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Almadraba bluefin tuna Festival throughout Cadiz

 The gastronomical festival of Almadraba bluefin tuna in Cadiz is a unique experience. They take place between May and June of each year. If you’re in one of the coastal villages of Cadiz province, you will see the excitement first-hand. But many people may ask – why is tuna so important that it warrants a month-long festival?

The Importance of bluefin tuna

Bluefin tuna, or red tuna in Spanish (atun rojo), is the largest tuna species in the world. It is also one of the most sought-after and expensive fish in the world. A single bluefin tuna in Japan sold for over €2.7 million earlier this year! Japan has become the largest consumer of this tuna, where it is a highly prized fish for use in sashimi and sushi

Bluefin tuna in Cadiz was and still is an important part of the economy along the south coast for thousands of years. The Phoenicians fished the bluefin tuna along the coast. When Romans colonised Spain, they also fished the tuna. The Romans used the Atlantic bluefin tuna, as well as other types of fish, to create a sauce made from fermented fish, known as garum sauce.

At Baelo Claudia in Bolonia, you can still see the ruins of the fish factory where they created this sauce (Visit Baelo Claudia during our Tuna Tour). From Baelo Claudia, it was exported throughout the Roman empire and was incredibly popular and valued. Since the Phoenician times, the method used for trapping the bluefin tuna in Cadiz province is the Almadraba.

Baelo Claudia Bolonia Almadraba Tuna tour Cadiz

The Almadraba

Almadraba is the type of trap used to capture the bluefin tuna. It is a complex labyrinth of nets and can stretch kilometers in length. It herds the Atlantic bluefin tuna through a series of nets towards the final trap, the copo.

Almadraba, net system for bluefin tuna in Conil de la Frontera

Several times throughout the fishing season, the fisherman work together to lift the copo net filled with enormous tuna, “La levantá”, or the “lifting”.

Almadraba is an old Andalusian Arabic word meaning “a place to fight or hit”. During the levantá the fish and the fishermen used to fight and smash together as their space decreases. 

Bluefin tuna are highly regulated in Spain to ensure it remains sustainable. The Almadraba trapping event only occurs between May and June. At this time the fish are heading through the Strait of Gibraltar to the Mediterranean to spawn. They have spent the winter feeding and gaining weight in the Atlantic, therefore they are full of fat and it is the best time to fish them.

The tuna also have to be a certain size in order to be caught. If they are too small they will escape through the eyes of the net or they will be reléase outside to let them continue their journey to spawn.

The Almadraba method was historically practiced all along the coast of Cadiz province. However, now it is only used in 4 towns: Barbate, Zahara de los Atunes, Conil de la Frontera, and Tarifa. Each of these villages also has a festival every May or June to celebrate this annual important event.

Cadiz Explore la Tierra day tours Barbate Vejer de la Frontera visita atún rojo bluefin tuna tour visit small group custom tour ruta personalizada museo del atun la chanca

The Almadraba is a key part of the economy, history and culture of each of these towns in Cadiz. Many of the residents still rely on the tuna for their way of life.

Spain Explore la Tierra day tours mercado de abastos Barbate atún rojo bluefin tuna tour small group custom tour ruta personalizada

The Bluefin tuna Festival in Cadiz province

The Tuna Route (Ruta del Atún) is a festival that takes place annually in each village. It is an enormous event and attracts people from all around Spain. There are music concerts, dance and theatrical performances, history tours and art displays. However the star, of course, is the tuna! Nevertheless, this year, 2020, the festivals were cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Conil de la Frontera created this event and the festival is now in its 23rd year. The following dates were the dates when the festivals were before the coronavirus outbreak happened. Conil hosts the Tuna Route during an entire month from 8th of May- 8th of June. Whereas the other villages are somewhat newer and enjoy a week-long festival rather than a month. Barbate is 29th April-3rd May, Zahara de los Atunes is May 12th-17th and Tarifa is  June 3rd-7th.

Culinary Highlights

One of the highlights that brings so many people to these villages in Cadiz is the culinary masterpieces. There is a competition between the local bars and restaurants for the best tuna dishes. There are two prizes – one for the best innovative dish and one for the best traditional dish. Each of the villages has their own competition and usually about 30-40 bars are competing.

In addition to the tuna tapa competition, there are many cooking shows and demonstrations by well-known chefs. They showcase some of the hundreds of ways to cook the tuna. As well, there are demonstrations of the Ronqueo – the traditional method of cutting a tuna fish.

Tapa BLUEFIN TUNA Zahara de los atunes Cadiz Explore la Tierra

Full day tours in Vejer de la Frontera and Cadiz province

If you are looking for Andalusian culinary food, cultural and Sherry wine experiences for sightseeing Cadiz province, then keep reading. I will now take advantage to show off to you the great food tours in Vejer de la Frontera and throughout Cadiz province that we do. Officially, Vejer de la Frontera 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 the whole process of the Almadraba and Bluefin tuna in Cadiz province check our Bluefin tuna tour. You will learn the history of Bluefin tuna in the area since Phoenician times. You will go in a private boat ride to visit the Almadraba (if you are lucky it may be active); visit a local food market; and taste different parts of bluefin tuna in all ways, salt-dried, grilled, raw.

If you want to learn more about Vejer de la Frontera, its traditions and gastronomy book ourSherry & Tapas tour! Learn about sherry, wine tastings, and how to pair it with gourmet traditional food from the area. Taste different types of Sherry and local food like bluefin tuna, bull meat, salmorejo, eggplant with honey and pinenuts, etc. The tour includes 5 tapas and 5 wine/Sherries.

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 mix a visit to a beautiful white village with a visit to an olive oil mill. Or you can choose to do a private tour that we can design especially for you based on your interests. 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 international leather companies.

Sherry wine tours

Would you like to learn more about Sherry wine and immerse yourself in the local culture and traditions of Jerez de la Frontera? If you want to learn and experience it with the company of a local guide and turn your visit to Jerez into an exciting culinary adventure, book with us. Sherry wine love is very contagious, surely you will also become one!

If you have your own transport we can accompany you while learning about Sherry. Enjoy the best Sherry bodega tours, local culture and traditions and the local gastronomy. In case you do not have a car 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 wine 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 organize a private Sherry wine tasting with local gourmet tapas for your group. We will go to your place and do a Sherry wine or Andalusian wine tasting for you privately. We can focus on premium Sherries; VORS and premium Sherries; or Andalusian wines in case you do not like Sherry wine.

Contact us

To learn more about sherry, culture and travel guides, please hit the big blue button to read other blog posts. If you have any ideas and suggestions, please do not hesitate to write us an email at info@explorelatierra.com. Please read our privacy policy before you get in touch with us. We will take your new recommendations into consideration.

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