Port of Santa María in Cádiz, from the palace houses to gastronomy

San Marcos Castle in El Puerto de Santa María in Cádiz

If there is a place in the Cádiz coastwith a reputation for having a lot of atmosphere, that's The Port of Santa Maria, in Andalusia.

Located inside the Cádiz Bay, in front of the historical capital of the province, with a population of about 90,000 inhabitants, during the summer it reaches 300,000 holiday residents.

But above all it is a place visited in summer by all vacationers who reside in the different areas of the Cadiz coast, or in enclaves as prominent as Jerez de la Frontera.

Basilica Ntra Sra de los Milagros in El Puerto de Santa María

Beyond walking through its streets and living its great atmosphere in summer, The Port of Santa Maria It has attractions that are based on its history as an important port for trade with America, and in the gastronomy What can you enjoy

When visiting, you can sign up for a ticket guided tour of El Puerto de Santa María an hour long in which, in company with an expert guide in art and history, you will have a first view of its heritage attractions.

What to see and do in El Puerto de Santa María

Now, if you prefer to visit on your own, this information will be useful after our recent trip to The Port of Santa Maria on the occasion of the event Travel Bloggers Forum.

Next we will detail the main attractions of this Cadiz enclave in order to adapt it to any other time of the year, beyond summer vacations.

San Marcos Castle in El Puerto de Santa María in Cádiz

San Marcos castle

If we have to highlight a historical monument in El Puerto de Santa María that is undoubtedly the San Marcos castle.

It is a medieval fortress that was built in the thirteenth century and, currently, is owned by the Knight family, well known for the elaboration of spirits Y Jerez wines, among which the Punch Knight.

The aforementioned castle is now the institutional headquarters of the company and its emblem.

The origin of the current castle is a mosque It was built in the 10th century, and since then it has had various reconstructions, so the monument is a reflection of a mixture of cultures.

You will access it through an Arab arch to reach the great room where a good part of the original mosque is preserved.

Mosque in Castillo de San Marcos in El Puerto de Santa María

Supported on many Roman columns of the first century, in the enclosure of the mosque you will be surprised by the wall of the quibla after which the mihrab.

Its conservation is due to the fact that when the Christian king Alfonso X arrived at this place in the middle of the 13th century, he decided to protect said wall by placing another one in front of him, so that until the last century the original wall was not discovered during the last reforms made.

From then on the enclave became a church-fortress until from the fourteenth century it began to be known as the San Marcos castle.

Note that at the base of the tower of tribute, where you can go up, there is a 13th century chapel.

And in the room at the top of the tower he stayed Christopher Columbus when he came to seek the financing of Dukes of Medinaceli For your expeditions to America.

Basilica Ntra Sra de los Milagros in El Puerto de Santa María

Basilica of Our Lady of Miracles

The main church of El Puerto de Santa María is the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of Miracles, which was finished building in Gothic style at the end of the fifteenth century.

On your walk through this town of Cadiz you will find it in the Spain Square, and in it you will see that what was going to be its main facade, now known as the Gate of Forgiveness, it was not finished.

An earthquake in 1636 caused the main ship to collapse so that the building was in very bad condition.

That is why it was necessary to rebuild, a work that was finished in 1671 and during which its large lateral cover was opened, known as the Sun Gate, which gives the above Spain Square.

Inside you will see a three-storey nave with baroque decorations and the 17th-century choir.

The original Gothic altarpiece was replaced in the 18th century by the neoclassical temple that you can see during your visit.

Rafael Alberti Foundation in El Puerto de Santa María

Rafael Alberti Foundation

Did you know that the famous poet Rafael Alberti, of the Generation of 27, born in The Port of Santa Maria?

Indeed it is so, and during your visit to the town of Cádiz you can know the house where he lived with his family during his childhood, which is currently one of the two buildings in which the Foundation Rafael Alberti.

In this enclave that will become a municipal museum, donations made to the city by the famous poet are preserved, one when he returned from exile in 1979, and another when his foundation was created in 1994.

Now at the headquarters of the foundation (admission price, 4 euros) you can paint and various objects in which the poetry of Alberti It has all the prominence.

Aranibar Palace in El Puerto de Santa María in Cádiz

Courtyards of the Houses Palace of the Port of Santa Maria

But apart from the mentioned monuments, from my point of view the great attraction of the visit of the Port of Santa María is to be able to see any of the patios of the numerous palace houses that extend through its historic center.

These are historic houses of former merchants and shippers who settled in the city during the time of greatest trade with America.

In fact, to The Port of Santa Maria it is known as the 100 palaces city, because in fact more than a hundred palatial houses of these characteristics are preserved.

While the vast majority are privately owned or belong to neighboring communities, there are some that house public establishments, which you can visit.

Thus, the most prominent is theAranibar Palace, building built in 1660 by some old chargers, and which presents a decoration with classic elements.

Courtyard of the Casa Palacio de los Leones in El Puerto de Santa María

This palace, whose interior highlights the Mudejar hall, currently houses the tourist office, in addition to hosting events.

Another also outstanding is Palace of the Lions House from the 18th century, built in Baroque style in 1790, and now houses some tourist apartments.

Other patios that you could also see are the one of the Blas de Lezo Palace House, where theLong Apartments 70 , and that of the pension House nº 6 in the St. Bartholomew's Street.

As I said, most of the palace houses they are neighborhood yards, like the house of the monk family, where four brothers now live.

There are about 70 palace houses of these characteristics, to the point that the so-called Cultural Association of the Portios Courtyards organized every year in early April the Courtyard Party, days in which more than twenty courtyards are open to the visit.

Osborne Bull Museum in El Puerto de Santa María

Visit the Osborne Winery

Already entering the gastronomic terrain, if there is a classic visit among those traveling to The Port of Santa Maria that is the one of theOsborne Wineries.

It is a large wine cellar complex that was created in 1800 that receives thousands of visitors every year, which five years ago was conditioned for the visit of tourists.

In this way now in the standard visit You can tour an old winery enabled with training spaces, in whose barrels wines are aged by the hatchery and solera system for more than 40 years.

You will also visit the Osborne Bull Museum, located in another old winery where everything related to the history of the famous bull that you can see on the roads of Spain is shown.

With a duration of one hour, the visit (14 euros) ends with the walk through a brandy cellar and the tasting of four wines from the prestigious Jerez wine brand.

Aponiente restaurant in El Puerto de Santa María in Cádiz

Visit the restaurant Aponiente of chef Ángel León

Also from a gastronomic side, a very original and interesting visit that you can do in The Port of Santa Maria is visit the kitchens of the restaurant Aponiente, a three Michelin stars of the chef Angel lion.

The restaurant is located in the building of tidal mill Europe's largest, installed in 1815, located behind the train station, in the surroundings of some Salinas, area that in the past was degraded.

During the visit of Aponiente restaurant, which takes place early in the morning, you can see how up to 70 employees of the hotel establishment work, and how the chefs prepare the original elaborations that will then be tasted.

You can also see the very interesting development lab of new elaborations, where, for example, there is a plankton plantation.

To visit it you must contact the restaurant In a direct way.

Puerto Sherry in El Puerto de Santa María in Cádiz

Sailboat ride through Cádiz Bay

The maritime enclave of the Cádiz Bay he will invite you to give a sailboat ride or do some other nautical activity during your visit

For example, give a sailboat ride at sunset for an hour and a half to watch the sunset, or take a walk to see the main enclaves and defensive bastions of the city ​​of Cádiz.

All this starting from the great leisure craft port of El Puerto de Santa María, Puerto Sherry. whose hotel It is one of the most classic accommodation options in this town of Cadiz.

La Bendita Locura Vineyard House in El Puerto de Santa María

Vineyard Houses in Puerto de Santa María

Another peculiarity of He Santa Maria Port, is to know the so-called Vineyard houses, rural buildings most of them built in the nineteenth century next to the vineyards that surround the town.

Currently they have different functions, such as rural accommodation, as is the case with TheHoly madness, a charming establishment where you can stay or eat surrounded by vineyards.

In order to know this tradition, you can even make a route to visit the Casas de Viña.

Las Lagunas del Puerto Natural Park in El Puerto de Santa María

Las Lagunas del Puerto Natural Park

If you are passionate about nature, at Santa Maria Port You also have the opportunity to enjoy her walking through the Lagunas del Puerto natural park.

It is a protected natural area with a great wealth of birds, where in one of its three lagoons you can see even flamingos.

Currently a project is being developed to enable access and facilitate the visit, which is framed in the wine tourism route which extends from Jerez to Rota.

Seafood in Cocedero Romerijo in El Puerto de Santa María

Where to eat in Puerto de Santa María

At lunchtime, the offer you have is very wide and interesting.

At the highest level you will eat in the aforementioned Aponiente restaurant, and in a more informal way, in the gourmet tavern that Angel lion It keeps in the former headquarters of the restaurant in the center of town.

A classic of Port, always very busy, is the Romerijo Cooker, a large place that has become an icon of the town of Cadiz, and where you have a very extensive offer of seafood and fish.

In this regard you also have the alternative of La Venencia restaurant, located in the Yacht Club. where fish and shellfish are also culinary protagonists.

Making hot garlic in El Puerto de Santa María

And from the gastronomic point of view, we recommend you to try the hot garlic, a popular elaboration in the region of Jerez and El Puerto that is prepared after the harvest season, in autumn and winter.

It is not easy to find it in bars of the town, and it is more common to be able to try it in the houses of vineyards, although we have indicated two places of the town where on Saturdays you can taste the hot garlic, the Avenue bar and the bar El Betis.

Where to sleep in El Puerto de Santa María

Apart from places already mentioned, at the time of stay in El Puerto de Santa María we can recommend the Hotel Duque de Medinaceli, an old house of the Terry family located in front of the wineries, a 5 star that is a classic of the place.

Hotel Duques de Medinaceli in El Puerto de Santa María

And also him San Miguel Monastery Hotel, where we stayed on our visit, a 4 star located in the building of an old monastery of the eighteenth century very well located near the center of town.

Tours in Puerto de Santa María

Facing you visit of the Port of Santa MaríaIn addition to the general guided tour we cited at the beginning of this article, you also have the option to sign up for themed guided tours.

That is the case of the Colombian Route through the Port of Santa María, tour with a duration of 2 hours in which starting from monastery of La Victoria you will cross the bank of Guadalete River passing through the old port, and you will reach the San Marcos castle.

Or also the Chargers tour, in which in two hours you will deepen the tradition of the palace houses.