The town of El Puerto de Santa Maria is 10 km north east of Cadiz across the bay of Cadiz and is best known for its ferry El Vaporcito which has been in operation for 76 years carrying passengers to and from Cadiz to El Puerto.
According to the legend told in the Odyssey of Homer, after the Trojan War a Greek official named Menestheus escaped with his troops through the Straits of Gibraltar and reached the Guadalete River. They established themselves here and called that port Menestheus's port.
In 1260, Alfonso X of Castile conquered the city from the Moors and renamed it Santa María del Puerto. He organized the land distribution and conceded a charter under the Crown of Castile. In his Cantigas de Santa Maria CSM 367, Alfonso sings that he was miraculously healed of swollen legs after visiting his church of Santa Maria do Porto.
Christopher Columbus's second expedition to the Americas set sail from El Puerto de Santa María. His pilot, Juan de la Cosa drew his world map (the first including the coast of New World) in El Puerto in 1500.
Columbus visited El Puerto in 1480 and received encouragement for his travel plans. He also met Juan de la Cosa who issued the first world map in 1500.
El Puerto was the residence of several wealthy cargadores, merchants who operated Spain's trade with the Americas.
During the 16th and 17th centuries, it was the winter port of the royal galleys.
El Puerto de Santa María is located on the Atlantic coast of the Bay of Cádiz, near the municipalities of Jerez de la Frontera, Rota, Puerto Real, and Cádiz. It is popular for its beaches, which are the town's principal tourist attraction. Well known beaches include Vistahermosa, Valdelagrana, and La Puntilla. Like many other southern cities, there are many smaller towns encompassed by the municipality. There is also a major port, known as Puerto Sherry. A large amount of land has been devoted to the Bay of Cádiz Nature Reserve.
The most important economic activity is tourism, mainly because of the beaches, as well as the bullfights held at the arena during the summer. The town also hosts large groups of motorcyclists during the Jerez Motorcycle Grand Prix. There is commercial development in the center and periphery, and a highly developed wine industry.
Andalusians love colour, noise, crowds and pageant, dressing up and generally partying and have many opportunities to do so at the local fiestas, which are held annually. Listed are a few of the main fiestas in the area:
El Puerto has a famous bullring which dates back to 1880 with space for 15,000 spectators. Bullfighting is still enjoyed during the Feria season during the month of August, and during the Feria de la Primavera (Spring Fair) in early May. This Feria is dedicated to sherry wine and 180,000 half bottles are drunk in 4 days. There are several bodegas (wineries) in the town centre, all of which can be visited by the public. The most famous bodegas in El Puerto are Osborne and Terry both of which export sherry and brandy worldwide. In the cellars of El Puerto, the dry, pale sherry known as Fino is produced using the traditional method called solera. This method produces Fino, the sweet Muscatel, Amontillado and the older Oloroso.
El Puerto is an excellent place to sample local tapas and seafood, for which it is famous. Food is an important reason why El Puerto de Santa Maria attracts hundreds of tourists. The Bay of Cádiz is famous for its fresh seafood and that, teamed with the abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables leads to excellent restaurant menus. Most tourists head for the Rivera del Marisco where you can by seafood in paper cones to take away or eat at the tables. There are a wide variety of eateries all located with walking distance in the town centre.
El Puerto has escaped the mass tourism of the Costa del Sol and remains unspoilt, natural and very picturesque. During the summer months the town bursts with life. Most of the town is on the north bank of the Rio Guadelete, where bars and restaurants line the palm-covered streets. Entertainment is lively in the summer in the town centre and in Vistahermosa everything starts very late and goes on well into the early hours, hence the famous Spanish siesta.
The climate is one of El Puerto’s best features with endless days of sunshine. Even during the winter months, temperatures rarely fall below 20 degrees. With more than three thousand hours of sunshine, fine sandy beaches and blue seas, El Puerto de Santa Maria on the Costa de la Luz (the Coast of Light) is a popular holiday location. For nature lovers, El Puerto de Santa Maria is situated in the middle of the Parque natural Bahia de Cádiz There are two square kilometres of pine forest which form one part of the three ecosystems in the area. An endangered species of chameleon along with other reptiles and birds of immense variety can be found in the forest. Andalusia’s wildlife is the most varied in Europe, with fauna and flora in protected areas. The area boasts of two Natural parks, the Sierra de Grazalema and El Coto Donaña, both within driving distance and well worth a visit.
Hotels, Restaurants and Bars in El Puerto de Santa María
Cultural Information of the Monuments and Museums of El Puerto de Santa María