Description

The Bajo Guadalquivir is situated on the left bank of the River Guadalquivir, occupying part of both Cadiz and Seville provinces, in lower Andalusia, at the southern-most point in Europe.

It is extremely well-connected, having two airports nearby, Jerez and Seville, and an excellent network of roads. One can also reach the area by rail, sea or river.

The life of the county revolves around the River Guadalquivir, which waters its fertile fields and opens gently into the Atlantic as it reaches Sanlúcar de Barrameda. It flows through beautiful countryside with cultivated land, marshes and vines,  riverbanks and seashore.

It also has great tourist potential. Visitors can discover its culture and traditions by way of its wealth of heritage; they can relax and enjoy the natural environment, take part in relaxing, recreational activities, titillate the palate with the wines and  cuisine, or have fun at the festivals in the company of the friendly, welcoming locals.

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Time’s Legacy

The county’s special geographical location on the banks of the Guadalquivir has long been one of the reasons for the area’s  history as an area that has seen many cultures either pass through or settle, a history which goes as far back as Ancient Times. During the Tartessian Era, the area became very wealthy thanks to the intense commercial traffic of precious metals between the Phoenicians, and the provinces of Seville, Huelva and Cadiz. Phoenicians, Romans and Visigoths also settled here, leaving their mark on the land.

Long centuries of Islamic rule also left a sumptuous legacy, both in urban design, and in the fortresses and walled  enclosures that made up the original nuclei of these towns and villages. There are numerous castles dotted across the area,  being one of the identifying features of the towns: Castillo de las Aguzaderas (El Coronil), Castillo de los Molares, Castillo de Santiago (Sanlúcar de Barrameda), Castillo de los Duques de Medina Sidonia (Trebujena), Castillo de Utrera...

After the Reconquista, the Christians settled on the sites of the old Arabic towns, modifying or rebuilding the existing buildings, and in particular the fortresses to reinforce the lines of defence. There is a wealth of religious architecture, perhaps by way of compensation for the lost centuries, and the churches became authentic treasures of Gothic and Mudejar art.

The river itself took on a fundamental role after the discovery of America. It became the arrival and departure route for trade with the West Indies, and this led to the county in general flourishing, and Sanlúcar de Barrameda in particular, thanks to the role of the Dukes of Medina Sidonia. It was then that art bloomed again and beautiful places of worship, gorgeous Renaissance palaces, and marvellous manor houses were built. A few years later, the Baroque style appeared, and  subsequently, each new style which emerged added to the heritage of these towns.

Costa de la Luz

The beaches are one of the main, great attractions for tourists to the Bajo Guadalquivir. Their fine sand and warm waters are ideal for a peaceful day of sun and swimming, and for any water-sport. The ideal nature of the climate allows tourists to  make the most of the delights of the sea until late on into the year. There are both quiet beaches and tourist beaches, but all are bathed by a radiant sun.

Facilities are modern, with a full range of services and infrastructure, and many of the beaches are yearly awarded the Blue Flag distinction for Europe’s clean costal areas. Sanlúcar possesses more than 6km of fine, pale sandy beaches where the waters of the River Guadalquivir meet the salt waters of the Atlantic. The most popular beaches are Bajo de Guía (currently  used as a mooring site for fishing and leisure boats) and the Playa de la Calzada, which runs parallel to the seafront, the  Paseo Marítimo. Besides these, there is also the Playa de las Piletas, a small cove with a natural breakwater formed by marine rocks, and the Playa de la Jara, in a residential area.

Chipiona has 11km of beaches which are characterised by the curative properties of their waters due to the high levels of iodine. The most emblematic and the busiest is Regla beach (1,700m), which has boasted the Blue Flag for Europe’s Clean  Waters for more than a decade.

Cruz del Mar beach (to the south of Chipiona Harbour), Las Canteras beach, Montijo beach, Las Tres Piedras beach and Camarón beach –with its typical handmade fish corrals – complete the list. A large proportion of the tourist resort of Costa Ballena, part of which is in the municipality of Rota, is located near Playa de la Ballena.

The shoreline at Rota is framed by the blue of the sea and the green of its pine forests. There are two beaches in the town, El Rompidillo and La Costilla beaches, the latter of which has a beautiful promenade. With more than 16km of beaches, the choice of beaches is completed by La Ballena (sharing this beach with Chipiona), the wild, natural Piedras Gordas, Aguadulce and Punta Candor, fringed by dunes and pine forest of high environmental value

Active Tourism

The Bajo Guadalquivir, with its beautiful and varied surroundings, offers many opportunities to carry out active tourism activities, as a way of exercising healthily in contact with nature. Its pleasant climate and the characteristics of its waters make it possible to practise a wide range of water sports, from sailing (at Playa de la Jara in Sanlúcar), to scuba-diving and snorkelling (at the Chipiona beach of Las Canteras) or surfing and windsurfing (El Rompidillo in Rota). The area also offers  fishing lovers an absolute paradise. The quality and abundance of the fish make it a delight to fish, whether standing on the beach or in a boat, while marvelling at the views of the river, Doñana national park or of the open sea. The River  Guadalquivir also offers you the opportunity to try your hand at sports such as rowing or kayaking.

The contrast in landscapes offered by the natural environment of the county makes it perfect for all kinds of sports activities. A large number of businesses offer horse rides along the coast, walks for through the extensive pine forests while fringe the beaches and cycle rides around the marsh areas along the river. The town of El Coronil is on the Vía Verde de la Sierra, a walking route which follows the route of the old Jerez-Almargen railway line.

Los Pinares de la Algaida, a vast area of pine forest belonging to the Natural Park of Doñana, is another option for walkers or bicycle touring, with its marked footpath. The area of wetlands and the banks of the river Guadalquivir, where the beauty of the landscape goes hand in hand with its ecological treasures, is another magnificent option for day trips which allow you to contemplate the typical haciendas and farmhouses.

The former homes of folk earning a living from cattle-farming, these have been restored and renovated as rural accommodation providing the visitor with the opportunity to participate in leisure activities related to the world of the horse: rides, equestrian exhibitions, classes, visits to stud farms…

Golf

The Bajo Guadalquivir boasts two Golf courses, in Sanlúcar de Barrameda and on the Costa Ballena (Rota), both of which offers top quality facilities. The quality of their design and the care taken provide a real challenge for players of all levels. The golf lover will be able to enjoy their favourite sport in the midst of spectacular surroundings, right beside one of the best beaches in the area or in the midst of farmland, overlooking slopes of vineyards with Doñana in the background.

With a character of its own

The county’s cultural tradition is clearly visible in its many cultural events. These are part of a complete programme organised by theatres and auditoriums which offer everything from classical music concerts to literary competitions. Birthplace of great literary names (Álvarez Quintero, Antonio de Nebrija and Joaquín García Murube) and painters (Francisco Pacheco), many are the festivals which bring colour and enjoyment to summer nights, providing a fun, festive atmosphere.

Amongst the most representative are the ‘Ciudad de Sanlúcar’ Jazz Festival and the International Music Festival ‘A Orillas del Guadalquivir’ (‘On the Banks of the Guadalquivir’), both of which are held in Sanlúcar or the International Jazz Festival of Las Cabezas de San Juan. Flamenco is one of the identifying features of this land of great families and distinguished artistes such as the guitarist Manolo Sanlúcar, Rocío Jurado, Juan Peña “El Lebrijano”, Curro Malena, Fernanda and Bernarda de Utrera...

This county is also the setting for festivals of the stature of the ‘Potaje Gitano de Utrera’, the ‘Noches de Bajo Guía’ in Sanlúcar, the ‘Arranque Roteño’, the ‘Festival de la Yerbabuena’ in Las Cabezas de San Juan and the ‘Caracolá Lebrijana’.

Wine is another tradition which has left a deep mark on the area’s culture. Its products carry the Designations of Origin ‘Jerez-Xerez- Sherry’ and ‘Manzanilla’ in Sanlúcar de Barrameda. This region also produces Chipiona’s sweet moscatel wine, Rota’s excellent ‘Tintilla’, the delicate ‘mistela’ from Los Palacios y Villafranca, and the exquisite ‘mosto’ from Trebujena. This feature has blessed the towns, in particular Sanlúcar, with some unique buildings of great interest: the wineries, which are, for the most part, open to visitors.

Nature and Doñana

The River Guadalquivir and Doñana are the most representative natural spaces in the county, blessing it with an incredible, ecological wealth of landscapes.

Doñana is situated on the right bank of the Guadalquivir, level with the estuary, on the Atlantic Ocean. It was declared World Heritage Site, as an exceptional example of a great Mediterranean wetland, and as a Biosphere Reserve by Unesco, and it is considered the greatest ecological reserve in Europe, giving shelter to many unique species which are in danger of extinction such as the Iberian Imperial Eagle, the Iberian Lynx or the Chameleon.

The vital importance of this place comes from the diversity of ecosystems it houses, as the marshes, the shifting dunes, the reserves, as well as the beach (one of the wide virgin coastlines in Europe), the fish corrals, lagoons and the riverbanks. Close by, there are other natural areas which, although outside the limits of the National Park, share similar landscapes and species. This is the Natural Park of Doñana, located to the extre me south-east of the province of Huelva, southwest of the province of Seville and north-west of the province of Cadiz. Its 53,835 hectares harbour large areas of pine forest, marshland which has evolved to a greater or lesser extent, and stretches of branches and channels of the River Guadalquivir which, in days gone by, flooded into the marshes.

Within the Natural Park, but now on the left bank of the river, in Sanlúcar, there are the Bonanza Marshes, a strip of natural marshland which floods with the tides and whose salt waters play host to the flamingo and the avocet.

Very nearby, the Pinar de la Algaida is to be found, this being a stone pine forest which is the winter refuge of numerous migratory birds, as well as the habitat of an important community of birds of prey. Sanlúcar is the where you will find the ‘Bajo de Guía’ Natural Park Visitors’ Centre and the National Park’s ‘Fabrica de Hielo’ Visitors’ Centre. Other protected nature reserves are the Endorheic Basins at Utrera, the Lebrija-Las Cabezas Endorheic Basins and the Brazo del Este Natural Beauty Spot, as well as the Natural Fish Corrals Monument in Rota.

Completing the extensive list of environmental treasures in the county are the Pilares Pastureland in El Coronil, the Cerro de las Cigüeñas (‘Storks Hill’) in Los Palacios y Villafranca, La Señuela (Lebrija), the Laguna de los Tollos (El Cuervo) and La  Esparraguera Channel in Trebujena

The Horse and The Bull

Linked since ancient times to farm labour and traditional festivals, the horse is one of the maximum symbols of the Bajo Guadalquivir. In perfect harmony with the fighting bull, the horse may be observed roaming free on estates where herds of prestigious Spanish Thoroughbred mares are bred, estates such as La Yeguada Ayala (Utrera).

The opportunities this county affords to lovers of this handsome animal are endless, starting with the indispensable visit to prestigious stables and stud farms, to admire magnificent specimens freely grazing in the pastures. There are also innumerable schools, horse clubs, and riding-schools where one can learn
or go riding, and where you can your hand at Reining or even ‘el acoso y derribo’.

There are also a multitude of events which take place in the area and are related to the horse: exhibitions, competitions, horse shows and top level livestock fairs. Apart from the prestigious Horse Races and Horse Week (both in Sanlúcar), there is the Reining and Dressage Competition in Los Palacios y Villafranca and the Villa de Trebujena Wagon Trophy. The horse is also one of the protagonists of the most significant festivals and pilgrimages called ‘Romerías’.

The Bull is another superb animal which is bred in the pastures of the Bajo Guadalquivir, which is home to some of the most prestigious fighting-cattle farms. Near Utrera, the bulls from the Guardiola cattle-farm graze on a large plain which surrounds the El Toruño farmhouse, as do the fighting-bulls from Joaquín Buendía’s cattlefarm in the fields of the Hacienda  de San José de Bucaré (tied to Utrera although actually in Alcalá de Guadaíra).

In Trebujena, there is the Cortijo Alventus, the former horse-breaking farm belonging to the Dukes Medina Sidonia, now devoted to the breeding, trials and sale of fighting-bulls.

Numerous farmhouses have been restored and habilitated as accommodation for rural tourism, allowing the guests to admire the typical architecture while in close contact with the world of the horse and the bull (horse-rides, rental of horse-drawn carriages, fights with young bulls, shows, trials, country fiestas...).

Bon Appetit

The tasty cuisine of the Bajo Guadalquivir is the product of the wealth of basic ingredients and the careful preparation of the dishes. In the fertile soil of the farmlands, top qualit vegetables are harvested (famous throughout
the province), which are indispensable ingredients in the majority of the dishes. They are to be found in the delicious salads, refreshing summer vegetable dishes, tomato and pepper salads and gazpachos. They are also present in the hot dishes (cuttlefish and potatoes, bean stew, potage, artichokes with peas...), and in the exquisite sauces that accompany the most famous dishes, such as bull’s tail, ‘carne mechada’, meat stews and snails.

The coastal areas produce the much-loved fish and seafood. The most refined palates will succumb to the flavour of king prawns, lobsters, sea-snails, or pawns, as well as the “pescaíto frito” fried fish, sea anemones or roe in vinaigrette, and the popular fish dishes: sea bream Rota-style, prawn or seafood soup, eggs ‘a la marinera’, sea bass in garlic, clams ‘a la abuela’, tuna in onions...

None of this would be possible without the excellent wine of the region, which, apart from accompanying the food, is also an indispensable part of the preparation. The choice is ample: moscatel, manzanilla from Sanlúcar (included under the Designation of Origin Jerez-Xeres-Sherry), mistela and tintilla.

We can sample this magnificent cuisine whichever way we most enjoy. The choice of prestige restaurants is wide, particularly along the coast, on the promenades or in fisherman’s districts like Bajo de Guía. Inland and in the marshland areas, there  are typical, family establishments with traditional cooking, as well as rural restaurants, situated in the farming areas, offering wonderful free-rang chicken, shellfish or garlic with radish.

Another way to enjoy this cooking is to go for tapas. The tapa culture is deeply rooted in this region. There is nothing better than sampling small portions of a variety of dishes in busy, buzzing places.

General information

Web: www.bajoguadalquivir.org