The Spanish Language Blog

In Spanish they are called Los Pueblos Blancos, the white villages of Andalusia. They are characterized by the little houses with white walls and red/brown roofs on high ground in the areas of Cadiz and Malaga. But what is behind this? Why are they all white and why are they all located in the mountains? The white villages of Andalusia have their own story.

  • All the details of the cottages have their own purpose. The small windows, the bright white paint and the thick walls. The cottages in Andalusia are built this way for very logical reasons.
  • The area has been populated by many peoples, yet one people has left the biggest mark that makes the white villages in Andalusia the way they are today.

Everything is done for a reason. This is also true of the white villages of Andalusia. All the houses are built with thick walls, small windows and bright white paint. This is typical of the houses in this region. The thick walls are good insulation for both heat and cold. If in winter keeping heat in is essential, in summer keeping cool air in is essential. In addition, the small windows keep too much sunlight from entering the house. Too much sunlight will heat up the house in the summer, which is exactly what is not intended. The bright white paint of the houses reflects the sunlight back, preventing it from penetrating the house. By the way, the reason the walls stay so white is very simple: every spring, each house gets a new paint to usher in spring.

These cottages are made for the climate of Andalusia. You find them mostly in the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park, but also in the region of Cadiz and Malaga. They are a real tourist attraction. Yet you must not forget that this oasis of beauty is also simply a habitat of people; although perhaps that makes it even more beautiful. The villages bring with them a special Arabic feeling because of their narrow streets and cozy squares. The squares of the white villages, where old men sit quietly in the shade playing cards and where the women keep the flowers beautiful. It is a picture. Despite the Arab feeling you get with the villages, each village has at least one Roman Catholic church that completes the picture.

The Moors in Spain

That the cottages have only a climatic reason for construction was not always true, by the way. The area has been inhabited since prehistoric times. Several caves can be found with rock paintings. Although many peoples have lived in this area, there has been one people who have been hugely influential to the villages; the Moors. They lived and ruled large parts of Spain beginning in the 13th century. When at one point the Spanish reclaimed their land, the Moors fled into the mountains and built white houses with thick walls and small windows. So initially it was also a kind of protection from the Spaniards. From the high mountain the Moors could soon see them coming and so they could defend themselves in time against the Spaniards. Today, the people in the villages only have to protect themselves from all the tourists who want to see this beautiful place up close.

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