In preparation for a trip to explore the huge Alcornocales Natural Park, we headed into San Roque, to visit the tourist information office. Ironically the office was closed off season, but the new museum was opened, so with our curiosity piqued, we took a look.
The contemporary, well laid out space is dedicated to the story of the Roman City of Carteia. I never even knew this place existed, but in fact, nestling amongst the huge hydro carbon refineries that dominate the bay of Algeciras are the remains of a community established as far back as the Phoenicians.
The city, like so many ancient sites here, has a long history encompassing the Byzantines, and Visigoth and later in the 6th century, the Muslims. The last development was over 400 years ago with the construction of the watch tower.
Access is by private guided tour only, but these are free. It’s a odd place, approached by a rather sad road that passes huge chimneys belching smoke, yet overlooks one of Europe’s largest natural bays.
The town of San Roque is quite modest; once dominated by military housing for nearby bases it now provides reasonably priced housing for the many that work in Gibraltar and in the petrol chemical plants.
The old quarter has some charming Andaluz style patio houses; and it is also home to Spain’s first ever plaza for fighting bulls on horseback .