"Explore Old Tarifa on foot" Top 5 Page for this destination Andalucía Things to Do Tip by Bwana_Brown

Andalucía Things to Do: 228 reviews and 367 photos

  Rear of our station wagon in Old Tarifa maze
by Bwana_Brown
  • Rear of our station wagon in Old Tarifa maze - Andalucía
      Rear of our station wagon in Old Tarifa maze
    by Bwana_Brown
  • Almedina Gate from the Moorish period - Andalucía
      Almedina Gate from the Moorish period
    by Bwana_Brown
  • Streets of Old Tarifa by the castle walls - Andalucía
      Streets of Old Tarifa by the castle walls
    by Bwana_Brown
  • Santa Catalina tower - Andalucía
      Santa Catalina tower
    by Bwana_Brown

It was just after 6 PM by the time we returned from the waterfront to Old Tarifa, spotting our grey station wagon parked in a small square off the maze of twisting streets - exactly where we had left it when we first entered town and had to search out our accommodations on foot. Along its right side is a narrow alley that led a couple of blocks and emerged almost directly at the Pension Correo accommodations we eventually stumbled upon.

We spent quite a bit of time wandering around in this old section of Tarifa which acquired its name sometime around the year 710 when the existing settlement was occupied by a Berber named Tarif Ben Malluk. It was never a very large place but a typical Moorish maze of streets sprang up over the next 500-years of Moorish rule and they are still there today. Luckily we had picked up a good tourist map after arriving, which we constantly consulted as we made our way around the many interesting shops, stores, bars and alleyways - with lots of pedestrian traffic and a few cars making their way around mostly one-way streets.

When we returned after one night away, we chose a hostal located outside the city walls, so that time we had the pleasure of walking about four blocks to enter the Old city again, this time through the one remaining Moorish gate - the Almedina (2nd photo). Following the Christian conquest of the city in the early 1290s more walls and gates were built, but only one of those more modern gates still survives - Puerta de Jerez. On our walk to the harbour we came across the fortress Castillo de Guzmán el Bueno (3rd photo) overlooking the harbour. It is reputed to have been first constructed by the Moors in 960 AD, changing hands between the Moors and Christians a number of times in battles for this strategic spot between Africa and Europe. Finally, in 1292 King Sancho IV of Leon and Castille captured and held it for the Christians.

Closer to the waterfront, the castle-like building, known as Santa Catalina (4th photo), was actually built not that long ago - in 1929 to serve as a weather centre for shipping in the area. However, its role changed drastically only a few years later with the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936. General Franscisco Franco and his forces that eventually won the war took it over for military purposes by converting it into an ammunition storage facility and also outfitted it with concrete bunkers for defensive purposes. It was allowed to revert back to a weather station in the 1950s (and subsequently retired around 2000).

Directions: Head toward the harbour area and it is the surrounding part of Tarifa

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Dec 16, 2009
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