Anything But Paella

La Virgen de Gracia

La Virgen de Gracia sits on a hill high above the town of Archidona. It is the site of a hermitage built over a former mosque, but it is much more than that. It is a place from where to admire the breathtaking views across the plains and mountains in the heart of Andalucia.

La Virgen de Gracia

Only brave and hardy souls would attempt to climb up in the summer heat. Luckily for the rest of us there is a sinuous road weaving its way to the summit. If you are not a fan of hairpin bends then perhaps it’s not the best place to drive to.

La Virgen de Gracia

The mosque which once stood on this lofty spot dated back to the ninth and tenth centuries. Following the reconquest, a church was consecrated on the same spot way back in 1462. The hermitage is housed inside a small citadel at the very summit of the hill. Look out for the green ceramic font as you step inside, and the Islamic influence is impossible to miss throughout the interior.

 

Coming back down the hill you can walk around the reconstructed ancient walls. The Puerta del Sol gate is particularly impressive. Be aware though, if you follow the steps down to the walkway near the closed cistern, you will have to retrace your way back up all 102 of them! It’s well worth the effort but take your time!!

 

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