White Towns of Andalusia

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Typical house in the province of Granada.

The White Towns of Andalusia, or Pueblos Blancos, are a series of towns and large villages in the northern part of the provinces of Cádiz and Málaga in southern Spain, mostly within the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park.

All of the villages are characterised by whitewashed walls and red or brown tiled roofs.


The area has been settled since prehistoric times, and some of the local caves have ancient rock paintings. Many cultures have left their mark on the region, but the most influential was that of the Moors. The narrow, winding streets have a distinctly Arabic feel to them, though each village has at least one Roman Catholic church. Reasons for whitewashing buildings have variously included the chemical properties of the alkaline whitewash, which is antibacterial, to the socially cohesive appearance a wholly whitewashed village presents. However, it is nevertheless a fact that there is no evidence that the majority of the villages listed below were whitewashed before the 1920s, indeed, it seems that heritage projects that have investigated paint layers on the buildings have discovered that few were whitewashed before that time, and further, that an array of pigments were added to the annual whitewashing activity, chiefly red and yellow ochres. Some decorative effects were also recorded, from the eighteenth century onwards, in a number of villages. These coloured buildings survived until the dictatorship of Miguel Primo de Rivera when, it appears, an instruction was passed to the leader's local political allies to suppress differences in villagers' choices and to disallow any deviation from a politically engineered appearance of normality.


The climate is mild and the surrounding countryside is green and pleasant. Tourist activities available include hiking, rock-climbing, pot-holing, cycling, horseback riding, and just ambling about, enjoying nature and the local food.


The main towns, villages and other interesting places to visit include: