Plaza Iglezias in San Pedro de Alcantara

History of San Pedro de Alcántara

Nestled on the fertile plain between the Sierra de Ronda mountain range and the Mediterranean Sea in southern Spain, San Pedro de Alcántara has a long history dating back to the 3rd century AD.  The area was once inhabited by the Romans, and there are still ancient Roman ruins to be found nearby.  One in particular, near to the sea, is the Basilica de Vega del Mar,  which is a protected architectural site and and well worth a visit.

The land around San Pedro has always been a farming community and in 1858 the first Marqués del Duero, General Manuel Gutiérrez de la Concha e Irigoyen (1808-1874)  founded the Colonia Agricola de San Pedro Alcantara  and intended to transform the area into a farming colony.

The Marqués was ahead of his time and encouraged professional farming training, an agricultural school and the importation of machinery and new techniques from America and the UK.  He also built a system of small dams for irrigation,  and constructed roads and shipping facilites to transport his goods to Malaga.   This attracted tenant farmers from the nearby local towns and from all over Spain who came to grow beet and sugarcane.  The Marqués gave them a home and small plot of land to grow food for their families.  He also started to build the small town of San Pedro de Alcántara (named after his mother) with straight streets between 1860 and 1870, with the center at the church plaza, Plaza de la Iglesia.

The farm project prospered but unfortunately after being promised state aid, he was left to finance the colony  himself and by 1865 was financially ruined.   General Gutiérrez returned to active service in the Carlist Wars and was killed in battle in 1874.

The farmers of San Pedro continued to grow sugar cane, until 1920.

In memory of its founder, the Marques del Duero,  the town commissioned  a statue by the sculptor Santiago de Santiago in 1995 in the town plaza.

San Pedro today is a refreshingly unspoilt Spanish town. With a charming artmosphere, full of narrow streets packed with intriguing small shops, pavement cafes and restaurants and still nestled between the mountains and the sea.

 

 

 

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