Situated in the area known by the Greeks as the “Pillars of Hercules”, this white town, basking in the Andalusian sun, has, since time immemorial, been intimately linked to the sea and to fishing, developed through its picturesque fishing port.
Although numerous prehistoric remains have been unearthed in the area (schematic cave paintings at Cuevas de Fuente Santa and Mojama; anthropomorphic tombs and dolmens at Caño Arado), Barbate was transformed into an exporting port by the Phoenicians when they introduced the almadraba art of fishing in this area, an art that has endured until today. During the Roman Empire, Barbate enjoyed its period of greatest splendour and became a prosperous centre due to its fishing and salting industry.
Examples of Visigoth architecture on the outskirts of the town include the San Ambrosio Hermitage. Inscriptions on one of the hermitage’s columns indicate that it was consecrated in the 7th Century. It is worth visiting Palomar de la Breña, an 18th century country estate that has been converted into a hotel, since it has one of the three largest dovecotes in Europe (with 7,700 putlog holes).
Barbate’s paradisiacal beaches are ideal for bathing and practising water sports. The Playa del Carmen beach is next to the port (inside the town) and has a long beach promenade and is a popular place for fishing and windsurfing. Caños de Meca is an extensive strip of stand and crystalclear waters, with natural caves and cliffs, and a popular site with nudists (just like Playa de Zahora). The Yerbabuena beach is a wild beach, whereas Zahara de los Atunes links up with Playa de Atlanterra.
Barbate is set in the heart of the La Breña y Marismas de Barbate Natural Park, and offers visitors a world of recreational possibilities. The natural park has specially prepared, signposted routes for visitors to enjoy its beautiful landscapes and ecological treasures. Different activities are also available, including hiking, cycle tourism, horse riding and mountain sports.
Zahara de los Atunes
This municipal district of Barbate is an enchanting small seafaring town brimming with Andalusian flavour and charm, with virgin beaches that have kept their natural wealth intact. The La Almadraba Castle can be found here, built by the Dukes of Medina Sidonia to store and protect the nets and materials used in almadraba tuna fishing.