A number of myths and legends surround the Castle of Arcos de la Frontera. As it is now private property and closed to the public, it's hard to know for certain about some of the details of these.
Anyway. Legend had it that the daughter of the Duke or Arcos, fell in love with a young man of lesser status. The Duke, being the mean mean father and aristocrat that he was, locked the two lovers in separate towers of the Castle. The young man was assassinated in the the other tower to put a full stop to this relationship. When the guards came to free the daughter they could not find her. Likewise the body of her beloved. They had both mysteriously disappeared into thin air. The two are said to be symbolized by the two pigeons that fly around the towers of the castle.
Arcos has a interesting local tradition. On the Sunday of Resurrection during Semana Santa
two bulls are let loose in the streets of Arcos. Local men (mostly younger) participate in the running of the bulls tradition, the bulls run through the narrow streets of the town while the young men are running as fast as they can to get away. Remember, in Arcos the streets are very narrow, so there is really nowhere to go to get away if the bull is too close. One of my guides in Arcos was telling me how he had lost half of his finger during the running of the bulls. Interestingly, he sad that part of his marriage agreement included his promise to not run with the bulls anymore. What amazes me really is that people will drink before running with the bulls! To me that seems almost reckless, given that your reactions will be slowed somewhat by the alcohol. I guess its good for the adrenaline
On Sunday of the Resurrection the two bulls are let loose in Arcos.
one at 12:00 and another at 4:00 pm.
Since 1784, this ritual has signified the end of the Semana Santa Festivities.
Most tourists probably wouldn't really notice this at all. To me it was very interesting that the local accent in Arcos sounds virtually identical to the Spanish that Cubans and Cuban-Americans speak.
Is it possible that Cuba was settled by a significant population from Arcos and the region around it?
It is possible, sure, but it might be a bit involved to prove.
Nonethless, I was quite amused at this coincidence. The locals were also a bit curious about this.
In Arcos de la Frontera, as well as some other hill tows, it is a local custom to adorn the outside of some residences and businesses with different color pots. In some cases the designs are a simple couple of pots spaced in a straight line. However some citizens are a little more creative. The two following pictures show one homeowner or business owner who had a slightly different approach to using pots to decorate the front of his white walled home.
You will find the tourist information office in Piazza del Cabildo.
There is quite a good map you can get for free, plus other books about Arcos and the surrounding area. The usual souvenirs are on sale.
You can even access the internet here. The computer which is actually on the counter is available for internet use by anyone.
50 cents for 15 minutes
l euro for 30 minutes
2 euros for an hour
The tourist office is open daily 10-2pm and 3.30-7.39pm
The photograph shows the row which the tourist office is in.
If you are facing the Church of Saint Mary the tourist information office is on your left hand side.
I suppose you can call stopping to have a glass of wine a local custom :-)
We ventured into a bar which was in fact right behind the Jesuit House (Market) and also the Mayorazgo Palace. I think it was called the San Miguel (perhaps someone can tell me), there were tables inside but a lovely big courtyard where you could sit and enjoy the winter afternoon sun. It actually got quite full while we were there and mostly with women!
Very cheap also, a glass of coke and a glass of wine cost only 2 euros!