SINCE WRITING THIS ARTICLE CLIVE CLOSED THE TOURIST OFFICE IN 2013 BUT YOU CAN STILL CONTACT HIM FOR TOURIST INFORMATION VIA HIS WEBSITE WILDSIDE HOLIDAYS FOR INFOMATION ABOUT THE AREA
Grazalema is widely considered one of the most beautiful of the white villages of Andalucia, it is the heart and soul of the Grazalema Natural Park, and is only 30km from Ronda so makes a wonderful day trip, in fact you would even have plenty of time for a visit to other local villages, or just enjoy walking the countryside.
The Grazalema Tourist Information Centre, owned by Clive Muir and Sue Eatock, is a must, it is here that you’ll pick up maps of the area, find out about events happening during your stay, get permits for certain walks, and discover the history and culture of these mountains.
Entering the office you are immediately struck that this isn’t just a regular tourist office containing a counter overflowing with brochures and little else. The counter itself is quite small which encourages the staff to get out from behind it and mingle with visitors in a pleasant interchange that makes you feel welcome to the village.
In fact the centre aims to be much more than a tourist office, it also contains the largest bookshop in the Serranía for Iberian nature lovers, a place where local craftspeople can sell their wares, a gallery for local and international artists with an affinity for the mountains of Ronda, and in the very near future a museum of traditional industries.
The day I arrived in the centre I was immediately impressed with the photographic display of insects by Steve Jones that cover the walls of the central staircase. There to the right an exhibition of local artists from Olvera and the Guadiaro Valley, and to the left, the shop.
The shop is worth a browse, it might seem incongruous in an official tourist office, but give pause for thought, everything on display (aside from the books) is locally made by artisans resident in Grazalema and the surrounding area. Whilst every item has a price, this is also a fantastic display well worth taking a few minutes to peruse.
You’ll be able to see displays of grass mats and flower baskets, traditional designs of ceramics, wool blankets and scarves, turned wooden bowls, olive oils and wines, Andalusian soaps, therapeutic oils and herbal infusions, and much more.
For the future, Clive told Ronda Today he is converting the current gallery space into a local museum where he hopes visitors to the village will be able to make their own pottery and wool bags, and just maybe, even grind their own flour. This is all part of a bigger plan to reinforce Grazalema as a destination rather than just another village people pas through.
Tremendously exciting times are ahead, so when you visit Grazalema, don’t forget to stop by the tourist information centre and have a look around.