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The Sierra of Aracena Route
The western spur of the Sierra Morena, with gently slopping landscapes and not very high, occupies the northern part of the province of Huelva. Its landscape is essentially a succession of holm and cork oaks –which provide the staple diet of the prized Iberian pig-, chestnut, walnut and poplar trees. Vegetable and fruit farms and livestock farms, usually surrounded by walls of stone or “adobe” (sun- dried rick), give this area a unique appearance, dotted with a wealth of towns and villages which very often appear before the traveller nestled in the valleys or on the hillsides, at the foot of the castles. The red- coloured roofs and the predominant white of the lime painted facades are the striking image projected by these mountain villages with their steep streets, which conserve much of their old stone paving.
Features of their popular architecture include the window surrounds, which are also painted with lime, the balconies brimming over with potted plants and often set in a wide semi- circular arch, or the verandas. The secular links between this area and Seville are reflected in the windows with stills, upper dust ledges and grills standing out from the façade, which are common in Aracena. The proximity of Extremadura is appreciated in the simple layout of the houses, with rooms and the patio off a central passageway. The attic or loft is also common as are socles. However, perhaps the most characteristic feature of this mountain architecture in the ensemble of single or double pitch roofs with overhanging eaves, and curved tiles which cover surfaces of differing heights and dimensions and which descend as far as horizontal areas such as the common wall or it give the finishing touch to semi- closed frontal areas.
Features of special interest include the washing fountain testimony to a tradition now near to extinction, and the bullrings, of unrivalled beauty and with a popular flavour: the ones in Cumbre Mayores or Aroche in the grounds of a medieval castle, the one in Almonaster La Real, at the foot of a Muslim mosque, or the one in Campofrío.
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