Medina Sidonia: A tumultuous history!
Despite its compact size Medina Sidonia is technically a city and, according to some historians, could well be one of the oldest in Europe. Its elevated position made it the perfect defensible settlement and experts believe the town was founded by the Phoenicians, the great maritime traders from the eastern Mediterranean who settled much of the Spanish coast in antiquity.
Later came the Romans, the Moors and, in the 18th century, the French; the area gained its name from the Arabic name for city (‘medina’) and the Phoenician port of ‘Sidon’ (Sidonia), which is in modern-day Lebanon. From the 15th century onwards Medina Sidonia became one of Spain’s most important and influential ducal seats and even today it remains the official seat of Luisa Isabel Alvarez de Toledo, the 20th Duchess of Medina Sidonia.
For lovers of history there is still plenty to see: the castle, constructed between the 13th and 15th centuries, the impressive Ducal stables built at roughly the same time, and fascinating Roman remains dating from the 1st century AD, to name but a few of the sites that are popular with visitors.
Medina Sidonia rises above the surrounding plain atop a hill. The town stands 338m above sea level and is conveniently close to both the cities of Cádiz (40km) and Jerez (35km).
The town square, the Plaza de España, is a wonderfully picturesque historical area with impressive three-storey buildings, including the 17th century Town Hall with its Renaissance façade and a rustic market, which can be found only a few steps away from the central plaza.
There is plenty to please lovers of tapas too, with many cafes and bars offering variations unique to the area. A short journey by car will take you to some of Medina-Sidonia’s many excellent ventas; the authentic Spanish eating-places that grew from the tradition of local women selling food to labourers working in the fields. Today they remain excellent places to experience Spanish rustic cuisine, albeit of a slightly more sophisticated variety these days. The usual criterion of finding where the locals eat and joining them is, as ever, the most reliable guide to quality.
Medina Sidonia is perhaps most famous for its superb views over the surrounding countryside, as befits its status as a citadel. Visitors to this much-loved and still unspoiled town can enjoy the classic sight of Spanish bulls grazing in the fields beyond the city walls.
Ignoring the frenetic pace of modern life, this particular part of Spain has managed to retain an air of timelessness and authenticity.
Article from: www.andaluciaboutique.com