A brief history of Conil de la Frontera

Conil de la Frontera is situated on a coastal plain southwest of the province of Cadiz boarded by the Atlantic Ocean 43 kilometres from the capital. It dominates the Eastern Plain and its most Western Cliffs including the Roche range and is part of the region of La Janda.

Conil borders the town of Chiclana de la Frontera in the North and Vejer de la Frontera on the East and South, the West borders the Atlantic Ocean.

The Spanish resort of Conil has a prehistoric history and the town was founded by the Phoenicians, who took advantage of the opportunity the sea presented creating fishing traps and other fishing activities.

The Romans brought glory and greatness through the Via Herculean that united the cities of Malaga and Cadiz. After the fall of the Roman Empire, Conil was plundered by the Visigoths, the Vandals and the Byzantines until the arrival of the Muslims in 711AD when the city was made to join the Cora of Sidonia.

There were no significant developments until 1265, the year in which the municipality renamed the town due to the victories of the Christian conquest. The municipality added the name of the border as did other places like Chiclana, Jerez and Arcos as the border was separating the territories of Muslims and Christians.

In 1299, King Ferdinand IV granted Alonso Perez de Guzman Conilena the powers to promote the resettlement of the town and to the strengthening against attack by building a tower and renaming the town Torre de Guzman.

People suffered the epidemics of plague and other diseases and fished with fish traps as the basis of its economy. At the beginning of the sixteenth century the village life was interrupted by disputes that occurred between two noble families regarding the tremendously important area of Guzman and the Ponce de Leon.

The disputes between the nobles and villagers worsened the area and the appalling economic conditions that people lived in and the debts resulting from successive decades however the production of traps increased.

The seventeenth century was the golden age of the population, and it became an economic enclave. In the eighteenth century, the traps begin to decline, as the economy begins to sustain itself through agriculture and livestock.

By the mid-century, a series of disputes arose due to the tax burden on the landowners and villagers that came back to disturb the peace of Conil. Both of these problems and territories that generated money began to fall from popularity as the Napoleonic occupation of the early nineteenth century impacted on their lives.

The people who by then had anti establishment feelings resulted in the appointment of a ombudsman by the Town trustees an ombudsman through which municipalities in the area could interact with the lords of the land owners.

During the twentieth century conventional tourism developed which impacted on the local economy because Spaniards from areas such as Seville began to visit the area for their summer holidays. Since the 1960s Conil has experienced a tourism boom mainly with Spanish tourists.

Puerto de Conil

Traditionally the economy was fishing and cattle farming, but there is a movement towards an economy based on the services sector. This move is fuelled largely due to the tourism developments that have arisen in the coastal city in recent years.

Festivals in Conil de la Frontera

The Festivities in honour of Our Lady of Virtues the Patron Saint of the Village is celebrated by a fair held around the 7th to 11th September. Virgen del Carmen is the patron saint of fishermen on the 16th July after a Mass the sculpture of Our Lady is escorted in a procession out to sea with a flotilla of ships from the town.

The Pilgrimage to San Sebastian the patron of the village is held The Sunday closest to January 20 and the saint is moved from the village to the pine forests of Colorado, along with neighbours in carriages and on foot.

The Fair of The Colorado Spring in the first week of June, here the horse is the star attraction as well as traditional dishes made from products of the orchards in the area and the fruits of the field.

The Crosses of May is the day the neighbours decorate crosses that they make and participate in a contest. The Carnival is performed with dances and costume contests.

The Easter Processional parades including singing by the participants. The Bonfires of San Juan where on the The Eve of San Juan the figures are burnt of John and Jane.

The St. Catherine of Alexandria, Procession the sculpture of the Saint is carried through the streets of the village.

Beaches at Conil de la Frontera

Conil and the Costa de la Luz in general is famous for its beaches. Conil de la Frontera has six beaches in total, Playa La Fontanilla, Playa El Roqueo (with a 1936 Civil War bunker), Playa Fuente del Gallo, Playa Punta Lejos, Playa Cala del Aceite and Playa los Bateles. Playa los Bateles is the longest and the most popular during the summer months.

Image credit: Maritè Toledo