"Islas Chafarinas" Melilla by jorgejuansanchez

Melilla Travel Guide: 62 reviews and 128 photos

Melilla, although hundred per cent Spanish territory, is a world apart from Spain, with a strong personality based on a pleasant symbiosis of Christian and Muslim atmosphere.

I paid just 37 euro for one way ticket Melilla - Malaga. The ferry sailed from Melilla at midnight and reached Malaga at 8 AM the next day, so 8 hours journey.
You can take a daily ferry from Malaga or Almeria to get to Melilla, or vice versa.
I was coming to Spain from Morocco, so I chose Malaga as my destination because I wanted to visit Pablo Picasso birth house and his nice museum in that town.

After suffering almost eight centuries of invasion by the Muslims invaders, who destroyed most of our churches and cathedrals and made the Christians pay abusive taxes (including hundreds of virgin girls as a yearly tribute, who were sent to Damascus, on foot, through the desert, to be distributed in the harems), we could finally get rid of their cruel yoke in 1492, and in order to prevent our country from further invasions, in 1497 we conquered Melilla, in northern Africa (Morocco did not exist by that time) as a defensive port.

By the same port of Melilla you have an impressive fortress with a church inside, a museum and plenty of things to see. The panorama view of Melilla from the upper side of the fortress is impressive. There is a statue devoted to don Pedro de Estopiñán, the conqueror of Melilla, and also another one dedicated to General Franco (something very rare, since our present Government has removed practically all of them from Spain).
Walking around the town is superb; there are many Art Deco buildings everywhere, and cafeterias where if you order a beer, for instance, you will be offered, for free, a tapas dish consisting on calamares, olives, pieces of cheese, or just peanuts.
This free of charge tapas tradition when ordering wine or beer, is typical of Andalucia and some other generous parts of Spain, such as Melilla and Madrid.
Melilla is a tax free territory, so you can buy there perfumes, electronics or liquors, at a lower price than in peninsular Spain.
The border with Morocco is at about 20 minutes walking from the Plaza de España.


CHAFARINAS ISLANDS
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These islands of volcanic origin are an archipelago composed by Santa Isabel, Rey, and the only inhabited Congreso. Today constitute a Natural Park. It is a paradise for ornithologists (there is the greatest colony of Audoin sea gulls in the world, plus fishing eagles, cormoran (sea raven), and focas monje (Monk Seals).

Although the archipelago is military, shielded by a contingent of soldiers, and only fishermen can land there, once a year, during the Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen, the Major of Melilla follows an ancient tradition called Romeria (a sui generis ecclesiastic Spanish pilgrimage), and organizes free trips by boats to the islands, situated at about 50 kilometres of distance from Melilla.

I heard that presently, after the Perejil islet argument with Morocco a few years ago, the Spanish Army does not authorize these pleasant free journeys to the Chafarinas, but probable will be resumed in the future.
So, I will wait…

Melillla. General Fancisco Franco statue

He was the Comandante of the Legion in Melilla, and well loved in that town.

Plaza de España

Walking is a pleasure in Melilla, and the best way to discover the city.

  • Last visit to Melilla: Dec 2008
  • Intro Updated Dec 6, 2008
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jorgejuansanchez

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