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Bolonia, Cádiz


Preservation of the shores of yesterday

The sun’s burning disc settled on the horizon then gently dipped out of sight, light fading slowly as night flowed into the empty spaces left behind, just like it had done in this same space for over two thousand years. The beach settled into silence and the trees, huddled on the slopes of the limestone hills, whispered in the hot salty breeze blowing in from the sea. We were not far from the modern capital city of Cádiz, but it felt as if we were in another, quieter, perhaps older, settlement, far from the madness of reality.

Lea was digging in the loose wet sand that had been recently flushed by the sea, but she kept a wary eye on the mysterious body of water as it swelled and flowed. Being a mastiff, she had no interest in becoming one with the water and, as the sea seemed to take a deep breath ready to expel its energy on the beach again, her digging to complete whatever convoluted construction she had fashioned in her dog brain became all the more frantic.


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The beautiful beach of Bolonia, is one of many of these beaches that, like a string of pearls on a elegant neck, adorn the southern coast of Spain. It’s relatively unspoiled beauty has been maintained by the iron will of the local authorities who have resisted all attempts to build monstrous concrete hotels such as those that scar much of the coastline from Barcelona to Almeria.

In this area, large dunes that still move with the prevailing wind, are preserved in all their glory and stone pine trees (pinus pinea), an indigenous species that populates much of this area, border the edge of the beach and extend like a green carpet up the slopes of the surrounding sierras.

However, that is not to say that the area has escaped unscathed by maverick builders. Many of the houses and shacks that populate the small village of Bolonia are precisely that: small shacks built by those who choose not to conform and who have not asked for permission to justify their existence. But somehow, order is preserved and the character of this small part of the world is maintained, like I say, relatively unspoiled.

Bolonia is known not only for its unspoiled alternative approach to life but also for the ancient roman ruins of Baelo Claudia, a town that was a trading link and fishing village that was established over 2,000 years ago by some intrepid adventurers living in roman times.

For more than six centuries, this small village was famous throughout the empire for its tuna fishing and for the fabrication of garum, a fermented fish sauce that, apart from its unusual smell (at least that’s what Pliny the elder explains), was used as a condiment in the most succulent dishes of ancient Greece, Rome, and Byzantium. In roman times in particular, garum was exported throughout the empire and graced some of the finest tables of the roman elite.

Baelo Claudia reached the zenith of its affluence in the first and second centuries AD, a feature that can still be seen by the ruins including an extensive forum, senate house, numerous temples and a tremendous theatre with capacity for up to 2,000 people. Nowadays, a well thought out museum graces the shores of this remote spot; a recognition that this is a special place.

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But, if chilling out in one of the beach bars, or chinguitos, or watching the sun perform its daily miracle light-show, or going for long walks along a shoreline that seems to go on forever is for you, then Bolonia has a lot to offer.

There’s loads to do in and around Bolonia. Just click here.

Check out our Flickr gallery of Bolonia by clicking here.

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