The Route of the Almoravids and Almohads passes through three geographical areas. It starts in the so-called “pueblos blancos” or whitewashed villages of Cadiz, many of which have the words “of the border” in their names, an indication of the combat between the Christians and the Muslims that lasted two centuries. It continues into the Axarquía region of Málaga and reaches Granada, exactly as the journey described by Ibn Batuta, an explorer born in Tangiers, who wrote books about the society of the XIV Century.
This is a long and beautiful journey through the history shared in common by two neighbouring countries, Africa and Europe, and particularly Morocco and Spain, who for centuries shared their destiny, culture, triumphs and changes of fate.
In the XI Century, the Almoravid or al-morabitun dynasty emerged from the very heart of the Maghreb desert, and would come to the Peninsula to answer the desperate call for help from the great poet-king from Seville, al-Mutamid, who was overwhelmed by the ever-increasing pressure of the Christians who were besieging the lands of al-Andalus. The Almoravids, led by the «blue» warrior Yusuf ibn Tashfin (the Almoravids belonged to the Lamtuna tribe, who were accustomed to protect their head and face with an indigo blue ‘litam’ or veil), did not hesitate and obligingly arrived. Their luck ran out in the middle of the XII Century; another group of Berbers, the Almohads, took over the reins of power themselves, employing similar arguments of spiritual cleansing, which did not produce a lasting response.
Along this Route, the traveller will appreciate the influence of a past history full of brilliant characters, from the Neanderthal “Man of Zafarraya”, through Phoenicians, Romans and Moors, to the present day. This history and tradition, above all the deep-rooted Andalusí tradition, full of charm and local colour, has been passed on to the people of today, and is reflected in their upbringing and hospitality.
The names and the people who played an important role in the local history: “Fahs-al-raiyya”, “al-Malaha”, “Hisn Caviar”, Ibn Batuta, Mohammed II; the monuments, gastronomy, agriculture, crafts, and even the inns and roadways, are all reminders of the Arabic origins.
Tarifa, Algeciras, Castellar de la Frontera, Jimena de la Frontera, Casares, Gaucín, Banalauría, Algatocín, Benadalid, Atajate, Alcalá de los Gazules, Medina Sidonia, Cádiz, Puerto de Santa María, Jerez de la Frontera, Arcos de la Frontera, Grazalema, Zahara de la Sierra, Algodonales, Olvera, Setenil, Ronda, Teba, Campillos, Vélez Málaga, Alcaucín, Zafarraya, La Malahá, Las Gabias, Granada.
About 610 Km.
The mountain pass of Zafarraya was used for incursions by the first Muslims of al-Andalus in the middle of the VIII Century. This pass was preserved and re-used continually to communicate with and win back various areas; hence, many remains of towers still exist today. Beyond the narrow mountain pass lies an immense valley, together with the Sierra Gorda and the Sierra de Alhama. In 1833, human remains dating back some 30,000 years were found in a cave in this narrow opening. Phoenician and Paleo-Christian remains can be found in this spectacular landscape, thanks to the saltworks (a complex system of irrigation and salt mining), the baths and the irrigation system. These elements provide a wide range of products used in simple dishes produced with great care, to be eaten in one of the extensive inns or in the shade of the numerous poplar groves, which nowadays are nothing like the natural forests on the riverbank of years ago.
Los Alcornocales, la Sierra de Grazalema and la Sierra de las Nieves Natural Parks.
The cuisine on this route is mainly country fare, made with the produce of the area. The local wines are exceptional, particularly the sherry wines from Jerez, used both to serve with the meals and to add flavour to them.