Villaluenga del Rosario
by Florence Long
Out of all the villages of the Pueblos Blancos in the Sierra de Cadiz, this village sits at the highest altitude. Cushioned in the narrow valley of the Arroyo Albarrán Grazalema, this small settlement enjoys a striking setting, with a towering mountain on one side, and a sloping U-shaped valley on the other. The town’s name translates to the ‘long town of the rosary’, apt for its narrow shape.
Even before a settlement existed, the valley of Arroyo Albarrán Grazalema was probably used as a cattle and trading route. The town, as well as the entirety of Spain, was under the rule of the Arabs from the 7th to the 15th century. After the long and bloody Catholic reconquest, successive Catholic monarchs ruled over Spain and the province of Cádiz. Notably, after came to the throne in 1621, Felipe IV of Spain supported the growth of Villaluenga, making it famous for textile production. More>
However, during the French occupation, Napoleonic forces ransacked the village, burning many of the buildings. Bandits moved into the area, using local caves as hide-outs, including the infamous José María El Tempranillo and Pasos Largos. The town went through a notable shift until after the 1990s when its present industry when the establishment of Queso Payoyo SL, an artisanal cheese manufacturer. More>
Things to See
Cementerio de Villaluenga del Rosario:
hhhh After the Church of El Salvador was destroyed in 1808 by Napoleonic troops, the people of Villaluenga built a cemetery inside the building, creating a unique architectural space. While historians are hesitant to assign precise dates, they can trace three civilisations within its structure. Cradled within the ruins of the church are many niches and alcoves, each the final resting place of a resident of Villaluenga. These include the grave of Pedro Pérez Clotet (1902-1966), a Spanish writer belonging to the Generation of 27, a group of 20th-century avant-garde writers.
In 2017 the popular Magazine, Adiós Cultural, declared the cemetery one of the most beautiful in Spain.
One of the most stunning elements of this unusual cemetery is the missing ceiling dome. The outline of the structure still remains and frames the sky above. On a good day, sunlight pours down onto the carefully tended garden within the nave. Located on Calle de la Torre.
Plaza de Toros
This is the oldest bullring in the province of Cadiz. It has an unusual structure – unlike most bullrings, it is hexagonal instead of round. Made entirely out of small, grey-brown bricks it stands on the north side of town, surrounded by the beautiful landscape of the valley. Rocky outcrops can be seen amongst the stone seating as if the bullring has been partially formed from the mountain itself. Located on Calle Moreno de Mora.
Museo del Queso
Artisanal cheese is the main industry of the town, and you can find a museum dedicated to the craft. Visitors are invited to explore the process of cheese-making and its importance within the Mediterranean diet and the culture of Cadiz. The museum sells cheeses and related products. Located on Calle Albarrada.
Thursday – Sunday, 10.00 – 14.00hrs
Tel: 636 306235
Centro de Interpretación de la Literatura Pedro Pérez Clotet
The Pedro Perez Clotet House & Museum is dedicated to the life and work of writer Pedro Pérez Clotet and is based in the former home of his family, in the heart of Villaluenga. The house has been painstakingly reconstructed to closely resemble its style when Clotet’s family lived there, with manuscripts, photographs, and ephemera from the writer’s life on display. Located on Calle Real.
Wednesday – Sunday, 10.00 – 15.00
Church of San Miguel
Dating from 1733, the neoclassical church demonstrates key baroque details. Inside, you can see the basilica layout and the three naves separated by Tuscan columns. Located next to the Alameda (central tree-lined square) of the town.
Ermita de San Gregerio
This small chapel can be found in the lower part of the town and was built in 1703, at the behest of the Duquesa de Aveiro (Duchess of Aveiro). Equipped with a handsome arched door and modest belfry, it is worth a visit. Located on Calle Ermita.
Things to see aoutside the village
Ermita de El Calvario
Located around one kilometre to the south of the town, this hermitage can be reached on a gently sloping cobblestone path. The building itself is simple, with a dome and white-washed walls. The view from the hermitage takes in the entire town.
Villaluenga is situated with the Natural Park of Grazalema. The area is known for its rugged, limestone mountains and many trekking routes running through and around the town. One of the most popular routes is the Llanos Republicanos, which passes two spectacular caverns, one of them is known as Boca de la Sima del Republicano and is one of the longest caves in Andalucia. We do not advise you to enter the caves for health and safety reasons.
The town produces items using cork and looms. Other products such as plant pots and leatherwork may be found in a local produce shop.
In terms of gastronomy, the town is known for its meat and sausages. Its most famous export, however, is Payoyo cheese. This hard cheese can only be found in this area as it is made using the milk of the Payoyo goat.
The cheese factory, Queso Payoyo SL, is located just off the main road and has a small produce shop where you can buy the famous cheese directly. Jars of creamy cheese can also be bought, which is ideal to spread on bread. The well-rounded, rich flavour of the cheese comes from the goat’s diet of herbs and rich pasture, which is supported by the heavy rainfall of the region. The cheese has won numerous awards at both national and international competitions and continues to win fans from around the world.
As well as the many traditional holidays and celebrations of Spain and Andalucia, there are various key dates in the municipality's calendar, such as La Velada de la Virgen del Rosario (on the first Sunday of October), La Fiesta de San Roque (during the third week of August) and a variety of the traditional Feria (Fair) More>