The Tartessos in Andalucia

The Greeks thought that Tartessos were the first western civilisation. Originating somewhere in what are now the provinces of Huelva, Cadiz and Seville, this civilisation was influenced from very early on by the Phoenicians and Egyptians.

Tartessos is today an enigma of comparable proportions to Atlantis, so it is very interesting to follow the clues that could lead us to the next great discovery. If you are interested in following the trail of the Tartessians in Andalusia, continue reading and we will give you the main sites and clues that you can follow to delve into the fascinating history of our region.

Tartessos influece area in Andalucia

Following Tartessos steps

Historians believe that the Tartessians may have settled in Sanlúcar de Barrameda, near the mouth of the Guadalquivir River. From there they would have traded with other civilisations around the Mediterranean. Although no remains have been found to prove the settlement, there are many references to Sanlúcar. The name itself seems to indicate a Holy Place; perhaps there are hidden treasures to be found beneath the landscape.

Some think that to find the origin of the Tartessians we would have to go further west, to the confluence of the river Odiel with the river Tinto in Huelva, as remains have been found under this city.

Another option proposed is along the Barbate river, possibly near the mouth of the river.

Places to visit

Tartessos in Sanlucar de Barrameda

Though the exact spot of Tartessos has never been proved, Sanlúcar is full of references. The very name - a play on the words Santo Lugar or So- Lucar- seems to be due to the existence of an ancient temple to a sun god of which nothing remains to day, though what does still exist- logically modified- are the ancestral rituals exalting the senses to which such temples were consecrated. A good proof of this is the elevated state of conscience produced by the measured tasting of manzanilla- a delicate wine- and of sea food. The main local produce. A stroll along the streets is an unforgettable and magical experience.

Although no Tartessian remains have been found in this town, they have produced prehistoric finds. If you are interested in starting your search fron Sanlucar de Barrameda we are going to provide you with some important places that you will be interested in visiting:

  • Dolmen de Hidalgo.
    It was found at the end of the 20th century, although it was eventually destroyed to build a water reservoir at its location.
  • Cylindrical idol of Cortijo de la Fuente
    The area corresponding to the Cortijo de la Fuente began to be inhabited as early as the Copper Age. (Map)
  • Treasure of Ebora
    It was found in a farmhouse that is now abandoned.: https://goo.gl/maps/jN1TEyjCh7LGsVNeA
  • Bonanza Bronze
    Roman bronze tablet in the National Museum of Spain. (Map)
  • Treasure of the Algaida
    Excavations at the end of the 20th century unearthed this treasure, which you can visit in the Museum of Cádiz (map). It is a sanctuary dedicated to the goddess Venus, a cult of Sumerian origin and adopted by other civilisations.
  • Well of the Caveros
    Well of Roman origin that still contains water but is no longer in use. It is located in the Pinar de Algaida pine grove.(Map)

Tartessos in La Janda

According to research, the location of Tartessos would be on an island in the river Barbate, near Benalup and Medina Sidonia. According to the historical books it is said that it is a day's walk from Tartessos to the Pillars of Hercules (Strait of Gibraltar), just the time it takes from the region of La Janda at 40 kilometres, as opposed to 120 kilometres from the mouth of the river Guadalquivir.

This theory, in the absence of supporting remains, is therefore based on what would be considered a day's walk.

If you decide to venture into the area, we recommend you visit Benalup, Medina Sidonia and of course the coastal towns of Barbate, Zahara de los Atunes and Caños de Meca.

Although no remains belonging to the Tartessians have been found, you can visit some interesting places:

  • Old Lagoon of La Janda (Map)
    It was once the largest wetland on the entire peninsula, until it was drained for cultivation in the mid-20th century.
  • Archaeological site Caños de Meca (Map)
    Roman archaeological complex by the sea of great beauty.
  • Los Alcornocales Natural Park
    If you like natural spaces, you cannot miss the opportunity to visit this wonderful place.. (Map)
  • Zahara Beach
    Lovers of natural beaches will love the beach of Zahara de los Atunes.. (Map)

Tartesos in Sevilla

From Sanlúcar towards Seville, we may evoque places where the Greeks are said to have situated some or their mythological exploits. Heracles, founder of Seville according to legend, was in these parts and, with the strength of this arms only, separated Europe from Africa , opening the strait of Gibraltar, leaving one of its pillars on each side. Geryon's cattle grazed in these marshes before being carried of by him, thus complying with one of the labours of Heracles.

Greek tradition also situated the garden of the Hesperides here - where the three daughters of Atlas were said to live- and the place of origin of the Gorgons, the Parcae,- daughters of the Night, The Cyclopes, the Moiras and the Hecatoncheries. Like the valley of the Nile in Egypt, Mesopotamia between the Tigris and the Euphrates, or the valley of the Ganges in India, the valley of the Guadalquivir has harboured powerful civilizations, some whose features still remain up to our time. Games with bulls. Feasts with slings and ancient Mediterranean resonance could be some of them.

Tartessos en Huelva

Tartessos is an enigma, perhaps comparable to Atlantis. The latter seems to have been located in the Bay of Cadiz, while some historical books seem to place the former near the rivers Tinto and Odiel, close to the Pillars of Hercules. Everything points to Huelva as the possible location of the capital of the Tartessian empire, but there is still no conclusive proof.

Another piece of historical evidence, this time as testimony from Scymno (162-164), who claims that from Gades (Cadiz) to Tartessos there were two days' sailing. This seems to coincide with Huelva, although it contradicts other historical statements.

In Huelva there have been finds corresponding to the Tartessian period (8th-6th centuries BC), we are talking about some port warehouses right in the centre of the city.

We recommend you to visit the following places:

  • Rio Tinto Mines 19th century dock
    Old dock open to the public and with stunning sunset views (Map)
  • Archaeological site (Map)
  • Caravel Dock
    Museum dedicated to Christopher Columbus and shipbuilding (Map)
  • Palos Port
    It was the port from which Christopher Columbus departed before the discovery of America.. (Map)

Where is Tartessos in Andalucia?

The ancient capital of Tartessos in Andalucia is yet to be found. Where do you think is the most probable location? Comment in our blog.


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