Arcos de la Frontera

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This article is about a Spanish town. For other uses, see Arcos (disambiguation).
Arcos de la Frontera
Arcos de la Frontera overview.jpg
Coat of arms of Arcos de la Frontera
Coat of arms
Map of Arcos de la Frontera (Cádiz).png
Arcos de la Frontera is located in Spain
Arcos de la Frontera
Arcos de la Frontera
Location in Spain
Coordinates: 36°45′N 5°48′W / 36.750°N 5.800°W / 36.750; -5.800
Country  Spain
Autonomous community  Andalusia
Province Cádiz
Comarca Sierra de Cádiz
Municipality Arcos de la Frontera
 • Alcalde Jose Luis Nuñez (PP)
 • Total 527.54 km2 (203.68 sq mi)
Elevation 185 m (607 ft)
Population (2008)
 • Total 31,017
 • Density 59/km2 (150/sq mi)
Demonym(s) Arcense, Arcobricense
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 11630
Website Official website

Arcos de la Frontera is a town and municipality in the Sierra de Cádiz comarca, province of Cádiz, in Andalusia, Spain. It is located on the Northern, Western and Southern banks of the Guadalete river, which flows around three sides of the city under towering vertical cliffs, to Jerez and on to the Bay of Cádiz. The town commands a fine vista atop a sandstone ridge, from which the peak of San Cristóbal and the Guadalete Valley can be seen. The town gained its name by being the frontier of Spain's 13th century battle with the Moors.[1]


Iglesia de San Pedro in 1874 by Gustave Doré in the work L'Espagne.

There is local evidence that Stone Age cave-dwellers used rocks to form living chambers. Roman ruins also exist in the area.[1]

Arcos became an independent Moorish taifa in 1011 during the protracted collapse of the Umayyad Caliphate of Córdoba. Arcos was associated with the Jerez by 'Abdun ibn Muhammad who ruled from c. 1029/1030 to 1053. The region was overtaken by the Almoravid dynasty in 1091. From 1145 to 1147 the region of Arcos and Jerez was briefly a taifa under dependency of Granada, led by Abu'l-Qasim Ahyal.

The town was a bulwark of Christianity after king Alfonso X of Castile 'the Wise' (1252–1284) expelled the Moors. He constructed a Gothic cathedral which remains on its high ridge.

It is famed for its ten bells, which tolled throughout the war with the Moors. Several Moorish banners were taken in the nearby battle of Zahara and have been on display in a church in Arcos since 1483.[1]

Main sights[edit]

Basílica Menor de Santa María de la Asunción
11th-15th c. Moorish-origin Castillo de Arcos.
  • Castillo de Arcos (11th-15th-century castle), a medieval castle of Moorish origin, rebuilt almost entirely in the first half of 15th century. Currently it is a private property, it is not open to the public. It has quadrangular plant with four towers at the corners. It was a military alcázar in the Muslim period. On the cover the shields of the Dukes of Arcos are observed.
  • Iglesia de la Caridad (church built between the 16th and 17th centuries)
  • Basílica Menor de Santa María de la Asunción, it was erected after the Reconquista on a Visigothic temple and remains of a 13th and 14th c. mosque. The main facade is Plateresque-Gothic style and the facade which faces Plaza del Cabildo is mostly Renaissance. Its unfinished tower, repaired after the 1755 Lisbon earthquake has Baroque air. Since 1931 it is an Artistic-Historic Monument.
  • Iglesia de San Pedro, it is a 15th-17th c. church built on the basis of an 14th c. Al-Andalusian fortress or watchtower. Are observed different styles, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque, in its tower and facade.
  • Iglesia de San Agustín, founded in 1539 as Convento de San Juan de Letrán. It was subsequently occupied the convent the Order of St. Augustine of the Observance. With the Confiscation the last Augustinians are expelled and the convent was abandoned. Currently remains the church.
  • Iglesia de San Miguel, formerly a Moorish fortress, in the 15th century converted into a hermitage, later was rebuilt in 18th century. It was also hospice for orphaned girls. Currently it for exhibitions and lectures.
  • Iglesia de San Francisco (church built between the 16th and 17th centuries)
  • Convento de la Encarnación, is founded in the first half of 16th century. Its main portal is Plateresque and the adjacent is of late-Gothic style. Currently it is a parish hall.
  • Capilla de la Misericordia, a chapel founded in 1490, to house the abandoned children, besides to serve for house and hospital for women. Its facade is Gothic. It is now a conference and exhibition hall.
  • Convento de las Mercedarias Descalzas, the only remaining cloistered convent in Arcos and dates from 1642. Its nuns make sweets sold there and in some candy shops in Arcos. Formerly the nuns mended every kind of clothes, except men's pants.
  • Hospital de San Juan de Dios, a 16th-century hospital, formerly it was called as Hospital de San Sebastián. attached to a hermitage. It had at that time 14 charitable hospitals in Arcos, and reunified in 1596 in San Sebastián.
Iglesia de San Agustín
Entrance of Palacio del Mayorazgo.
  • Palacio de los Condes del Águila, a 15th-century late Gothic-Mudéjar palace.
  • Palacio del Mayorazgo, an Herrerian style house-palace built in the 17th century. It is now a municipal building.
  • Asilo de la Caridad, late-16th century.
  • Edificio del Pósito (granary building) with a stone facade of 1738; it was a wheat store in 18th century, where its takes its name. Years later was a public school. Today it is a health center.
  • Birth house of the poet Julio Mariscal, whose facade can seen a commemorative azulejo.
  • Ayuntamiento viejo, (Former City Hall), with a 17th-century stone portal. It moved the City Council to the building that is in front to the castle due to falls stones from the promontory, which came to affect it.
  • The Historic center, declared a Historic-Artistic Monument in 1962.[2]
  • Remains of the Roman and Moorish City walls, although very garbled and largely demolished. This walled enclosure comprises only the upper neighborhood of the city. The remains of this walls, which can still recognize on the ground itself, for it the following detailed description of the situation of it makes Miguel Mancheño y Olivares in his book "Apuntes para una historia de Arcos de la Frontera (chapt. V)". Of this walls, the part between the Torre de la Esquina and San Antón, scarcely are remains of its foundations, and having the City Gates Puerta de Jerez and Puerta de Carmona completely disappeared. It preserves, however, although very modified, the city gate Puerta de Matrera.[3]

Other interest places[edit]

  • Calle Nueva, a highlights street because it was the castle moat. With the 1755 Lisbon earthquake collapsed a stretch of wall that blinds the moat and gives rise to this street. It is decorated with pots, and also is located the old small 'Bar Alcaraván' within a cave.
  • A Roman altar, located in the alley Callejón de las Monjas.
  • The Guardacantones, common feature in streets of this town, is a reinforcing of the corners with old columns in which there are capitals of many ages.
Plateresque portal of Convento de la Encarnación and 17th c. buttresses in alley Callejón de las Monjas.
  • Alley Callejón de las Monjas, In 1699 are built the flying buttresses crossing this alley for holding the walls of the church that began to bend under the weight of the vaults. These buttresses join Santa María and the Convento de la Encarnación.
  • Plaza del Cabildo, a main square, one of its sides is occupied by the lateral facade of Santa María, with its tower, the other side is occupied by the Parador de Turismo, other side the Castillo Ducal (Ducal Castle) and the other side is the famous "Mirador de la Peña" (a viewpoint) overlooking the whole area of countryside and orchards. In this square there is also a car-parking space occupying most part of the square.
  • Plaza Botica, a square where it can eat outside. There is located the Convento de las Mercedarias Descalzas and the Convento de los Jesuitas.
  • Convento de los Jesuitas (Convent of the Jesuits), which began to erect in 1759, stopping to build a few years later because of their expulsion from Spain, thus is unfinished. Currently host a supply market.
  • Calle Maldonado, one of the town's most painted streets by artists.
  • Calle Cuna, it is a narrow street whose name comes because it was the entrance to the shelter of foundling children. A reproduction of this street is located in the Poble Espanyol of Barcelona.
  • Calle Bóvedas, is other typical street of Arcos. Here the slopes are no longer up and begin to descend the hill of the promontory.
  • Are very typical in Arcos the called ventanas con orejeras (windows with earmuffs), some holes in the sides of the window, in various ways, to observe from inside what happens abroad.
  • Plaza de Toros de Arcos de la Frontera, a bullring.
  • The Oficina de Turismo y el Centro de Interpretación de la Ciudad de Arcos (the Tourist Office and Interpretation Center of the City of Arcos), located in a typical old house.

Cortijos, haciendas and mills[edit]

The cortijos are a traditional big farmhouses, mostly are old, currently many serves as hotels. This list also includes haciendas and mills.

  • Cortijo de San Rafael
  • Cortijo de la Fuensanta
  • Cortijo Casablanca
  • Cortijo Casa Blanquilla
  • Cortijo Albardén
  • Cortijo del Rey
  • Cortijo el Jadublón
Cortijo Barranco
  • Cortijo Barranco
  • Cortijo Faín
  • Cortijo las Posadas
  • Cortijo Nuevo or el Guijo
  • Cortijo or Hacienda el Peral
  • Cortijo Soto del Almirante
  • Hacienda el Santiscal
  • Hacienda de San Andrés Nuevo
  • Molino del Bachiller Viejo, (mill).
  • Molino Nuestra Señora de la Luz or Barrancos, (mill).
  • Molino de San Antón, (mill).

Former monuments[edit]

In Cuesta of Belén, in the preamble to the historic center. Here was one of the three city gates in medieval times, called Puerta de Jerez, which was torn down in 1852. An architect built a replica with his own initiative. This is the only replica of old monuments in Arcos.

Natural sites[edit]

The cliffs, Castillo de Arcos and 15th-17th c. Gothic Iglesia de San Pedro.


  • Native cuisine: Sausages. Ajo a la molinera. Sopa de Clausura. Gazpacho serrano. Sopa de espárragos. Sopa de tomate. Berza. Garbanzos con tomillo. Revueltos de espárragos, Alboronía, Abajao, Poleá. Dishes cooked with game meat, pork and lamb.
  • Sweets: Bollos de Semana Santa. Pestiños. Empanadillas. Compota regada con miel serrana. Also sweets made by nuns of Convento de las Mercedarias Descalzas.[4]

Besides the Bar Alcaraván, there is also, in the historic center, bars for tapas like 'Bar la Cárcel', 'Mesón La Rebotica', 'Mesón Los Murales', 'Casa Rural la Campana'. There also an Italian food restaurant the 'Mamma Tina'.


Painting of the Co-fraternity of Jesús de Nazareno in the Holy Week of Arcos by Francisco Prieto Santos in year 1924.
Men group before Feria y Fiestas de San Miguel Patrón de Arcos.
  • Festividad de Nuestra Señora de las Nieves (Feast of Our Lady of the Snows -town's Patron Saint-)
  • Semana Santa de Arcos (Holy Week of Arcos), declared a National Tourist Interest, every April.
  • Toro del Aleluya (Bull of the Hallelujah), a running of the bulls based. Every Easter Sunday. First held in 1784.[5]
  • Zambombas of Arcos, declared of Intangible Cultural interest.[6]
  • Día del Caballo (Day of the Horse)
  • Carnaval de Arcos (Carnival of Arcos), every second week of February.
  • Cruz de Mayo (May Cross), in 2016 was held in April 30 and May 1.
  • Velada del Barrio Bajo (Night fair of the Bajo neighbourhood), every May.
  • Feria y Fiestas de San Miguel Patrón de Arcos (Fair and Festivals of Archangel Saint Michael Patron of Arcos)
  • Belén Viviente (Living Bethlehem), declared of Tourist Interest of Andalusia.
  • Romería del Santísimo Cristo del Romeral (Pilgrimage of the Holy Christ of El Romeral), every September.

Other towns within the municipality[edit]

Roman ruins of Calduba. These are built on an archaeological site of Iberian time. The existing remains are part of a large hydraulic complex. It is located near the limit of the municipality.[7]
La Perdiz Los Barrancos[8]
El Santiscal Concejo
El Drago Descansadero del Drago
La Pedrosa Fuensanta
La Garrapata Jadramil
El Güijo Junta de los Ríos
La Misericordia[9] Jédula
La Sierpe Las Abiertas
Toronjil El Yugo
Pequeña Holanda Vallejas

Municipality limits[edit]




  • M. Mancheño y Olivares, Galeria de Arcobricenses illustres (Arcos, 1892)
  • M. Mancheño y Olivares, Riqueza y cultura de Arcos de la Frontera (Arcos, 1898)

External links[edit]