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Zoë Ouwehand-ReidCastellar de la Frontera
Castillo de Castellar

By Zoë Ouwehand-Reid

This is a half-day trip, definitely best in the morning, with lunch on your way back. The last bit of the drive, when you turn off the A.369 to head for the Castillo de Castellar, is spectacular with lovely views down over the reservoir, unusual rock formations, and the castle standing sentinel on the hilltop in front of you. Try and choose a day with light winds otherwise you almost get blown away. If you are there around 11.30 – 12.00 you should be able to park right at the top. The Tourist Bureau (if open!) is right in front of you.

From Tarifa take the N.340/E.15 via Algeciras in the direction of Malaga. Take the exit marked Jimena de la Frontera/Ronda A.369. Just after you pass the railway station of San Roque on your left, you cross a level crossing. As from here -Km.89- until the board Km.85 you will see a stork’s nest on top of every pylon on your right and much of the year you will see the storks sitting on top. In April you will see the heads of the babies peeping over the top. I am told they come back every year to the same nest.

--- Castillo de Castellar ---

Surrounding country side Castellar de la Frontera

Castellar is an unusual village in that it is built within the castle walls. The castle (12th – 15th century) is at present (2005) in the throes of restoration and will eventually become a Parador-Hotel – yet another one in a magnificent location (a Parador is a state-owned hotel, usually in a unique position, often a converted castle). There are narrow, winding streets between the freshly painted white houses and flowers are everywhere. It is charming. There are a few spots where you can look down from the walls over the reservoir and into the far, green distance. On the other side you have a splendid view right to Gibraltar. The inhabitants are a combination of (a few) locals, quite a lot of holiday-home owners, and a considerable number of ageing hippies who have little shops selling curiosa, carvings etc.

--- Castillo de Castellar ---

On returning via the A.369 at Kms.77 you have Bar Alfonso on your right for a simple Spanish lunch; this is very busy at weekends and there is a system whereby you take a number in order to get your turn for a table/to order. I would suggest, however, that you stop here for a drink only, and go straight on to Molino del Condé at Km.82 and have lunch there. In the weekend it is necessary to book: tel. 956 236 063 The menu is interesting, food good, environment could do with a face-lift (October 2005).

Castillo de Castellar

--- Castillo de Castellar ---

If you only want a small beer (caña) and a tapa, go on a little further and at about Kms. 84 you have cross roads with fairly large tapa bars on either side of the road. I enjoy the one on the left, which has very good tapas, both those on show, or warm tapas (tapa caliente) should you prefer. It is then an easy drive back to Tarifa and a swim!

Believe me, it really is worth it – not too far, not too strenuous, children enjoy it, wonderful views, excellent backdrop for photographs (Moorish architecture) and easy driving.

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About Zoë and her guesthouse

Hotel Guesthouse Dar Cilla  Tarifa SpainZoë is the owner of Guesthouse Dar Cilla which is unique of its sort in Tarifa. It is located on the outskirts of the old town within the old 12th century walls. 'Dar' is an Arabic word for a town house in which a series of suites are grouped around a central courtyard. Each suite is fully independent, but there is a pleasant air of 'sociability' and you will meet Zoë and fellow guests on the roof terrace over a glass of wine.

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