The One with Arcos de la Frontera, Spain

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Alrighty, so, after a.... thrilling?... day in Tangier, we stayed the night once more in wonderful Tarifa and then the next morning we headed off to a couple different places. We wanted to go explore the so-called "White Hill Towns." First stop: Arcos de la Frontera, Spain! As soon as we let Jane out of the car she ran off to explore. That girl is in her own little world sometimes!
Rick Steves says about all the history throughout this post, "Just as the American image of Germany is Bavaria (home sweet home!), the Yankee dream of Spain is Andalucia. This is the home of bull fights, flamenco, gazpacho, pristine whitewashed hill towns, and glamorous Mediterranean resorts. These white hill towns are Andalucia's charm bracelet of cute towns perched in the sierras, giving the visitor a wonderful glimpse at untouched Spanish culture. The queen of these towns is Arcos de la Frontera. Towns with "de la Frontera" in their names were established on the front line of the centuries long fight to recapture Spain from the Muslims who were slowly pushed back into Africa."
We parked just outside the center of town which was closed off to cars for a city fair, and the kids immediately found a playground. With a beautiful day like this we had to let them take advantage and stretch their legs. 
I loved looking out over the valleys and fields from the hill that Arcos sits on. So gorgeous.
What an awesome setting for a town way up high on a hill!
After the kids had their fill of the playground we headed up into the core of the town. Arcos has two main parts: the fairy-tale old town on top of the hill and the fun-loving lower, or new, town. The old center is a labyrinthine wonderland, a photographer's feast.
The kids wanted to go on the train. Me too!
 I love these white buildings.
As we were walking uphill Jane ran from door to door, stopped at each one, and said, "Cheese!" She's never asked me to take her picture before so this was a huge moment. And she hasn't asked since, ha.
Jay pushing Fox in the stroller. He prefers to sit. Jane likes to walk.
Teaser photos of Arcos from up on high and down below.
At the top we arrived at the center of town and the Church of Santa Maria.
After Arcos was retaken from the Moors in the 13th century this church was built atop a mosque. The church's fine bell tower appears chopped off. The old one fell in the earthquake of 1755 (famous for destroying Lisbon). The replacement was intended to be the tallest in Andalucia, after Sevilla's, but money ran out.
The view of the church from the Plaza del Cabildo.
This plaza has an incredible viewpoint opposite the church. Bellying up to the railing you look down and see why residents of Arcos boast that they see the backs of birds as they fly. Here we are about 330 feet above the Guadaltete river. The city has some serious erosion concerns. In fact, the restaurant along the cliff in this photo lost part of its lounge in the 1990s when it dropped right off. Scary.
On the lookout there was a man with a bunch of birds, from owls to hawks.
Every time we vacation with Jaylie we see bird men.
Jay holding a pair of owls and Fox caressing one. He said it was very soft.
This makes me feel bad though - how did the guy catch these beautiful birds? And owls are nocturnal, they should be sleeping during the day!
After enjoying the views and the birds we continued on. We left the plaza and wandered the maze of streets enjoying the charm of Arcos and the lovely weather of sunny southern Spain.
We eventually arrived at the Church of St. Peter. Until a few years ago this church also had a resident bellman - notice the cozy balcony halfway up. He was a basket maker and a colorful character, famous for bringing a donkey into his quarters which grew too big to get back out. Finally he had no choice but to kill and eat the donkey. So weird. 
Aqua window? Yes please!
We kept walking across the hill to the opposite side of town to find the mirador and its commanding views.
Looking back up towards town from the viewpoint.
The Evans Family in Arcos de la Frontera on Sunday February 8th 2015.
How cute is this corner cafe?!
Walking back down, we stopped in the tourist office to use the facilities.
The view from the top floor where the bathrooms are located provided a magnificent whitewashed view!
After loading back up in our van we drove down along the river looking for the best views of this incredible town spilling down the hillside. Arcos smothers its long, narrow hilltop and cascades down the back of the ridge like the train of a wedding dress.
Fox and Jane were content in their car seats so Chris and I hopped out and got a photo of just the two of us in front of Arcos. We don't have too many shots like this anymore! Still just a couple of love-sick kids :)
Onto the next destination, similar to Arcos de la Frontera because it's a hill-top town, but worth every minute: Ronda, Spain!


  1. What a beautiful city!! That is so odd about the man and his donkey though!!

  2. Great photo of you and Chris and the one of the town on the hill is amazing!!

  3. Great post, babe! Beautiful photos! I think you did a great job capturing the beauty of that town

  4. Wow!! Beautiful!!! I love all the white buildings..seriously, need to go back - I feel like I missed so much! ;) (also love that shot of you and Chris at the end.)

  5. And...the pics of Jane in front of the doors made me laugh. Goofball!


Paige Taylor Evans © // Quinn Creatives DESIGN