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Route of the Almoravids and Almohads

The route will take us from Tarifa to Granada, and divides into two branches which converge in the town of Ronda. We'll cover a distance of about 300 or 450 kilometres, depending on the itinerary we choose, and we'll travel through the traditional white villages of Cadiz, along its coastline, and over the mountain ranges in Malaga. This trip can be done any time of the year, thanks to the favourable climate of southern Spain. As your means of transport, a car is the best option as the distances between points generally range between 20 and 50 kilometres, except for certain stretches which are a little under 100 kilometres.

Our route starts in Tarifa, one of Europe's windsurfing hotspots. Its formidable castle, built in the 10th century, is a testament to the town's importance at that time. To learn more about its history, the best idea is to drop into the Municipal Museum. We then come to Algeciras, the very first city in Al-Andalus to fall into the hands of the Almoravids in the 11th century. From this point on we can choose between two possible itineraries.

Itinerary 1
On this variant, our next destination is Castellar de la Frontera: its walled enclosure and its fortress make this a fine example of a Nasrid frontier town. Then, the town of Jimena de la Frontera awaits us at the foot of a 13th century fortress. We continue on towards Gaucín and then to the Moorish village of Casares, set atop a nearby ridge. On the road to Ronda, against a backdrop of mountain landscapes, we pass through Algatocín, Benalauría, Benadalid and Atajate, all genuine traditional villages with little white houses and narrow winding streets.

Itinerary 2
Algeciras is also the start of another branch of the route. The first stop is Alcalá de los Gazules, where we'll see the remains of the fortress dating from the times of Al-Andalus. We continue on to Medina Sidonia, which still conserves important fragments of the defensive enclosure built by the Umayyads, including the arch known as the Arco de la Pastora, and the Puerta de Belén gate. We then go on to explore the luminous beaches and the historic quarter of Cadiz, a city which is also famous for its Carnival.

On the other side of the bay of Cadiz we come to two towns known particularly for their wineries: El Puerto de Santa María and Jerez de la Frontera. One of the outstanding features in El Puerto de Santa María is the 13th-century San Marcos castle, built atop the remains of a mosque which previously stood on the site. In Jerez de la Frontera, the Alcázar fortress, its old mosque and the Arab baths bear witness to its Andalusí past.

We then enter the area of Cadiz's white villages, where we pass through Arcos de la Frontera, Zahara de la Sierra, Grazalema, Olvera and Setenil de las Bodegas. These typical Andalusian villages, many of them set high in the mountains, are famous for their typical low white houses and the charm of their narrow winding streets. They are also home to the remnants of old castles, defensive walls and towers.

Final stretch
The last part of our trip begins in Ronda: its spectacular location, perched high on the edge of a ravine, is only the first of its many attractions. The traces of Al-Andalus can still be seen in its walled historic quarter, the old mosque today converted into the church of La Encarnación, the Mondragón Palace, the Arab baths and the Casa del Rey Moro mansion.

We then go through the villages and towns of Teba, Campillos, Vélez-Málaga, Alcaucín, Zafarraya, La Malahá and Las Gabias, where we'll see an abundance of towers, citadels and minarets to remind us of the Arab presence. Finally we reach Granada, the end of our route, where we can indulge our dreams of the thousand and one nights in the Alhambra and the Generalife.


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