History & Culture

Andalucia‘s highest cultural time was under the Moorish reign, from the 9th until the 15th century. The still-fabulous testaments of that time are to be admired in Córdoba, Seville and in the Alhambra of Granada. Great architecture was achieved then, when Christians, Jews and Arabs were living harmoniously under the same rule.

Cádiz is known to be the oldest town in Europe. About 1100 B.C., the Phoenicians established their first colony on the Spanish peninsula: Gadir, today‘s Cadiz. They were followed by the Iberians, the Romans, the Visigoths and the Moors. Parts of Roman settlements are still existing in the area, e.g. in Bolonia (near Tarifa) and in Cádiz.

Christopher Columbus started with his fleet from the Costa de la Luz  in search for a Western route to India. Instead, he discovered the Caribbean Islands in 1492. This was exactly at the time when the Moorish reign collapsed under the pressure from the „Catholic Kings“ in Spain.

In 1805 the famous battle of Trafalgar took place here. A war between the English and the joint Spanish-French armada. Admiral Nelson won the war but lost his life, together with hundreds of sailors. Today, his statue stands on Trafalgar Square in London, the square named after this cape.

Trafalgar does not sound Spanish. But who would have thought it‘s Arabic? Wikipedia informs that the original name was ra‘s at-taraf al-agarthe cape of the West.

During the 16th century, many towers, used as lookouts, were built on the coast, as the surrounding villages were threatened by pirates. The villagers preferred to live on hills, behind thick protection walls. Today, these White Villages are very popular for sightseeing tours, like Vejer, Conil, Benalup and Arcos. Barbate, Zahara and Conil are still typical fishing villages, although the majority of the fish are captured or bought by the Japanese, especially the Bluefin Tuna.

The Bluefin Tuna is very famous here, but unfortunaltely more dead and on the plates and less alive. Although this is a very interesting animal, also called the Gepard of the ocean because of his incredible stamina and speed, no one here seems to have a serious interest in the animal itself. Each May large schools of Tuna are arriving along our coast. The fast swimming animals have crossed the Atlantic to swim into the Mediterranean, where they will find their spawning grounds. Unfortunately, the fishing nets are waiting for them along the coast, many are caught – legally and also illegally – before they can spawn. The fishing method is hundred of years old,  a dangerous way of fishing, called “the almadraba“. With the world-wide problem of over-fishing the fishing industry on our coast also has gotten into the crisis. Sad enough, today the Bluefin Tuna is on the Red List of Endangered Species of the IUCN.

Along with the Bluefin Tunas the Orcas will arrive. Especially in July and August, when the Tunas will swim out of the Mediterranean and back into the Atlantic, the Orcas will be waiting for them – together with the fishermen. The Orcas will be waiting for a fisherman to have a Tuna on the line and at the water surface, then will try to steal it. This is a unique way of hunting, saving the Orcas a lot of energy to get their favorite meal and can be observed during a Whale-Watching tour.

An important income on this coast is also provided by pine kernels. About a million kilos per year are harvested in our pine forest. Also, many fighting bulls are also raised in our rural region. In fact, the bull fights are an important and unbelievably popular part of each fiesta. This is very hard to understand for a Northern European.

In general, the Andalusians love to go to fiestas. Every occasion seems to become a fiesta, especially the Catholic holidays. The whole family gets together on these holidays, from grandparents to newborn babies. The main part of the fiesta consists  then of eating, drinking, singing and dancing – until the early morning.

The times of the day are a bit unusual for visitors. The day is divided in three parts: morning, afternoon and night. The morning starts at about 9 a.m. until 2 p.m., when it‘s time for lunch. Then comes the siesta until 4 or 5 p.m. The afternoons are from 2 p.m. until dinnertime, which is never before 9.30 p.m. After that, the night starts, meaning: if you intend to go out, to a concert, to the theater or simply to a bar, be prepared that nothing will start before 11 p.m.  -until almost morning hours. Andalusian times!

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