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Santa Catalina

santa catalina

Situated on a hill between the city walls of Tarifa and the island Las Palomas stands majestically the chapel Santa Catalina, built in the 16th century and dedicated to the Holy Santa Catalina de Siena.

The use of Santa Catalina changed significantly over the centuries. In the 18th century it was used as a hospital to quarantine travelers arriving from epidemic contaminated areas. Later Santa Catalina was used to store gunpowder. In 1812, after the failed invasion of Napoleon, the English tried to restore the chapel. The project was later abandoned. In 1933 construction began for the fortress as it still stands today. As a model they used a palace from the Renaissance. The construction of a lighting tower was also planned for war ships to orient themselves while passing the Estrecho. This development was never completed.

At the beginning of World War II political prisoners were summoned to build bunkers around the fortress to shield it against a possible invasion. Later Santa Catalina was converted into living quarters for local families.

In 1972 it became a control center to register all ships that passed the Estrecho. Additionally the military erected a meteorological station. Since 2000 Santa Catalina belongs to the town of Tarifa and is currently being remodeled. The use of the chapel after it's completion has not yet been determined. It might be used as a museum or something similar.

You can easily reach it - Santa Catalina is just a 15 minutes walk from our Spanish language school in Spain.

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