My search for the real Spain took me to the Sierra de Aracena - a natural park about an hour’s drive north of Seville. Alajar is a town situated in the middle of the park and nestles below a place of pilgrimage for many other towns and villages in the area – the Pena de Arias Montano. I stayed at Molino Rio Alajar an idyllically situated series of 6 houses just outside the town across a river ford. The houses are named after animals native to the region – I stayed in El Conejo. All the houses are well equipped and are outstanding because of their design and décor which is typically Spanish with an emphasis on natural materials.
If you want a mix of luxury and rural idyll this is the place for you. I was able to relax by the pool after a strenuous game of tennis; go for a walk down the river gorge with its series of old mills into the most beautiful rolling countryside or walk into town to take advantage of the many bars and restaurants which specialize in the locally produced Iberican ham –made from the rightly famous indigenous black pig. In fact I loved staying here so much I decided to buy a house in the area. The Dutch owners Peter and Monica Mulder have told me that my reaction is not unusual because many of their other guests have also gone house hunting after a stay at Molino Rio Alajar – a little piece of heaven on earth.
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