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18 November 2012

Tarifa

My final Spanish post is about our day trip to Tarifa, a town on the southernmost coast of Spain.  From here you can, on a clear day, see the mountains of Morocco (see the photos below) and they are so close that it feels as if you could almost reach out and touch them.  You can get ferries to Morocco from Tarifa and on a previous stay in this part of Spain we did do a day trip to Morocco (though not from Tarifa) visiting Tangier and Tetouan.  We were lucky to visit Tarifa on a reasonably clear day (and very hot one) and were able to enjoy the views towards Morocco.

Tarifa got its name following an attack on the area by Tarif ibn Malik, a Berber military commander in 710.  After the Islamic conquest of much of Southern Spain the town was subsequently fortified in the 10th Century.  One of the main and most imposing features of the town is the Castillo Guzman el Bueno (the castle of Guzman the Good) which is more than eight hundred years old.  Alonzo Perez de Guzman got the name 'the good' when he refused to hand over the castle in 1296 to Don Juan and the Moors in exchange for the life of his son.

We spent the morning of our visit exploring the castle which is in very good condition and has information plaques to read as you wander round, making it a lot more interesting to explore.  From the top of the castle you get great views across the town and across the Strait of Gibraltar to Morocco.  Although the castle is well preserved it is not a castle with room after room of beautiful furniture and paintings.  Rather there is more of a military feel with catapults, cannons and castle fortifications to walk around.  Great fun for my two Stepsons!

Castillo Guzman el Bueno
Cannon on top of the castle walls

After our visit to the castle (well worth it by the way) we went for a wander around the town.  There are lots of restaurants and coffee shops.  We stopped in one close to the harbour when we first arrived for a reviving drink.  As well as a lovely old town and the old town fortifications to walk around.  Tarifa has the type of old town with narrow streets, more of those beautiful tiled signs I fell in love with and plenty of whitewashed buildings.  Whilst wandering around this part of the town we stopped for another drink before finding a delightful Italian restaurant (yes I know we were in Spain) down a tiny side street for lunch.

Tarifa was well worth the journey, being on the tip of Spain it was a reasonable car drive from our base.  Before I visited I wasn't too sure that I'd particularly enjoy it, but the castle was great for climbing and  exploring, definitely a good place to go with children.  The town is also pleasant to stroll around with plenty of eating options for all palates, I'd be happy to return again if I had the chance.

Another of those beautiful tiled signs
Confirming that it is Africa you can see in the distance (and what you are looking at).
Another cannon!
View from the old town fortifications, the mountains in the distance are Morocco
View towards Morocco

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