Castellar de la Frontera

Sunflowers are harvested in Castellar © Michelle Chaplow
Sunflowers are harvested in Castellar

Castellar de la Frontera

Take me to: Castellar Hotels

The old village of Castellar de la Frontera is perched high on a hilltop in the province of Cadiz, with commanding views over the Guadarranque reservoir. The village is easiest reached from the A-405 road that leaves the coast at San Roque, branching off to Castellar on the  (CA-P-5131) after just 10 kilometers. This historic fortress village is famous for its castle - the word 'Castellar' meaning literally, 'site of the castle'.

The history of the village goes back to prehistoric times and the Bronze Age, after which the place became a medieval fortress. The prehistoric presence is still evident in the many caves around the area, where enthusiasts can see the wonderful cave drawings as proof of its heritage. It played an important role in the wars between the Spanish and the Muslims. In such a high up advantageous strategic position, peoples of many cultures wanted to control this strong vantage point.

The old village of Castellar de la Frontera is perched high on a hilltop. © Michelle Chaplow
The old village of Castellar de la Frontera is perched high on a hilltop.

The village was conquered and won back between Fernando III, the Moors and then Juan II, who described it as "such a wonderful, strong town". After the many battles of medieval times, by October 1650 Teresa María Arias de Saavedra, the Countess of Castellar, took possession of the town and later it was in the hands of the Medinaceli family.  In the 1960s a new town was built 7km away in a more convenient location next to the road and the train station known as Almoraima. IThe new model Andalucian town was inaugurated in 1971.

Two years later the Rumasa Group acquired the old village and in 1983 the Spanish Government expropriated Castellar and declared it a 'Historical and Artistic Monument'. By this time, the place was in a state of neglect and abandonment and the Town Hall invested the equivalent of around £100,000 in restoration to the old castle and village.

Much of the area within the municipality of Castellar is now a part of the Parque Natural Los Acornocales, which is teeming with wildlife.

Quaint village streets of Castellar. © Michelle Chaplow
Quaint village streets of Castellar.

After the remaining inhabitants of the old town were re-housed with modern amenities in Nuevo Castellar the old town became a hippy colony. Today some bohemian people still live there. After much work has been spent on restoring the abandonment it is now, in effect a tourist town. There are houses to rent and a number of shops, bars and restaurants. At the entrance the walled town every day in the summer there is a market. It is certainly worth a vist. You can drive all the way but be advised to park the car in one of the signed car parks and walk the last hundred metres to the castle gates.

Hippy markets in Castellar. © Michelle Chaplow
Hippy markets in Castellar.

La Almoraima Estate

The  La Almoraima estate ocupies 14.000 hectares and is one of the largest estates in Spain.  The La Almoraima estate in Castellar de la Frontera occupies 14.000 hectares and is one of the largest estates in Spain. Agriculture, Forestry, Cork, Hunting, Tourism are main industries. A vast quantity of cork is produced from the oak trees which are stripped of bark each summer on a seven year rotation. 90% of the estate is within the Parque Natural Los Acornocales. It has an interesting history since it was expropriated by the state in 1983. More>

New Castellar

New Castellar, a model new town,  inaugurated in December 1971, with its well-appointed modern houses, wide streets and avenues and open green zones, is quite a contrast to the old town. The inhabitants of the old town were pleased to move into these new living conditions, since the old mountain village houses lacked all the 'mod cons' we tend to take for granted. The striking new white houses are distinctive against the green of the well-tended gardens. The town's inhabitants  are also proud of their heritage, which is being preserved in the mountain castle village.

Nuevo Castillar is now simply called Castillar and the Castle sits on top of the hill outside the village. Although modern it is interesting to vist. Plaza de Andalucia in the centre with is planted areas, fountains, sculptures and a church bell tower that looks like the year it was built. There are a number of bars and cafes and mini supermarkets. 

The convenient modern Hotel Castillar, located on the outside of town near the Aloraima Railway Station is well worth a stay to enjoy the relaxing patios where meals are served.  The more tradition Almoraima Hotel is also good value. 

Annual celebrations in Castellar de la Frontera

  • The fiesta of "La Boyal" day - 15th February. The town celebrates the day that the Spanish took back land, which previously belonged to La Almoraima.
  • Semana Santa (Easter Holy Week)
  • 'Romeria' and annual Fair celebrating the Holy Christ of La Almoraima on the first Sunday in May, with days of festivities, including dancing, etc. leading up to it. The Sunday Romeria and procession used to be called "el Domingo de los ingleses" (Sunday of the English people) because of the number of Gibraltarians who came along to join in the celebrations.
  • In July there is an important Flamenco Festival.
  • The Evening of the Divino Salvador is held on the first weekend of August, when there is flamenco singing, traditional dancing and other events organized at the Castle of Castellar, to commemorate the festival of San Salvador, the patron saint of the town.
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