Such is the compact nature of Tarifa that all of its most notable buildings can be visited in a day, on foot. Read on for our guided walking tour of this trendy town’s architectural landmarks.
Tarifa is home to several notable buildings, from an impressive 10th-century castle to a striking public library. Below, we take you on a walking tour of the town’s architectural gems, starting with the only medieval gateway to the town that remains.
Kickstart your walking tour of Tarifa’s architectural gems on the northern side of the old town, with the Puerta de Jerez. This is the only one of four medieval entrances to the town still standing and, as its name suggests, once opened onto the northbound road to Jerez de la Frontera. Above the Moorish-style archway is a plaque remembering the date in 1292 when Tarifa fell to the Christians.
Strolling under the chunky Puerta de Jerez takes you into the oldest and most beautiful part of Tarifa. It’s an intriguing grotto of traditional Andalusian townhouses, most of them painted in white and bright Mediterranean blue. Some were abandoned a long time ago and have since been at the mercy Tarifa’s bracing winds and strong sun, thus developing a shabby charm all their own.
Iglesia San Mateo is located on a street in the old town named after the Christian King who captured Tarifa from the Moors in 1292 (Sancho IV “The Brave”). The stunning Baroque façade dates from the late 18th century, whilst the church itself was built during the early 1500s. Notable features inside a Visigoth tombstone and some beautiful 18th century wood sculptures.
From the Iglesia San Mateo, it’s a three-minute walk down the street to another of Tarifa’s most beautiful churches. Tucked in between two townhouses, with a façade partly obscured by colourful flowers, is the 16th-century Iglesia San Francisco de Asis. Between 1794 and 1797, the building was extensively renovated owing to its decaying state, resulting in the Baroque and Neoclassical hybrid we see today.
It won’t take you more than five minutes to walk from the San Francisco church to the old quarter’s main square, Plaza de Santa Maria (or Plaza de la Ranita – “Little Frog Square” – as it’s known locally). On the plaza’s east side is the arresting Colegio Cervantes, looking a little like a miniature, whitewashed Alhambra. Built in the early 1900s in a neo-Mudejar style, it now houses the public library and historical archives.
Make Tarifa’s mighty Castillo de Guzmán el Bueno (Castle of Guzman the Righteous) the penultimate stop of your walking tour. Reached via a three-minute walk from the Colegio Cervantes, the castle was built in the 10th century on the orders of the Caliph of Córdoba. It’s named after Alfonso Perez el Guzman, the commander who sacrificed his own son to save Tarifa from a Moorish siege in 1294.
The finale of your walking tour takes you to most southwesterly tip of Continental Europe’s most southwestern town. Here stands the somewhat incongruous Castillo de Santa Catalina, perched by itself atop a rocky hill. Built in the 1930s as a watchtower, it was heavily damaged Spain’s 1936-39 Civil War and thereafter stood abandoned. You’ll have to be content with admiring it from afar, as it’s currently closed to the public
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.