Valencians Return to Defend Tunisia

Don Juan de Zamoguerra was a Valencian soldier who in 1574 was in charge of the defence of the Santiago fort of Chikly, situated in the middle of a lagoon, when the Turkish fleet prepared to wrest control of Tunisia from the Spanish forces led by Don Juan de Austria.

chikly

Miguel de Cervantes himself was present to witness the defence and celebrate the feats of the suitably named Zamoguerra.

Today the cannons have ceased to roar and the thousands who died in the defence of Spanish control of North Africa can enjoy the peace and quiet of the nature reserve that now occupies the same site.

Today harmony and collaboration reign instead of Kings and Counts as Valencians return, although this time they are researchers from Valencia Polytechnic University (UPV), who have restored and put to good use the fort that was built under orders of the Holy Roman Emperor, King Carlos I, and has been abandoned since the 19th century.

The work includes a study to determine the right number of daily visitors to the park (20), so that the delicate eco-balance is not disturbed. Until now only researchers and ornithologists had been allowed to disturb the birds.

Even so, the park will continue to stay closed from March to June; nesting time for the thousands of frenzied fowl who inhabit the waters there.

Phoenicians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Spaniards and Turks have all passed by and left their mark on the three and a half hectares of the lagoon, although the most important visitors today are surely the Little Egrets, who have colonized the waters of the lagoon where Zamoguerra failed to do so.

The UPV team are led by María José Viñals, an expert in wetlands and member of the Grupo de Investigación en Gestión Turística del Patrimonio Natural y Cultural.

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