Vejer de la Frontera

Vejer de la Frontera

The town of Vejer de la Frontera is situated at the top of a hill, at an elevation of approximately 190 meters above sea level.

The region of Vejer de la Frontera (Vejer for short) was a strategic location for the Phoenicians and Carthaginians. Vejer was possibly already an established town at this time, roughly around 400 BC. The name “Vejer” likely evolved from the Carthaginian name “Wadi-Baka,” from the name of another Carthaginian city called Baka.

In 216 BC, the Romans conquered the Cádiz region, including the Vejer territory. After a short rule by the Romans, the Vandals and Visigoths took over the area, effectively ending the Roman occupation.

The last occupants from this era, the Visigoths, were defeated by the Muslims, and hence the Muslims occupied the area. In fact, much of the present day characteristics of the town were established under Moorish occupation.

After this time, control of Vejer de la Frontera and surrounding regions frequently changed hands, between the Muslims and the Christians. The “de la Frontera” in the town’s present name refers to Vejer being the frontier town between the Arab and Christian controlled territories. The last Muslim attack came in 1291. A local named Guzmán el Bueno defended Vejer in this final battle. Guzmán lost his son in subsequent attacks in other locations. In 1293, he became the first mayor of Vejer. Later, the town of Vejer was given to him by the monarch Fernando IV as a reward for his valour in battle.

The following centuries saw numerous conflicts between the locals and the succeeding rulers of the town. The last recorded major conflict took place in 1936, during the Spanish Civil War.

Vejer de la Frontera, has many historical sites to see. Among these are the town walls that were built in the 15th century A.D. by Christian occupants. Many of them have been restored and they show the scars of past battles.

The town walls also have archways and entryways into the town and interestingly, a number of them have names. The Arco Sancho IV is the oldest archway, and the best preserved of them all. The Arco de la Villa is the main archway into Vejer. The Puerta de la Segur is the best fortified of the archways, while the Puerta Cerrada was traditionally always kept closed, as it was the most vulnerable gate to attack.

An old Moorish castle can be found in Vejer. Most of the town was built around the castle, and it is now a simple residence. The ramparts can be crossded, and an 11th century archway leads into a lovely, jasmine-scented courtyard.

The town church, the Church of El Divino Salvador, was built on the site of an old mosque. The old mosque’s minaret was converted into a belfry and the main church structure exhibits contrasting Visigoth and Mudejar styles.

The Plaza de España, also known as the Plaza de los Pescaitos, is an attractive plaza surrounded by date palm trees and bougainvillea plants. The plaza gets its alternative name from the goldfish that swim in the fountain in the plaza. The fountain itself dates back to the early 1900s.