The city of San Roque is closely linked to Gibraltar. “The Very Noble and Most Loyal City of San Roque, where Gibraltar lives on” was officially founded in 1706. Although this typical whitewashed Andalusian town was established by the Spanish inhabitants of Gibraltar on 4th August 1704.
The foundation was a historical milestone with no precedent, a powerful Anglo Dutch fleet, commanded by Admiral Rooke captured the fortress of Gibraltar and hoisted the Union Jack during the War of Spanish Sucession. Five thousand proud Spanish Gibraltarians rejected the British offer to stay in the city, leaving en masse and settling on this hill, where the old Shrine of Saint Roque (dating back to 1508) was located, a short distance away from the usurped city.
The inhabitants of the Rock took all the belongings and priceless relics with them. Examples of the legacy of Gibraltar are proven by the Standard of Gibraltar (1502), which is said to have been embroidered by Joanna the Mad, or the Royal Warrant (1502), granted by the Catholic Monarchs in which Gibraltar was given its titles, authorities and coat of arms.
In addition, Saint Mary the Crowned Parish Church houses numerous statues brought from Gibraltar from 16th until 18th century. The Church Records from Gibraltar from 1556 until 1704 are also kept in the temple. The Historic Archives contain the municipal records of Gibraltar City Council from 1502 until 1704.
The old quarter has been a Conservation Area (a collection of listed historical buildings) since 1975. The most important monuments in the town centre are Saint Mary the Crowned Parish Church (1735), the Governor’s Palace (18th century) and the Bullring (1853), the second oldest one in the province of Cadiz and one of the oldest in Andalusia.
The most picturesque streets are San Felipe (ancestral homes with typical patios), San Nicolás and Historiador Montero. The most emblematic square is Plaza de Armas where the Red Cape & Sword Technique (modern bullfighting) was invented in 1720. The city features five permanent exhibitions at present, the Municipal Museum with Carteia (archaeological) section, Luis Ortega Brú (religious imagery and sculpture) section, the Bullfighting Museum (local bullfighting history), a permanent exhibition of San Roque-born actor Juan Luis Galiardo and CB Radio Museum, a unique exhibition in the whole of Europe.
The most significant festivity is Holy Week, declared an event of National Andalusian Tourist Interest. The Magna Procession on Good Friday is the most relevant parade. It is the only one that is held annually in Andalusia and features fourteen different floats. The other big festivity is the Royal Fair in August which ends with the “Toro del Aguardiente” bull run, dating back to 1649.
San Roque is the Gibraltar Area’s historical centre. A city tour is a must when you come on a visit to the area for the first time.