Zahara de la Sierra is a beautiful municipality in the Sierra de Cadiz, located in the center of the Sierra de Grazalema, in the foothills of the Sierra del Jaral, between the river Guadalete and the river Bocaleones, and on the banks of the reservoir of Zahara-El Gastor. It is part of the Route of the White Villages.
The village of Zahara de la Sierra extends along the side of a small mountain, topped by a castle with its Tower of Homage and next to the large reservoir of Zahara-El Gastor. Its wonderful natural and historical-artistic attractions have made it worthy of being declared a Historic Site. Its streets are a maze, with its beautiful whitewashed houses, flowery balconies and spectacular viewpoints over the mountains. From the square, a cobbled ramp climbs to the top of the castle, an extraordinary panoramic balcony from which the whole village can be seen, adapted to the terrain and a long perspective over the waters of the reservoir, the Guadalete valley and the mountains that rise in front, towards Algodonales.
The municipality of Zahara de la Sierra is made up of four population centres: Zahara, Arroyo Molinos, Bocaleones and Las Casas.
From the thirteenth century the population, in the middle of the Nazari border, was surrounded by a crenellated wall marked by towers stretch by stretch. There are few remains of the ancient medieval village of Zahara to give an idea of what its original appearance was, but it must have been impressive, since the defence was staggered and adapted to the terrain, and in several places it would have been defended by two walls, even three considering those of the castle itself.
In the year 1282 Alfonso X the Wise requested an interview with the Sultan of Morocco Aben Yusef, from whom he asked for help to fight his son, the future King Sancho IV who had rebelled. The Sultan, accepting his request, summoned him to Zahara, as an important border of the Nasrid kingdom, controlled militarily by the Ronda Kora.
Between 1407 and 1481 the fortress passed into Christian hands, but was again recovered by the Nasrids. The definitive reconquest on the Castilian side took place in 1483, when the well-known heroism and bravery of Don Rodrigo Ponce de León, Marquis of Cádiz, made it possible to take the castle after a hard climb and subsequent struggle, even though few men accompanied him.
Since time immemorial the castle of Zahara has been the source of legends. One of the best known tells that its inhabitants saw danger at night by throwing stones at the cliff. If pigeons were flying, there was none. The Christians stood at the bottom of it, and when the first stones fell, they released wood pigeons. Thus they caught the Moorish sentries off guard and conquered such an impregnable bastion.