The Basilica of Arcos is called Santa Maria de la Asuncion (Saint Mary of the Ascension). Like the most important church in so many Spanish cities, this is built over the remains of the mosque. Started (as a church) in the 14th and 15th centuries, it was remodeled and upgraded over the years. Interestingly, inside it is mainly gothic in appearance, however the outside is a bit of a mixture of the styles that were in vogue during the extended construction and remodeling of this structure.
Something that I personally found a bit odd was that in Arcos for a very long time there was an ongoing dispute between the parishioners of the two parishes as to which of their churches was the oldest. Eventually, the matter was taken to Rome for resolution by a Papal Bull.
One of the nice things about staying at the Parador was that you could see this church in all the different shades of light as it is located directly across the plaza.
You will get lost! Accept it. You will. But please don't worry, you won't reach the end of the street and stare down into a precipice.
One of the loveliest things about Arcos is the whitewashed buildings and the flower pots hanging. When I went (in late fall) there weren't many flowers left, so i can imagine this must be an amazing sight in the spring and summer.
Take your time, walk the streets, they are generally not well labelled, all of them are tiny. The easiest way to find your way back, look for the Castle with the church spire next to it. Its the tallest place in town, and its also on the Plaza del Cabildo, if you go towards it you will probably closer to your destination.
Arcos has a rather large castle that dominates the Historic Center of the town. It was originally an Arab fortress from the 11th century. Its present look dates from the 18th century after significant repairs needed to be made following the Lisbon earthquake (1755). Prior to that it was reworked in the 14th and 15th centuries following the Christian takeover.
Strategically speaking, the castle must have been quite formidable during the times when Arcos was at war. With the two cliffs right by it, it would have been difficult to mount an effective assault on the castle. After the Christian conquest, the castle became the home of the Dukes of Arcos.
Today, the castle is in private hands and is not open to the public, unfortunately.
The only working convent still in Arcos. You cannot visit the interior at all.
The facade is pretty, in gothic-planteresque style. Built in the 16th century, it was a hospital, chapel and place for the brotherhood (cofradia) Later it was established as a convent. We passed it on the walking tour and the locals raved about the cookies and baked goods the nuns make
Opposite the side of Arcos that contains the historical area, you can find a large reservoir. In summer it is used for water sports including kayaking, sailing, parasailing, water skiing.
Because of the high reeds at the edges, this area has attracted significant bird populations.There are now organized tours specializing in bird watching. These did not exist when I visited some years ago.
They will also go further afield, into the white villages and the national parks in the area. Could be quite scenic and very interesting if you are interested in birds
The Tourism Office sponsors a walking tour of the town. It lasts an hour (more or less) and cost 3 euro at the time of my visit. Language might be a bit of a problem, it was limited service in other languages at the time.
they take you around to see the main sights around town- the churches, the little narrow streets, the viewpoints, and tell you about the architecture and the town. There was a whole lot more than I had expected in this tour. Well done
Being at the top of the cliff, you have a wonderful viewpoint to the surrounding countryside. It is fertile, rich land. Of course closer to the town it is much more rocky.
To get an upwards view of the town, you can't really go down in the gorge directly in front of the town.
However, before crossing the bridge coming into town there is a nice panoramic view of the town.
Another place you can get a nice panoramic shot of arcos from below is when you are coming into town from the bus stop.
Arcos has several viewing points.
-Plaza del Cabildo- In front of the Parador de Arcos (across from the castle) you walk out onto the terrace and you get a magnificent view
-lounge in the Parador de Arcos
-platform next to San Pedro church
Both from the top of the hill on the town and below Arcos de la Frontera is an impressive hill town. It is no wonder that Arcos became such an important town for the Moors beginning in the early 11th century.
To get to the valley, as opposed to the town, keep turning off to the right as you begin to enter the town. With a little difficulty you will eventually be in a position near the Guadalete River to get a good picture of the sandstone walls leading up to the town.
As you walk up or down from the Plaza de Carbildo, get off the main street. Some of the streets are less than 12 feet in width but still wide enough for drivers of small cars with one way traffic only.
From reading and talking to locals is that many of the streets were designed in a crooked manner so as to make it more difficult for invading armies to see residents during the countless battles that took place in Arcos. As a City Planner I think they are a great way to slow down traffic and make the area more livable.
Experience the beauty and intimacy of some of the smaller streets in Arcos. They are richly adorned and a joy to walk on. Particularly that is if you are going down hill.
Once you get up the hill to the Plaza del Cabildo and you look down the plaza you will see the Iglesia de Santa Maria. It is the most prominent building on the square. We could not find evidence of when exactly it was constructed. The most interesting feature is its southern façade which is topped by an ornate 18th-century Baroque belfry, but the highlight is the finely carved Plateresque doorway on the west side. The church was originally constructed on the site of a mosque. The bell tower of the church which was rebuilt after the Lisbon earthquake of 1755 was supposed to be taller but the townsfolk ran out of money and became ok with what they had.
Apparently the interior of the church interior is very striking but was not open for viewing when we were there due to siesta time When it is open it can be viewed for 2 euros per person normally from 10:00 to 13:00 and 15:30 to 18:30 M to F and from 10:00 to 14:00 on Saturdays.
The Plaza del Cabildo has some of the finest views of the surrounding valley from its overlooks. It also contains some of the most prominent buildings in the City. On the right of the Plaza is the Parador which was a former palace of the Governor of the area. On the left is the Town Hall an interesting building that has been there for hundreds of years. Finally, across the plaza is the Iglesia de Santa Maria del Asuncion church. By far the church is the most striking building on the plaza.
As interesting as the buildings may be, it seems everyone comes up to the Plaza to see and take pictures of the views of the valley from the overlooks. We were no exception. Even on an overcast day the views of the surrounding area were great.
We didnt actually go in these gardens, didnt really have the time, but passed by and you could see a little bit of them. They are situated next to the Mayaorazgo Palace.
It is an andalucia water garden.
Winter opening 10-2pm 5-8pm Monday - Friday
10-2pm Saturday and Sunday
Summer 10-2pm 8-11pm Monday - Friday
10-2pm Saturday and Sunday
This former palace is now used as government offices. It is 17th century. There is a lovely courtyard which is the oldest in Arcos, that is 15th century.
Opening times: Monday - Saturday 10-2pm and 5-8pm
I think there was a bit of a dispute as to whether this church or St Peters (nearby) as to which was the 'higher' church. However Rome stepped in and in 1764 named St Marys as the 'first church' of Acros. St Marys is built on land that was once an arab mosque and dates back to the 13th and 14th centuries. The tower is the newest part having been built in the 18th century.
The caretaker who looks after the church also lives here in the bell tower!
Very ornate with paintings, sculptures and plasterwork for different centuries.
Entrance fee payable.
Open Monday - Saturday 10am - 1pm and 4pm - 7pm
Sunday 10am - 1.30pm
This was originally a children's home, hospital and women's refuge and was founded in 1490.
Inside (and apparently you can go in here if the door is not locked) are carvings of one of the late Dukes of Arcos namely Don Rodrigo and his wife Dona Beatriz. Dona Beatriz also founded the Chapel of Mercy.