Exploring Algeciras – A Historical Town in Andalucia, Spain

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Exploring Algeciras – A Historical Town in Andalucia, Spain

There seems to be very little written about Algeciras, four lines in the ‘Spain Travel Guide’, and not much else, which is a pity. It is not just a place to pass by on the way to Cadiz or Seville, it has a certain charm and more of a history than you might think.

Above Algeciras, on the Cabrito Pass, is the enigmatic “Hand and Ball” sculpture designed by Todd Slaughter that symbolizes the meeting point of two continents and cultures. A beacon for all sailors entering or leaving the Mediterranean, it highlights Spain’s determination to keep the Mediterranean open to all and the ambitions of the Algeciras Bay Port Authority to continue developing the area . As the wind howls across the Strait, the ball spins at a maximum speed of 6 revolutions per minute and gives its own haunting cry to that of the seagulls above.

On the other side of the bay is Gibraltar. When Franco closed his border with Spain, the city had a massive investment to create work for those who until then were employed in The Rock and to break the financial dependence of the area on a foreign power.

Algeciras, the southernmost port in Europe, the busiest in Spain with a flow in 2004 of 65 million tons, in a strategic point between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean and a natural port, has a long history that is largely undocumented Leaving aside the hypothesis related to its links with Carteia (near San Roque) and Julia Traducta (Tarifa), the first proper documentation of a settlement on the site of the current Algeciras seems to date back to 1279. In 1998 , during the reconstruction work The center of Algeciras was discovered a length of 100 meters of fortified wall, complete with moat, four flanking towers, a bridge of fine ornate bricks and a complicated series of curtains and trap doors. These are part of the fortified villa known as Al Binya, built by Abu Yusuf Yaqub between 1279 and 1285. The defenses were good enough to withstand the sieges of Alfonso X and Fernando IV between 1342 and 1344. Eventually it was taken over by the Christian kings. destroyed by Mohamed V at the end of the fourteenth century. It is likely to be the end of Algeciras if, in 1704, Great Britain had not taken Gibraltar and the old site was repopulated by part of the deposed population.

It has only been a modern port since the first wooden pier was erected on the Rio de la Miel in 1884. A modest expansion has taken place, fishing and passenger transport on the Strait being the only sources of independent income, until 1964 when the steel oil refinery were built after which Algeciras never looked back.

Catering to thousands of migrant workers from Morocco, many of the signs are in Arabic and Spanish and many parts of this city could easily be in Casablanca or Fez, such is its influence. The mint tea served in the many traditional tea shops is as authentic as the one you’ll find over the water.

Algeciras cannot be described as a beautiful city, it has few historically interesting buildings, its streets are a nightmare, or at least its drivers are, behind the shopping center there is an ugly and messy urban sprawl, but it has a some fascination and not. lack of life, in fact a visit can be fun. Once off the main roads, you’ll find tree-lined squares and small parks and any number of restaurants and bars. The easiest way to enter the city is to follow the signs for the Port off the N340 and then the signs for the cuidad center, just before the port park in the large open air car park.

A visit to the municipal market, Mercato d’Abastos where EC rules are barely applied, can only be described as an educational experience. The octagonal building itself is a very modern creation and was built, surprisingly, in 1935. The unidentifiable pieces of meat in brightly colored lard are fished out of plastic containers, wrapped in the South last week and transported in dark veiled ladies’ string bags. yellow slippers. Piles of huge muscles, complete with barnacles and seaweed, fresh out of the bay, sell for a couple of euros per kilo. These are delicious by the way, but take your own plastic bag, the ink used on the newspapers does not add to their taste. Fresh vegetables directly outside the allotments behind the city are piled up and are apparently sold in bulk, as there is no evidence of anything ever being weighed. There is no way to be discreet in this place; each conversing at the top of his voice, a cacophony of Arabic, French and Spanish. No matter how bad your Spanish is, the sellers all seem to understand what you want, although I still wonder how I bought what looks like a bunch of twigs and, more importantly, what I should do with them. Nearby is the fish market where the local catch is sold.

If you are looking for a pair of shoes, or any leather shopper comes to that, then you have to look for Algeciras. Every other shop seems to sell leather goods, many from Morocco. By the time the same goods arrive in the UK they will be twice the price. The main shopping streets are behind and parallel to the road you took to enter the city. Leave the parking lot, cross the street and just go up one of the side streets in front.

Sitting in one of the tea shops overlooking the harbor and the Bay of Algeciras (or Bay of Gibraltar depending on your nationality), enjoying a glass of mint tea and watching the hustle and bustle of the harbor is perhaps the time to reflect on the battle that took place in the bay. July 8, 1801. It was one of the few times that the French, aided by the Spanish coastal batteries and gunboats, defeated the English fleet. Honor was restored on the 12th of July when we returned the compliments as the French fleet landed at Cadiz.

As always in a new place, it is worth a visit to the small municipal museum. Be warned though that it is only open from Monday to Friday and observes a siesta. The exhibitions related to Algeciras focus on the period between 1704 and today.

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