Cape Trafalgar. La Voz
Unique in Andalucía, this is the Trafalgar sand spit - a jewel of Mother Nature

Unique in Andalucía, this is the Trafalgar sand spit - a jewel of Mother Nature

It was created 6,500 years ago when the sand, carried by the tides, created two 'tongues' that joined the islet with the coast

La Voz de Cádiz

Tuesday, 16 April 2024, 19:17


The Trafalgar sand spit is completely unique in Andalucía. This jewel of Mother Nature is located near Caños de Meca, at Cape Trafalgar, in the municipality of Barbate. It is a spit, or sand spit, of land that joins the sandy island with the mainland. This joining-up happened some 6,500 years ago, when the sea reached its current level.

On 3 May 2011 the spit officially became part of La Breña and Barbate Marshes Natural Park , in Andalucía's Cadiz province. Owing to all the archaeological findings made throughout the area, an interpretation centre is planned to be set up in the area.

A rare spit of land

Trafalgar's sandy headland is the only example in Andalucía of a double spit. The sand, pulled by the tides, created two forks of sandy banks that joined the islet to the coast, enclosing a sunken bowl flooded by rain and now clogged with allsorts.

In from the sand spit there is a lagoon where the rainwater does not mix with seawater. An endangered species of bird breeds in the area, the Kentish plover, for which protection measures are in place.

Centuries of history among the sand banks

Around the lighthouse there are archaeological sites, such as a Roman temple and a salted fish factory.

Part of a 9th century watchtower remains from a Hispano-Muslim settlement, which was dismantled in the 19th century to build the current lighthouse.

In 2022, researchers from HUM-440 (a specialist team of archaeologists based at the University of Cadiz) found a new funerary structure near the Trafalgar lighthouse, confirming the existence of a whole megalithic necropolis on the Trafalgar headland.

On Marisucia beach in Los Caños de Meca, mysterious structures have appeared, now found to be Roman baths dating back to the 1st century BC. They are 4 metres high and are in an "exceptionally good" state of conservation thanks to the protection of the dunes.

Near the Trafalgar sand spit, UCA researchers also came across a pit in which they foundhuman remains dating back to prehistoric times. Inside, a passageway was found and, at the far end, a burial chamber three metres in diameter containing eight corpses from the Early Bronze Age. Buried alongside the deceased was a trousseau of personal, decorative pieces, including some made of gold and nickel.

Turning to other discoveries centred around oyster farming, a large midden of shells (rubbish tip where fishermen would discard the remains of their catch) from the Julio-Claudian dynasty has been found. Apart from discarded, under-sized sea bream, the shells of oysters and mussels have been recovered, possibly some of the species that were bred and reared in the Roman shellfish farms in the town.

The invincible Armada at Trafalgar

The Battle of Trafalgar took place on 21 October 1805 and is considered one of the most important battles of the 19th century, pitting the allied forces of France and Spain (jointly commanded by the French Vice-Admiral Pierre Villeneuve and Spain's Lieutenant-General of the Sea Federico Gravina) against the British navy commanded by Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson, who was the victor.

More than 4,000 soldiers died in this battle and it meant that Spain lost its naval dominance to the British naval forces. Nelson, at the helm of 27 three-masted, full-rigged ships and six frigates, crushed the Franco-Spanish fleet of 33 three-masted, full-rigged warships and seven frigates.

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