Occupying a key strategic position, Arcos has been the site of numerous settlements.
The Roman occupation gave rise to the name Arx-Arcis, meaning fortress on high, then the Moslem invasion stamped an indelible mark on the town and the name changed to Medina Arkos.
It was in this period that Arcos prospered and grew, becoming a small kingdom, "the Kingdom of the Taifas", ruled by the Berber King Ben Jazrum. Although King Alfonso X, “The Wise", conquered the town on October 1264 a strong Moorish influence still pervades the narrow streets, the white washes houses dominated by the imposing castle, the mills and the city gate, "La Puerta Matrera", once the keystone of the Moorish defenses and now, all that remains of the city walls.
With the arrival of the Christians, the town began a period of expansion, growing beyond the city walls, and religious buildings, churches, convents and chapels sprang up mainly between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries. New disputes, fortunately less bloody, replaced the old Christian and Moorish confrontation. The rival parishes in the town, St. Mary's and St. Peter's, vied for prominence and Vatican recognition.
The battle was finally won by St. Mary's much to the disgust of the St. Peter's parishioners, who refused to pronounce the name of their bitter rival, even in prayer. The old town, within the remains of the city walls, was declared to be of Historic and Artistic interest in March 1962 with the church of St. Mary and its organ receiving particular mention.
Arcos has been called "the city of poets" by the many artists who were born here and also by those who have made their home here. It is easy to fall in love with some little corner of this town, with one of its architectural gems - but to do so, one must explore the town at a leisurely pace, never hurrying, discovering it little by little, savoring the atmosphere of this town so rooted in tradition. The image that it leaves in your memory will stay with you forever.