THE WATCHTOWER OF SIERRA DE RONDA
Although cars have replaced donkeys and the women wear colourful summer frocks instead of black mourning dresses, the spirit of old Spain lives on in this remote mountain village. Cartajima is one of the famed Andalucian pueblos blancos but you won't find it on any of the routes published by tourist offices! Whilst nearby Ronda is one of the most visited towns in southern Spain, Cartajima is probably the least visited. Not because it lacks charm or magnificent mountainscapes or gentle villagers curious to meet strangers, but because it is off the tourist trail, hidden away in an untrampled valley, undiscovered even by Conde Nast.
Traditional fiestas and lifeways persist, processions winding through the beautifully kept narrow streets, pristine white-washed houses pressing together in typical Arabic high-density fashion reflecting the village's ancient origins. The villagers practise an agrarian lifestyle based on the sweet chestnut harvest – the lush trees fill the valley keeping the ancient trails between Cartajima and other villages in the valley cool when the rest of southern Spain bakes in the summer heat.
A sleepy place sometimes, at others vibrant and bursting with pure Andalucian joy, Cartajima is a microcosm of Spain, ancient and modern.