San Roque brings the phrase “let sleeping dogs lie” to mind. As you drive through this small, sleepy pueblo town, you get the impression that heads are turning and you have a neon sign on your car that says “tourist here, watch me get lost! ”
Last Minute Holidays to San Roque – Things to Do
Once through the town, you come to some of the most beautiful countryside that Spain has to offer with Eagles, Ospreys, Vultures, Herons and other birds of prey in abundance.
The ancient town of San Roque is only 98 km from Malaga airport and 15km from Gibraltar airport making it very accessible by car, taxi or bus.
The main town sits to the north east of the Bay of Algeciras and has impressive views over the bay and of Gibraltar. The town as we know it today was originally set up by Gibraltarians who fled “The Rock” in 1704 when it surrendered to the British and fled up to the nearby hillside. But being situated where it is San Roque has been used since Phoenician and Roman times as a lookout area.
San Roque is untouched by mass tourism and the hustle and bustle of other towns on the Costa del Sol which seem a million miles away. The centre of the town itself has been declared an area of Historical and Artistic Importance, something the town’s folk are very proud of.
Hostels, pensions or bed and breakfast lodgings are one way to stay here. All the town’s bars and restaurants are very traditional serving typical home-made Andalucian dishes such as tapas, gazpacho and San Roque style chicken.
The bull-ring in the town has an important museum building displaying artefacts from bull fighting over the centuries. The bull-ring itself is in fact one of the oldest in Cadiz province and is quite unique seeing as it doesn’t have what is called a ‘callejon’ or escape alley for the matador to jump into for refuge. Bull-fights are still shown here although they tend to get watched now purely by the locals and are not seen as a tourist attraction for obvious reasons.
There are many old and historical buildings in San Roque and just by walking through you will discover what a charming place it is. San Roque Chapel is one of the original buildings from the initial settlement of 1704 and steeped in history with images depicting this.
The ancient church of St. Mary (Santa Maria La Coronada) is worthy of a look. Construction started on this church in 1735 and it now keeps the original records of births, marriages and deaths that were salvaged from Gibraltar in 1704 by one of the religious fathers.
The Spanish sculptor Luis Ortega Bru was born in San Roque in 1916 and the town has dedicated a museum to him in the Governor’s Palace displaying 160 works of art. The museum is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10.00am – 8.00pm but closes daily for siesta.
For more information call 965 782 634
The Governor’s Palace is open to the public and has on display the original Standard of Gibraltar from 1502. It also houses the painting exhibitions of Daniel Castilla Zurita and Jose Cruz Herrera as well as the Monographic Museum of Carteia.
The Palace is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10.00am – 8.00pm but closes for siesta.
Call 965 781 587 for more information.
The town has two main festivals. Those associated with Holy week at Easter time are very traditional and holy, and the main Feria in August called the Royal Fair where the whole town dresses in original Spanish costumes and sing and dance in the streets. The flamenco dresses are stunning and the gentlemen, many of whom are on horse-back, look very proud.
The surrounding area of San Roque is stunning and very lush with magnificent pine forests and cork groves as well as orange plantations.
The forest of “Pinar del Rey” on the Costa del Sol in Spain is well sign-posted and is made up of over 350 hectares of lush pine trees, cork trees and wild olive trees. It attracts a lot of visitors (mostly Spanish) as it has picnic and barbeque areas situated throughout and is a big hit with families on Sundays. It has to be said that it does get extremely hot here in the summer months.
There are ecological walking trails than can be taken throughout the wood and these are well signposted. The whole area in general is of massive importance to conversationalists with many species of flora and fauna, birds of prey and migratory birds.