San Fernando - Gardens and Nature

Botanic Garden

You will find the beautiful Jardín Botánico (Botanic Garden) in Calle Coghen in San Fernando.

18th-century Europe was the golden age when botanic gardens flourished throughout Europe. Important botanic gardens in the nearby city of Cadiz (in the Royal College of Naval Surgeons) and the famous gardens in the Paseo del Prado in Madrid also blossomed during that time.

In the nearby Puerto de Santa Maria there was a special garden adapted to acclimatize certain American plant species to grow within Iberian terrain and then there was another botanic garden in Sanlúcar de Barrameda. There was even a special botanic garden in San Roque which specialised in medicinal plants, leading to more gardens of this type springing up throughout Spain with a scientific interest in the use of plants.

From all of this, San Fernando has managed to recover one of the oldest nurseries of its kind in Spain, with its different levels, its own well with waterwheel, its own well for water supply, and acequias (ancient watering systems). The design that you see today was carefully laid out in this historic area, taking into account both the original tradition of the botanic garden of the 18th century and modern-day requirements.

What makes this botanic garden so special is that it is not so much a museum of living plants as a practical way of teaching and learning about conservation and the environment while conserving the natural flora of the Cadiz area. This space is used to help understand and teach the difficulties, the limitations, and the strengths of growing plants in this climate.

As well as having sections to show the different ecosystems that are found within Cadiz province, it also dedicates time and space to special conservation programmes in an attempt to save species being threatened with extinction. Their leading-edge work has been recognized by the International Organization of Botanic Gardens.

The Bay of Cadiz Natural Park

This magnificent area designated a Parque Natural (Natural Park) covers an immense are within the municipal boundary. It covers expansive areas of salt marsh land and also takes in ancient salt factories. The modern-day battle over conservation of this large area and the growing trend to develop land for housing causes a certain amount of tension between the various political interests in the area. Because of the nature of the surroundings, the remnants of many salt mines remain, some dating prior to 1750.

Much of this area is permanently underwater. It is an area of enormous ecological value. There is an outstanding amount of plant vegetation and there are also many historic remains such as former military barracks. It is a relatively lovely landscape which also includes a network of water canals.

The ecological importance of these flatlands is massive, especially for the birdlife and the many species of young fish that thrive there. Thankfully, this importance has been officially recognised and the area is listed among a network of specially-protected areas for birds under the official government guidelines. This ruling covers the whole area so that the many of these often threatened species of birds and fish have a good chance of survival.