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El Puerto de Santa María
El Puerto de Santa María (commonly called El Puerto) is a city on the banks of the Guadalete River in the province of Cádiz, Spain. As of the 2005 census, the city has 82,306 people. 50,000 of these people live in the urban center. The others live in the area around the urban center.
The city of El Puerto de Santa Maria is 10 km (6.2 mi) northeast of Cadiz across the Bay of Cadiz. It is best known for its ferry, El Vaporcito, which has been used for 76 years. It takes passengers to and from Cadiz to El Puerto.
In the Odyssey of Homer, legend says that, after the Trojan War, a Greek official named Menestheus escaped with his troops through the Straits of Gibraltar. They got to the Guadalete River and created a port. They called the port Menestheus's port.
In 711, Arab (Moors) from the North of Africa invaded southern Spain. They changed the name to Alcante or Alcanatif. The name means Port of Salt. They chose that name because of the old salt industry of Phoenicians and Romans.
In 1260, Alfonso X of Castile took the city from the Moors. He renamed it Santa María del Puerto.
Columbus began his second voyage to the New World from El Puerto. His pilot, Juan de la Cosa, created the first map of the world to include the coast of the New World in El Puerto in 1500. In the nineteenth century, the city became the General Headquarters for the French Army during the Spanish War of Independence under the reign of Joseph Bonaparte (1808–1813). The city is has much history, museums and monuments. It is also near the very historical cities of Seville and Cádiz.
El Puerto has a famous bull ring. It dates back to 1880. The bull ring has space for 15,000 to watch. Bull fighting is still enjoyed during the Feria season, which is during the month of August, and during the Feria de la Primavera, which is in early May. This Feria is dedicated to sherry. 180,0000 half bottles of sherry get drunk in 4 days. There are several bodegas in the town centre. All of these can be visited by the public. The most famous bodega is the Osborne and Terry Bodegas. They export sherry and brandy worldwide . In the cellars in El Puerto, sherry is made using the traditional method called “solera”. This method makes the pale dry sherries to the sweet Muscatel sherry, Amontillados and the older Olorosos.
El Puerto is a very good place to taste local tapas and seafood, for which it is famous. Food is an important reason why many tourists go to El Puerto de Santa Maria. The Bay of Cadiz is famous for its fresh fish. The fish and plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables lead to very good restaurant menus. There are many different types of places to eat all in walking distance in the town centre.