the travel geek

"Sometimes reality is too complex. Stories give it form."

Tarifa

Left is the Puerta de Jerez, the main entrance to the old town of Tarifa and the only gate left that led into the old town. Above the door in Spanish is a sign that reads, Very Noble, Very Loyal and Heroic city of Tarifa, Won from the moors Reigning Sancho IV el Bravo 21 September 1292.

Tarifa is a surf town. People come from all over Europe to walk the amazing white beaches and surf in the volatile waters where the Atlantic meets the Mediterranean. The strong winds in the Strait of Gibraltar also attract a large number of windsurfers and kitesurfers.

Beaches aside, there are plenty of 13th century structures around Tarifa that are — for the most part — neglected. Buildings are boarded up, fortifications off limits to the public, medieval walls crumbling, castles left abandoned, and towers largely ignored. This is surprising… especially in Europe where history is a money maker.

I’m not sure why this is the case. Perhaps it’s because people go to Tarifa for the beaches and the ferries — and don’t look anywhere else. Or perhaps it’s because the Spanish don’t want to remember the city’s long and violent history. It’s location is one of the most strategic positions in Europe and has long been fought over.

The city’s recognized hero is Alonso Pérez de Guzmán, who defended the city in 1296 and kept it from invading Moors who captured his son and demanded he surrender the city in exchange. There’s more about this in the next post.

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