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Guadarranque beach views. Algeciras bay. San Roque. Cádiz

Last year, during my Christmas getaway…

I decided to visit the closest part of the strait: San Roque, Jimena de la Frontera, Castellar de la Frontera and Algeciras. In this way, I could cross all of them off my list of “places to visit”, including the coveted to this site, the ancient city of Carteia.


In VII century B. C, the Phoenicians settle in the Cerro del Prado, located 2kms. to the northwest of the present Carteia, to carry out its commercial activity.

The foundation.

Three centuries after, the Carthaginians or Punics erect the city where we know it today.

Punic wars and the fall of Cartague.

After the famous Punic Wars, the Roman Empire defeated the Carthaginians and in the 3rd century B.C. they settled in Carteia, expanding it considerably and carrying out its monumentalization process.

Colonia Libertinorum Carteia.

The population residing in Carteia, fruit of the union of Roman soldiers and Hispanic women, sued Rome in 171 B.C. the granting of the title «Colonia Libertinorum Carteia», becoming the first Latin colony outside Italy.

The site

Roman freeze remains, chapitels and columns. Carteia Site. San Roque. Cádiz.

In the middle of Algeciras bay, a few meters from Guadarranque beach we can…

Augustan building:
  • Built with large ashlars of oyster stone.
  • Its robustness points to an upper floor and terrace.
  • On the right, the rooms show the existence of «tabernae» or shops, open to the street that rises from the lower part of the city.
  • In the 18th century, a complex was built on it, El Cortijo del Rocadillo, active until the 20th century.

Republican temple:
  • Built on top of ancient religious buildings from the Punic period.
  • Oldest monument of the republican era, II a. C.
  • Raised on a podium and access by a front staircase with two lateral buildings topping the facade.
  • Possibly hexastyle, surrounded by columns except at the rear part.
  • The inner room contained the deity.
  • In I a. C. the facade was remodeled and some buildings were attached, which would mean the end of its religious use.

Late Roman necropolis:
  • Dated from VI to VII d. C.
  • The graves, concentrated around the temple, reusing previous architectural elements.
  • Mostly, adult men were buried.
  • The grave goods presented the traditional Visigoth handle jugs.
  • On it the Cortijo del Rocadillo (XIX-XX) was established. It is preserved its well and the pavement of the workers’ rooms.

Basilical shape pool:

Roman domus:
  • It is next to the temple.
  • It was built on top of older constructions from the republican period, and this on previous Punic ones.
  • Large porticoed building of wealthy class.
  • Atrium house, or central courtyard with access via hallway and two symmetrical rooms on both sides.
  • Atrium of four columns with central «impluvium» with an oculus on the top that communicated with the cistern.
  • Built with limestone tiles joined by mortar. In corners and openings, large blocks of sandstone were used.
  • Plastered walls decorated with wall paintings.
  • Pavement of the type «opus signinum» (mortar with sand and lime, reinforced with ceramics).
  • Next to it stands an «insulae» for people of lower purchasing power.

Cupa Structilis:
  • Cupa or barrel of masonry covered with a thin layer of lime and a band of red paint surrounding the base.
  • Next to it, on one side and on the front, presents a «mensa» or place for offerings.
  • Burial place of a 2-year-old boy. His body was placed in a lead sarcophagus in a brick receptacle.
  • The elements of the grave goods found on the sarcophagus place it over the second century A.D. C.
  • The lower classes used to use this type of burial.

Thermal building:
  • Considerable size construction.
  • In use probably from century I to IV d. C.
  • It had all the typical premises of these constructions: «caldarium», «tepidarium», «frigidarium»and «apodyterium.»
  • It was completed with an «palestra» for gymnastic exercise, a «natatio» outdoors, and latrine.
  • The reuse of construction materials point to successive extensions and changes in its structure.
  • Between the 6th and 7th centuries AD. C. was converted into necropolis.
  • In the same place are remains of an absidally building, possibly of a late Roman basilica.

Roman domus:
  • named «Domus del Rocadillo.»
  • Similar to the one mentioned above.
  • Located at a crossroads, the interior was accessed by climbing a couple of steps.
  • After the small lobby, it had a large room from which you can access others in the same shape and size. Under this first large room a large cistern was built.
  • They used stucco and red colour for their walls, and «opus signinum» for the pavement.
  • The room on the right retains traces of polychrome mosaics, and the rest mosaics with complex geometric spirals.
  • The other rooms were opened to the «perystilum» with central ornamental pond, whose pavement was decorated this time with mosaics.

Rocadillo tower:
  • The engineer Juan Pedro Livadote, following orders from King Felipe II, builds this watchtower.
  • It is part of the bay’s defense system against recurring attacks by Barbary pirates.
  • It measures 12 meters high and has a strong solid body base.
  • Inside was the guard’s chamber, a vaulted room with a vertical fireplace and a narrow window to watch the mouth of the Guadarranque River.
  • Access to the guard’s chamber was via a rope ladder.

Fishing industry:
  • Roman activity based on the annual movement of tuna from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean.
  • In the region, powerful fishing and salting industry established from the first century B. C.
  • Carteia had several industries along the banks of the Guadarranque River and along the Bay.
  • The factories had pools for salting and spaces for the elaboration of the famous, exquisite and very expensive Roman salsa «Garum.»

Visiting this site fosters imagination and improves our health by touring the natural environment where it is located. Activity suitable for families.

Remember that in the «tours and services» section of this website you will find many suggestions for your stay in the province of Cadiz, and if not, we create one that suits you.



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