Andalucía has many beautiful cities to visit, such as Cordoba, Granada, Cadiz and the unforgettable Seville. But you would be missing out if you didn’t visit the Andalusian countryside. Only one hour from Seville, you’ll find the beautiful mountain range of Sierre de Aracena as well as what certainly is the best Iberian ham tasting near Seville. It has hidden villages with long-standing traditions, hiking trails through green scenery and impressive ancient landmarks.
Here are some interesting ‘off the beaten track’ spots, that only the locals know about.
Sierra de Aracena takes its name from this characteristic town. This charming little place with the white buildings and cobblestone streets has more to it then first meets the eye. It can be best experienced from three different levels. First, for an amazing panoramic view of the town and the surrounding landscape, you can visit the castle on top of the hill. From the centre of town, it’s just a short fifteen-minute walk to the top. Here the Castillo de Aracena has stood for centuries watching over Aracena keeping it safe from enemies. Before trying for yourself the best Iberian ham tasting near Seville you can enjoy the breathtaking view yourself from this incredible lookout point and indulge in History. The oldest remains of the castle date back to the 10th century when Aracena belonged to the Taifa kingdom of Seville.
The next must-do activity in Aracena would be a ham tasting and Aracena offers the best Iberian ham tasting near Seville. This town is widely known for its Iberian ham and even has a jamón museum. The ham meat is from the black Iberian pig whose natural environment is in Sierre de Aracena. The jamón Ibérico is a local Andalusian delicacy. If you’re a real ham lover then our Iberian Ham Tasting tour is what you need.
While in Aracena, make sure you don’t miss the hidden beauty of this town, which is literally under the surface. This Gruta de las Maravillas or the cave of wonders is a beautiful natural formation. The name sets the bar high, but the cave more then meets this expectation. In the town-center, you can find the entrance that brings you to a different world of stalactites and crystals.
Alamonaster la Real
This one certainly makes the list of hidden must-see spots. The narrows streets too this landmark aren’t tourist bus friendly, so there is a big chance that you will be enjoying it on your own. Also, the name can be misleading and let you think this is a monastery, but actually it was originally built as a mosque. It is smaller than the famous Mezquita-Cathedral de Cordoba, but this ‘Mezquita’ carries the title of the best-preserved mosque of the Iberian Peninsula. Built in the 5th century on the remnants of a basilica its grace and beauty have lasted the test of time. The remarkable aspect of the Alamonaster la Real is that the entire building is still intact. You can walk between the arches and imagine yourself in a different time. Even the traditional Islamic Mihrab tower still stands over Sierre de Aracena.
There is definitely no better way to experience Sierre de Aracena than going for a long walk through its immense green beauty. There are plenty of different hikes you can choose from in the natural park. You can wander from town to town and tailor the experience to your own tastes. Hiking in this region is generally not difficult; the rolling hills of this landscape are not very high. This makes it suitable for any hiker, even for families with kids but it still helps to burn the calories of the best Iberian ham tasting near Seville! Nonetheless, make sure you stop in one of the villages for a lunch with tapas and vino, you can’t miss it.
An example of a great hike is from Linares de la Sierra to Alájar. You will start and finish in idyllic Linares and walk to the charming village of Alájar and back via a different route. This eleven kilometres hike is a pleasant walk through the mountain range. And besides one steep section, it is an easy walk which can take up to 4,5 hours. On this trail you will see the beauty of the wavy landscape, you pass by olive trees and old oaks. Which especially in autumn gives the opportunity for incredible photos. In Alájar you find the natural monument of La Peñal de Arias Montano. This is a rock formation that stands out in the green landscape. On top of the rock, there is a 16th-century chapel overlooking the town. Make sure you pay it a visit and see the church bells in the original arches. Because the hike starts and finishes in the same spot, it’s perfect if you are travelling by car.
Minas de Rio Tinto
A little more south of Sierre de Aracena, you’ll find an unusual attraction. Maybe visiting a mine is not at the top of the travel bucket list like the best Iberian ham tasting near Seville would be, but the extraterrestrial scenery is something you don’t want to miss. Minas ‘mines’ de Rio Tinto have been mined by different civilizations for over 5000 years. Iron ore, copper, silver and many other mineral ores were all mined here and that has left its mark on the land and the river which now has a reddish tint. You can see the impressive size of this moon landscape from the Mirador Cerro Colorado. You can make a quick stop and enjoy a wide range of colours that stroke the earth. If you want to know more about the mining you can visit the museum or get a tour on an original train track. When you drive back over Embalse del Agua, you can see how the high level of copper in the water has caused the trees to grow in strange shapes. These Arboles de Cobre are an interesting last stop before your drive back to Seville.
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