Primarily, we associate Spain with sunny beaches and exciting towns, but Spain is also home to wonderful quaint villages. You might be drawn to live in one, for a slower pace of life. They also make fantastic daytrips for sight-seeing, gift shopping, and eating delicious cuisine.
But how do you define the beauty of a village?
Spain have come up with their own system for judging the beauty of villages. The Association of the Most Beautiful Villages is an independent organisation, but it is supported by the government and provincial authorities. Throughout Spain, numerous villages have applied to be included on this list, but only one in four are successful. To be included, a village (or small town) must meet a number of criteria:
- Have a population of 15,000 (in populations with more than 5,000 inhabitants, the location must have a historic centre in perfect condition to be considered)
- Certification of architectural or natural heritage
- High standard of cleanness
- Conservation of facades
- Controlled circulation of vehicles
- Care of green areas
A village with a grand history: Aínsa was once the capital of the old Kingdom of Sobrarbe and was later incorporated into the Kingdom of Aragon in the 11th century. Medievalists will love Aínsa, which has been declared a Historic-Artistic site, for its visual display of its past. The first citadel dates all the way back to the 11th century and was used as a defence against the Muslims. The only trouble is, Aínsa is a well-known location, so you’re better visiting outside of the tourist-filled summers.
Some say it is the prettiest village in Andalusia. Frigiliana is a maze of cobbled streets and well-kept, white-washed buildings. The old town tells the story of Frigiliana’s Moorish history. Every year, it hosts the ‘Festival of Three Cultures’, celebrating the co-existence of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam in the region.
Set in Sierra de Grazalema Parque Natural, Grazaleme is a beautiful white village. It is the ideal stopping point for hikers to have a drink and a cool down. Grazaleme also claims the title of the wettest place in Spain, as it is the recipient of Atlantic storms. But being the wettest place in Spain, Grazaleme is surrounded by luscious fauna and flora.
La Alberca, Sierra de Francia
As the first village to be given the National Historic Heritage status back in 1940, La Alberca has a well-deserved place on this list. Its vibrant heart is the main square, surrounded on all four sides by columned porches. The historic downtown is really like taking a trip in a time machine to the Medieval era.
There are many other charming Spanish villages for you to discover. But these just give you a taste of Spain beyond beaches and cities. A taste that will make you fall for the country even more.
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