White Villages I: Lesson Learnt in Medina Sidonia

This summer I visited a series of White Villages in Cadiz, Andalusia. Sorry, the name White Villages has nothing to do with racism, such a hot touchy topic in the blogosphere. None of that here, thank you. They are called so because of their white limestone painted walls, which is supposed to reflect the summer heat. From a distance you see whole villages painted in white.

Medina Sidonia 01

Medina Sidonia 02

Small detour in our stroll here. You see, us pharmacists like to see pharmacies…

Medina Sidonia 03

Medina Sidonia 04

Most of the villages in this area were heavily settled in during the Medieval Muslim period of occupation in Spain when Andalusia was called Al Andalus. It’s pretty evident in the architecture, names of many of the places and influences in the traditional cakes and sweets, which are delicious by the way. More on this last point in my next post.

Medina Sidonia 07

Medina Sidonia 06

Medina Sidonia 08

Medina Sidonia 12

Medina Sidonia 09

Medina Sidonia 13

The funny thing was, we weren’t even going to go to Medina Sidonia. That afternoon we were on our way to some other White Village and Medina Sidonia was smack bang in the middle of our way. This place makes the best Christmas marzipan type of sweets, so I’ve been here a few times during Christmas with my mum to buy their sweets, and I had suggested that morning that we could stop in Medina Sidonia to have a proper wander around. Which we decided we weren’t going to.

On the road, when the signs to Medina Sidonia approached, we made a last minute decision to stop there. And walk around for a few minutes. We ended up staying there until the end of the evening. The plans to go to the other place that day disappeared.

If you’re travelling through Andalusia, and doing the Route of the White Villages, and reading a Lonely Planet, just bear in mind that this gem of a village isn’t even mentioned there. I visited quite a few White Villages this summer, and even though they were all gorgeous and had their own charm in their own way, Medina Sidonia was my favourite.

Medina Sidonia 14

I think most of it’s charm is due it not being in the Lonely Planet, not being in the top tourist guides, and therefore not commercially exploiting itself to tourism. That way it keeps its authenticity with regards to how its current inhabitants live.

Medina Sidonia 11

Medina Sidonia 10

Lesson learnt: sometimes the best places are not the ones raved about in the top tourist guides.

Medina Sidonia 15

Medina Sidonia 16

Thank you for visiting!

20 Comments

  1. Guillermina Stover 2015-09-12 at 16:45

    As I was reading your lovely, post, tears sprang to my eyes. Of joy, of remembrance, of my lush life in Andalucía. We enjoyed this charming village, this Pueblo Blanco, its ambiance, its Moorish roots, its promenades. Everything. It was the epitome of ANDALUCIA. And isn’t it delightful that it hasn’t been “discovered.” Wow, still crying…the emotions just washed over me. I met the Duquesa of Medina Sedonia, by the way, who lives in Sanlúcar de Barrameda…wonder if she’s still alive. She’s called “la Duquesa Roja” because of her liberal (communist, ergo red) philosophy. Fascinating woman…her own woman!

    Reply
    1. Sofia 2015-09-13 at 21:35

      I’m so glad you enjoyed seeing the photos Guillermina Everything is gorgeous here. YOu met the Duquesa de Medina Sidonia? I need to check in Google to see who she is, hehe…

      Reply
  2. eleieleika 2015-09-12 at 17:03

    I like this post. Just the right time for me as I am preparing Oct
    Newsletter of our group. We are going there next month, to visit museum, Roman ruins, around plaza and also lunch at La Vista. The owner of this told us yesterday that some one gave her grand baby piano in that beautiful room with the view. So if you free, your welcome to join us… 😄

    Reply
    1. Sofia 2015-09-13 at 21:34

      If you haven’t sent out the newsletter yet you can use photos from here 🙂 Some one gave her a grand baby piano? I want one too. And I want to join… as long as it’s tuned 😉

      Reply
  3. Guillermina Stover 2015-09-12 at 17:38

    Lilik, give all my dear, dear friends from the IWA a kiss & a hug for me. I remember ALL of them fondly…I miss them so. A special hug for you, sweet friend!!!

    Reply
  4. Ginger 2015-09-12 at 18:25

    Thank you for posting those beautiful pictures! I love Andalusia and discovering the leftover bits of Moorish Spain! I agree with you on the Lonely Planet and guides in general: at best they give you an intro, to get you started exploring the place. Now I’m desperate to find out what sweets you were talking about! 🙂

    Reply
    1. Sofia 2015-09-13 at 21:39

      Hey I’m glad you enjoyed them 🙂 I’ll try and find time to post the sweet or sweets – I can’t remember how many I managed to photograph, lol!.

      Reply
  5. Mitzie Mee 2015-09-12 at 23:27

    What a place! And the funny thing is, that it reminds me of one of the small villages we used to drive up to, when I was working as a tourist rep in Marbella (loong time ago). Is it close to Mijas?
    When a place is featured in the big guide books, it’s usually a bad sign, as it often means that the locals have gone and the tourists have taken over. At least that’s my experience when it comes to restaurants:)

    Reply
    1. Sofia 2015-09-13 at 21:38

      Yeah that’s because the White Villages are mostly in Cadiz AND Malaga! 🙂 How long were you doing that for? So interesting! Oh yeah, here in Barcelona, some parts are so taken over by tourists that us locals avoid going there at all – such as La Rambla – (unless you MUST to cross it to get to where you’re going). And no local in their right mind would dare eat anything there either….

      Reply
      1. Mitzie Mee 2015-09-15 at 20:38

        I was in Marbella and Puerto Banus for 5 months. It was during a gap year after high school, and it was so much fun. I gained 5 kgs eating delicious Spanish food, but it was SO worth it:)

        Reply
  6. Mabel Kwong 2015-09-13 at 11:59

    Such a quaint little place and the architecture is simply stunning. That pharmacy sure looks like it’s in a quiet corner of town. It looks like it’s shut because the door is shut…but for all you know it might be open 😀 From the last few photos it looks like everyone comes together in the center of Medina Sidonia for dinner and fun. Or maybe it was just summer and the weather was nice 🙂

    Reply
    1. Sofia 2015-09-13 at 21:46

      The pharmacy is open, if not by law the cross can’t be luminous 😉 Yeah they have this central plaza and everyone goes out there! xx

      Reply
  7. pianolearner 2015-09-13 at 21:24

    A beautiful looking place. I love the framing of archway in the 3rd photo from end. A really interesting looking place. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Sofia 2015-09-13 at 21:39

      Good taste, I like that photo too 😉 hihi..

      Reply
  8. Saskia (1=2) 2015-09-15 at 02:54

    Oh gosh, lovely photos! Especially the first one, with the beautiful wall and the yellow and white church. And what a pharmacy! Amazing that Medina Sidonia hasn’t made it to Lonely Planet – your secret is safe with us 😉 Looking forward to learning more about the traditional cakes and sweets.

    Reply
    1. Sofia 2015-09-15 at 15:23

      Thanks Saskia 🙂 Yeah there are some cute traditional looking pharmacies in Spain. Hehe, good to know that my secret is safe 😉

      Reply
  9. Lily @ChloeAsh 2015-09-19 at 05:14

    Ah so beautiful! I would imagine it’s difficult to maintain the buildings with white paint. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the lovely pictures which say a thousand words. White Village… will be one of the places I want to visit in the future!

    Reply
  10. Dalo 2013 2015-09-22 at 19:38

    I think you are correct, places as charming as Cadiz, Andalusia can retain all the peacefulness (and greatness) because they are not written up in the Lonely Planet or tour books… It seems many of the places where one can truly relax are those we find ourselves, although with your photos and descriptions I wonder how much longer this White Village will remain a little secret to just a few travelers 🙂 Your photos are great, especially like #5 ~

    Reply
  11. laurasmess 2015-09-23 at 07:12

    GORGEOUS photos, oh my gosh!!! You’re making me miss Spain so much. It’s been many, many years since I visited (and that was only Barcelona). I completely agree that it’s wonderful for certain places to remain a little unadulterated by tourism. Although it’s a necessary evil (in terms of GDP and national income) I’m saddened to see that certain places like Rome have been completely overwhelmed by the impact of the tourist trade. Feeling very peaceful after reading your post xxx

    Reply
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