Chiclana de la Frontera

Chiclana de la Frontera is a small city in Andalusia, south western Spain. Often overlooked internationally, it’s famous within Spain for its sherries, fish and beaches, particularly La Barrosa. “The Muddy [beach]” in Spanish is anything but… The stretch of pristine sand and wild dunes has been consistently ranked among the top ten playas de España.




La Barrosa beach

La Barrosa beach


A brief history…

Tens of thousands of years ago, the area was populated by stone age Paleolithic tribes, the buried remains of their villages now archeological digs, such as La Mesa. The Phoenicians arrived by boat in the first century and on a small rocky island off the Atlantic coast erected a temple to their god of commerce, Melqart. The Greeks called him Heracles, as did the Romans, but using a different spelling (Hercules). In the immortal words of one of the temple’s visitors, Julius Caesar, the legions came to the Iberian Peninsula, saw the prosperous villages and conquered the fertile land of Hispania. The locals must not have been too pleased with their Latin rulers. In the 2nd century, they vandalized a statue of the emperor and heaved it into waters of what is now Sancti Petri (“of Saint Peter” in Latin), their handiwork unknown for nearly 2000 years, until the statue was discovered in 1905.

The castle you see nowadays can by visited by boat during the day, serving as a light house for ships passing in the night. No ruins remain on the rocks from the time emperors and sailors paid homage and sacrifice to the son of Zeus. Artifacts from this, and other periods, can be found at the Museum of Cádiz. Parts of the castle watch tower date to the 13th century, when a deserted Chiclana de la Frontera fell under Visigoth rule, becoming a municipality of the Christian Dukedon of Medina-Sidonia. The period of the reconquest, as Spain waged an internal war to unite under one Christian crown. From temple to fortress, the martial building in the ocean formed part of the coastal defenses, which aimed to protect Spanish galleons arriving from the New World, from Old Word pirates after booty and treasure.
A tsunami crashed into the coast in 1755, then the invasion of Napoleon’s forces fifty-odd years later. Spain, an empire in name only, fell under control of a foreign power and the castle on the island bombed. The city of Cádiz, the capital of the government exiled from Madrid. The Battle of Chiclana in 1811 and the defeat of the occupying French army at the hands Spanish rebels backed by the English military. An important win, but a false dawn rather than a game changing victory, one of the many conflicts during the Spanish War of Independence. At the end of which, the signing of Spain’s first liberal constitution in 1812, ushering liberalism into Europe, according to some historians.

Chiclana: more than just the castle.

Ermita de Saint Anne (shrine of Santa Ana) sits at the peak of a hill, with views stretching from Chiclana, to the Bay of Cádiz, to its mountains. Together with the castle, they are are the focus of two of the seven magic points found in the area, click here for the complete list.

Iglesia de San Juan Bautista (Church of John the Baptist) doesn’t have amazing vistas but is referred to as a masterpiece of the Gaditano neoclassical style of the 16th century, also found in its stately mansions such as Casa-palacio del Conde de Torres. A fitting name, given the importance of towers. One serves as the spine of the city crest. The tall turrets of Torre del Puerco (Pork Tower) and  Torre de Bermeja (Blond Tower) guard the coast, while the Torre de Reloj (Watch Tower) rings the bells in the city center on the hour.

Chiclana coat of arms

Ermita de Santa Ana

Ermita de Santa Ana

Iglesia Mayor de San Juan Bautista

Torre del Reloj

Torre del Puerco

Where to eat in Chiclana de la Frontera

The city center of Chiclana offers a plethora of Spanish bars and restaurants, where you can try local and regional delicacies.  El Mercado Municipal de Abastos (Abastos municipal market) is located in the aptly named Plaza de la Bodegas (Winery Square). Near here you can find two of the many wine makers and sellers of fino, a sherry made from the grapes harvested nearby. But most of the local bodegas are across the Iro River.

Click for Google Maps

Click for Google Maps

El Mercado de Santa Ana is on the west side of the river, not too far from the main church. Food stands sell small plates of culinary specialties, from local tuna and cheeses, to Argentinian meat and locally sourced sushi, all to be tasted and savored in a relaxed and airy setting.

If you’re heading to La Barrosa beach, restaurants and bars lines the boardwalk, offering everything from sandwiches and pizzas to traditional Spanish tapas and more.

Visiting Chiclana?

Take a tour with a multilingual guide (English, German & Spanish) from Visit Chiclana. Learn more about its history, people and food, including some of the best places to try the local delicacies.
Click here!

Curious about the food?

To learn what you can expect on the menus of Chiclana and a little about the accent of the waiters

Click here