Legend tells that Cadiz was founded by Hercules and is the oldest city in the western world. On the south-western coast of Spain, to the west of Malaga, Cadiz is a city surrounded by water perched on a narrow isthmus that stretches out into the sea.
In Phoenician times, Cadiz was known as Gadir. As far back as 1200 BC Gadir traded with Tyre and Sidon, exporting eastwards the tin required to make bronze and silver. Later, during the Roman period, the town was a lively port called Gades an activity that continued through and after the Moorish conquest in 711. Cadiz is still an important international harbour, just as it was immediately after the discovery of America. At that time its importance attracted attack by the English, Sir Francis Drake ransacking it in 1587.
During the 19th century Cadiz was temporarily the capital of Spain. It was here that the Spanish Liberalists assembled in parliament, in 1812, to proclaim the first Constitution. Many of the ancient monuments were shattered by the events of war but interesting churches and artefacts remain. The tourist office, located in the Plaza de San Juan de Dios, has free booklets with guided tours around the sights.
Sightseeing In Cadiz:
The 18th century Oratorio de San Felipe Neri – where parliament held their meeting in 1812.
The massive and impressive 18th century Cathedral, built over an older one, where Baroque and Neo-classic mingle well under the golden dome. The Cathedral houses magnificent paintings and splendidly carved choir stalls by Pedro Duque Cornejo.
The Museo de Cadiz – laid out on three floors. The ground floor holds an Archaeological Museum full of ancient relics discovered in the area. The first floor has a Museum of Fine Arts displaying paintings by Rubens, Van Eyck, Murillo, Alonso Cano, Ribera and Zurbarian. The top floor has an unusual collection of Andalucian puppets.
The botanical gardens that surround the city.
The Roman Theatre with visitor centre close to the Paseo Maritimo.
The Torre Tavira watchtower with exhibition halls.
The Arco de los Blancos – once a gateway between the island and mainland.
The elegant Cadiz city, with splendid decorative balconies and Moorish courtyards, is the provincial capital of Cadiz Province. The city is north of Spain´s surfing capital Tarifa and broad white sand dunes of the Costa de la Luz line the beaches between the two. The province has 200 kilometres of this white sandy coastline. As its such a short distance from Tarifa to the coast of Africa, many people chose to use Tarifa as a quick exit/entry ferry port to Morocco.
Inland the province has a varied landscape and a host of white-washed villages. There are green rolling hills where walnut, pine, Spanish fir and cork oak trees grow. Thousands of acres of white chalk soil are covered by the oldest vineyards in Europe from which the famous Manzanilla wine is produced.