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Southern Hills

Southern Hills

One of a series of inland saline lakes dotted around southern Cordoba province, the 3.2ha Laguna del Rincón and its protected environs covers a total of 138ha and attracts numerous wildfowl in winter. It is also an important breeding site for birds. Like Laguna de Zóñar and Laguna Amarga, it is permanent. There is a bird hide at the lake.

With its surface measuring 37ha, the Laguna de Zóñar is the largest of a series of inland saline lakes in southern Cordoba province and the deepest in Andalucia. It is the most important lake in the province, of outstanding ornithological interest as a haven for overwintering aquatic birds and an important breeding area for many bird species, particularly the white-headed duck. Its total protected area covers 370ha.

Valenzuela is renowned for its idiosyncratic Día del Corpus (Corpus Christi) celebrations; the streets are carpeted with colored sawdust creating varied designs for more than 2kms. The town has around 1200 inhabitants.

Santaella is transformed during the month of August, when the Plaza Mayor and Paseo Adarve are transformed into scenes from the Middle Ages and play host to a medieval-style feast. It has around 6,000 inhabitants.

The town of Puente Genil owes its name to the bridge that was constructed over the Genil River in the sixteenth century. A later bridge was constructed by Hernán Ruiz. Today it has about 30,200 inhabitants.

Nueva Carteya produces an excellent olive oil with a Designation of Origin, which is well worth a try for "foodies". The village has around 5300 inhabitants.

Moriles is a particularly interesting place for those keen on sampling Spain's rural wine culture. Visit in the last week of September for the Fiesta de la Cata Anual del Vino. It has around 3700 inhabitants.

Monturque has a unique viewpoint known as the Mirador de los Paseillos or the "Balcón del Mundo" (Balcony of the World), where visitors can get amazing panoramic views across the surrounding Córdoba province. It has around 1900 inhabitants.

Montemayor is one of the vollages located on the tourist route; Ruta de los Castillos, (Route of the Castles) as there are two castles in the village; Castillo Ducla de Frías and Castillo de Dos Hermanas. It has about 3,900 inhabitants.

Montalbán de Córdoba not only offers some excellent surrounding views, but the fascinating monuments of the Ermita del Calvario and the Ermita Madre de Díos. The town has around 4200 inhabitants.

The ceramics of La Rambla are one of the village's main attractions. Even in prehistoric times, residents used mud to make glasses and bowls, some of which are now on display in the local Museum. The village has around 7500 inhabitants.

The magnificent Castillo de Alcalat, built in the early fourteenth century, looms over this whitewashed village, which has around 3300 inhabitants.

Castro del Río is a village famed for its olive oil and furniture made from olive wood, which has been exported as far as Japan. It has around 7800 inhabitants.

South of Cordoba, the N331 threads its way through the undulating fields known as La Campiña, dominated by vineyards and vast olive groves. Surrounded by vineyards, Montilla is famous for its excellent wine of the same name; visit one of its bodegas to try it for yourself. Ten kilometres south of Montilla is Aguilar de la Frontera, worth a stop to see its unusual octagonal square.

Aguilar de la Frontera is a charming town that can be missed if one is travelling on the A-45 motorway linking Córdoba-Antequera. It is certainly worth taking a detour, considering the interesting history, architecture and the unusual octagonal Plaza de San José. Aguilar de la Frontera has about 13, 400 inhabitants.

Montilla is world-famous for its wine and endless fields of grape-vines punctuate a landscape of gentle rolling hills. It is best known for its dry white wine which is made using the same solera method as sherry. The very sweet Pedro Ximenez grapes are used so consequently, it does not need fortifying.