North of Cadiz
El Puerto de Santa Maria
At the mouth of the Río Guadalete, 18km/11mi north of Cádiz, is El Puerto de Santa María, originally a Greek foundation and later a Roman port (Portus Menesthei). The town retained its importance into the 15th and 16th centuries, when Columbus, Juan de la Costa, one of his helmsmen, and Amerigo Vespucci lived there. Its main source of income is now fishing.
Nuestra Señora de los Milagros
The church of Nuestra Señora de los Milagros in El Puerto de Santa María has preserved its 13th Century facade and has a very beautiful Plateresque doorway. It takes its name from its 13th Century figure of the Virgin, patroness of El Puerto de Santa María.
Castillo San Marcos
Beyond the commercial port of El Puerto de Santa María a marina was recently constructed, with 1800 moorings, making it the second largest in Spain. It is equipped in the most modern style and has numerous quays.
Sanlucar de Barrameda
From Chipiona C 441 runs northeast to Sanlúcar de Barrameda (alt. 30m/100ft). From this town, beautifully situated on the Guadalquivir, Columbus sailed on his third voyage to the New World in 1498 and Magellan set out on his first circumnavigation of the globe in 1519. Sanlúcar is now a fishing port.
Nuestra Señora de la O
The 16th century parish church of Nuestra Señora de la O in Sanlúcar de Barrameda has a richly decorated Mudéjar doorway, a fine Renaissance panelled ceiling and a notable Baroque retablo.
On the highest point in Sanlúcar de Barrameda is the Castillo Santiago, from which there are wide panoramic views.
Palace of the Dukes of Medina
The finest of Sanlúcar de Barrameda's noble mansions is the palace of the Dukes of Medina Sidonia, which contains the archives of the Medina Sidonia family and has pictures by El Greco, Dürer, Murillo and Goya.
Casa de la Cilla
The Casa de la Cilla in Sanlúcar de Barrameda was a great house of nobility.
Arcos de la Frontera
From Sanlúcar C 440 runs 24km/15mi southeast to Jerez de la Frontera, from which N 342 continues 25km/15mi east to Arcos de la Frontera (alt. 187m/614ft). The beautiful old town, arranged in a semi-circle high above the Río Guadalete, has been declared a national monument. It has a number of fortified mansions and two fine churches. Santa María, in the Plaza de España and San Pedro, situated above a steep drop, which preserves two Arab banners, relics of the days when the town was on the frontier between Christian Spain and the territories still held by the Moors.
36km/22mi south of Arcos de la Frontera, situated on a hill (300m/985ft), is Medina Sidonia, a Phoenician foundation which later became the seat of the Dukes of Medina Sidonia. Its main features of interest are the Gothic church of Santa María de la Coronada, which has a Plateresque retablo; the Town Hall, with a tiled staircase; the Torre de Doña Blanca in the ruins of the castle; and remains of town walls.
Alcala de los Gazules
Around Alcalá de los Gazules, 25km/15mi east of Medina Sidonia, are a number of caves with prehistoric drawings and paintings.
Along the Costa de la Luz to Tarifa
The long straggling port town of San Fernando (alt. 20m/65ft), the chief place in the Isla de León, 18km/11mi south of Cádiz, was established in the 18th century on a kind of rocky island in the salt marshes from which salt was already being won in Roman times. During the Spanish war of liberation San Fernando was the last refuge of the Cortes. It now has a considerable shipbuilding industry. In the Panteón de los Marinos Ilustres are 52 monuments commemorating famous seamen.
Chiclana de la Frontera
The Puente Zuazo, a bridge which is probably of Roman origin, crosses the salt-pans of Caño de la Carraca, linking San Fernando with Chiclana de la Frontera (alt. 17m/56ft), which with its light-colored houses and mosque-like church of San Juan Bautista has an almost Moorish aspect. The town is noted for the manufacture of dolls. On the Canal de Sancti Petri is the popular beach of La Barrosa.
Conil de la Frontera
Vejer de la Frontera
Picturesquely situated high above the Río Barbates is the old fortified town of Vejer de la Frontera (alt. 218m/715ft), one of the most beautiful of the "white villages" of Andalusia. Six centuries of Arab rule have left their mark on the town, whose charm is enhanced by the large numbers of storks which nest here.Vejer de la Frontera is also a Historic-Artistic Site.
14km/9mi southwest of Vejer de la Frontera is Cape Trafalgar, known to the Romans as Promontorium Junonis and to the Moors as Tarif al-Ghar (''Cape of the Caves''), off which Nelson won his famous victory over a French and Spanish fleet commanded by Admirals Villeneuve and Gravina on October 21, 1805. Although Nelson was killed in the battle, Villeneuve was also fatally wounded and Gravina was taken prisoner.
2km/1.25mi east of the lighthouse on Cape Trafalgar is the village of Los Caños, with a long sandy beach.
After crossing the Río Barbates the road passes through the Sierra del Niño and 50km/31mi from Vejer de la Frontera reaches Tarifa (alt. 8m/25ft), the most southerly town in Spain. Thanks to the town's strategic situation on the Straits of Gibraltar, its possession was often hotly contested in the course of its history. There was a settlement here in Iberian and Phoenician times, and the town was known to the Romans as Julia Traducta. The Visigoths embarked here in A.D. 429 for the conquest of the Roman province of Africa. Possession of the town was particularly important to the Arabs and it was fortified by Tarif ben Malik. Tarifa is now a fishing port with a considerable foodstuffs industry. Europe's largest wind power station (250 towers 30MW capacity) has been operational here since 1993).
Castillo de Guzmán el Bueno
Tarifa's old Moorish castle, the Castillo de Guzmán el Bueno, was built in the 10th century and rebuilt in the 13th. Its name commemorates Alonso Pérez de Guzmán, commandant of the fortress after its capture by Christian forces in 1292. The Moors at once laid siege to the castle and took the commandant's nine-year-old son as a hostage, threatening to murder him unless Guzmán surrendered the castle. Legend has it that Guzmán threw his dagger to the Moors, saying that if they had no other weapon they should use it to kill his son. The niche in the walls where this is supposed to have taken place is still shown to visitors. From the castle there is a fine view of the Straits of Gibraltar.
Tarifa lies just north of the most southerly point in the European mainland, Punta Marroquí or Punta de Tarifa. From here, at the narrowest point on the Straits of Gibraltar, it is possible, in clear weather, to see the African coast and the Moroccan coastal hills, 13.4km/8.5mi away.
15km/9mi northwest of Tarifa on N 340, a side road on the left (signposted to Playa de Bolonia) leads to Bolonia, where the remains of the Roman settlement of Belonia Claudia, founded in 171 B.C., were discovered and excavated by French archeologists in 1917-22. The town, which remained in existence for 700 years, was surrounded by a 4m/13ft high wall and gained its subsistence from fishing. Excavation has brought to light the forum, with a semicircular fountain and three temples of the first century A.D., and remains of baths and a theatre of the same period.
Puerto del Cabrito
From Tarifa N 340 climbs, with gradients of up to 12 degrees, to the Puerto del Cabrito (340m/1,116ft), in the rocky Sierra del Algarrobo.
View of Africa
From Puerto del Cabrito there is a magnificent view over the straits to Africa. The road then continues over the Puerto del Bujeo (320m/1050ft) to Algeciras.
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