What to do and what to see in Barbate

Barbate is a municipality of Cádiz that stretches along the coast. It belongs to the La Janda Region and is located at the mouth of the Barbate River, near the Cape Trafalgar.

The municipality of Barbate is characterized by its fishing tradition, especially bluefin tuna through the almadraba.

Between 1950 and 1998 Barbate was called Barbate de Franco, last name he lost by Decree of the Junta de Andalucía.

History of Barbate

The first known settlements of Barbate, come from the Paleolithic, with sites such as those of the Janda lagoon or caves with rock art such as La Fuente Santa, Las Marianas or Fuente Mariquilla in the Sierra del Retín.

For the Phoenicians Barbate was a place to extract salt for salting fish and practice the trap. In the Sierra del Retín, in the Rock of the Aljibe, it could be a population center for Carthaginians. On the contrary, the coast of Barbate did not have settlement until the Roman era with the city of Baesippo, a stipendiary city of the Roman Empire that enjoyed freedom to govern itself by paying an annual tax to Rome. This city was an export center for garum, a fish sauce, as well as, due to its proximity to Africa and its navigable river, an easy place for the sacking of pirates and privateers, which caused its depopulation.

With the Visigoths the disappearance of Baesippo was accelerated. The side of Sidonia created a fortress at the mouth of the Barbate River that was called Barbat, it was reconquered by Alfonso X in the thirteenth century beginning to depend on Vejer de la Frontera.

The continued depopulation led Alfonso XI to offer the pardon to homicides who served the defense of Tarifa to repopulate the area in the 16th century. Subsequently, Vejer de la Frontera and Barbate was donated to Alonso Pérez de Guzmán. This same century Felipe II ordered the construction of watchtowers for the attack of pirates and next to Barbate the Tower of the Tagus, the Tower of Meca, the Tower of Cabo de Gracia that is now the Lighthouse of Camarinal, the Tower of Buenavista of San Ambrosio and the Sliding Tower of Vejer were built.

In the nineteenth century, in the municipality of Barbate, in Los Caños de Meca there was one of the most tragic battles of the Spanish Navy, the Battle of Trafalgar, where the English defeated the Spanish army.

It was at the end of the 19th century when Barbate experienced the greatest growth with the exploitation of traps. Serafín Romeu Fages made different improvements for Barbate and Zahara de los Atunes in the early twentieth century, so the inhabitants of Barbate asked Alfonso XIII to grant him the title of Count of Barbate. This growth led to Barbate asking for Vejer's independence and getting it in 1938.

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What to see in Barbate

The history that marks Barbate, as well as the passage of different civilizations and its traditional fishing for tuna and its traps, make it a special place to visit and appreciate the different attractions that the town shows.

Hermitage of Saint Ambrosio: This hermitage is one of the most important monuments of Barbate, declared of Cultural Interest Asset. It is located very close to the Breña and Marismas del Barbate Natural Park. It is of Visigothic origin, from the 7th century, and is currently in ruins.

Saint Paulino Church: Located in the center of Barbate, it was built thanks to the expansion of the town, by donations from the Almadrabero National Consortium and the inhabitants of Barbate. This church is very bright and retains part of the charm of Barbate.

Tower of the Tagus: It is one of the most significant monuments of Barbate. Located on a cliff one hundred meters high in the Breña and Marismas del Barbate Natural Park, this tower belongs to the 16th century watchtower system.

Trafalgar Lighthouse: This is a lighthouse about 34 meters high that symbolizes the tragic Battle of Trafalgar that took place in this area. It is located about 10 km from Barbate, very close to Los Caños de Meca and the Trafalgar Tower, in the Cape Trafalgar. It was built in 1860 but was reformed in 1929.

Trafalgar Tower: This is another watchtower of the system ordered to be built by Felipe II in Barbate. At the beginning of the 19th century it was in ruins and, with the construction of the Trafalgar Lighthouse in which materials were used, it was virtually abandoned.

Tower of Meca: It is also known as Tower of the Breña or Tower Romeral and is located in Altos de Meca. It dates from the 1820s, although it was restored in 1992 by the Junta de Andalucía. It is divided into two floors by a wooden floor and has seven skylights. It is located about 300 meters from Los Caños de Meca.

Bolt of Trafalgar: Declared a Natural Monument by the Junta de Andalucía, it is really a natural monument that is located in the Cape Trafalgar and its small isthmus. It is very close to Los Caños de Meca in Barbate.

Fishing port of Barbate: Visiting this fishing port will help you understand the economic evolution of Barbate thanks to the exploitation of the sea. It is possible that you can appreciate some ship that belonged to the great fishing fleet of Barbate. It is recommended that you get up early and see the fish market of the port and its fish auction, where you can appreciate the different varieties of fish typical of Barbate. You can also see the Chapel of Our Lady of Carmen, patron saint of fishermen and Barbate.

Food Market: Located on the Andalusia Avenue of Barbate. It is organized on one floor and is a good place where you can buy the characteristic bluefin tuna from Barbate.

Immaculate Square: If you are looking for a place to take a break during your visit to Barbate, this square is an ideal place to relax on a bench enjoying its green space. In her they are the Saint Paulino Church and the City council.

Lighthouse of Barbate: It was completed in 1980 and replaced another lighthouse where the lighthouse keeper of Barbate lived.

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What to do in Barbate

Barbate is a town very marked by the sea and its fishing tradition. If you are interested in knowing more about this tradition, we recommend you visit its museum.

Tuna Museum: In this museum in Barbate, we intend to structure an interpretation center with which to make fishing known in its artisanal activity and in the transformation of bluefin tuna. For this, its intention is to simulate a journey in which you can immerse yourself in the world that encompasses bluefin tuna with the five senses.

If what interests you is the natural environment of Barbate, we propose a couple of interesting plans.

Visit the beaches of Barbate: Barbate has about 25 km of coastline so you can enjoy different beaches. Among the beaches of Barbate you will find beaches such as Mangueta beach, which is a virgin beach without services that runs from the San Ambrosio stream to the cliffs of Zahora, or Zahora beach, which is a cove next to a hill that extends from the Trafalgar Lighthouse and which goes along with Zahora, as well as many other beaches such as the Trafalgar Lighthouse beach, Los Caños de Meca beach, Hierbabuena beach, Carmen beach, Cañitos beach, Pajares beach or Zahara beach.

Breña and Marismas del Barbate Natural Park: Between Barbate, Los Caños de Meca and Vejer de la Frontera is this natural park with about 5000 hectares of occupation and where you will find the Tagus of Barbate, with more than 100 meters high. In this natural park you will find a great variety of biodiversity, both maritime and terrestrial, and an ideal place for you to practice different sports such as diving, snorkeling, paragliding, hang gliding or enjoying a quiet boat ride. The presence of chameleons here was one of the reasons why it was declared a natural park.

Finally, if what you are looking for in Barbate is to make a route and get to know the flora and fauna better, we recommend one of these routes.

Cliff Trail: This route runs very close to the road and takes you to the Tower of the Tagus where, from its viewpoint, you will see the cove of Barbate, Cabo de Gracia and Africa. On the descent to Los Caños de Meca you will cross an area with pine trees, lentisks, brambles, arbutus and ivy. This trail has about 7 km of travel and an approximate duration of 4 hours.

Tower of Meca Trail: It start in the Jarillo recreational area, very close to San Ambrosio in Barbate, and from here you will reach the Majales del Sol recreational area to take the road that led to Los Caños de Meca. You will pass very close to a eucalyptus forest and you will arrive at the Tower of Meca to appreciate some sea views. This trail is 3.4 km long and lasts approximately 2 hours.

Caños-Tower of Meca Trail: From the Caños de Meca recreational area you will be transferred to the Majales del Sol recreational area. On the tour you will see some animal species such as scaffolds, crooks, hoopoons, coal, goldfinches, common blacksmiths, cappuccinos, common chameleons, red-headed lizards, colilarga lizards, ocellated lizards, bastard snakes and horseshoe snakes. The trail consists of 2.3 km with an approximate duration of 2 hours.

Marismas del Barbate Trail: It starts in the Ribera de la Oliva, crossing part of the right bank of the Barbate marshes. On this route you will see different species of migratory birds. On this trail you will travel 9 km in an estimated time of 4 hours.

Tower of the Tagus Trail: This path of the Breña y Marismas del Barbate Natural Park will allow you to explore the pine forests of this natural park ending at the emblematic Tower of the Tagus.

Boat route: One of the options to enjoy Barbate is to make a boat route. On this route you will have the opportunity to appreciate from the sea the entire coast of Barbate, with its cliffs, the Cape Trafalgar, etc.

Horse route: Another possibility to make a route is to make a horse route through the Barbate River Marshes in the Breña and Marismas del Barbate Natural Park. The best known route is a circular route that starts from the Ribera de la Oliva towards Barbate, passes through Pozo Montano and borders the Barbate River until it reaches the starting point again.

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Traditional festivals and celebrations in Barbate

In Barbate you can enjoy some of their parties during your visit.

Tuna gastronomic week: It takes place at the end of May at the Barbate fish market and this week you will have the opportunity to learn endless curiosities about the tuna world in the most fun way, such as through theater shows by the Municipal Theater School. All this accompanied by a tapa fair where you can taste the most succulent tapas of tuna from Barbate.

Burning of Juan and Juana: Celebrated the night of Saint Juan, on June 23. In this party two wooden dolls are burned in Barbate that are known as Juan and Juana. After this event live music performances begin.

Virgin of Carmen Fair: On July 16, the day of the Virgin of Carmen is celebrated and in Barbate, as in many locations in Spain, the maritime procession of the virgin is carried out in which a boat chosen by lottery is responsible for walking her through the sea, being accompanied by a whole fleet of ships. Different events such as dances, parades, etc. are held during the days next to this celebration.

Carnival: During the month of February the carnival takes place in Barbate, where the streets are composed of “chirigotas” and “comparsas” and dance and costume contests are held. You can also enjoy parades and gastronomic tastings.

Pilgrimage of the Virgin of Fátima: During the weekend closest to May 13, the day of the Virgin of Fátima is celebrated. This day the inhabitants of Barbate accompany the virgin in a pilgrimage through the Breña y Marismas del Barbate Natural Park to the area known as La Piñera, where a mass is celebrated, different competitions and a party.

Sweet and savory week: This week emerged in order to promote Barbate products. It is celebrated the last days of August and the first of September in different places of Barbate such as the Food Market or the promenade. In these places you can taste salty foods such as salted and tapas and sweet food such as cakes, yogurts, ice creams and cocktails. You can also entertain yourself with endless activities such as visits to the Tuna Museum, exhibitions, competitions, theaters, storytelling, musical performances and many more.

Cabo de Plata Festival: This is a music festival held in Barbate in the summer season. This festival seeks the link between music and nature, and for this it helps from well-known artists. The organization will give you the opportunity to stay at the festival campsite, although you can also book a villa if you are looking for a quiet environment.

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Gastronomy of Barbate

The cuisine of Barbate stands out mainly for seafood and more specifically for its star product, tuna. Therefore, many of the typical Barbate dishes are based on tuna. The most typical dishes you will find in Barbate are tuna from ijada, tuna onions, roasted tuna, mackerel with noodles, oxtail, yellow dogfish, potatoes stewed with cod and tonino in onion sauce.

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