In the Bay of Cádiz, set on the ancient Isla de León and linked to the Iberian Peninsula by the Zuazo Bridge and to Cádiz, also known as the “Tacita de Plata”, by an isthmus measuring eight kilometres, the town of San Fernando represents, in every way, the personality, feelings and way of life of the people of Cádiz. Its historical importance, its privileged natural surroundings, its cuisine and its contribution to popular culture make San Fernando a great place to live and experience.
The historical importance of San Fernando led to the creation of a monumental city full of representative constructions. Outstanding among these are the San Romualdo castle, a Medieval fortress that has been listed as a historical monument, the Iglesia Mayor, a neoclassical temple where in 1810 the representatives of the first Constitutional Courts in Spain were sworn in – and the Royal Naval Institute and Obervatory – considered one of the most important scientific centres in the world, and the spot where the official time in Spain is established. In addition the Institute is a seismological station and the most important geomagnetic observatory in Spain.
San Fernando is on the Atlantic coast but its climate is also influenced by the Mediterranean. As a result, temperatures are mild and pleasant for most of the year and the beaches can be enjoyed for up to 7 or 8 months out of 12. The average annual temperatures is 18 . 6 º C, with up to 3.100 hours of sunshine a year. That is why most of the people enjoy the extensive beach of Camposoto and its fine sand and crystalline waters almost all year round. This lovely town is located in the midst of nature and its territory is mainly made up of marshes and salt ponds.
As in most parts of the province, the calendar of festivities of the Island of San Fernando starts with its famous carnival. During these days in February, the lively town is full of local people and tourists dressed up and singing fun and satire songs. You can also enjoy light-hearted processions, competitions, popular shows in tablaos all delightfully accompanied by a variety of typical local dishes.
Holy week is a spectacular explosion, both aesthetically and culturally, highly renowned and of artistic and religious interest, all these adjectives describe the beautiful, unique representation of the Passion of Christ in San Fernando. Holy week in San Fernando is one of the most important in all Andalusia because of the large number of brotherhoods that participate and the atmosphere created in the streets. Not to be missed: the start of the procession of Jesus the Nazarene at 2am on Holy Friday.
The summer witnesses the Feria del Carmen y de la Sal, a Fair in honour of her Patron Saint, the Virgin Carmen. San Fernando becomes then a mass of colour, lights, fireworks, horsemen and women and countless stalls and booths. If you want to see Flamenco dresses and dance, that’s your place!
There is a strong tradition of flamenco music in San Fernando, birthplace of the most famous flamenco singer, Camarón de la Isla. He revived flamenco taking it to a new level and new countries all around the world. Two other outstanding flamenco artists born in San Fernando are the singer Niña Pastori and the flamenco dancer Sara Baras.
The Island’s cuisine is based on the seafood found in the waters surrounding it. Canals, marshes and estuaries converted into salt marshes serve as a breeding that produces top quality shellfish, probably one of the most delicious and unique dishes to be found anywhere on the Atlantic coast. There is also a huge selection of wayside inns and restaurants where the local catch can be savoured in the most traditional and appetising ways. The local speciality is a marinated fish dish called bienmesabe. The cañaillas, the latter referring to the name popularly given to the islanders because of the high densities of this mollusc in the area, and fish from the fish farms is at the very heart of the local gastronomic tradition. You can also taste and any kind of Tapa sitting on a Terrace as you enjoy the magnificent weather of San Fernando.