Sancti Petri Island and Sancti Petri Castle

Sancti Petri Island and Sancti Petri Castle

Opposite the village is a small island, also called Sancti Petri (belonging to the town of San Fernando, although its ownership is strongly disputed by Chiclana), with a ruined 17th-century castle, whose tower has been rebuilt and is now used as a lighthouse.

The castle was built over a Phoenician temple to the god Melkaart (later called Herakleion or Heracles), one of the most important religious buildings in the ancient world, dating from the 12th-7th century BC. The Romans believed the god Hercules was buried there, so they converted it into a magnificent shrine to the deity, with doors depicting his 12 labours in bronze relief. This second temple was visited by the likes of Hannibal and Julius Caesar, and reached its glory during Trajan's reign (the Roman emperor was born in Seville). The statues and other artifacts excavated from the area, both Phoenician and Roman, can be seen in the Cadiz Museum's archaeology section. These include bronze images of Melkaart and imperial statues.

The castle, rectangular with a tower at one end on the island's shore, consists of military fortifications dating from the 17th century, and was badly damaged during the Napoleonic occupation of the 19th century. After falling into disrepair, partly due to neglect and partly damage from the sea, it was restored by the Environment Ministry in Madrid after being released by the Ministry of Defence. It was opened to the public in 2011.  Both adjacent municipalities; Chiclana and San Fernando claim the island. 

Interesting fact: Cadiz composer Manuel de Falla visited the island in 1930, looking for inspiration for his oratorio Atlantida.

Always a popular view at sunset from the beach, even more visitors come at the spring and autumn equinoxes to see the castle as the day ends, since at these times the sun sinks directly behind the tallest point of the castle.

A pleasure craft boat service operates to the island in summer months a few times a day to the Playa de Barrosa and the Puerto de Sancti Petri Marina.

The company Novo Jet is responsible for guided tours of the castle itself where there is a permanent exibition of the local history. It organises trips from the marina in Sancti Petri, (Chiclana) by boat or Kayak. The other tour leaves from the ‘Muelle de Gallineras', in San Fernando. The cost is about 22 Euro per person for the two hour round trip.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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