The Town’s origins
The origins of this town are directly linked to the benefits derived from the medicinal waters in the area. Starting in the Neolithic age, the area has been populated by the different races that make up the history of Cádiz. The abundance of Roman remains such as mosaics, tombs and coins from Gades provides evidence that families from Cádiz visited the baths in the nearby Gigonza, which is famous for its medicinal spa. Bysantines and Visigoths were other visitors. When the Moslims first arrived at the peninsula, they also made use of the Fuente Santa and Gigonza baths, and the fertility of the land around Paterna, which they called the “Valley of the Baths”.
After the Christian conquest, the Paterna estate was owned by the Enríquez de Ribera, the lords of Alcalá de los Gazules and their descendents, starting with Per Afán de Ribera in 1444, further developed the area. The town of Paterna was finally founded in 1503 by Francisco Enríquez de Ribera, who built its Town Hall-Council building.
The 19th century witnessed several events that were highly significant for Paterna. On the one hand, the number of visitors to the Gigonza and Fuente Santa medicinal baths increased considerably between June and September, thus improving the local population’s standard of living.
On the other, a livestock fair was organised in the month of September, and this led to the area’s livestock production gaining considerable prestige.
The neighbours of Paterna had long wished for the town to be emancipated form the Alcalá concil and this finally ocurred in 1825. Paterna de Riviera continues to maintain its old traditions and its economy is now based on agriculture and livestock (cattle and horses), for which it is very well known. It is famous for its herds of fighting bulls, and is at the very heart of the Bull’s Route.It is also well known for its palurda and retinta cattle and its Spanish-Arabic horses. Reflecting its love for horses, it has been the site of the Andalucian “Doma Vaquera” (a sport similar to dressage, but with the reins held in one hand only) championships (in the year ’95 and ’96), the Spanish Campionships in ’97 and the European Campionships in 2001.