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A Stunning Hike Among Nature & History: Castellar’s Ancient Roman Road

Rosario Pérez | Photos: ©Fran Montes, ReachExtra

Along this beautiful trail, nestled between La Boyal estate and the 13th century Castle of Castellar, you’ll walk along an incredibly well-preserved ancient Roman road which once connected the old Córdoba with the Phoenician city of Carteia.

Within the Los Alcornocales Natural Park, known as the green lung of the Campo de Gibraltar (Cádiz), a beautiful stretch of an ancient Roman road which has been almost frozen in time still exists.

This route is in the municipality of Castellar de la Frontera, between La Boyal estate and the 13th century Castle-Fortress complex. It is an especially scenic hike in the springtime, when the afternoons grow longer, and the surrounding area becomes a vibrant green; covered with small aromatic flowers.

The trail is well sign-posted and begins at the Venta Jaarandilla, on the CA-9201 road, and is classed as a “moderate” level hike because it is one way and almost entirely uphill.

After driving through a paved track, you’ll be able to park your car about 300 metres from where the trail begins. You can also reach the entrance by going around the countryside so long as the nearby stream is not overflowing.

Castellar de la Frontera Ancient Roman Road Los Alcornocales Moorish

The route, which is also part of the “GR-7”, a long-distance European path which “connects” Tarifa with the Greek city of Athens, cuts through the pastures of a public estate managed by the Castellar City Council called La Boyal. This paved section spans 1.5 kilometres and leads to the castle and was also once used as an access road by residents of Castellar during the first half of the 20th century.

During your tour surrounded by the omnipresent cork oaks of Los Alcornocales, you will also find a variety of native plants such as the Mediterranean scrub, an abundance of palm hearts, heather, mastic, rockrose and lavender which have all evolved and adapted to withstand local weather conditions, strong winds and mountain soil.

Castellar de la Frontera Ancient Roman Road Los Alcornocales Moorish

According to remaining historical texts, before the Moorish castle was built during the Middle Ages, a fortress constructed by the Iberians known as the “Torre Lascutana” once stood in the area.

Some time later, the Romans, who had built a road that connected the old Córdoba with the port city of Carteia (which is now known as Guadarranque in San Roque), conquered the tower and built a settlement on it from which they would monitor and control the road.

About 300 metres before reaching the castle, the route will take you to a spectacular vantagepoint made of wood and stone where you will see the Bermeja, la Almenara and Ara mountains, the new town of Catellar and, a little further into the distance, the unmistakable silhouette of the Rock of Gibraltar.

Castellar de la Frontera Ancient Roman Road Los Alcornocales Moorish

As indicted by an explanatory poster placed by the Ministry of the Environment, on a clear day with cold northerly winds, it is even possible to see the haughty silhouette of the Jebel Musa mountain and the coast of North Africa on the horizon.

From this rocky promontory, those who once defended the Caste-Fortress from attacks were easily able to monitor the coast for enemy ships, and, once detected, they would prepare to defend themselves.

Castellar de la Frontera Ancient Roman Road Los Alcornocales Moorish

While you traverse the ancient roman road and stand upon this vantage point, keep in mind that this area was a borderland and the site of continuous battles, especially in the middle ages, mainly between Christians and Moors, and the castle consistently passed from one hand to another.

The paved road begins to disappear as you approach the access road to the castle but will remerge further down the line along a path which leads to the so-called “Fuente Vieja” (Old Fountain), some anthropomorphic tombs dug into the rocks and an archaeological site from the Roman occupation known as “El Lagar”, which is a must-see during your adventure.

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