Pueblos Blancos

 

The town of Arcos de la Frontera is located in the northwest of the province of Cadiz. Surrounded by the Guadalete river, the municipality is located at the beginning of the Sierra of Cadiz and is the first of the route known as the Pueblos Blancos.

Although its foundation dates back to Roman times, it was not until the Nasrid invasion that the municipality prospered, becoming a small Taifa kingdom. The full development of the town’s architecture and urban planning would come with the Christian reconquest by Alfonso X and it would find its maximum splendor between the 15th and 18th centuries.

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Historic Heritage

García de Veas House-Palace

The García de Veas House-Palace, located in the lower part of the municipality, was another of the constructions built during the 18th century. Its façade preserves a stone coat of arms representing the García, Veas, Guerra, Sevillano, Lara and Ayllón surnames. A large central courtyard arranges the interior of the building.

River Fountain

The River Fountain is an ancient construction of great value among the inhabitants of Arcos, which was destroyed in 1629 by floods. The following year it was restored and today its remains can be found in the lower part of the town, giving its name to one of the neighborhoods of the municipality.

Old Palace-House of the Marquis of Torresoto

It was the first home of the noble family. Its façade, dating from the 18th century, preserves the coat of arms of the families that lived there: Andino, Gamaza, Bohórquez and Quintanilla. It was not until 1831 that it passed into the hands of the Marquis of Torresoto. The 18th century tile on the right-hand side of the façade bears witness to the fact that the families who lived in the Palace-House belonged to the Inquisition.

El Romeral Hermitage

The El Romeral Hermitage is located close to the stream in the town and a cave where the image of a Christ was found. The temple was rebuilt thanks to the endowments of the nobleman Andrés Cabrera after the damage suffered by the riverbed of the stream. In 1765 it was restored as it is today. The image of the Cristo del Romeral is kept inside, dating from 1766, and is the object of a procession in the pilgrimage in his honor.

Ducal Castle

The Ducal Castle is a military fortress that served as a castle during the Nasrid period and which is preserved in its current state after the refurbishment carried out between the 14th and 15th centuries. The Tower of the Secret, the Adarve de Levante, the southern Flanquero Towers, the great Aljibe del Patio de Armas and the Merlones de Cobertura Piramidal are all from the same century. The castle is currently accessible through the arch where the Town Hall’s temple was located. The coat of arms of the Dukes of Arcos crowns the doorway and is currently a private property.

Hermitage of Saint Antonio Abad

The Hermitage of Saint Antonio Abad is a religious temple built in the old district of Zarahonda, at the request of the monks of this cult, who in 1681 seeked transfer of the oratory to this area of the municipality. Thus, the sanctuary, which remained under the patronage of the Dukes of Arcos, was in use until 1787 by the Saint Antonio Abad Hospital Order. In the mid-20th century, it fell into ruins, especially after the collapse of its vault in 1961, and was only restored a few years ago.

Church of Saint Francisco

Built by the foundation of the Duchess of Arcos, the Church of Saint Francisco began to be built at the beginning of the 16th century on the same site that was once occupied by a temple dedicated to Saint Antonio de Padua. The hermitage would become a school of Fide Propaganda at the end of the 17th century, until the convent was extinguished by the confiscations of Mendizábal, leaving only the church in operation. The basilica has only a central nave with three attached chapels in Gothic, Flamboyant and Baroque style. Inside, we can highlight elements such as the 17th century tiled plinth, a figure of the Purísima and another of the Infant Jesus, and the relief in the Capilla de las Ánimas.

Church of Saint Agustín

The Church of Saint Agustín was originally built as the Saint Juan Letrán Convent, which served as home for the novices of the Emparedadas during the construction of the Convent of the Encarnación. Although it was built in 1539, it was not until 1586 that the Saint Agustín Order of the Observants founded its convent of Discalced Augustinian Friars. The monastery had 20 preachers, who taught philosophy, art and grammar at the beginning of the 18th century. At the beginning of the following century, its period of decadence began, with only 6 monks, who would abandon the temple after the amortizations of 1835.

Convent of the Incarnation

The Convent of the Incarnation served as a religious temple, hospital and confraternity throughout the 15th century. It was not until the first half of the 16th century that it was used as a residence for religious people. The temple, with its Gothic façade and exuberant style, consists of a single nave, although after the disentailment process only a remnant of the architecture typical of Lower Andalusia remains. Today it is also known as the Parish Exhibition of Sacred Art Domus Dei.

House-Palace of the Count of the Eagle

The House-Palace of the Count of the Eagle was a Mudejar-Gothic style house, considered to be one of the architectural jewels of the town precisely due to the mixture of styles. Although it was built in the 15th century, after the street was lowered in 1852, its façade was raised even higher.

Minor Basilica of Saint Maria

The Minor Basilica of Saint María is the main and oldest temple in the municipality, declared a National Monument in 1931 and a Minor Basilica in 1993. Set on the remains of an old Arab mosque, the religious building has been built over six centuries, so its architecture shows the influence of different styles such as Gothic, Plateresque and Baroque. The church has three naves separated by pillars and houses a Renaissance altarpiece, a Gothic mural painting, the mummy of Saint Félix and the chapel of Las Nieves, with an image of the Patron Saint of the town.

Town Hall

The Town Hall of Arcos de la Frontera currently resides in the building that has housed it since its transfer in 1634. Its stone façade culminates in the Archangel Saint Miguel, patron saint of the municipality. The interior preserves artistic gems such as the Mudejar-style coffered ceiling of the assembly hall, a painting of Carlos IV, two life-size portraits of Espartero and the Arcos Captain General Moreno del Villar; and a painting donated by Joaquín Caballero in 1866 representing the decoration of three inhabitants of the municipality by Alfonso XI after the Battle of Salado.

House-Palace of the Núñez de Prado

The House-Palace of the Núñez de Prado served as the residence of the nobles until the end of the 19th century when it passed into the hands of private individuals, who dismantled the building. At the beginning of the next century, it was used as a flour factory or coffee roastery and nowadays it is used as a tenement house.

Church of Saint Francisco

Built by the foundation of the Duchess of Arcos, the Church of Saint Francisco began to be built at the beginning of the 16th century on the same site that was once occupied by a temple dedicated to Saint Antonio de Padua. The hermitage would become a school of Fide Propaganda at the end of the 17th century, until the convent was extinguished by the confiscations of Mendizábal, leaving only the church in operation. The basilica has only a central nave with three attached chapels in Gothic, Flamboyant and Baroque style. Inside, we can highlight elements such as the 17th century tiled plinth, a figure of the Purísima and another of the Infant Jesus, and the relief in the Capilla de las Ánimas.

Saint Pedro’s Church

Another of Arcos’ emblematic religious buildings is the Saint Pedro’s Church, built on the site of an old Hispano-Muslim fortress of which part of a tower still remains, integrated into the cathedral. Built in the 16th century, the church has a single central nave, to which six chapels were added later, including the chapel of the Ayllones. The church houses a main altarpiece dating from 1547, which has a clear Flemish influence on Hispanic art of the period.

Olivares Veas Theatre

The Olivares Veas Theatre is a hall built at the beginning of the 20th century thanks to the endowments of the Círculo de la Unión of the municipality. Restored in 1994, it was inaugurated by Queen Sofia and is currently the stage for performances, concerts and school shows.

Convent of the Mercedarian Sisters

The Convent of the Mercedarian Sisters is the only cloistered monastery that remains in the town at present. Its construction was propelled by the donations made from Beatriz de la Calle, the main lady of Arcos, in 1642. Its chapel has a Baroque-style altarpiece with an image of Nuestra Señora de la Merced and Saint José. It also houses an image of the patron saint of the city, Saint Miguel, another of a baby Jesus and a cabinet, among other pieces.

Remains of the ancient Arab Wall

The remains of the old Arab Wall, a tabiya fortification of varying thickness, depending on its location, are preserved from the Muslim period. The enclosure had three main gates of which only one remains, the Matrera Door.

House-Palace of Juan de Cuenca and Farfán de los Godos

The House-Palace of Juan de Cuenca and Farfán de los Godos is a 17th century house that occupies the entire namesake street, in honor of the soldier who took part in helping Cadiz in 1625 against the British offensive. The building is organized around two large courtyards that are connected by a staircase. The façade houses a coat of arms of the Cuenca and Farfán de los Godos family.

Chapel of Mercy

The Chapel of Mercy was originally used as a hospice for abandoned children and as a women’s home and hospital. Built in 1490 by the Marquises of Cadiz, it currently serves as an exhibition hall for cultural events and conferences. Its façade is in the central Gothic style and the only portraits of the Marquises of Cadiz that are still preserved today can be found inside.

River Mills

The River Mills are constructions that are still preserved today and are evidence of the agricultural development of the town. Driven by the course of the Guadalete river, they were used to mill grain and make bread. Still standing are the Saint Félix, Algarrobo, Saint Antón and Angorrilla mills, where parts of the mechanism can still be seen.

Convent-Hospital of Saint Juan de Dios

The Convent-Hospital of Saint Juan de Dios was built in the 16th century as the hospital of Saint Sebastián together with a chapel, and in 1596 all the hospitals were restructured in this building. The most outstanding features of the building are the colonnaded courtyard and the Baroque-style staircase, which houses religious images such as a Flanders altarpiece in the same style, a Gothic-style image of the Cristo de la Vera-Cruz, and another sculpture of Nuestra Señora de la Angustia.

Convent of the Jesuits

The Fathers of Mercy Order of the Jesuit would be in charge of running the convent of the same name. The nobleman Diego de Virués gave his house for this purpose and took charge of the expenses of its foundation. The Convent of the Jesuits would pass into the hands of the La Merced Order by concession of the king after the confiscations of 1785, leading to the expulsion of the monks who had resided there until then. It is currently used as a public school and is known as Virgen de las Nieves school.

Mayorazgo Palace

The Mayorazgo Palace was built in the 18th century and preserves the coat of arms of the Núñez de Prado family on its pediment. It currently houses the headquarters of the Municipal Delegation of Culture and dedicates different spaces to exhibitions. The lower part of the building houses the Municipal Art Gallery and the Andalusí Garden. Architecturally, it stands out for its two interior courtyards with columns and its halls with roofs decorated in wood.

Church of María Auxiliadora

The economic endowments contributed by Isabel de Palacios Espinosa, with the aim of founding an abbey of friars to serve as a burial place for her family, led to the construction of the Church of María Auxiliadora. Inaugurated in 1644, the building was used as a classroom for teaching theology and art. Inside, there are images such as that of Saint Pedro of Alcántara and a candlestick of the Fuensanta Virgin, dating from the 18th century.

Matrera Gate

The Matrera Gate is an enclave in the town that served as a key defense point in the easternmost part of the city. It consisted of four towers, a central cube and a pair of towers, of which only the one on the left, the Tribute Tower, remains. The gate has been rebuilt several times in the 17th and 18th centuries, and remains of the wall can still be seen between the houses next to it. In the upper part there is an arch with a simple vaulted chapel with a lantern that accompanies an image of the Virgen del Pilar, recently restored. It currently connects the Low Town with the old part of the municipality.

Saint Miguel’s Church

Saint Miguel’s Church was originally a Muslim fortress, located on the top of a plain, until it was converted into a Christian temple in honor of Saint Miguel. It suffered a serious subsidence after the rains of 1684, so it had to be rebuilt during the 18th century. Although this space is not currently used for masses, it was used as a refuge for orphan girls and its use has been restricted to a cultural hall.

Saint Miguel Bridge

This platform was inaugurated in 1920 by the then mayor Juan José Velázquez-Gaztelu with the aim of crossing the Guadalete River. It was the solution to the destruction of the previous wooden viaducts by the river’s floods.

House of the Paletos

The House of the Paletos, as it is known among the locals, is an emblematic building in the municipality. Although it has been owned by the local town hall since 1977, it has served as a home for many families for centuries. Since the 17th century, it has had multiple uses throughout history, from oil mill to inn or flour factory. The refurbishment work was carried out between 2014 and 2015.

Convent of Charity

The Convent of Charity is a group of religious buildings from the second half of the 18th century. The octagonal-shaped church has two courtyards on either side, where two colonial-style doorways have been preserved. Religious images of Italian origin or the main altarpiece of the Virgen de la Caridad make up the decorations that are preserved inside.

Routes

El Santiscal Path

The El Santiscal Path, which begins in the namesake residential area, is characterized by the changes in the landscape along its route. First of all, there is a section that runs alongside the Bornos irrigation canal, the main water supplier for the area’s crops. This leads us to the Cola del Embalse Nature Reserve of Arcos, a natural area declared a Special Protection Area for Birds, which is home to numerous species of great ecological value for the plant communities. The last section is the artificial beach of Arcos, which can be reached by following the banks of the reservoir. This location offers a great opportunity to practice different water sports.

Trail of Arcos’ Orchards

The Trail of Arcos’ Orchards stands out for the beauty of the landscapes it offers along its route. Along the way we can see from different perspectives the crag, stroll through the vicinity of the plains of the orchards of Arcos, the neighborhood next to the bridge of Saint Miguel or the river walk of the Guadalete River.

Tajo de Arcos Path

The Tajo de Arcos Path is another of the most beautiful routes offered by Arcos de la Frontera. All along the route we will be accompanied by the crag, an escarpment that reaches up to 100 meters high and at its feet flows the Guadalete river. At various points along the way we will find the flour mills, ancient remnants of how life in the town used to be in the past. The river landscape that accompanies us throughout the path allows us to see different species of local fauna.

Palmitos and Barbechos Hills Path

The is located in the southwest of the municipality, in the vicinity of Junta de los Ríos, district from which this route starts. The path runs through a green corridor, characteristic of the low Mediterranean mountains, from which we can observe hills. Among the vegetation that we will find along the way, we can highlight the “palmito”, which gives its name to the route. This species, the only palm tree native to the peninsula, is one of the hallmarks of Arcos de la Frontera.

Benajima Lagoon Path

The Benajima Lagoon Path runs a few kilometers from the Los Alcornocales Natural Park, to the east of the municipality. The route crosses several cultivated hills, where there used to be an extensive amount of holm oak and cork oak trees. The most abrupt change of scenery takes place on the last stretch of the path, when you reach the Benajima lagoon. The area still conserves forests of holm oaks and cork oaks, constituting an area of great environmental value.

El Romeral Path

The Romeral Path was originally a route intended for cycling, however, it is also suitable for pedestrians. The itinerary of this trail has been designed so that it can be followed from three different starting points, in addition to a shortcut at La Morla. This will make it possible to choose a longer or shorter route depending on which path is chosen.

Sierra Aznar Road

The Sierra Aznar Road allows to discover the sites that belong to the archaeological route of the Pueblos Blancos. These historical remains are located 10 km from the municipality of Arcos, next to the La Perdiz neighborhood. The altitude at which the remains are located provides unbeatable views.

Old Railroad Jerez-Almargen Path

The Old Railroad Jerez-Almargen Path follows the route of the old railway line that connected both municipalities as it passes through Arcos. On the route we will find a multitude of crop fields and we will be able to observe different species of birds common in the area. The main attraction of this route can be found at its highest point, from where we can see the Arcos Reservoir and the town center in the background. On the way down, on the way back, we pass through the Cola del Embalse Nature Reserve of Arcos, a protected natural area that is home to a variety of water birds.

Sugar Train Road

The Sugar Train Road is located on the outskirts of Jédula, from where we can enjoy the views of the Cadiz countryside. This path follows the same track layout that was devised in the middle of the last century between the ports of Cadiz and Cartagena, although it was finally used to transport beet and sugar between Jerez and Jédula. The most striking construction on this route is the old Jédula station, the only remnant of this railway route, as the structure was also dismantled. We will also find on our way the keeper’s house or a traditional well located on a fork that leads to the Mesas de Santiago resting area.

Local Festivities

Pilgrimage of Arcos de la Frontera

In mid-September, the Santísimo Cristo del Romeral is worshiped during the Pilgrimage of Arcos de la Frontera. Decorated carts, accompanied by pilgrims on foot or horseback, make their way to the hermitage to visit the Saint. Afterwards, a field day takes place in the pine grove of La Plata.

Crosses of May

At the beginning of May Arcos celebrates its Crosses, when the townsfolk decorate the streets with flowers, filling the town with vivid colors.

Christmas

The arrival of Christmas in the municipality is one of the most important festivities in the Arcos calendar. Numerous activities such as the ‘zambombás’, ‘buñueladas’ or the cavalcade fill the streets of the town, decorated for the occasion. The town’s Living Nativity Scene, declared of Touristic Interest in Andalusia, is well known throughout the region. More than 20 scenes from the time of the birth of Jesus make up this mythical reconstruction in which all the inhabitants take part.

Carnival

The Carnival of Arcos, revived in the 80s, follows the same trend as in the whole province, being a celebration full of music and fun. It reached its peak at the beginning of the 20th century, and managed to survive the prohibitions clandestinely in the countryside. ‘Comparsas’, ‘cuartetos’, ‘chirigotas’ and ‘murgas’ accompany the parade of floats and costumes in the biggest week of February.

Virgen de las Nieves Evening Out

In honor of the Patron Saint of Arcos, every 5th of August the Virgen de las Nieves Evening Out is celebrated. In addition to the procession of the Virgin, accompanied by her devotees, there is a celebration where flamenco is the focus.

Gastronomy

Comidas de Berzas

Of meat products we emphasize the pork products in its different variants. The sausages and the “comidas de berzas”, composed of bacon, black pudding and vegetables have managed to gain a place among the most requested dishes in the kitchens of the town.

Vegetables

The current local gastronomy is the result of the passage of different civilizations throughout the history of the town, leaving in their wake a variety of recipes and different forms of cuisine. The favorable conditions provided by the climate and the characteristics of its cultivated land, contribute to the production of high-quality vegetables. Typical dishes such as the ‘alboronía’, stuffed artichokes, ‘molinero’ garlic, celery salad and stews make up the recipe book of Arcos.

Snails and Cabrillas

In its favorable seasons, wild asparagus, tagarninas, snails and cabrillas (Spanish snails) and some game meats are a guaranteed choice with unique flavors.

Holy Week Buns

Of the Arcos pastries, special mention should be made of the traditional Holy Week Buns, the ‘pestiños’ and the pastries made by the Mercedarian Nuns.

What to do

Arcos de la Frontera

Church of Saint Francisco

Built by the foundation of the Duchess of Arcos, the Church of Saint Francisco began to be built at the beginning of the 16th century on the same site that was once occupied by a temple dedicated to Saint Antonio de Padua. The hermitage would become a school of Fide Propaganda at the end of the 17th century, until the convent was extinguished by the confiscations of Mendizábal, leaving only the church in operation. The basilica has only a central nave with three attached chapels in Gothic, Flamboyant and Baroque style. Inside, we can highlight elements such as the 17th century tiled plinth, a figure of the Purísima and another of the Infant Jesus, and the relief in the Capilla de las Ánimas.

Arcos de la Frontera

House-Palace of the Núñez de Prado

The House-Palace of the Núñez de Prado served as the residence of the nobles until the end of the 19th century when it passed into the hands of private individuals, who dismantled the building. At the beginning of the next century, it was used as a flour factory or coffee roastery and nowadays it is used as a tenement house.

Arcos de la Frontera

Mayorazgo Palace

The Mayorazgo Palace was built in the 18th century and preserves the coat of arms of the Núñez de Prado family on its pediment. It currently houses the headquarters of the Municipal Delegation of Culture and dedicates different spaces to exhibitions. The lower part of the building houses the Municipal Art Gallery and the Andalusí Garden. Architecturally, it stands out for its two interior courtyards with columns and its halls with roofs decorated in wood.

Arcos de la Frontera

El Romeral Hermitage

The El Romeral Hermitage is located close to the stream in the town and a cave where the image of a Christ was found. The temple was rebuilt thanks to the endowments of the nobleman Andrés Cabrera after the damage suffered by the riverbed of the stream. In 1765 it was restored as it is today. The image of the Cristo del Romeral is kept inside, dating from 1766, and is the object of a procession in the pilgrimage in his honor.

Arcos de la Frontera

Convent of the Jesuits

The Fathers of Mercy Order of the Jesuit would be in charge of running the convent of the same name. The nobleman Diego de Virués gave his house for this purpose and took charge of the expenses of its foundation. The Convent of the Jesuits would pass into the hands of the La Merced Order by concession of the king after the confiscations of 1785, leading to the expulsion of the monks who had resided there until then. It is currently used as a public school and is known as Virgen de las Nieves school.

Arcos de la Frontera

Convent of Charity

The Convent of Charity is a group of religious buildings from the second half of the 18th century. The octagonal-shaped church has two courtyards on either side, where two colonial-style doorways have been preserved. Religious images of Italian origin or the main altarpiece of the Virgen de la Caridad make up the decorations that are preserved inside.

How to get there

The location of Arcos de la Frontera, in the epicentre of Cadiz, means that it is well connected with the rest of the province and Andalusia.

From Seville, the AP-4 motorway is the quickest route to get there.

From Cádiz, take the AP-4 and then the A-382.

From Jerez de la Frontera, the A-382 is the shortest route.

.From Malaga, take the A-357 and the Carretera de Antequera or A-384.

From Ronda, the A-374 and the A-384 is the quickest way to Arcos de la Frontera.

From Cádiz, Jerez de la Frontera and Ronda (Málaga), we can take buses from the Comes company to Arcos de la Frontera. DAMAS is in charge of the same route from Seville, Cadiz, Jerez de la Frontera and Malaga. Information about timetables is available at:

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