The city of Cádiz, founded by the Phoenicians over 3,000 years ago, is the oldest continuously inhabited city in Spain, and one of the oldest in Europe. Located on a narrow peninsula in southwestern Spain, the city is surrounded by water on three sides, and is the home base for the Spanish Navy.
Cádiz was the wealthiest port in Western Europe during the 18th C. and benefitted from the extensive trade being done with the New World. There is a strong Moorish influence in the buildings and narrow cobbled streets of the Casco Antiguo (Old Town).
A good place to start your visit is at the Museo de Cádiz, which exhibits works by Spanish artists, including Murillo, Zurbarán, and Alonso Cano. It also includes an archaeological section that contains Phoenician marble sarcophagi dating back to the founding of the city.
The Torre Tavira is the tallest remaining watchtower in the city. In the 18th C. there were 160 of these towers, which were used by ship owners and merchants to look out for arriving ships. The Cathedral is the city’s best known landmark. It was built on the site of the old cathedral from 1260 which burned down in 1596. The gold-domed cathedral was built over a period of 116 years, and was completed in 1838. Manuel de Falla, the composer who was born in Cádiz, is buried in the crypt of the Cathedral.
Besides its monuments, Cádiz is also known for its beautiful beaches. La Caleta is a favorite beach, located near the Old Town in between the San Sebastian and Santa Catalina castles. Located in the newer part of the city is Playa de la Victoria, which is a 4 km. long beach on a wide, sandy stretch of the Atlantic Ocean.
If you find yourself in Cádiz the weekend before Ash Wednesday, don’t miss the Carnival of Cádiz. It is a 10 day celebration that dates back to the 16th C. and is one of the best known in the world.
Photo credit: Patronato de turismo Provincia de Cádiz – Cathedral de Cádiz
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