Vejer de la Frontera - Costa de la Luz gem
The white washed, hilltop town of Vejer de la Frontera unquestionably constitutes an oasis in the region of Andalusia in southern Spain. Only 10 minutes drive from the picturesque beaches of El Palmar, this beautiful setting is one of the most alluring towns on Spanish soil. For history buffs, this petite find is a place with special appeal for being an enclave for Southern Europe's oldest civilisations, the Phoenicians, Carthaginians and Romans. It is known to have been populated since Paleolithic Age and was fortified in the Bronze Age. It has been occupied by Romans, Muslims (exactly twice) and finally conquered by the Christians in 1285, under the leadership of Sancho IV.
Vejer's cobbled helter skelter streets wind their way around the hill and unfold into shady squares with tiny bars, almost never changed for centuries. As we wandered the serpentine streets, the amiable locals all received us with an 'hola' and some let us into their prized interior patios to take pictures. We were grateful for this as we could shade ourselves from the 30º weather in early March!
An amazing example of a historic work of architecture is the Church of the Divine Savior, formerly built on the site of an ancient mosque. This is on one of the old town's highest points, in which you can get some of the best views from. The Convento de los Concepcionistas is another must visit. The property was built in 1552 and today it is home to the Vejer Museum of Traditions and Customs. For culture buffs, this is where you can get a genuine insight to the history of Vejer, and a great place to understand the local way of life. Many of the live ancient buildings of Islamic style have been reconverted after the conquests of new rulers.
One of the stronger points of interests for travellers to Vejer is the town's gastronomic appeal. Andalusian and international food can be enjoyed here at its finest, with both Arab-influenced Andalusian and more modern touches to be savoured. There is a wide variety of establishments; from upscale restaurants located around the streets El Central, corner bars Tapas y Vinos El Aljib' and the interior patio of a hotel serving Moroccan dishes such is the case of Hotel la Casa del Califa with its extended Los Balcones del Califa (café-bar) and its ground floor gem - El Jardin del Califa. A brand new addition from the Califa group has opened on the street Calle de la Corredera nº55 with their restaurant named Corredera 55 (named after the street address). If you are craving Spanish food, an extended selection of sweets and charming outdoor views, this is your place.
Vejer has recently been slowly picking up on the arts scene as well. Instalments like the Casa del Arco are becoming a very interesting cultural centre for exhibitions, concerts and additional proposals. La Casa del Arco is a private space of art and design that changes with the seasons bringing in new guest artists. All interested artists or groups are encouraged to send their feedbacks and suggestions as the curators like to connect the critics with the artists themselves. The NMAC Foundation Montenmedio Contemporary Art is a project that has been active for much longer that links the relationship between art and nature in a beautiful outdoor setting.
Vejer is a town to enjoy repeatedly. There is a myriad of walking trails, a surfer's haven called El Palmar 9 kilometres away and dozens of outdoor activities to enjoy. If this isn't enough, two symbolic hotels located in the Jewish quarter: Hotel V... and the newly opened Casa Shelly (2015) are representative of superb Andalusian hospitality. We especially love Vejer de la Frontera for all reasons mentioned in addition to having an exotic rich Moorish heritage, with a popular style of Arab-Andalusian architecture that attracts a cultured crowd.