The town of Rota is located next to the bay of Cadiz on the Atlantic Ocean coast, halfway between Portugal and Gibraltar. During the high season, the town is a tourist destination for travelers from all points of Europe. In low season, its main business activity is the fishing industry.
Archaeological evidence suggests that there was a Bronze Age settlement on the present site of Rota. The current town was founded by the Phoenicians at approximately the same time as Cádiz. Rota is assumed to be the same city known as Astaroth of the Tartesian empire. It later passed to the Romans, who knew the town as Speculum Rotae.
Rota's official language is Spanish. Travelers to the area may hear a difference from the Spanish or Castilian spoken in other areas of the country. The Andalucían variety of Spanish or Andaluz is spoken in Andalusia, Ceuta, Melilla and Gibraltar. Perhaps the most distinct of the southern variations of peninsular Spanish, Andaluz differs in many respects from northern varieties, and also from Standard Spanish.
The locals' English skills can be hit or miss. Thanks in part to the nearby US Naval facility, locals have been improving their English skills since 1955. Keep in mind, the older generations do not speak as much English and would prefer being addressed at first in Spanish.
Rota is known to have significantly high levels of sunshine. It can range from six hours per day in the winter to twelve hours per day in the summer. Winters are mild and much warmer than other areas of Spain. Rain is very rare from June to August though occasional heavy downpours may occur during autumn. On the coast, a very warm wind from North Africa called the Leveche may occur. Luckily for the residents of Rota, the ocean breeze helps keep the temperatures from rising too high.
The closest airport is Jerez de la Frontera , about 35 minutes by car or taxi (fixed price €50). There are daily flights to Madrid and Barcelona (Iberia, Vueling). Ryanair flies year round to Barcelona (Girona) with seasonal flights to Frankfurt Hahn, London Stansted and Weeze. Air Berlin, Condor, German Wings, Lufthansa and TUIfly provide many seasonal flights. The nearest major airports are in Sevilla  (1 hour by car, 2 hours by bus) and Malaga (2-3 hours by car or bus).
The old town of Rota can be navigated on foot with ease. The same however, cannot be said for cars. With its narrow streets, twisting alleys and limited parking, it is not easy to drive a car here.
There are 3 bus routes operated by Aremsa  that tour the town. A regular ticket can range from € 1.15 to € 1.30 depending on your destination. The most useful for visitors is Line No. 1 (blue), which goes from the Plaza Jesus Nazareno (The city center or commonly referred to as "La Costilla") to the western edge of the beach (Costa Ballena) and back along the main avenue.
The Castillo de Luna or Moon Castle is a rectangular fortification with five towers organized around a central courtyard. Seated on the remains of a ribat from the Muslim conquest of North Africa, initial construction of the Castillo de Luna began in 1295 by Alfonso Perez de Guzman. The castle was restored in 1999 for use as a town hall.
La Iglesia de la O is a Catholic church built in the sixteenth century. The church consists of a single nave with late Gothic, Renaissance and Plateresque trends and features five added chapels. Finished in 1537, construction was paid for by Don Rodrigo Ponce de León. The interior is notable for the combination of the Gothic, Elizabethan and Baroque Plateresque architectural. Highlights include images of the choir, an 18th century organ, 18th century Triana tiles, numerous pieces of silver and assorted images of Jesus of Nazareth.
Torre de la Merced (17th century) is a square and octagonal tower finished in a semi-sphere, covered with bright blue and white tiles. It is the only remaining architectural of what was the former convent of La Merced. Its walls were erected on the foundations of the Veracruz religious retreat, which was the oldest of Rota. Its construction began in the early 17th century, and concluded on October 25, 1620. The tower of the convent despite the years, still stands as a witness of what was a constant place of serenity and peace. The current tower is not the original, because it was destroyed by a hurricane that hit the town in 1722. Today the tower is attached to the south wall facade of the old market.
West Tower of the Castillo de Luna
Main entrance to La Iglesia de la O
Torre de la Merced
Capilla de San Roque was built in the middle of the 17th Century. It was previously situated just outside the village as a small chapel, where farmers came to pray. Today this church is located in the center of town, in the square that bears his name. It has three naves separated by low columns, with the longest nave to the side.
Capilla de la Caridad is located in the center of town. The church was finished in Baroque style and contains a Latin cross, with a length of 18m wide. The altar displays a beautiful piece from 18th century Jerez sculptor Diego Roldan. In the center of this altarpiece is the image of Our Lady of Sorrows with the body of Christ, carved by sculptor Chaveli Jerez in 1942. Visitors to the chapel can also see the image of Our Father Jesus of Health in Three Falls, made by sculptor Ortega Brú. And the recent image of the Virgin of Charity.
Bartolome Perez monument- Rota is also the birthplace of a unique sailor named Bartolomé Pérez. He accompanied Christopher Columbus as a crew member on the ship " La Niña" on his first voyage to America. Pérez was also as a driver during the second voyage, aboard the ship " San Juan ". Rota is believed to be the site from which Catholic Monarchs wrote a letter of recommendation to finance a young Christopher Columbus who had the ambition and the idea he could reach the Indies by sailing west. This letter is said to have been written from the Castillo de Luna.
The Beaches of Rota- Famous for golden sand and clean sea, Rota is surrounded by 16km of stunning beaches. Get to know the specific areas of the coastline for easy navigation.
Playa del Rompidillo-Chorrillo is located across from Avenidea San Juan de Puerto Rico. Rompidillo-Chorrillo is different from other beaches because it lies in a more sheltered area from the tides. Users of the beach can enjoy complete tranquility, away from the hustle and bustle of the town. It also has a large variety of beach equipment and services for comfort and leisure guests.
Playa de la Costilla is undoubtedly the busiest of Rota, as it is located adjacent to the main streets. The 4 kilometers of beach and connecting boardwalk offer numerous services, seating areas, recreational areas and wooden walkways for disabled visitors. Playa de la Costilla has the important distinction of the "Q" for quality grade. This guarantees control of the security services, rescue, leisure, water monitoring, information, cleanliness, accessibility, as well as the bars, while taking into account the hygienic conditions, levels of environmental quality of sand and water, and the management and treatment of environmental issues, among others.
Los Corrales de Rota or the Corrales of Rota can be accessed from Avenida de la Diputación, through a network of trails and footbridges raised above the dunes and pine forest. The beach at Los Corrales extends from the Hotel Playa de la Luz to the mouth of Arroyo Alcántara. Remaining from the Arab period, Los Corrales were declared a Natural Monument by the Government of Andalucía. This natural feature demonstrates traditional fishing culture and the natural heritage of the town of Rota.
Carnival occurs in late February or early March. Costumes worn are often related to recent news and pop culture. The emotion behind this Carnival is the sharp criticism, the funny play on words and the imagination in the costumes, more than the glamorous dressings. It is traditional to paint the face with lipstick as a humble substitute of a mask.
Semana Santa or Holy Week is the last week of Lent, which is the week immediately before Easter. The somber Holy week processions feature hundreds of people and go on all week, a spectacular display of conspicuous Catholicism.
Feria de Primavera or Spring Fair takes places in late April or early May. To say this is a huge party is an understatement. Most if not all of Rota takes time off as they plan for the Fair months in advance. The fair is located in the Pine Forrest and covers a large area containing numerous public "casetas" or tents. The Fair is one of the best festivals in Spain and appeals to everything that's great about Spain - Traditional dress, Flamenco dancing, guitars, wine and great tapas. The men, women and children will dance with delight while eating and drinking night away.
Noche de San Juan or Midsummer Night takes place on June 21, the first day of summer. The beach is the center of activity for the night along with huge bonfires. Locals burn large dolls, often cartoonish and concerning local personalities in protest. To conclude the evening is a night swim that consists of almost all the villagers, including vacationers, on the shores of the Playa de la Costilla.
Fiesta de la Urta or Urta Festival celebrates the typical Rota dish “Urta a la Roteña”. Held in early August, the festival lasts for 4 days. The event is dedicated to the Urta and includes the popular contest for the best locally prepared dish. The festival has been declared to be of national tourist interest.
Fiestas Patronales or Patron Saint Festival celebrates the Virgin of Rosario, patron saint of Rota. Held at the beginning of October, locals' parade through the streets dressed as gigantes y cabezudos or giants and big-heads. A large shrine is also carried to honor the Virgin of Rosario.
Rota has numerous shopping opportunities, with most lining the pedestrian friendly Calle Charco. From clothing boutiques to home improvement items, residents can find just about anything. During the summer months, several of the streets are covered to help residents beat the heat. Depending on the time of year, there are also a number of artisan fairs throughout the town.
El mercado gitano or gypsy market takes place every Wednesday near the Rota bus station. Early in the morning, local merchants gather offering their goods, giving visitors a chance to observe the atmosphere of a traditional Spanish market. Shoppers can find great deals on clothing, shoes, jewelry, spices and olives. Be sure to visit early as the market closes in the early afternoon.
If you are looking for everything under one roof, the Área Sur Shopping Center is located in Jerez. In the mall, shoppers can find everything including shops, restaurants, a bowling alley and cinemas.
Breakfast or “desayuno” in the Spanish culture is easily the simplest meal of the day, occurring first thing in the morning until about 1000. For those that don’t skip the first meal of the day, breakfast will be something simple such as a croissant, pastry, or toast with jam accompanied by coffee, hot chocolate or fresh orange juice. Another common breakfast pastry is “churros,” fried Spanish fritters with sugar. Looking for something new? Try the mollete con tomate y jamon. Available at most bars and cafes, this local favorite consists of a fresh baked roll served with a tomato spread and jamon.
Lunch or "almuerzo" is the most important meal of the day, generally consisting of several courses. To start, a simple first course such as soup or salad, a hearty second course of meat or fish, finishing with fruit or pastry as dessert. Lunch is followed by the famous “siesta” or rest time occurring from 1400 until 1700. It is recommended that anyone visiting Rota plan accordingly since most shops and restaurants close during this time.
Afternoon Snack or “merienda” is a small snack to help folks get them through until dinner begins. This light meal can range from cookies and pastries to small sandwiches accompanied with coffee, juice, milk or batido (flavored milk.)
Dinner or "cena" is similar to lunch but usually smaller portions. The last meal of the day is a late affair in Rota, which is normally served from 2100 to 2300. In the summer time, it is common to see Spaniards starting dinner as late as midnight.
Meals can vary from family to family during the course of the week. With most locals working until 2000, it can be challenging to whip up a large meal during the lunch break. In this situation, busy families swap lunch with dinner. Sunday is a very family oriented day for the residents of Rota. Most families will gather in the afternoon at home for a large meal or spend hours having lunch and tapas
Tips on Tapas
Tapas are a wide variety of hot and cold appetizers, or snacks, in Spanish cuisine. Get to know some of the most common:
Tortilla de patatas or Spanish tortilla is made with fried eggs and potatoes. This classic dish can be found in any bar or restaurant. Other ingredients include onions, garlic, chorizo and various sauces.
Croquetas or croquettes are small, lightly breaded and fried fritters. Most commonly filled with Jamón, croquetas can also contain chicken and tuna.
Pulpo Gallego or Galician-Style Octopus is served all over Spain. It is very simple - cooked octopus served with boiled potatoes, olive oil and sweet Spanish paprika.
Gambas al ajillo or garlic shrimp is great for garlic lovers. This dish is bursting with flavors and fresh aromas.
Patatas bravas or bravas potatoes is a Spanish favorite. Potatoes served with a sauce containing a hint of Tabasco, hence the name “bravas” which means “fierce” in Spanish.
Jamón, queso y chorizo con panis made up of ham, cheese and chorizo with bread.
Boquerones en vinagre or anchovies marinated in vinegar, oil and garlic.
The word ‘tapas’ does not refer to a specific type of food. Instead, it refers to a way of eating that comes from Spain. Tapas basically refers to small portions of different dishes, containing only a few mouthfuls but when many are eaten together then they make up a full meal. There are so many types that you are bound to find at least one that you like.
Arranque Roteño is a typical dish found in Rota. This dish has a consistency similar to gazpacho. It is made primarily from tomatoes, garlic, frying peppers, bread crumbs, oil and salt.
La Urta a la Roteña is a typical fish dish originally from Rota. The main ingredients are urta (a type of fish similar to snapper) with assorted vegetables (mainly tomatoes.) The recipe became such a hit that it can be found throughout Andalucia.
Berza Roteña is a simple soup with very in depth flavors. A favorite with the locals, Berza Roteña is made from assorted beans and meats.
Tintilla is a wine extracted from red grapes and is a unique specialty of Rota. This type of grape unique to the area, is tough and requires loose and sandy soil. The fruit is rather small and somewhat elongated. To produce the type of wine, grapes must be exposed to the sun, placing the fruits on mats of straw. This specialty of Rota, is mainly exported to England and also sold to vintners in Jerez. It is also sold in bars and taverns throughout town.
Sherry is a fortified wine made from white grapes that are grown in the nearby town of Jerez de la Frontera. Sherry is produced in a variety of dry styles made primarily from the Palomino grape, ranging from light versions similar to white table wines, such as Manzanilla and Fino, to darker and heavier versions that have been allowed to oxidize as they age in barrel, such as Amontillado and Oloroso.
Tinto de verano or summer red wine is a wine-based cold drink similar to sangria. Normally 1 part red table wine and 1 part citrus soda, this summer beverage can also be made with Rum. It is served over ice, sometimes with a slice of lemon. Tinto de verano is available at restaurants and bars or can be purchased ready-bottled from supermarkets.
Restaurante Los Argentinos - € € €, Avenida de los Principes de España 74, ☎ +34 956 816 410, . editRestaurante Los Argentinos is the home of fine Argentinian cuisine and wonderful wines. For over 10 years, Los Argentinos has offered a quality product and excellent service to its numerous guests.
Shanghai 1986 - € € €, Avenida San Fernado 49, ☎ +34 956 810 557, . edit Don’t be fooled; Shanghai 1968 is not your average Chinese restaurant. Founded in 1968, Shanghai continues to wow guests with its Chinese-Spanish fusion menu. Diners can choose from a variety of authentic Chinese dishes influenced by the local Spanish cuisine.
Restaurante El Embarcadero - € € €, Puerto deportivo Astaroth, ☎ +34 956 816 410, . edit Offering Mediterranean cuisine and high quality, locally caught seafood. Maritime décor, a great atmosphere, friendly service and excellent culinary technique make this restaurant an ideal eatery.
La Parrilla de Juan - € € €, Avenida San Fernando 24, ☎ +34 956 812 961, . edit La Parrilla de Juan offers a large selection of grilled meats, especially beef and Kobe (Kobe beef) Wagyu beef from Japan. Highly recommended dishes are solomillo de buey gallego con patatas fritas or los medallones de solomillo.
Pepe's Cantina Mexicana - € €, Avenida de la Marina 12, ☎ +34 856 111 234. edit Cantina Mexicana offers a full menu of traditionally prepared dishes. Diners can choose from a variety of meat or fish dishes and an assortment of beers and Mexican cocktails. Ample portion sizes, friendly service and frozen margaritas make this restaurant worth a visit.
100 Montaditos - €, Plza. De Jesús Nazareno, ☎ +34 956 846 859, . edit Inspired by the atmosphere of a typical Spanish tavern, you will encounter a variety of traditional montaditos served on crunchy, freshly-baked Spanish rolls; filled with such typical Mediterranean ingredients as Serrano ham, Spanish tortilla, chorizo sausage and Manchego cheese; and seasoned with such traditional Mediterranean ingredients as olive oil, garlic, onions, lemon, tomato sauce and ali oli. As the name implies, 100 varieties of fillings are available on a choice of white, whole wheat or ciabatta rolls.
Hotel Duque De Nájera, C/ Gravina 2, ☎ +34 956 846 020 (email@example.com), . Category ★★★★. edit The hotel has 92 rooms, 79 of which are doubles, 7 superior doubles and 6 junior suites. Each room is equipped with air-conditioning, satellite TV, direct dial telephone, minibar, safe, free internet connection in room and Wi-Fi in common areas. Every room is equipped with a massage shower and bath.
Hotel Playa De La Luz, Avda. La Diputación, ☎ +34 956 810 500 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Category ★★★★. edit The hotel offers 219 rooms, 141 of which are standard doubles, 10 superior doubles and 59 junior suites. They are built around two large gardened patios and all enjoy outdoor views. The rooms are equipped with a full bathroom, heating and air-conditioning, satellite TV, safe, telephone, mini-bar, hair dryer and free internet connection.
Aparthotel La Espadaña, Avda. La Diputación 150, ☎ +34 956 846 103 (email@example.com), . Category ★★★. edit Located 100 meters from the beach and a short walk to the town or Rota, these forty spacious apartments redefines the concept of a hotel. Aparthotel La Espadaña is perfect for guests traveling with pets or visitors looking for an extended stay. Each apartment is fully furnished with modern equipment such as 21" satellite TV, individual heating and air conditioning, telephone and a broad band internet connection. The fully furbished kitchen comes with microwave, fridge, crockery and all kitchen utensils.
Hotel Caribe, Avenida de la Marina 60, ☎ +34 956 810 700 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Category ★★★. edit The Hotel Caribe has a total of 68 rooms, 49 of which are standard doubles (3 of which adapted to the handicapped), 9 doubles with sitting room, and 10 single rooms. All of the rooms come equipped with a full bath, central air conditioning and heating, small refrigerator, telephone, free internet connection, room service, and laundry and ironing services.
Hostal La Giralda, Avda. San Fernando, 34, ☎ +34 956 81 62 08 (email@example.com), . Category ★★. edit The rooms are equipped with bath, air conditioning and heating, satellite TV, telephone, minibar and Internet connection.
Hostal Macavi, C/ Écija , nº 11, ☎ +34 956 81 33 36 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Category ★★. edit Situated next to Playa de la Costilla, the rooms are equipped with bath, air conditioning and heating and TV. The hostel is built in typical Andalucían style in a quiet, residential zone. Located three minutes from the old town, Hostal Macavi has plenty of parking for guests.
Less than two hours away is “The Rock” of Gibraltar! Thought to be one of the two Pillars of Hercules, Gibraltar has long been a coveted strategic military location dating back to the days of the Islamic conquest of Spain. Gibraltar is believed to have received its name from the corruption of the Arabic phrase “Jebel Tariq” which translates as Tariq’s Mountain. Visitors can explore The Great Siege Tunnels, grab a photo with the Barbary Apes, enjoy concerts in Saint Michael's Cave or examine The Gibraltar Museum. Today, Gibraltar is under British control which is why a passport is required to visit this mini piece of Great Britain in Andalucía.
This city was originally inhabited by the Romans; however, it became more famous as a hub for the Moors. Cordoba happened to be the western capital of the Islamic empire during the 10th century. To this day, the Moorish occupancy remains evident with Moorish structures that still exist in the city. Be sure to check out La Mezquita Cathedral, Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos (Palace of the Christian Kings) and La Judería (Jewish Quarter).
Grazalema is known for being one of the wettest villages in Spain due to its microclimatic position. It is a classic white village with white washed houses, cobbled narrow streets, and iron balconies. The mountainous area around Grazalema is very popular with climbers and hikers. Grazalema Natural Park is famous for its spectacularly rugged limestone landscape of cliffs, gullies, caves, and gorges.