Conil de la Frontera
Conil is a small, lively beach town to the south of Cadiz, and near inland Vejer de la Frontera. It has a great atmosphere in the evening, with plenty of good tapas bars and excellent nightlife. It is a pretty, well-maintained town which is as ideal for a family stroll among the old streets, as for young people on a night out.
During the summer season, its streets are busy from the afternoon, when people visit the cafes, through the evening as people eat out, and well into the night. After dinner, many people, especially families with young children, go to ice cream parlours where they sit outside on the terraces enjoying their desserts and coffees.
Many young Spaniards from Seville and other cities come to Conil for their holidays, and it is also popular for Andalucian stag and hen parties. But don't let this put you off - conil is not over run. Join in the fun, and be surprised by this largely unknown seaside village.
In terms of shopping, you can buy products from nearby Barbate, such as the famous almadraba tuna (it is caught here in Conil, but processed in Barbate) in the gift shops.
To visit the town, the best plan is to leave your car in the car park on the seafront and walk into the old town, heading first for the Torre de Guzman and exploring the narrow streets around it.
Conil's history dates back to Phoenician times, when they used it as a fishing port. In the Roman era, it was on the Via Herculea, which connected Malaga and Cadiz. In 1299, after the re-conquest from the Moors, King Fernando IV of Castille ceded the town (along with neighboring Chiclana) to Guzman El Bueno as a reward for defending Tarifa in 1292, so that it could be fortified and repopulated. The town flourished thanks to its fishing industry, and later also agriculture and livestock farming. Like many towns in the area, it was occupied by Napoleon's forces in the 19th century, and today its main sources of income are still agriculture and fishing, although tourism is becoming increasingly important. Its puerto pesquero (fishing port) is to the north, around the curve of the bay, next to the lighthouse.
THINGS TO SEE
Here are some interesting sites and monuments worth visiting:
Torre de Guzmán
This short, squat tower is all that remains of a castle built by Guzmán El Bueno, the town's official founder. It was part of a defense system for Conil, which also included murallas (town walls) to fortify the town and fishing area. The only other remaining towers are Torres Roche and Castilnovo.
Church of Santa Catalina
The current church is largely the result of renovations made to the original church built in the 15th century and is located in Calle Hospital, one street back from Torre de Guzmán. In 1411, the Guzmán family ordered its construction, building it on top of a Mudéjar style temple; features of which are largely hidden today due to the current church building.
Convento de la Victoria
The initial and main construction of this convent took place in the 16th century, which included the nave, sacristy and the stairs. The entrance and bell tower are from the first third of the 17th century and are the work of Luis Vazquez de Dueña, a member of the monastery from 1605 onward. The rest of the church, including the upper balcony, the cloister and patios were added during the remodeling works which took place under José Tentor in 1760. From the beginning of the 19th century numerous renovation works were carried out until it became the home of the town hall of Conil in 1839. It can be found in the centre of the town in the Plaza de la Constitución.
La chanca is a centre of interpretation and documentation of the sea, tuna and specifically the historic fishing technique ´Almadraba'. Almadraba refers to the technique by which fishermen take advantage of the migration of tuna from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean and has been used since before the Roman empire. La chanca is essentially a museum where you can learn about the art of this type of fishing, as well as how this technique helped to shape life within and the evolution of the town. The complex sits at the south end of the town, just a few minutes walk from the beach on Calle Almadraba.
Conil has many official fiestas: the romeria de San Sebastian, on the Sunday nearest to 20 January; the spring feria, El Colorado, in the first week of June; traditional seaside festivals of Noche de San Juan and Virgen del Carmen; the town's patron saint, Nuestra Señora de las Virtudes, is celebrated around 8 September; Los Pajaritos on 31 October.
The tuna fishing industry, using the ancient almadraba system, is still important here; the season is April-June and July-August. In May/June is the Ruta del Atun de Almadraba (also celebrated in surrounding towns such as Zahara de los Atunes and Barbate), when many restaurants offer special tuna dishes.
WHERE TO STAY
There are various well-established quality seafront hotels in Conil, which are popular with holidaymakers.
In addition to these, there are a number of small and friendly hostels in the town (including the centrally located Pension la Villa Plaza de Espana Tel: 956 441053) and also a number of campsites, mainly in the pine forests to the north of the town.
Conil is well known for its excellent seafood restaurants. Try the ortiguillas (deep fried sea anemones), which you can only find in the Cadiz area, and for a really reasonably-priced meal check out the bar restaurant Pena Federata de Caza on the road heading out of town uphill towards Barbate.
Conil has a number of fine beaches. Read more >