Walking tour of Vejer de la Frontera
Vejer de la Frontera is a stunning white town in Cadiz. In fact, Vejer is within the list of the most beautiful towns in all of Spain! You do not want to miss the most remarkable parts of Vejer de la Frontera. To help you out, we have created a flexible route to see the most impressive sites of the village. If you don’t have the time to explore the whole village on your own, this is a perfect route. Remember, if you are interested in hiring a guide to show you around and telling you the history of the town in depth then contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Depending on when you come you will find different activities, click here to see the events. If you come in March you will find that the Sunshine tour in Montenmedio, Vejer. In October you will find a food festival with the traditional loin in lard, and more. However in this blog I will give you options of activities that you can do throughout the year.
The Views of Vejer de la Frontera
1) Starting at the tourist center, near the bus station, you must pass the park and walk along the “Calle de la Corredera”, which will give you a wonderful view. On a clear day you can see the next white town, Medina Sidonia, in the distance. In times of conflict, the Moors and Christians constructed these white towns and fortifications strategically. Each of the main fortifications were built within view of each other.
These towns became white towns in the 18th century when they started using lime to colour the facades for health reasons. Lime does not allow algae and bacteria to grow, so every spring people used to give it a layer of lime paint.
2) Keep walking until you find the gate of “Puerta de Sancho IV”, where you will see a statue dedicated to Juan Relinque. Relinque fought to get the 3,378 hectares of lands back from the Duke of Medina Sidonia that King Sancho IV had given to the people. He is considered a hero to the local people.
Juan Relinque in Vejer
To understand the situation of Juan Relinque we have to go back to the 12th and 13th century. At this time there was instability outside the walls constantly attacked by Moors or Christians. So Alfonso X the Wise decided to give the surrounding lands for free to the people in Southern Spain to promote farmers to go and work in the field even if they could die.
Later on in the 16th century many nobles started taxing for exploiting these lands. Juan Relinque decided to take this to the court in Granada but for attacking the Medina Sidonia family , he ended up in a cell where he died. However, this started a movement and 11 years after he died the people of Vejer took signatures to Granada. Finally, Granada decided to rule in favour of the people of Vejer and Juan Relinque.
Even nowadays these lands, owned by the people of Vejer, are still farmed and rented. This rent is given to the citizens of Vejer through a system similar to a lottery every four years.
Plaza de España of Vejer de la Frontera
3) Enter through the gate, where you see the mayorazgo house from the 18th century and keep walking until you find the restaurant La Brasa de Sancho. On your left, there is a terrace with a perfect view of the “Plaza de España”. The Plaza de España in Vejer was built to hold bullfights, army parades and more in the 15th and 16th centuries. In addition, it was used as a market space for people to sell their goods. However, please note that during high season this area is used as seating for the restaurant and you may not be able to access the view when it is busy.
4) Next you will head down to the Plaza de España for a closer look at the fountain. Continue down the street and on your left you will go through “La Puerta de la Villa” (The City Gate) and access Vejer’s “Plaza de España”. The fountain was not originally part of the plaza, it was added in 1957 using Sevillian tiles. However, it is a colourful addition to the white town of Vejer and one of the most photographed areas in the village! It is considered one of the most beautiful Plazas de España in Spain.
5) Enter back upward through the gate again and continue straight up the street. Continue walking straight until you find a fork in the street by the church. The church is called “Divino Salvador”, built in the 16th century.
Puerta de la Villa
This gate has a building on top built in the 18th century and it was restored in early 19th century. It became the puerta de la villa (main gate) in the 17th century, as before this the main gate was la Segur gate. After Vejer de la Frontera was conquered “Guzmán el bueno” left through this gate to conquer Tarifa. The dukes of Medina Sidonia are descendents of him.
Historical part of the White town of Vejer de la Frontera
6) The best way to see it is to go around it by turning to the right. You will come to the old city wall. You can see some of the city defence structures here such as the narrow windows and cannon balls. Cross through the gate “De La Segur” and take the first street on the left, Nuestra Señora de la Oliva.
7) You will be going around the church, then go down the street in front of the clock, called “Calle Ramón y Cajal”, until you find the 16th century “Convento de Nuestra Señora de la Concepción”. This convent is now a heritage museum. If you want to know more about the traditional way of life in this area, you can learn about it in this museum.
8) About 50m further down the street on the left, you will find a small ramp which will take you to the castle. The castle is open to visit Monday to Saturday from 10am-2pm and 4-6pm. It’s free to enter, so definitely worth a visit! The oldest parts of the castle date from the 10th and 11th centuries. The castle is also at the tallest point of Vejer. From the top of the castle walls you can see the labyrinth of terraces throughout Vejer.
Walls of Vejer de la Frontera
The oldest walls of Vejer were built in the historical area at the highest points of Vejer. First Phoenicians and other civilisations decided to build parts of walls, as well as the califate to defend themselves from attacks like what happened in Cadiz with the Norman vikings between the 9th-11th century. However the almoravides built the original parts of the walls in the 12th century, which were later restored by the second duke of Medina Sidonia.
Divino Salvador Church of Vejer de la Frontera
The Christians built the church and the bell tower, as many at the time, on top of the previous mosque but maintaining the Roman columns and part of the facade and the minaret. They built it in the 14th-15th century with mudejar style (mix of romanesque, early gothic and arab style). Later on in the 16th and 17th centuries Christians did not want much remaining from the Arabs so they decided to build another building with late gothic style adjacent to this building and destroy the mudejar style church. They decided to connect them instead of destroy the older building, which could have been due to lack of money.
The big metal staples that you can see and the bell tower at the entrance were added after the earthquake of the 18th century.
The origin of the painting of the star of David in the church of Vejer de la Frontera is hard to see. Some people think that after the earthquake a Jewish person gave money to the church to restore it. However there were two fires in the church that burnt all the archives in 1871 and again during the civil war in 1936.
Castle of Vejer de la Frontera
The Califate built the walls of the castle that we can see now around the 10th century. The main gate has the typical horseshoe shape that they added around the 11th-12th century.
The dukes of Medina Sidonia built the building that we can see now in the 16th century. The city council owns part of this building and the other part is private.
Cultural Highlights of Vejer
9) After exiting the castle, return back towards the Convento, turning left at the street immediately before the building. There you will find one of the most emblematic streets in Vejer de la Frontera, “El Arco de las Monjas” or The Arch of the Nuns. In the 18th century they added arches to secure the walls and to prevent them falling. Yet, they also provide a beautiful frame for a photo.
10) Continue down the street past the arches. This street is Calle Judería, the Jewish quarters. The street name is because this was where the Jewish population historically lived, along the walls of the castle.
Continue and pass the first gate that you see until you reach a blue door and the Closed gate. The Christians closed this gate because they were afraid that the Jewish residents could collaborate with the Arabs to conquer the Christian city.
After seeing it go back to the first gate called “Santa Catalina gate”. The gate leads you to an olive tree and a statue dedicated to the “cobijada” woman wearing traditional clothing. This also has a lovely view of the other side of the white village. The cobijada features a woman fully covered in a black robe covering one half of her face. This is the symbol of Vejer. You can even find chocolate covered cobijada ice creams in the heladerías (ice cream shops).
La cobijada costume of Vejer de la Frontera is a traditional dress from the 16th century. It evolved parallel to the burka from the Arabs, same as the mourning Christian dress or nuns. However everyone who wanted could use the dress of cobijada and at any times, not only in special occasions.
Food highlights of Vejer
11) Finally, finish the tour by heading to the market for a tapa. Continue up Calle Juan Bueno, taking the right fork, until you reach a small plaza. Turn left and about 50m down you will see a large arch to the right. Go under the arch, towards “Mercado de Abastos”, and you will reach the local food market, “Mercado Gastronómico San Francisco”. This is a great place for tapas, where there are multiple stalls you can try food from. In the morning it is a market and they start selling tapas and drinks around 12pm. Always a nice way to finish a tour with a drink!!!
Recommended Tips for Exploring Vejer de la Frontera
Do not forget to look inside the open doors of private houses while exploring the streets! Many people leave their doors open so you can see the wonderful gardens people keep in their patios. Inside, you may find astonishing patios full of flowers and plants. This is especially true if you come in April-May, as people are getting ready for a competition of the best one.
Do not forget to check out the best viewpoint in Vejer de la Frontera, Mirador del Santo.
Full day tours in Vejer de la Frontera and Cadiz province
If you would like to know the best places to eat in Vejer de la Frontera, click here. Or if you would like to know where to stay the night in Vejer de la Frontera, click here instead. If you are looking into events in Vejer de la Frontera and what to know what is happening when you are here click here.
Instead, if you are looking for hiking, culinary food tours in or around Vejer, and Sherry wine experiences then keep reading. Below you will find the great food tours we have in Vejer de la Frontera and throughout Cadiz province.
Hiking tours Cadiz province
Cadiz province is one of the most biodiverse provinces in mainland Spain. Habitats range from dense forest reminiscent of cloud forest to Mediterranean forest, dune systems, and more. Moreover, take in views of magical landscapes in Cadiz and the Strait of Gibraltar. Cadiz has over a third of its surface protected, while its climate and sunlight hours are similar to Canary Islands.
In this guided nature tour we will discover more about Cadiz and learn about its location, history, and about the many culinary, medicinal and traditional use of Mediterranean plants found within Cadiz province.
Sherry wine tours
Are you visiting Cadiz and you would you like to learn more about Spanish Sherry and immerse yourself in the local culture and traditions? If you want to learn and experience it with the company of a local guide and turn your visit to Cadiz into an exciting gastronomic adventure, book with us. Sherry love is very contagious, surely you will also become one!
If you have your own transport we can accompany you while learning about Spanish Sherry wine. Enjoy the best Spanish Sherry bodega tours, local culture and traditions and the local gastronomy. In case you do not have a transport we can arrange transport, restaurant and the rest of your trip for you.
If you would like to learn all about Jerez-Sherry-Xeres D.O. then join us for our Ultimate Sherry Tasting tour. We can design a private tour just for you and your family.
If you are staying in Vejer de la Frontera or within Cadiz province we can organise a private Sherry tasting with gourmet local tapas for your group. We will go to your place and do a Sherry or Andalusian wine tasting for you privately. We focus on premium Sherries, VORS and premium Sherries, or Andalusian wines in case you do not like Sherry wine.
If you are thinking to travel to other parts of Cadiz, we are based in Vejer de la Frontera. Officially, Vejer is one of the most beautiful villages of Spain, you should come and meet us!
Cultural and culinary food tours
If you want to learn more about Vejer de la Frontera, its traditions and gastronomy book our Sherry & Tapas tour! Learn about Spanish sherry, wine tastings, and how to pair it with gourmet traditional food from the area. Taste different types of Sherry wines and local gourmet food like bluefin tuna, bull meat, salmorejo, eggplant with honey and pinenuts, etc. The tour includes 5 tapas and 5 wine/Sherries .
We also have a bluefin tuna tour that focuses on getting to know the tuna culture in Cadiz. You will learn the history of Bluefin tuna in this full day tour, since Phoenician times by going in a private boat ride to visit the Almadraba; visit a local food market; and taste different parts of bluefin tuna in all ways, salt-dried, grilled, raw.
If you would like to visit other beautiful white villages like Vejer, we can do a tour of the white villages in Cadiz province. On the other hand, we can visit a beautiful white village combined with a visit to an olive oil mill. Or you can choose to do a private tour that we can design especially for you. Come and join Explore la Tierra in Vejer de la Frontera, Cadiz, Spain!
Our latest addition is our become an artisan for one day tour. Make your own cheese and your own leather souvenir in Ubrique and enjoy its great history and panoramic views. This white village is famous worldwide for its importance for the leather international companies.