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Ardales is a small village lying sixty kilometres north of Malaga, in the heart of Andalucía. It is a typical whitewashed mountain village dominated by an old castle and church. With a population of only two thousand five hundred, an Ardales holiday offers a peaceful break in idyllic surroundings. Close to the mountains and surrounded by protected nature reserves, including the lakes by the Gorge of los Gaitanes, there is much to see and do.
Ardales, situated in dramatic natural surroundings, is a collection of narrow streets winding their way up the hill towards the church and the castle. It is a delightful village particularly for those with an interest in history. It is an ideal base for visiting the famous towns of Seville, Granada and Cordoba. Ardales offers wonderful walks in the countryside and is close enough to the lakes to enjoy the non-motorised water sports that are available.
Ardales appeals to a variety of ages and interests with the exception perhaps of families with small children for whom the close proximity of a sandy beach is usually an essential holiday ingredient. It is very popular with walkers and climbers.
Ardales has an extended holiday season with long hot summers and mild winters. Although the most popular time to visit is during the summer months it is also a good place to go to escape from the damp, dark nights of a British winter.
The village of Ardales is approached by a narrow winding road that crosses the Turon River and climbs the steep hill before radiating out into the clusters of white-washed houses with red-tiled roofs that lie beneath the ruins of Castillo de la Peria. Ardales has had a very long history with evidence of a settlement here since prehistoric times. A triple arched Roman bridge, constructed in the reign of Augustus, still exists. The museum of Ardales is very informative, explaining the history of the area throughout the ages. There are also a number of fine old buildings and churches.
The famous caves of Ardales, two kilometres from the village, contain artefacts that are thousands of years old. Apart from the wonderful stalactites, stalagmites, caverns and lakes, there are animal paintings that have survived for a staggering twenty thousand years. Admission to the caves must be pre-booked.
There are many fiestas throughout the year to celebrate various saints’ days but the largest and most colourful is the Feria Grande which takes place at the beginning of September. The procession of the Virgin is accompanied by bands and is a lively affair.
An Ardales holiday offers a range of outdoor activities including climbing, mountain biking and trekking.
Ardales is also close to the lakes at El Chorro which offer a range of non-motorised water sports including fishing. In order that you make the most of your holiday in Ardales, car hire is recommended.
Ardales nightlife is very low-key, where evenings are spent strolling through the streets and squares enjoying a meal or a drink in the company of friends.
Ardales narrow streets have many small shops, so loved by tourists, where you can search for gifts and souvenirs. Friday is market day in Ardales and here you can practise bartering for your holiday mementoes. Popular purchases include basketry, leather goods and ceramics.
Ardales has a variety of restaurants catering for most tastes and budgets. Menus include traditional local dishes such as the egg stew, tortillas, tapas and chorizo, as well as a choice of international cuisine. A good way to try Spanish food is to order a plate of tapas which consists of a medley of bite-sized dishes. Tapas are also ideal for filling the sometimes long gap between lunch and dinner, which is served later in Spain than at home. Those with a more conservative palate can find pubs serving standard pub fare.
Children are always made very welcome in Spanish restaurants and their tastes and portion sizes are usually accommodated.
Spanish wines are pleasant and inexpensive.