Trip from Marbella to Arcos de la Frontera
Stunning Views across the Plains
In the Province of Cádiz, Arcos de la Frontera is a picturesque town sitting on a spectacular sheer cliff. Its Arab inheritance is to be seen all around. Its old town has been accepted as an area of cultural interest on the Spanish Heritage Register. It is on the White Village Route offering many attractions including narrow cobbled streets, towers, churches and splendid viewpoints of the River Guadalete. Arcos has preserved its traditions which can be seen in its Easter festival and its cuisine.
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Arabs in the Middle Ages made Medina Ar-kosch (the arabic name for Arcos) an important defensive strongpoint which later became the capital of a Taifa kingdom in the 11th Century. This Arab past is seen in a tangled labyrinth of steep and narrow cobbled streets. Following an initial invasion by Fernando III, it was finally conquered by Alfonso X in 1264. The Basilica of Santa María de la Asunción, built between the 13th and 14th centuries has a Gothic-Plateresque front and a Neoclassical tower. Between the 15th and 18th centuries, many religious orders established themselves in Arcos de la Frontera leaving behind buildings like the Convent of la Encarnación (16th C.), the hospital of San Juan de Dios (16th C.) and La Caridad (18th C.).
The Old Town
The historic old town stretches between the Cuesta de Belén and Puerta Matrona. Puerta Matrona is a gateway in the Arab wall where you can see the old wall at close quarters. The historic centre has a host of important monuments Right in the centre is the Plaza del Cabildo which has such notable buildings as the Iglesia de Santa María, the Town Hall and the Ducal Castle. Ducal castle was a Muslim fortress rebuilt in the 15th century. Opposite those stands the Parador de Turismo, located in the old Casa del Corregidor. The square leads to one of the many viewpoints in the area offering an impressive panorama of the sheer face on which Arcos stands as well as the river below.
The Basilica of Santa María de la Asunción has a Gothic-Plateresque front and a Neoclassical tower. Both the building and the beautiful organ inside it have been declared Historic-Artistic monuments. The church of San Pedro has a Baroque style front and tower. Other notable buildings are the Convent of la Encarnación (16th C.), La Caridad (18th C.) and the hospital of San Juan de Dios (16th C). The palace of the Count of Águila (15th C) is a real jewel blending late Gothic and Mudejar traditions.
Surrounding these many impressive buildings you will find the traditional regional architecture, with simple houses with whitewashed walls with grilles and tiles, and interior courtyards decorated with flowers.
Start from the underground car park at the entrance to the town on the Paseo de Andalucía. Take Paseo de los Boliches which will give you exceptional views of the countryside. Keep heading towards the prominent square tower of the Iglesia de Santa María. This route will lead to the Plaza del Cabildo via very narrow streets. On the way, you will pass the Hospital de San Juan de Dios. In the Plaza del Cabildo you will find the Mirador de la Peña Nueva, the Town Hall, the Tourist Office, and the Iglesia de Santa Maria. The terrace on the West side offers a magnificent view of the plains below and the Iglesia de San Pedro.
Leave the Plaza by the street to the left of the Parador and stroll towards the Iglesia de San Pedro, passing on the way the Convent of the Mecedarian Nuns, the small Municipal Market, the Andalusi Gardens and the Mayorazgo Palace. To return to Plaza del Cabildo, continue along Calle Boticas until the Plazuela de Boticas and then follow the charming Calle de Los Escribanos with its delightful wrought-iron balconies. Walk behind the church and turn left on to Calle Dean Espinosa. Continue on this road until you get to Calle Corredera where you will find the hustle and bustle of a shopping street. Buy all the souvenirs you want and continue along the street back to your car.
The plain around Arcos provides an excellent growing area for good quality vegetables and pulses. The vegetables form the basis for some of the typical local dishes:- "potaje" (stew with chard) and alboronía (dish made with pumpkin, chickpeas and tomato), as well as meat and fish stews. The mountains around Arcos produce superb cold meats including Iberian ham. Some of the best-known Spanish wines at international level are those produced in Cádiz including Jerez-Sherry and Manzanilla de Sanlúcar de Barrameda.
One of the most important festivals in Arcos de la Frontera is Easter. Celebrated throughout spain but here it's bigger and better. It has been declared officially as a week of National Tourist Interest. On Palm Sunday there is bull running through the streets (Toro del Aleluya) which has taken place for at least 220 years.
Festividad de Ntra. Sra. de las Nieves
A fiesta dedicated to the patron saints of Arcos de la Frontera, Our Lady of the Snows. This takes place in August and the highlight is where Our Lady of Snows is carried through the streets in a procession. There is also a Flamenco festival where the top performer is awarded the coveted prize of the Vela Flamenca de la Nieves.
At Christmas, Arcos de la Frontera performs a living Nativity scene. Everyone dresses up in costumes to take part, transforming the streets into Bethlehem, complete with donkeys, mules etc. This festival is also declared as being of National Touristic Interest.
Las Carpas de Verano
An open air event of chatting, drinking and tapas. Enjoy this sociable affair and listen to the free music concerts.
Día del Caballo – Day of the Horse; Carnavales – the first parties after Christmas and Three Kings; Cruces de Mayo – Flower filled crosses to celebrate the Crosses of May.
Getting to Arcos de la Frontera
The best route to Arcos is via Ronda which will take you at least 2hr 5 mins. Take the coastal route from Marbella along the Golden Mile towards San Pedro. Just before the tunnel at San Pedro take the Ronda Road (A-397). From Ronda take the A-374 to Algodonales. Then take the A384 towards Cadiz. Just before Arcos you will cross the Embalse de Bornos - a beautiful lake where you may want to stop for a picnic.
Have a nice Day
Another great trip from our apartment in Marbella