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Located on the Andalusian coast near Cape Trafalgar (Cadiz). SUR
Barbate: From Phoenician to Franco's footprints
THE STORY BEHIND A PLACE NAME

Barbate: From Phoenician to Franco's footprints

It seems certain the current name derives from the Arabic Barbat, but the town was called Barbate de Franco between 1938 and 1998

Tony Bryant

Barbate

Friday, 10 November 2023, 16:21

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Located on the coast near Cape Trafalgar (Cadiz), where the battle of the same name took place, Barbate has traditionally been a fishing town famed for using the traditional art of the almadraba, a technique of catching tuna that goes back to pre-Roman times.

The area has been settled since the Stone Age, which is endorsed by several caves discovered in the Sierra del Retín containing a style of rock art that is unique to the provinces of Malaga and Cadiz.

The Phoenicians, who arrived on the Cadiz coast around 9th century BCE, found the marshes an important enclave to extract salt for salting fish, although there has been no evidence of any settlement on this part of the coast until the Roman era. Remains from the ancient city of Baesippo, a self-governing tributary community, was discovered on the site of the current town of Barbate.

Following the fall of the Roman empire and the arrival of the Visigoths, Baesippo was razed.

During the 8th century, the Muslims built a fortification surrounded by a village at the mouth of the Barbate River, which they called Barbat, meaning lute, although there seems to be no explanation why the settlement received this toponym. However, it seems certain that the town's current name derives from the Arabic name.

In 1938, the town received its independence (it was formerly a dependent municipality of Vejer de la Frontera) and was renamed Barbate de Franco. The addition of the name of the dictator, who is said to have had a special affection for the town, was recorded on a plaque that read 'Con el patrocinio de Francisco Franco'. The suffix of 'de Franco' was removed under the Historical Memory Law in 1998. The plaque was also taken down, while streets paying homage to Franco's generals were renamed to sever the town's link with the regime.

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