El Puerto de Santa María – the City of a Hundred Palaces

El Puerto de Santa María (“The Port of Saint Mary”), locally known as El Puerto, is a municipality located on the banks of the Guadalete River in the province of Cádiz (Spain), Andalusia.

It’s a popular part of the Costa de la Luz of the Atlantic resorts of Spain.

El Puerto de Santa María is known as The City of a Hundred Palaces, although the passage of time have caused many of these magnificent buildings to have been practically ruined. Most of these palaces were the result of commercial activity with Spanish America or Indies in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Main attractions

The Real Plaza de Toros de El Puerto de Santa María is a bullring, dating from the 19th century, it has an eclectic architectural style and was completed in 1880. It is the work of Manuel Portillo de Avila y Herrera. The arena is 99 metres in diameter and the central ruedo measures 60 m. It is estimated to hold 12,186 spectators, making it one of the largest rings in Spain behind Madrid’s Las Ventas and the ring in Valencia.

The Priory Church is a minor basilica church in El Puerto de Santa María. It is documented from 1486 when the building was under construction. It was damaged by an earthquake in the 17th century and was partly rebuilt in the Baroque style. As a result of being constructed in two phases, the church contains both Gothic and Baroque architecture, exemplified in its portals.

It was declared Bien de Interés Cultural (a category in the Spanish heritage register) in 1982.

The church is situated on one side of Plaza España, opposite the Municipal Museum. It was situated in this area of the town to avoid being affected by flooding by the Guadalete River. The church is open for both public worship and for tourists. There is no entrance fee.

Castle of San Marcos (also Castillo de Alfonso X El Sabio) is a medieval castle erected as a fortified church by King Alfonso X of Castile. It was built on the site of a mosque of which the wall of the qibla survives. Close to the castle there is a replica of the map of Juan de la Cosa and a little fountain. The castle was declared a national monument on 30 August 1920 and is currently listed in the Spanish heritage register as a Bien de Interés Cultural.

The Museo Arqueológico Municipal de El Puerto de Santa María was founded in 1980. It contains paintings and sculptures of Francisco Lameyer, Eulogio Varela Sartorio, Enrique Ochoa, Fernando Jesús, Juan Lara, Manolo Prieto, and some works of Rafael Alberti. Some pieces are exhibited in another building called Hospitalito.

Monasterio de la Victoria is a former monastery was built in the 16th century by Dukes of Medinaceli. The buildings housed a prison between 1886 and 1981. Its church was declared Bien de Interés Cultural on December 29, 1978.

The convent of the Holy Spirit is the oldest female convent in the city. Historians such as Hipólito Sancho de Sopranis place its foundation at the end of the 15th century, although previously the Hermitage of San Blas existed in the place, which was enlarged to build the convent.

Among its palaces:

The palace-house of Vizarrón or de las Cadenas. From the 17th-18th centuries. In the years 1729 and 1730 it was the residence of the kings of Spain Felipe V and Isabel de Farnesio, granting it the privilege of placing chains on its door.

The Araníbar Palace, from the 17th century, preserves an extraordinary coffered ceiling of Mudejar origin and geometric shapes.

The palace of Santa Cruz or Valdivieso, which was built in the 17th century following the same compositional scheme as that of Araníbar, with a monumental portal flanked by Tuscan columns and a double pediment at the top.

The palace of Villarreal and Purullena, from the 18th century; In front of the houses of the previous century, this mansion collects all the recharge of the Rococo aesthetic. It had extraordinary furniture and beautiful gardens.

Roque Aguado’s house, from the 18th century, which incorporates baroque elements and a patio, ironwork and plasterwork that reinforce the building’s courtly character inside.

The house-Palace of Reynoso, from the 18th century, with a beautiful interior patio and provisional seat of the City Council.


Puerto de Santa María has several kilometers of beaches. They are made of fine golden sand, with crystal clear water. Along these beaches are promenades, bars and restaurants.

La Puntilla beach is located at the mouth of the Guadalete River and separated from it by a breakwater.

El Aculadero beach, also called “La colorá”, is located between the previous one and Puerto Sherry. It is the smallest of the city’s beaches.

Vistahermosa beach has an excellent climate for windsurfing and kitesurfing, direct views of the city of Cádiz, and waves coming from the open sea. It is somewhat colder than the rest of the beaches in the Bay of Cádiz.

Levante beach is a beach isolated from urban centers, in the Bahía de Cádiz natural park, in excellent environmental condition. In it the wind blows strong and you can practice the sport of sailing and windsurfing.

Fuentebravía beach is located in a residential area from which it takes its name and which has a high degree of occupation. In it you can practice scuba diving, fishing and windsurfing.

Valdelagrana beach, well known and visited by the tourism that frequents this area of ​​Cádiz, as it has all kinds of equipment, services and infrastructures for the use of the public.

The beaches of La Muralla and La Calita, separated by the ruins of the Castillo de Santa Catalina, wild, clean and well-cared for, which have rocky outcrops in the water, making it ideal for spear fishing and scuba diving.

Cuisine and restaurants

The local gastronomy takes the products of the land from its orchards and vineyards, and from the sea with its fish and seafood.

El Puerto de Santa María is one of the towns belonging to the Cherry triangle, an area known for its excellent wine production: El Puerto de Santa María, Sanlúcar de Barrameda and Jerez de la Frontera. The three localities that make up the aging area of the Jerez-Xérès-Sherry Denomination of Origin.

There are two Michelin list restaurants in the city, including famous Aponiente with its three stars:

Aponiente, Francisco Cossi Ochoa, 215 EUR • Creative cuisine (Three stars)

La Taberna del Chef del Mar, Puerto Escondido 6, 35 – 65 EUR • Creative

How to get to?

From Cadiz 27 min (21.5 km) via CA-35

From Seville 1 hr 23 min (115 km) via AP-4 and A-4

From Madrid 6 hr 8 min (640 km) via A-66 and A-5

Main information

Area: 159 sq. km (municipality)

Coordinates: 36°36′05″N 6°14′17″W

Population: 88 703

Languages: Spanish

Currency: Euro

Visa: Schengen

Time: Central European UTC +1

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