de la Meza with its baroque altar piece and the Arch of the Town. Zahara de la Sierra was declared Patrimony of Humanity by UNESCO in 1977 and an Artistic Centre in 1983.

Here you will get a real taste of Spain. Accommodation and restaurants are generally more modest than, say, on the coast, and there is less evidence of British influence.

Having said that, the hotel / restaurant "Al Largo" which overlooks the reservoir constantly gets rave reviews, both for its delicious food and for its comfortable accommodation. It is the kind of small inn (there are just four guest rooms) where the owners' personal touch is evident throughout. And they are an American and British couple!


If you walk up to the Moorish castle above the village and stand on its tower roof you will enjoy an amazing panorama over the sierras.

If you care to walk up to the Moorish castle and stand on its tower roof you will enjoy an amazing vista, with Algodonales and the Sierra de Lijar to the north, the Peñón Algarín above El Gastor to the east, the vast forested sierras in the direction of Grazalema to the south, and the Arroyo de Bocaleones and Sierra Margarita out towards Prado del Rey and El Bosque in the west.

You can visit the Garganta Verde (the Green Gorge) and Llano de Ravel. The Garganta Verde, a huge canyon off the road to Grazalema is very scenic and home to many griffon vultures. Access is prohibited during the nesting season.

Not far from the village, the Cueva del Susto (the Cave of Fright) contains an immense, underground lake whose waters supply the towns of both Zahara and El Gastor. Aptly named with its many scary precipices, stalactites and all this underground water, it is probably just as well that its entrance is currently covered with landslides.

Mountain splendour

Don't miss the wonderful drive over the mountains to Grazalema. Climbing ever higher, the blue lake slowly disappears from view far below as you ascend into the rugged, pine forested massifs all around.

Whilst in the area make sure you pay a visit to Molino El Vinculo, a traditional working olive mill just outside the village that offers guided tours and also a shop where you can buy high quality, cold pressed olive oil and other products such as local wines and preserves.

There is internet connection at the tourist office which also has information about the local area and wildlife, as well as a small shop selling local produce. The village has a fruit shop, butchers, bakers and fishmongers as well as a few small supermarkets.

There is a municipal swimming pool with a bar and restaurant, a large grass area for sunbathing and natural shade, dressing rooms and lifeguards. It is open to the public during July and August.

Zahara is the last village perched on the magnificent limestone mountains of the Sierra de Grazalema. Don't miss the fabulous 16 km. drive over the mountains to the village of Grazalema. It's a wonderful road, climbing ever higher, the blue lake slowly disappearing from view far below as you ascend into the rugged, pine forested massifs all around.

Well worth a visit, this "Moorish eagle's nest" in the mountains.

Holiday villas

Holiday villas within easy reach of Zahara

  • ZC 40(5) - Sleeps 2 & 2 children

    Anyone looking for rural authenticity will treasure the unspoilt paradise of this vast mountain estate, without doubt, one of the most beautiful locations in Andalucía. This terrace of six villas is for couples, with or without, their small children.

    from 540€ to 650€

  • ZC 41 - Sleeps 14

    This magnificent estate is hidden In the hills, deep in sublime countryside, just twelve kilometres to the north of Ronda. It's truly wonderful here, acre upon acre of mature cork oak forest, parkland and olive groves. Turn through its gates and the outside world simply disappears!

    from 3,900€ to 7,600€

  • ZC 27 - Sleeps 4

    Light and spacious, bright and cheerful, this modern property is perfect for a family holiday. In open countryside, just a few minutes drive from historic Ronda, it's within easy walking distance of Arriate, one of several charming little villages which are close at hand.

    from 680€ to 1,110€

  • ZC 40(4) - Sleeps 2

    Built in a little cluster below an really impressive rock formation, these four cottages offer comfortable studio accommodation exclusively for couples. On a vast mountain estate, it's one of the most beautiful and tranquil locations in Andalucía.

    from 540€ to 670€

  • ZC 106 - Sleeps 10

    Originally belonging to a much larger estate, this country estate house is set in its own vineyards, only ten minutes' drive from the famous city of Ronda. The grounds comprise 3.5 hectares, 2 of those are given to grapes which the owner uses in his own bodega.

    from 940€ to 2,880€

  • ZC 112 - Sleeps 10

    The entrance is through a conifer-lined drive to an Impressive low, wide, white villa with a lounging terrace at the front. Set in beautiful open country side, on the outskirts of the famous city of Ronda, you'll see cultivated fields with tractors and patchworks of ploughed land of all colours.

    from 1,540€ to 3,000€

  • ZC 26 - Sleeps 8

    Surrounded by the exciting landscapes of the National Park, and just a couple of minutes away from lovely Grazalema itself, this farmhouse has been restored without in any way disturbing its ageless country charm. Homely and traditional, it's genuinely rustic, both inside and out.

    from 980€ to 1,110€

  • ZC 42 - Sleeps 2 and a baby

    Described by one client as "the most beautiful house I've ever seen" this is a delectable place to hide away with a loved one. The perfect place for a first (or second) honeymoon …

    from 1,300€ to 1,560€

  • ZC 79 - Sleeps 12

    Within its own 14 acres of delightful countryside, this farmhouse has been completely restored and refurbished to the very highest standards. Spacious, stylish and very comfortable, it offers serene and understated luxury. A piece of paradise tucked away in the Andalusian hills.

    from 4,470€ to 8,270€

  • ZC 74 - Sleeps 6

    In a beautiful valley just outside Ronda, this spacious villa has lovely gardens and a pool to match. A great choice for all the family. Simply relaxing here, soaking up the sunshine, taking a refreshing dip or two in the pool, it's a perfect antidote to the stresses of modern life.

    from 1,300€ to 1,850€

  • ZC 53 - Sleeps 14

    Once a derelict farmhouse and a few outbuildings, this is now one of the most beautiful places to stay anywhere in Europe. No expense has been spared in transforming its numerous buildings into a spacious, stylish, luxurious holiday villa. The result is, quite simply … stunning.

    from 3,170€ to 7,590€

  • ZC 12 - Sleeps 6 or 8

    Looking out from the forest above the little village to a heavenly panorama of mountain, hill and wooded slopes, this is an intimate, enjoyable and friendly holiday home. A great place to stay.

    from 1,300€ to 1,760€

  • ZC 33 - Sleeps 10 plus staff

    This magnificent, majestic mansion in the hills has real charisma and exquisite, grandiose style. One of the most stunning and spectacular houses in all Spain - in an equally glorious setting, it is impossible not to be captivated by its sumptuous elegance and comfort.

    from 6,740€ to 7,490€

  • ZC 19 - Sleeps 6

    Perched on the hillside with breathtaking views of Zahara de la Sierra on the opposite shore of its stunning lake, this is one of the most spectacularly situated properties in this wonderful part of Spain. Just rolling hills and the tranquility of nature to keep you company; a rural idyll.

    from 850€ to 1,300€

  • ZC 96 - Sleeps 14 + 1 child

    Although built in 2006, the feel of this villa is one of a traditional Spanish country house, with its terracotta pan-tiled roof, white walls, wrought ironwork and antique doors, the welcome is classic Andaluz. There are no other houses around, but you are still only a short drive from Ronda and all that it has to offer.

    from 6,650€ to 12,250€

  • ZC 75 - Sleeps 4

    Soaking up the sunshine, taking a dip in the pool, reading under the dappled shade of an old olive tree, this is what a holiday is all about. In a beautiful valley just outside Ronda, this spacious villa has lovely gardens and a pool to match.

    from 1,100€ to 1,600€

  • ZC 13 - Sleeps 6

    This lovely rustic cottage is located in stunning mountain scenery. Renovated with great care, the cottage retains all its inherent rustic charm, enhanced by carefully chosen, traditional furnishings.

    from 850€ to 1,430€

  • ZC 17 - Sleeps 8 & 2 children

    "Simply perfect, fantastic in every way!". That's what guests say about this superb villa near Ronda which combines elegance, style and comfort in abundance with its inherent Spanish charm. A wonderful holiday home in a great location.

    from 3,060€ to 3,510€

  • ZC 57 - Sleeps 6

    Local style prevails at this holiday home in a stunning setting above the lake at Zahara, a lovely spot on the edge of the Grazalema National Park. There is plenty of room for children to play and some of the best views in Spain.

    from 650€ to 910€

  • ZC 76 - Sleeps 8 & 2 children

    In a beautiful valley just outside Ronda, this wonderful country house has joyous views, landscaped gardens and an irresistible 15 metre pool. Spacious, stylish and immaculately appointed, this is a family home which functions superbly.

    from 3,000€ to 4,400€

  • ZC 10 - Sleeps 10

    Built at the foot of the famous Ronda Gorge, the villa is surrounded by acres of landscaped olive groves. The style of architecture is Andalucian with a distinctly Moorish inspired flavour - warm, welcoming and inviting … this is a villa you will never want to leave.

    from 3,000€ to 3,600€

  • ZC 69 - Sleeps 4 to 18

    Surrounded by some of the most dramatic mountain scenery to be found in Andalusian Spain, this fabulous property, a beautifully restored Casa Señorial (manor house), sits proudly on the edge of the town, overlooking its own lush gardens and pool below.

    from 2,130€ to 3,005€

  • ZC 32 - Sleeps 2 to 6 & a child

    This recently rebuilt and reformed, 200 year old farmhouse has one of the most sensational settings imaginable. Perched on high in the Grazalema Natural Park, views are breathtaking, over the craggy hillsides and beautiful dales all around.

    from 980€ to 1,650€

  • ZC 86 - Sleeps 6 + 2 children

    The location of this ultra-modern villa for visiting Ronda just can't be beaten. The villa is only a ten minute drive from this famous city but is surrounded by 2.5 hectares of private olive groves. Combine the peace of a country holiday with the excitement of Ronda's Andalucian culture.

    from 3,830€ to 4,280€

  • ZC 40(1) - Sleeps 10

    Hugging the hillside like a beacon, this is a house of great character- some would say eccentric - set on a vast, 54 acre mountain estate. Anyone looking for authenticity and tranquillity will treasure this unspoilt paradise, without doubt, one of the most beautiful locations in Spain.

    from 1,730€ to 2,090€

  • ZC 29 - Sleeps 6, 10 or 12

    One of the prime rural properties in Andalucía, this is a genuine Spanish ´hacienda´ set in the beautiful surroundings of its own 350 acre country estate. Quietly splendid and splendidly quiet, it has the unmistakable elegance of good, old-fashioned Spanish grandeur.

    from 910€ to 2,600€

  • ZC 45 - Sleeps 8

    Unlike any other in Andalucia. Inspired by the Majorcan retreat of Claudia Schiffer, the villa is set in a secluded spot within seven acres of private land. Light, bright and airy, it´s very spacious (320m²) and full of interest. Here, traditional Spain meets head on with contemporary design!

    from 2,420€ to 4,490€

  • ZC 23 - Sleeps 6, 8 or 10

    This immaculately restored water mill is one of the most delightful holiday properties in Andalucía. Lawned gardens, an irresistible pool, trees, birdsong … there's even a huge duck pond, too. Inside, it's all about real Andaluz tradition, taste and style.

    from 850€ to 2,210€

  • ZC 89 - Sleeps 6 or 8

    With a full size tennis court, sparkling pool and three hole practice golf course literally in your garden, this villa is ideal for the full family seeking a sporting holiday. But add to this the beautiful house and the proximity to Ronda and you have everything you need for a great break away.

    from 2,130€ to 2,490€

More photos

More photos of Zahara de la Sierra

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