History of Conil de la Frontera

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Conil de la Frontera is the town facing the Atlantic and it’s origins go back to the Phoenicians, who in their times where exploiting a new way of fishing tuna, the almadraba, which has been conserved until today.

In Conil passed many nationalities and tribes like the Carthaginians, Romans, Visigoths, Moslems, Byzantines, Vandals and the Christians. All of them left their traces on these lands, some of them still visible today. The vicinity of the “gran Gadir” today Cadíz, provoked the creation of many urban centres.

The history of these lands where Conil de la Frontera is situated today, started in prehistoric times. But it was not before the Phoenicians, some 1200 AD, that Conil de la Frontera was founded, as we know it today. The Poenicians found that new way of fishing tuna which was very rewarding for the whole region. After the Phoenicians followed the Carthaginians who maintained the infrastructures of the red tuna fishing and initiated the construction of the salazones. With the Romans the development of the town leaped forward, turning into a place of reference for the Roman Empire, of which came the orders to construct the Vía Heráclea, uniting Málaga with Cádiz and going to the temple of Hercules in Santi Pedri. Here was the Garum produced, which was an exquisite dish of red tuna and which was well loved in all the Roman Empire.

At the beginning of our calculation of times, the decline of the Roman empire left Conil de la Frontera not untouched and so weakened fell under the rules first of the Vandals, followed by the Visigoths and the Byzantines.

In 711 the Arabs reached Conil as well as other towns along the coastline. For five Centuries where the Arabs present in these lands, more precisely until 1265, year of the reconquest of the town and when Conil receives the additional name de la Frontera. This additional name was also given to Vejer, Chiclana, Arcos and Jerez.

Alonso Pérez de Guzmán, by order of the Monarch Fernando IV, was the first to rule the town in this new era and so the tower of Guzman was build in order to defend the town in case of possible invasions and Conil de la Frontera started its way as municipality gaditano with an economy based on fishing of the red tuna.

In 1456, the monarch Enrique IV visited Conil, as well as Sancho IV, Fernando IV orPedro I de Castilla, who visited the town as well. In the 16th Century, Conil suffered a minor crisis, because of the noble confrontations between the Guzmanes y los Ponce de Leon, two well established and powerful families, who’s disputes had a negative influence on the prosperity of the Almadrabas.

Following decades of internal disputes, illnesses, fights and small crises, in the 17th Century Conil de la Frontera converted in the main spot of the economy of the region, with an increase in population from 1800 inhabitants in the 16th Century to 2700 habitants in the 17th Century. The Atlantic town was the motor of economy of the Cadiz province until in the 18th Century the Almadrabas suffered another crises. The population however, directed its interest towards agriculture and stock breeding, this way maintaining its development of growth. In the 18th Century, Conil counted 5000 inhabitants.

At the beginning of the 20th Century, Conil de la Frontera was a well established, important town basing its economy on agriculture, fishing and stock breeding. The new Century however, was also greeted by Conil with syndicate tensions and social implementations bringing on a small crisis of tensions and conflicts.

It was during the ‘60’s that Conil started it’s tourism developments, starting off with families from Sevilla, coming to the Atlantic town to enjoy their holidays. Nowadays, Conil is an international reference for holidays and its economy is practically based on only this. However, this characteristic is shared with other towns along the coast such as Cádiz, Chiclana or Tarifa.

The town of Conil still has many traces of the different invasions succumbed as well as from Spanish kings and rulers such as Sancho IV.

Conil in 2007 bases its economy on tourism, agricultura, stock breeding and fishing. 50% of the area is being cultivated and more than 500 families live of fishing.


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