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Aerial view of Sanlúcar de Barrameda and its coastline. SUR
Sanlúcar de Barrameda: Sanctuary to Venus
THE STORY BEHIND A PLACE NAME

Sanlúcar de Barrameda: Sanctuary to Venus

Theories abound as to the origins of the name, including the Latin 'sanctus locus' (holy place) or that it refers to a Franciscan bishop

Tony Bryant

Sanlúcar de Barrameda

Thursday, 28 March 2024, 15:30

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There is no consensus among historians concerning the name Sanlúcar de Barrameda (Cadiz province of Andalucía), a town located at the mouth of the Guadalquivir River and close to Doñana National Park, and although several theories abound, none is backed with factual evidence. What can be proven is that Barrameda was once a settlement that was separate from the urban centre of Sanlúcar, and that the two districts were connected by what was called the Barrameda road.

The port of Sanlúcar is also known as El Puerto de Lucero, based on the theories of some specialists who suggest it could be the place that Greek geographer Strabo referred to as 'luciferi fanum'.

Other historians claim that Sanlúcar derives from the Arabic 'shaluga', a name for the sirocco wind that arrives from the Sahara Desert, although many academics believe this is the least feasible. It is also claimed that Barrameda derives from 'bar-am-ma'ida', an Arabic phrase for 'well of the plateau' - again, without verification.

Another possibility is that the name comes from the Latin 'sub lucare', which means 'behind a forest'; while other academics believe the most probable hypothesis would be that the name Sanlúcar comes from 'sanctus locus', Latin for 'holy place'. This theory is based on the archaeological discovery in 1980s of El Tesorillo de la Algaida, the ruins of an ancient sanctuary dedicated to Roman goddess Venus.

Finally, some believe that the place name relates to a 15th-century Franciscan bishop called Alfonso de Sanlúcar de Barrameda, who was the bishop of the diocese of Rubicón, the first to be founded on the Canary Islands. The lack of biographical data concerning the bishop has made this theory impossible to prove, as it cannot be confirmed if the town was actually named after him, or if his name signifies, as is common in Spain, that he was simply from Sanlúcar de Barrameda.

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