Alcala de los Gazules
Alcalá de los Gazules is a town in Cadiz.
Alcalá de los Gazules is located 3 km from the A381 motorway between Jerez de la Frontera and Algeciras. The nearest airports are at Jerez and Gibraltar, both less than an hour's drive away. There are four buses a day from Seville, Jerez, Cadiz and Algeciras. The nearest rail stations are at Jerez and Algeciras.
Alcalá de los Gazules is in the Alcornocales Natural Park, a vast area of woodland and rocky peaks that stretches across the eastern half of the province. There are numerous nature trails through the park and details are available from any tourist information office in the province.
Within an hour's drive of the town are the windswept cliffs and golden sandy beaches of the Costa de la Luz, the Bahia de Cadiz Natural Park with its flamingos and many other wading birds, the historic British colonial outpost of Gibraltar, the ancient city of Cádiz, Jerez de la Frontera with its sherry bodegas and thoroughbred horses, and the glorious mountain scenery of the Sierra de Grazalema.
The Parroquia de San Jorge (church) is well worth a visit even if you are not religious. It feels untouched by time and contains many examples of historic symbolism - not least the great gilded statue of St George, the patron saint of the town, slaying his dragon.
There are numerous fairs and festivals throughout the year:
Carnaval (early March)
For further details see the town's official website.
If you are into bird-watching, come in April-May or September-October when millions of birds migrate between Europe and Africa. At any time of year you are likely see booted and Bonnelli's eagles, griffon vultures and lesser kestrels wheeling above the town.
Artists and photographers will find plenty to fire their imagination. The long summer evenings are especially good for landscape photography. A British-run residential art school, Painting in Spain, offers tailor-made courses for individuals or small groups.
There are plenty of resources for cyclists, hikers and climbers in the Alcornocales and in the various other Natural Parks in the Province of Cadiz.
There are no tourist gift shops in Alcala. However there are many little food shops where you can buy excellent locally-made produce: goats' or sheep's milk cheeses, honey, chorizos and delicious bread and cakes. The cheese factory shop on the Poligono la Palmosa (behind the gas station) is worth a visit, as is the tiny Horno de Luna bakery in Callejon Bernadino, near the Mercado de Abastos (indoor food market).
There are numerous restaurants catering for all pockets, and most of the bars will serve tapas at any time. Lunch is the main meal of the day, served from around 1.30 until 3.30, and a "menu del día" will give you a three-course meal and a drink for less then €10. Local specialities include game - wild boar or "jabali", venison, rabbit or partridge; hot gazpacho (soup thickened with breadcrumbs) and, in early June, tiny snails in broth (known as Caracoles). Fruit and vegetables are esentially seasonal; some, like wild asparagus or the fruits of the chumbo (prickly pear) are harvested from the countryside around the village. Visit the market on Wednesday or Saturday mornings to stock up, or just admire the quality.
NB:- you are not in a paella & sangria zone here!
Pale sherry or "fino" is widely available and consumed in large quantities by the locals at festivals, often watered down with lemonade when it is known as "rebujito". At the other end of the sherry scale is Pedro Ximenez, a very sweet, raisin-flavoured drink which is surprisingly good over ice. Tinto de verano (red wine and lemonade or soda with ice and lemon) is a refreshing alternative to beer on a hot day.
Hotel La Palmosa***, Área de Servicio La Palmosa (Ctra. Jerez-Los Barrios) A-381 km 45. 956-413364 (3 km from town centre)
Hotel San Jorge**, Paseo de la Playa, 11180 Alcala De Los Gazules - 956-413255 (central location)
Hostal Pizarro**, Paseo de la Playa 9 - 956-420103
Casa Rural Amatur, Avenida Puerto Levante s/n, 956-413005
Camping Los Gazules, Ctra. Patrite - 956-420486 (campsite + chalets, 5 km from town centre),