What to do and what to see in Medina Sidonia

Medina Sidonia is located in the central part of the province of Cádiz, within the region of La Janda. It is a city of great beauty with white streets full of history that have made it one of the most important towns in the province of Cádiz.

With more than 3000 years old, Medina Sidonia has been awarded the prize for the Embellishment of the Andalusian Villages and has been declared a Historic Artistic Site and Cultural Interest Asset.

The city of Medina Sidonia is oriented towards the Bay of Cádiz and that is why it is known as the Bay Balcony. Part of its municipal term is immersed in the Los Alcornocales Natural Park, which represents an area of great importance within Andalusia. In general, Medina Sidonia has enjoyed throughout the history of a good location and a strategic enclave, bordering with other municipalities such as Jerez de la Frontera, Arcos de la Frontera, Paterna de Rivera, El Puerto de Santa María, Puerto Real, Ubrique, San José del Valle, Chiclana de la Frontera, Benalup-Casas Viejas, Alcalá de los Gazules, Conil de la Frontera, Vejer de la Frontera, Barbate, Los Barrios, Algeciras and Tarifa.

History of Medina Sidonia

The first settlements in the Medina Sidonia area were on the Cerro de las Madres, at the end of the Bronze Age. However, although it is believed that it was the Phoenicians from Sidón who founded this municipality, no evidence has been found to support it.

The Romans occupied Medina Sidonia in the first century, becoming, by concession of César Augusto, a colony with Roman law, under the name of Asido Caesarina Augusta.

During the time of the Visigoths in Spain, Medina Sidonia was the capital of the province, was the episcopal seat of the Catholic church and coined the name of Asidona.

Medina Sidonia was conquered by Muslims in 712, led by the general Musa ibn Nusair, becoming the capital of the Cora de Sidonia. On September 22, 1264, it was reconquered by Alfonso X, leaving it as a frontier against the Kingdom of Granada. During this reconquest, Medina Sidonia hosted several military orders such as the Order of Santiago or the Order of Saint María.

In the year 1440, Medina Sidonia began to be part of the lordship of the Dukes of Medina Sidonia. And in the nineteenth century, as in different places in rural Andalusia, peasant movements occurred.

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What to see in Medina Sidonia

Medina Sidonia has a large number of architectural buildings and monuments that you can appreciate during your visit. We have divided these elements of your heritage into different themes so you can enjoy it according to your interests.

Religious heritage

Church of Saint María la Mayor la Coronada: This 16th-century Medina Sidonia church, in Gothic-Renaissance style, is partly built on a mosque. It is a church with three naves and consists of three entrances, two exterior and one interior. We must highlight the Altarpiece, the Nave of the Epistle or Nave of the Conception, the works of Juan Tercero known as the Custody of the Corpus and the Processional Cross, the altar and the choir.

Church of Santiago: 16th century and Mudejar style. It is rectangular and has triple nave with double arcades. It highlights its coffered ceiling and its owner is Santiago el Mayor, patron of Medina Sidonia.

Church of Victory: This 17th-century church is located in the place where the old Hermitage of Saint Juan was located. This is because the situation in which he was previously was very far from the population, so they moved to the center of Medina Sidonia taking advantage of this hermitage. The hermitage was remodeled throughout the 17th and 18th centuries and, although it suffered a fire in 1873, it was reopened in 1875.

Church of Saint Juan de Dios: It is located on the land where the old Hermitage of Saint Sebastián was located, which apart from the church was a very important hospital in Medina Sidonia and throughout the region. The church was the last to be built and its construction was with a floor plan, a single nave and a cruise ship that does not protrude from the plane. It should be noted the High Altar, the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament and the Chapel of the Dolorosa, among other aspects.

Hermitage of the Holy Martyrs: From the Visigothic period and from the year 403, it is the oldest hermitage in Andalusia. Located on the outskirts of Medina Sidonia, this was an old Roman house that was rebuilt and blessed in 630. It is worth highlighting the image of the Virgin of Loreto from Italy.

Convent of Saint Cristóbal: Also known as "Nuns of Below", it is a small baroque church in Medina Sidonia. It is composed of a single ship that is widened in the dome cruise on arches and scallops.

Convent of Jesus, Mary and Joseph: Founded in 1867 it is also known as the Convent of the Barefoot or "Nuns of Above". This convent welcomed Simi the Hebrew, a Jewish woman who arrived in Medina Sidonia from Gibraltar to serve the Christian God. You have a circular plan and it is worth highlighting its Altarpiece of the Main Chapel and the decoration of the dome with the representation of the Coronation of Our Lady.

Other interesting religious constructions that you can visit in Medina Sidonia are the Church of Saint Agustín, the Church of the Love of God, the Hermitage of Saint Ana, the Hermitage of the Christ of the Blood and the Monastery of the Crow.

Civil heritage

Town Hall: It dates from the 17th century and has a baroque style. It shows a balcony with windows that goes from end to end and in its highest part is the shield of Medina Sidonia. Its last floor is from the 19th century and an annex building has been conditioned as a new town hall, leaving this one for plenary and solemn events.

The Alameda: It is located in the Spain Square and receives that name from the poplars that were surrounding the square in the past. The first historical reference is from the 16th century, although it is thought that in the Roman era the forum of Medina Sidonia can be located on this site. He has undergone different remodeling throughout history and has been called various ways.

Supply Square: It is from 1871 and presents a Mudejar-Plateresque style. It is built on the orchard of the Convent of Saint Cristóbal and it is a trapezoidal building organized around a porticoed patio. It can be accessed through Saint Juan Street and Varos Street in Medina Sidonia.

Stables of the Duke: Of the XVI century, they are composed by a ship with stone walls. Throughout history, it has had different functions within Medina Sidonia, from the Royal Garrison headquarters, smuggling surveillance headquarters, Comedies House and rooster.

Roman road: Roman road discovered in Medina Sidonia in 1997 and that runs about four meters below Alamo Street. It is built with large stone slabs and composed of two sidewalks. It is part of the Roman Archaeological Ensemble and on top of it, in order to enjoy this place, the Medina Sidonia Archaeological Museum was enabled.

There are other monuments of civil character in Medina Sidonia, such as the Miguel Mihura Álvarez Municipal Theater, the Mrs Blanca de Borbón Tower, as well as different sources with names such as Salada Fountain, Grande Fountain, Fountain of the Comendador (Chica Fountain), Fountain of the Azocarrem, Orange Fountain or Canaleja Fountain.

Militar heritage

Bethlehem Arch: Also known as Bethlehem Door, it is one of the doors leading to the walled enclosure of Medina Sidonia. It is thought that in the eighteenth century his name was that of the Arch of the Gypsies, but he received the current name by the altar placed at the top of the interior that houses the image of Mary Most Holy of Bethlehem.

Shepherdess Arch: From the 10th century and in the Muslim style, it is one of the most representative symbols of Medina Sidonia and another door to the walled enclosure. These are two pointed horseshoe arches and one of them rests on columns that belonged to the Temple of Hercules. Formerly known as Door of the Salada and owes its current name due to an image that is located on one of the internal sides.

Sun Door: It is the third door that gives access to the walled enclosure of Medina Sidonia and receives that name because it is located to the east, where the sun begins to rise in the morning. It has been restored several times over the years.

Archaeological Ensemble "Cerro del Castillo": This is the Medina Sidonia Castle that is located on the top of the hill and refers to the remains of three temporarily overlapping fortifications, one of the Roman military castellum, the Arab fortress and the medieval castle.

Another construction of military origin that you can appreciate in Medina Sidonia is the Castle of Torrestrella.

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What to do in Medina Sidonia

The town of Medina Sidonia has different activities to offer at the time of making a visit, from cultural making a visit to one of its museums, to natural going into the cork oaks of the Los Alcornocales Natural Park.

In Medina Sidonia you can expand your knowledge in two museums.

Medina Sidonia Archaeological Museum: This is a museum that is located on the Roman Archaeological Ensemble that is mainly integrated by hydraulic constructions of the first century. The objective of this museum is to preserve, classify and expose the archaeological finds found in Medina Sidonia.

Medina Sidonia Ethnographic Museum: It is located on Altamirano Street and you can see a collection that values the crafts, lifestyles, traditions and customs of Medina Sidonia. The museum is organized in four rooms with three different themes, one is for agricultural activities, another for everyday life and the other for crafts.

The municipality of Medina Sidonia also has different cultural and gastronomic routes, such as the Bull Route, the Urban Town Route, the Horse Route, the Almorávides and Almohades Route, the Roman Route, the Fountain Route, the Route of the Castles, the Gothic-Mudejar Route, the Wine Route and the Gastronomy Route.

Another important attraction of Medina Sidonia is that part of the Los Alcornocales Natural Park is located in its municipality. This natural park encompasses a set of mountains where the largest cork oak of the Iberian Peninsula and the most important in the world. This typical tree of the Mediterranean forest finds here a place where its abundance reigns thanks to its exploitation to obtain the cork.

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Traditional festivals and celebrations in Medina Sidonia

In Medina Sidonia there is no time for you to get bored. We recommend different traditional festivities in the town so you can plan your visit according to the one that catches your attention.

Cattle and horse fair: It takes place in June and is one of the oldest cattle fairs in Andalusia, since it comes from the thirteenth century.

Employer Fair: Held on January 24 and next dates, in honor of Our Lady of Peace. A different cult is celebrated every day of the fair, for families, catechists, young people, etc. A “novena” is also celebrated in which children born from Medina Sidonia are presented to the virgin.

Carnival: During the month of February different events are held in Medina Sidonia such as children's parades, piñatas, tastings, etc. It is worth noting the burning of the Piti Witch, very typical in many places in the province of Cádiz. You can also enjoy performances of the Cádiz Carnival group contest.

Holy Week: This week, celebrated throughout the national scene, is lived with enthusiasm in Medina Sidonia. Of her they emphasize processions like the one of the Nazareno of the Church of Santiago.

Corpus Christi: This tradition celebrated in June consists of a procession that is courted by the children of Medina Sidonia who have made their first communion and accompanied by rosemary on the ground.

Other celebrations of Medina Sidonia are the Evening of Santiago on July 25, the Pilgrimage of Saint Isidro Labrador in May, the Pilgrimage of Saint Fermín in July, the Open House Days in December, the ExpoMedina in December, the Living Bethlehem in December and the White Nights in August.

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Gastronomy of Medina Sidonia

The cuisine of Medina Sidonia is full of history and tradition, generating dishes that have passed from different generations and that have made it become a reference in the entire province of Cádiz. Typical dishes that you can find are tapas and snacks, cabbage stew, stew, tagarnina stew, artichoke stew, asparagus with rice and others with local products such as kid, pork, rabbit, hare, hunting deer, asparagus, snails or goats.

In the pastry of Medina Sidonia, brown cakes, bitters, pine nuts, egg yolks, biscuits and the famous alfajor stand out.

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