Arcos de la Frontera

Arcos de la Frontera

One of the most popular tourist destinations in Cadiz province is Arcos de la Frontera-the white village with the right mix of great natural scenery and impressive architecture, plus, an important archaeological town history to boot.

Arcos sits on top of a lovely sandstone ridge. Beyond this cliff is where the rich Guadalete river flows. From on top of the ridge, you will find spectacular views of the Cadiz mountains, particularly the San Cristobal peak towards the east. Even Cadiz bay can be seen on a clear day, which is the reason why Arcos de la Frontera is described as a “watchtower.”

Arcos de la Frontera offers its visitors some sports activities which include hang-gliding, horseback riding and hunting. Bird watching is gaining popularity in this area due to its surrounding lush vegetation which offers refuge to many bird species such as the kestrel, the heron, the kingfisher and the seagull.

Arcos de la Frontera produces high quality olives from the significant amount of olive plantations around its fertile fields that mix in with orange and almond tree plantations as well as some vineyards. Other products from the town are rugs, blankets and ceramics.

As to food, it is recommended for Arcos de la Frontera visitors to try the Chicanas- a special type of cold meat, and the Ajo Molinero garlic. Most restaurants and tapas bars are found in Callejón de las Monjas-the central part of the old town.

The suffix “de la Frontera”, which means “of the frontier”, was used to signify a separation of territories of Muslims and Christians during a time of religious and territorial wars. But, long before that period, through the Neolithic, the Bronze Age, the Tartessian period, the Phoenicians, the Romans and the Visigoth periods, Arcos de la Frontera had traces of ancient inhabitants. These evidences are found in the rock chambers that rest on the ridge believed to be ancient cave dwellings.

In recent centuries, Arcos had turns under several powers: the Chunds or the Syrians, the Emirate period and the territorial division of Sidonia called the “Cora.” It was in the 11th century when Arcos had a brief encounter with independence only to be ruled again as a Taifa (small) kingdom under a family of Berber origins. After getting annexed to Seville, it again went through different rulers, conquered by the Almohads, Fernando II and Alfonso X whose Leonese and Castilian population survived Mudejar attacks between 1255 and 1264.

Under Spanish Royal power, the city was given first to Prince D. Enrique, then later to Ruy López de Ávalos, until it was passed on, in 1440, to the Dukes of Arcos, the family of famed Spanish soldier and explorer, Ponce de León.