Medina Sidonia is considered as one of the towns preserving the oldest traditions in southern Andalusia.
The former Assido, with its Phoenician, Roman and Visigoth origins, is located on a strategic crossroads between the sierra, the plains and the coast. It acquired importance in the times of al-Andalus, when it became the capital of the province, with an Arab aristocracy and mainly Berber population. According to chronicles of the Almoravid and Almohad periods, Madinat Saduna or Abu Salim, was noted for its ramparts, the remains of which, such as the Arco de Pastora or Puerta de Belén, still evoke its strength. The church of Santa Maria la Coronada embellishes its enchanting town centre.
Medina Sidonia kept a strong military character until the end of the Middle Ages. So, in order to guarantee its defence, it was given to the military order of Santa María de España, and, later on, to that of Santiago. Finally, it was handed over by Juan II to the Guzmán lineage, counts of Niebla, in mid-15th century and, since 1445, to the Dukes of Medina Sidonia, one of the most powerful titles in Spanish nobility. Under the government of these lords, Medina was embellished with luxurious palaces, churches and convents, which today make up one of the most interesting and attractive historical collections in the province of Cádiz.