Vélez Blanco is a beautiful Andalusian white town located in the hills between the cities of Granada and Murcia. It has everything you would want from a town – friendly people, great bars, incredible landscapes, stunning whitewashed streets, fresh drinking water flowing from fountains, and to top it all, an awe-inspiring castle looking down from above.
Let’s start at the top. Vélez Blanco has a fantastic castle and it is free to visit, just not on a Monday or a Tuesday so plan your time accordingly (1000-1400 year round, 1600-1800 October to March and 1700-2000 April to September). It is a beautiful ancient fortress which has been well restored whilst keeping everything still looking authentic. The views are to die for with tiny windows and huge terraces offering a bird’s eye perspective of the entire town and the surrounding plains all the way over to the “Molar” mountain, so called because of its tooth-like shape. The saddest thing is the lack of anything inside. There is an information room (Spanish only) which tells the history of the castle and displays pictures from its glorious past. How different it must have looked prior to 1904 when the glorious patios and carved marble arches and facades were sold off to an American millionaire. Luckily George Blumenthal bequeathed it all to the Metropolitan Art Museum in New York and they can still be seen there today. Plans are afoot for replicas to be made for modern day visitors to the castle to see in situ.
Down in the town it is easy to get lost wandering around the maze of picturesque whitewashed streets. Re-orientation is easy too though – just look for the castle! Along the way don’t miss the fresh water pouring out of fountains. It is delicious and refreshing. Don’t take too much though, your personal limit is 25 litres!! The church is a little plain inside compared to others in Spain but it is a peaceful place to rest for a while. The town is divided into two by the Barranca de la Fuente. Make sure you venture down the barranca and see if you can spot some caqui (persimmon) growing on the trees while you are down there. On Wednesdays there is a lively street market. In the summer it is to the north of the divide and in the winter it is to the south.
Don’t forget to leave time to have a drink and a snack. The Sociedad bar serve fantastic tapas and are famous for their delicious kidneys. Sipping a cold beer on their street terrace is a delight all year round when the sun is shining. Al Cuadrado have a wonderful terrace in the summer but even in the colder months you can grab a spectacular view from inside whilst eating a hearty stew with a good glass of wine. Sit outside the Hotel Rural Velad Al Abyadh with a drink and enjoy the beauty of the surrounding countryside, watching the world go by. You won’t regret it.
Whatever you do, don’t forget your camera – and spare batteries! Rest assured, you’ll take a lot of photos even on a short visit.