Situated beside a bay, the fortified city of Ceuta has watched over the strait of Gibraltar since long ago. The walled area presides over the old quarter of this Cosmopolitan Mediterranean city. Since ancient times, Ceuta's strategic location has encouraged the settlement of different civilisations. Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Visigoths and, later, Arabs and Portuguese occupied this place for commercial or military ends. Finally, by its own will, it came to form part of the Spanish crown.
The nerve centre of this multicultural city is the Plaza de Nuestra Señora de África, situated right in the old town, where there is a monument to those who died in the African War (1859-60). Around the square stand the Sanctuary of Nuestra Señora de África, in which the image of the patron saint and permanent mayor of the city is venerated, the Cathedral, on the site of an old Muslim mosque, the City Hall and the Comandancia General military headquarters. Other interesting religious monuments are the church of San Ildefonso, inside which you will find the image of Cristo de Medinaceli, and the hermitage of Nuestra Señora del Valle. This is the oldest Christian church in the city, where Juan I of Portugal knighted his sons. The Cristo de los Afligidos bridge gives access to the old Royal Walls and the San Felipe Ditch, the largest military construction in Ceuta which was an impregnable fortress for centuries. It is one of Ceuta's most characteristic monuments built over the centuries by the various inhabitants of this land.Ceuta has various viewpoints, like those of Isabel II and Monte Hacho, where you can get an excellent panoramic view of the harbour and Ceuta Bay. On this hill you can visit the Desnarigado Castle-Museum, containing a valuable collection of military objects. Here, too, is the Hermitage of San Antonio, a 16th-century building which at one time was the residence of the bishop. The city's cultural offer invites you to get to know the city's 2,500-year past, in the Museum of Ceuta, as well as its military history, in its museums of the Legion and the Regular Army. In Ceuta Bay you will find the Mediterranean Maritime Park, one of the symbols of the modern city. This is an original complex of gardens, waterfalls surrounded by palm trees and artificial lakes designed by the Canary Island architect César Manrique. Ceuta also has many beaches and coves where visitors can enjoy the area's unbeatable climate and some lovely views of the Peninsula on the other side of the Strait. Water sports and exceptional marine depths are other attractions on this coast.Food and WineCeuta's cuisine reflects the cultural mixture of its inhabitants and its situation as a coastal city. Excellent quality fish and shellfish are cooked in Andalusian style in seafood stews, as well as fried and marinated. Meat is dressed with spices in more of a Moroccan style. In Ceuta you can find both Spanish-style restaurants and Moroccan ones, as well as others offering all kinds of dishes. There is a varied selection of accommodation available in Ceuta. In the central Plaza de Nuestra Señora de África is the Parador “Hotel La Muralla”. This is a modern building adjoining the Royal Walls, a setting enabling you to enjoy unbeatable views of the sea and the historic quarter.
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