This town, which is more rural than maritime, owes its magnificent strategic position beside the Straits to early settlement by Neolithic cultures (there are cave paintings at Puerto de Bacinete and El Pajarraco), Phoenicians, and Romans. The current urban centre was founded by the old inhabitants of Gibraltar who were banished from the colony in the 18th century.
In the Plaza de la Iglesia, the Church Square, there are three of the town’s most emblematic buildings, the San Isidro Labrador Parish Church, the Town Hall and the Urrutia House, a beautiful, Baroque-style manor house. Other civil buildings which are worth visiting are the Old Pósito del Trigo (Wheat Granary) currently housing the Natural History Museum, the Baroque Doncellas House, the Old Hospital de la Caridad, the Parodys House, the Old Casino, the Old Slaughterhouse, the Coca Well and La Montera Bullring.
Other leisure options include features ranging from the Botanic Garden and the Betty Molesworth Botanic Park to the walks through the surrounding areas allowing the visitor to stop in at the Ojen Hermitage and Village, the Monte de la Torre Watchtower, Los Cachones Mill and the Roman Bridge.
Also in the area around the town, there is the Cortijo de Guadacorte, which had stables of a standard appropriate to the high-esteem in which the Larios family held horses, an indispensable aspect of fox-hunting with hounds, made popular by Gibraltar’s Calpe Hunt.
In the area around Los Barrios, there are numerous natural beauty spots of extraordinary, unique beauty. The Marismas del Río Palmones Natural Beauty Spot stands out as an important resting area for thousands of birds. La Montera del Torero is a rock mass with the curious shape of a bull-fighter’s cap which has become an emblem of the town. Some 18km from the urban centre heading for Jerez, there is the Charco Redondo Reservoir, an elegant artificial lake surrounded by mountains, which has a recreational area. The Tiradero Stream retains one of the purest, best-conserved forests in the Los Alcornocales Natural Park. Guadacorte Lake and the artificial beach at Palmones, with its quiet waters, are ideal for water sports and leisure activities.