Coincidentally Cabra

Community Highlights Europe Coincidentally Cabra

We spent one night in Cabra, a small agricultural town of about 20,000 en route to Granada by way of the Via Verde del Aceite or Olive Oil Route, the repurposed train track. In preparing to write this next blog post, I googled Cabra to find out a bit more about where we had stayed. On Wikipedia, I was amazed to see these two photos and the caption:

Almudena Alcalá-Galiano presents flag of Cabra to Galiano Island at AGM of the Museum Society. Cabra was the home of Capt. Dionisio Alcalá-Galiano (1775-1805).

So by the oddest of coincidences, we ended up staying in the town where Dionisio Alcalá Galiano, a Spanish naval officer, cartographer, and explorer after whom the island we live on, was named. Dionesio is the name of the northern-most tip of Galiano, now a gorgeous BC Park. From Wikipedia: “Galiano mapped various coastlines in Europe and the Americas with unprecedented accuracy using new technology such as chronometers. He commanded an expedition that explored and mapped the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Strait of Georgia, and made the first European circumnavigation of Vancouver Island. He reached the rank of brigadier and died during the Battle of Trafalgar.” However, long before Galiano arrived on our shores, the various Coast Salish tribes (up to 37) occupied Galiano at certain times of the year and rather than there being just one First Nations’ name for the island, there were many names for the different parts of the island.

Galiano Conservancy Association, “One Island One Earth: An Ecological Footprint and Fingerprint for Galiano”

In 1992, there was some kind of ceremony on Galiano where the flag of Cabra was presented to the Galiano Museum, clearly not by the same explorer as the caption seems to state but perhaps a relative with the same name? I need to find out more.

Cabra appeared to be a very prosperous little town. A bike path had taken us from the Via Verde right into the centre of this town that is located in a valley.


Cobra’s main economy is based on olives, olive oil and wine as well as being a source of red polished limestone and it is surrounded by agricultural land and rolling hills. We arrived on a a Sunday and the restaurant and bar of our little hotel, the Villa Maria was hopping. Our very nice room overlooked a lovely park which seemed to function as an outdoor dining terrace for the hotel. There was a window from the hotel kitchen where servers would pick up the dishes. In keeping with the agricultural focus of the town, several big tractors with trailers rumbled past our hotel in the late afternoon.


Again according to Wikipedia, Cabra has been settled since Paleolithic times. The Turdetani, the Andalusian descendants of Tartessos, lived in the area. As part of the Tartessoian kingdom and during Carthaginian and Roman times, Cabra was a market town. Cabra’s earliest name, Aigagros, means "mountain goat", in Greek. The Romans built temples and an 8 km aqueduct here. The church of San Juan Bautista del Cerro is thought to have been constructed on a Roman temple. Many battles were apparently fought here - the Romans, the Christians, the Visigoths, the Moors(when the town become known as Qabra), the Christians again, the Moors again, the Christians again, then fighting among the feudal lords with various imprisonments in the Cabra castle. Then there was the Spanish Civil War when on November 7, 1938, Cabra was bombed by Republican planes, even though Cabra was not a strategic objective or near the front lines. The official figures were 101 dead and over 200 injured in this little town. And on it goes in our world of continuous conflict…Thankfully, Cabra was very peaceful however during our stay - except for all the socializing going on in our hotel bar and restaurant.

We spent the evening exploring the town. It had a long pedestrian shopping street, filled as usual with people walking, shopping in some open stores and hanging out in the bars and restaurants. We walked to the end of town past the bull ring where there was an old church overlooking the town’s beautiful main square with its majestic palm trees.


We enjoyed walking in Cabra as dusk turned to night. Though we did not go in, we saw the Church of the Asuncion, a Baroque church at the hill top square with a rococo south door and inside 42 marble columns (possibly from an Islamic mosque), the Church of San Juan Bautista, a Visigoth church of 590 A.D. and the elegant city hall, all beautifully lit.


It appeared that considerable funds had recently been put into restoring the city walls, and the highlight of our walk was along a beautiful promenade with a panoramic view over the countryside.


The Sunday socializing was as still going on at Villa Maria when we returned from our stroll. It’s tough to keep up with the Spanish! But as we went to bed that night in Cabra, far from home, and though we didn’t know it at the time, there was in fact a surprising connection between this small Spanish town and our small island on the west coast of BC.

Postscript - more info about the Cabra/Galiano Island connection from my neighbour, Allan Forget:

In the early 1990s Andrew Loveridge was one of the Directors of the Galiano Club. He was also President of the Gulf Islands Branch of the BC Historical Society. In 1991 when the island acquired the Mt Galiano lands & responsibility for them was transferred to the Galiano Club, Andrew had the idea to name the hiking trail to be built there after Admiral Galiano. When the trail was completed in Oct. 1993, a ceremony of dedication was held & the Spanish Consul General from Vancouver was invited (this included an event at the Community Hall --- there is a YouTube video (see link below). It was then & there that the discussions began to 'twin' our island with Dionisio Galiano's home town of Cabra. Andrew was eventually sent on a journey to Cabra itself sponsored by the Club & by the Historical Society. There in Cabra he was feted & dined, met the local Historical Society reps & some Galiano family descendents. (The 1st photo you posted is from that trip.) Andrew returned to the island with many souvenirs from that journey, most of which are displayed in his home Museum. A couple ceramic display plates however, produced in Cabra, hang on the kitchen wall in the Community Hall. Some years later (I forget which year though I was in attendance), several Galiano family members came from Cabra to our island & attended a meeting of the Galiano Museum Society. At this mtg they presented Andrew with a flag of the town of Cabra (the 2nd photo you posted). This too I believed is on display in Andrew's home Museum.

Opening of Mt Galiano Trail — 1991
April 2nd, 2021|Categories: Club Parks
In 1991, following an energetic & creative fundraising campaign by the island, the Mt Galiano lands were purchased & title was given to the Galiano Club. The following summer a group of volunteers created the hiking trail — from the Active Pass Dr entrance to the summit — which exists today. Coincidentally, 1992 was the 200th anniversary of the historic meeting of the Spanish Naval Officer, Dionisio Alcala Galiano and the English Naval Capt. George Vancouver (each Captain was charting the western NA coastline for their respective nation) just off the coast of what is now called Galiano Island. It was decided to commemorate this event by naming the hiking trail after Dionisio Galiano, by inviting the Vancouver-based Consul General of Spain, His Excellency Jose Ayala & his wife Ceridad (seen here arriving in Ken Allen’s 1932 Roll Royce), to attend the trail dedication ceremony held on Oct.8th, Dionisio Galiano’s birthdate. Afterwards, a La Zarzuela — a Spanish lyric-dramatic genre that alternates between spoken and sung scenes — was held at the Community Hall MC’d by Galiano Club Director, Debbie Holmes &, Club Historian, Andrew Loveridge. As part of the ceremony, held during the Club’s annual Blackberry Festival, a portrait of Officer Galiano, completed by Galiano artist, William Beddels, was presented to the Consul as a gift for HM King Juan Carlos of Spain. Later, 232 daffodil bulbs were planted in the Hall grounds (232 being the number of years since Officer Galiano’s birth).

This featured blog entry was written by Jenniferklm from the blog Cycling in Andalucia.
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By Jenniferklm

Posted Sat, Apr 13, 2024 | Spain | Comments