J. M. A.
Sunday, 12 November 2023, 21:27
Castellar de la Frontera, a unique village in Cadiz province that sits inside a castle, is one of Spain's medieval wonders.
The dream fortress takes the visitor back in time. Located in the heart of Los Alcorconales, it is the green lung of the Campo de Gibraltar region. Its origins date back to the Bronze Age, as shown by the remains found in the sites of Cuevas del Cancho, los del Tajo and Abejera. However, it forged its identity and character in the period of Muslim domination (Al-Qars).
Castellar is not one village, but two. Its origin lies in the promontory from which it dominates the horizon. The 12th century watchtower is built on a walled enclosure, and still inhabited.
In 1971, the village of Castellar Nuevo was built, where most of its inhabitants live, just a few kilometres from the tourist centre, one of the few inhabited examples inside a fortified settlement.
Walled enclosure: Castellar de la Frontera is actually a fortress accessed through a medieval gate. One is immersed in the past and can stroll leisurely through its winding cobbled streets. It takes only a few minutes to walk around this small village.
Castle: This 13th century building is now a renovated hotel, owned by the company Tugasa. Visitors can stay both in the castle and in nine houses inside the fortress. From La Barbacana Terrace there are magnificent views, including of the Rock of Gibraltar and the Strait of Gibraltar.
Church of the Divine Saviour: In the old quarter, the parish church stands on a hilltop, just a few metres from the fortress. In the Muslim period it was a mosque or oratory and a cemetery. The gallery on the first floor of the Alcazar is of note, which links the mansion of the Counts with the presbytery of the church, so that they did not even have to leave their residence.
La Almoraima: The third population centre (105 inhabitants) is one of the largest estates in Spain, located at the foot of the hill. It is an estate of more than 14,000 hectares (the last Mediterranean jungle, they call it). The Convent of San Miguel de la Almoraima was built in 1603 by a community of Mercedarians, and the friars lived there until the middle of the 17th century, when it became the property of the Duke of Medinaceli. It is a recreational and hunting estate, now also converted into accommodation, with numerous paths for tranquil strolls.
What to do in this village in Cadiz
Loving nature at Castellar Zoo: It is of the most popular excursions to do in the province of Cadiz, aimed at children and adults alike. A few kilometres from the village is this zoo that began as (and still is) an animal refuge. Those in charge of the zoo used to take in different species that needed veterinary attention or exotic species that had been confiscated by the authorities and could no longer return to their natural habitat because they had been in captivity.
Take a selfie on the lovers' balcony: Few, practically no one, can resist taking a photograph in this corner. It is a small balcony overlooking the reservoir and offers the best views, and it has even carved out its own trademark: it was actually the 'canco' of the castle, the window through which the waste, rubbish and refuse of the city was expelled.
Enjoying the rutting season: The Alcornocales forests that surround Castellar are ideal for long walks and hiking routes all-year-round. But they also offer an attraction every late summer, between the end of September and the beginning of October. Both privately and with specialised companies, it is possible to see and, above all, listen to the deer mating season.
Spring: Pilgrimage of the Santísimo Cristo de La Almoraima. It is held on the first Sunday in May. In the morning, the pilgrims procession to the Cristo de la Almoraima, prolonging the festivities throughout the day and into the early hours of the morning.
Summer: With the full moon in August, the elves (of song and dance) go up to the medieval fortress to fulfil their annual appointment with the best flamenco. Leading figures of this art form perform at the Festival de Falemcno de Castellar Viejo. In September, the Pueblo Nuevo Flamenco Festival completes the programme that this village dedicates to promoting the Andalusian musical tradition.
On the first weekend in August, the Castellar de la Frontera Castle Evening is held, where a Folklore Festival is organised and the festival of El Salvador, patron saint of the town, is commemorated.
Winter: Carnival is held in mid-February and, as in the rest of the towns in the region, there are parades, fancy-dress balls and chirigotas competitions, in the purest tradition of the province of Cadiz.
La Almoraima: The cuisine highlights authentic and traditional ingredients part of the gastronomy of Castellar. The setting is remarkable as it is located on this private estate, one of the largest in Spain.
Venta Santa Clara: An inn with a capacity for 200 people, with local stews and grilled meats. Its snacks are also highly recommended.
Restaurante Virgil: It was founded as a family business but over the years it has become an increasingly ambitious project. The menus are carefully prepared with first class ingredients. We recommend the baked cheese with honey and pine nuts and the wild boar. Great variety.
Hotel Castillo de Castellar: Rural hotel located inside the medieval walled enclosure. One of the best places to sleep in a castle, which also has fantastic views.
Almoraima: A restored 17th century convent of Mercedarian friars (then owned by the Duke of Medina Sidonia). Modern rooms, some with a traditional fireplace. It has an outdoor swimming pool, tennis court and gardens and activities are organised for guests (horse riding, cycling and visits to the Finca La Almoraima). Several trails for different hiking routes.
Exe Castellar: Luxurious property, offering a swimming pool. It is designed as a traditional Andalusian country estate and features elegant furnishings and free Wi-Fi. It has a shared garden, terrace and sun terrace. There are tennis courts and a fitness centre with a hot tub, sauna and massage rooms available for an extra charge.
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