Bulnes (649 m asl and 29 inhab.). It is one of the most remote villages in Spain. There is no road and it can only be accessed by rack railway, over a 400-meter drop in eight minutes from Puente Poncebos, where there is a huge parking lot. It is in the heart of the impressive Massif Central de los Picos de Europa. It can also be reached on foot from Poncebos, 5 kilometers away. Stone houses with red roofs and narrow streets and, as a background, the sound of the water. It is the starting point for many hiking excursions. From here you reach the mythical Naranjo de Bulnes (Picu Urriellu). Do not forget its famous Cabrales cheese.
Segura de la Sierra, Jaén
Segura de la Sierra (1,140 m asl and 1,800 inhabitants). The manor houses with coats of arms are a sample of its old economic power, among which the one of Jorge Manrique stands out, in one of the most beautiful corners. Calle de los Caballeros Santiaguistas preserves some of the best-preserved buildings. Its superb castle was considered the most impregnable of all Al-Andalus. When you look at it from a distance, surrounded by olive groves, you can understand what an Arab historian wrote: “If you try to reach, it tires your eyes.” Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans wandered here but the splendor was in the 16th and 17th centuries: Imperial Fountain (with the coat of arms of Carlos V), Town Hall and palaces. It is the starting point for numerous excursions: the source of the Segura with a recreational area, or a tour of the Natural Park. Gastronomy: Partridge, gachamigas, dripping garlic, wild asparagus tortillas and sausages.
Capileira (1,457 m asl and 560 inhab.). Since Sierra Nevada was declared a National Park, this town – the highest in the entire Alpujarra – has become more isolated. But tourism has mistreated it a lot. Disadvantages of being a beautiful town. What little agriculture remains is still hard to work with. Now, everyone rents the house or sells something. In Capileira – one of the most beautiful ‘terraos’ – it is convenient to visit the Pedro Antonio de Alarcón House-Museum (for whom the Alpujarra began to be known, but who was never here). The best thing is to get lost in its streets with ‘tinaos’ (passageways full of flowers that link the houses). Nearby is the Tajo del Diablo, from where you can see the terraced crops of the valley. Gastronomy: Pork products, kid with garlic and poor potatoes.
Candelario (1,136 m asl and 860 inhab.). Its foundation dates back to groups of shepherds who came down from what is now Asturias in the pre-Christ era. Today it is a historical-artistic complex and one of the best preserved towns in the province, with batipad doors (double doors to protect from the cold) and wooden balconies in many of its houses. Its church of La Asunción (14th century) shows eight Romanesque arches and Mudejar coffered ceiling and, next to it, is the hermitage of Christ. In spring they hang from the balconies, adorned with flowers, fruits left to dry. We will find the best view from La Peña de la Cruz and, in the surroundings, is the Sanctuary of Nuestra Señora del Castañar. Gastronomy: sausages, meats and maimón bun (roscón).
Zahara de la Sierra, Cádiz
Zahara de la Sierra (500 m asl and 1,550 inhabitants). In the viewpoint of its main square, with a fabulous panoramic view, there is always someone willing to relate the stratagem that the Christians used to take the impregnable castle. The Torre del Homenaje stands as a silent witness to that feat and in one of its walls an opening is contemplated, the ‘wind slit’, where the assailants entered. The most interesting place is the square where the town hall is located, with the baroque church of Santa María de Mesa. When dusk arrives, it is convenient to go to the nearby port of Las Palomas to contemplate the impressive sunsets. In the surroundings there are colonies of griffon vultures, which are considered one of the most important in Europe. Zahara is on the so-called white towns route. Gastronomy. Boiled soups, wild asparagus and slaughter products.
Torla (1,033 m asl and 293 inhabitants). In the north of the province, near the border with France. Its name is due to the defensive tower (disappeared) where today the beautiful Romanesque church of San Salvador stands, with its altarpieces rescued from disappeared towns). The views of the valley are spectacular. It was completely walled, and part of the castle (Ethnological Museum) and some towers and gates are still preserved. Most of the houses are from the 17th century. Nearby, the Ordesa valley. where access by private vehicle is prohibited. There is a car park near the beginning of the ascent, where a municipal shuttle bus also arrives. Numerous routes depart from there, although the most popular is the one that follows the course of the Arazas river, which passes through spectacular waterfalls, reaching the impressive Cola de Caballo. Gastronomy. Baked bean, crumbs and lamb casserole.
Castellfullit de la Roca, Gerona
Castellfullit de la Roca (700 m asl and 447 h). From the road, where the Fluvià and Turonell rivers meet, there is an impressive view of this town that stands on a basaltic spur about sixty meters high. The row of houses stretches almost a kilometer over the valley. The road crosses the town separating the modern part from the old one (the so-called Vila Vella), which was walled, although from below there is one that there was no need for defenses. The carrer de la Iglesia leads to the temple located on the spur hanging over the valley. The buildings that flank it are neat stone houses with flowers on the balconies. On the outskirts, natural formations: the basalt streams and up to eight volcanoes, of which the most important is the Estany. Gastronomy. Cod with aioli and puff pastry cookies.
Alcalá del Júcar, Albacete
Alcalá del Júcar (596 m asl and 1,200 h). It has retained its old appearance, with streets adorned with flower pots where cars cannot circulate (it is advisable to park on the other side of the bridge). The scarce population of winter months multiplies by ten when summer arrives. A must see is the Devil’s and Masago caves, converted by their clever owners into inns with views of the ravine, after having excavated 90-meter tunnels. Many of its inhabitants have also expanded their houses until they reached the other side of the mountain. For something the best stonemasons in all Albacete have come from here. The caves date back centuries, when you could only enter by hanging down with ropes. Many are almost inaccessible and are surrounded by legends. There is an Arab castle and one of the oldest bullrings in Spain. Nearby the small hamlet of Tolosa, which looks like a small Alcalá. Gastronomy. Game meats and manchego gazpacho.
Beget (541 m asl and 27 hab). With only a road with a thousand and one curves as access, it served for centuries as a refuge for fugitives from justice. Declared a historical-artistic complex in 1983, when the first road reached the place and the car replaced the mule. The perfectly preserved houses are made of stone with wooden balconies, adorned with pieces of plaster and potted plants made of dried elm logs. Cars cannot enter the village and must stay next to the church. In it is the Majestat de Beget, one of the best Romanesque images in Catalonia. Two small streams divide the town into three parts, covered almost by a single street. A long path passes through Beget that leads to France. Gastronomy. Typical Catalan dishes such as botifarra amb momgetes.
Cosgaya (680 m asl and 52 inhab.). Here, the Moors fled from Covadonga were buried by a landslide that, according to legend, was divine punishment. For centuries, bones have been appearing and hence the name of Monte Calavera by which the mountain is known. Don Pelayo was born in nearby Mogrovejo and in Las Ilces, Favila -the second Asturian king- was killed by a bear. These impressive mountains served as a natural border from the Romans to the Napoleonic troops through the Arabs. Going up the river Deva is Fuente Dé, with the cable car that takes in three and a half minutes to the Picos de Europa to contemplate an impressive panorama. Nearby the monastery of Santo Toribio de Liébana where the largest piece of the relic of the Holy Cross is preserved and – a little further on – Potes, one of the most charming towns in Spain. Gastronomy. Lebaniego stew, cheeses, sausages and pomace
Navafría (1,192 m asl and 285 inhabitants). In the Sierra de Guadarrama, with the famous ‘El Chorro’ waterfall in the middle of a pine forest, the scene of one of the most famous Segovian love legends. Its mills moved by the waters of the river stood out, of which one is still working, the ‘Martinete de Navafría’. Most of the rest have been converted into homes). The church of San Lorenzo preserves the Romanesque façade. There are hiking routes such as the nearby Nevero peak, a magnificent viewpoint over the provinces of Madrid and Segovia. Gastronomy. It is the place of restaurants where they serve mainly lamb and suckling pig.
O Cebreiro, Lugo
Or Cebreiro (1302 m asl and 125 inhab.). On the limits of León with Lugo, on the Camino de Santiago, with a pre-Romanesque sanctuary from the 11th century, built on the occasion of a famous prodigy. Whoever has ever passed through here in winter, with the snow on the roofs of the old buildings and the deep cold, can understand its essence. Many argue that Wagner’s work, Parsifal, is based on this shrine, which was a monastery and belonged to the Benedictine order. The town that surrounds it is made up of pallozas, old stone dwellings – declared a monumental complex – covered with colmo (interlaced straw and sewn with broom) to protect from the cold; one of them has been converted into a museum. Next to it, other houses with slate roofs have been built, some of which are rented as shelters. In O Cebreiro, named, in all the old guides of the Camino de Santiago, one of the most interesting stages begins. In the surroundings, granaries and small villages such as Liñares, Hospital and Fonfría. Gastronomy: Famous for its cheese, Botelo (sausage), pork products and Bierzo wines.