Cádiz

For other places with the same name, see Cadiz (disambiguation).

Cadiz is the capital of the Cadiz Province in the Andalucia region of Spain.

Cádiz is on a narrow slice of land surrounded by the sea. The older part of Cadiz, within the remnants of the city walls, is commonly referred to as the Old Town. It is characterised by the antiquity of its various quarters, among them El Pópulo, La Viña, and Santa María, which present a marked contrast to the newer areas of town. While the Old City's street plan consists of narrow winding alleys connecting large plazas, newer areas of Cadiz typically have wide avenues and more modern buildings. In addition, the city is dotted with numerous parks where exotic plants flourish, including giant trees supposedly brought to Spain by Columbus from the New World.

Understand

History

Cádiz is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the Iberian Peninsula and one of the oldest in all southwestern Europe. Traditionally, its founding is dated to 1104 BC.

The city was originally founded by the Phoenicians from Tyre, who called it Gadir. Over the years the city changed hands (and names!) many times. It was inhabited by the Romans, destroyed by the Visigoths, rebuilt by the Byzantines, and occupied by the Moors until they were removed in 1262 AD by the Spanish.

Christopher Columbus sailed from Cádiz on his second and fourth voyages, and the city later became the home port of the Spanish treasure fleet.

In the 18th century, it became one of Spain's greatest and most cosmopolitan cities and home to trading communities from many countries. Many of today's historic buildings in the Old City date from this era.

In recent years, the city has undergone much reconstruction. Many monuments, cathedrals, and landmarks have been cleaned and restored, adding to the charm of this ancient city.

Get in

Town hall of Cádiz

By plane

The closest airport is Jerez de la Frontera, about 30 minutes by car or taxi (fixed price €46), 1 hour by direct bus, though there are few buses and the schedules do not fit most flights. There are several daily flights to Madrid and Barcelona (Iberia, Vueling). Ryanair flies daily to London Stansted and Frankfurt Hahn. Other operators fly scheduled, charter, or seasonal flights. The nearest major airports are in Sevilla (1 hour by car, 2 hours by bus or train) and Malaga (2-3 hours by car or bus).

By bus

For Jerez-Cádiz and other medium range timetables see this site. Most long range buses are handled by Comes from Plaza de la Hispanidad.

By train

Frequent trains run to Jerez and about hourly to Seville. A very convenient way to come in from Madrid is with the Talgo train that runs twice a day covering the distance in about 5 hours.

From Jerez to Cadiz fares are only €5 for an adult and €3 for a child - see train timetable here: http://www.renfe.com/EN/viajeros/index.html

Trains from Seville are around €16 for a single and €20 for a return. Make note, if you get a return you have to book your seat reservation for the way back upon arrival at the station, otherwise you'll be expected to pay the full fare!

By car

From Madrid, Cordoba and Seville you can use the A4, from Barcelona N340. A taxi ride from Jerez de la Frontera to Cadiz costs about € 50.

By boat

Cruise ships often dock within easy walking distance of the old city/downtown. Passengers also can take day trips to Seville (about two hours by bus) or Jerez De La Frontera (less than 1 hour by bus). There are frequent commuter ferries to Rota and Puerto de Santa Maria.

Get around

San Fernando, El Puerto de Santa Maria, Conil, Vejer, Medina Sidonia, Arcos de la Frontera, Jerez

There are 5 bus routes which tour the town and all start and finish at old and new towns, going in a loop. It's €1.10 per ride. The most central is the number 1 and number 2, which goes right through the centre of the old town and towards the stadium at the end.

The number 7 follows the coastline and goes between the two beaches.

See

Cadiz is said to be the oldest city in western Europe, as it was founded by Phoenician sailors about 3.000 years ago, as a commercial stronghold. Archeological remains can be found all around the old town. The   Archeological Museum (Plaza de Mina) exhibits are interesting, specially two Phoenician stone sarcophagi. The remains of the Roman theatre, just behind the Old Cathedral, are also worth a visit.

The massive stone walls and forts surrounding the old town were built after the British naval attack and sacking in 1596 (the "singeing of the Spanish King's beard", in the words of the British commander, Sir Francis Drake), and the forts of San Sebastian and Santa Catalina (and occasionally Baluarte de la Concepcion) are open to the public.

Everyone should visit the Cathedral in the old town and climb to the top of the North Tower for a nice view of the entire city.

The church Oratorio de San Felipe Neri, where the first Spanish Constitution was signed, has plenty of marble and bronze plates to honour the representatives from mainland Spain and colonial territories, ranging from Philippines Islands to Central and South America.

The Torre Tavira, near the Central Market (Mercado de Abastos) holds a "camera obscura". Located in one of the towers originally used by merchants to watch out for their ships returning home from the Americas, it provides a birds-eye view of the old part of town.

The Central Market itself is well worth a visit in the morning, especially the fish section.

A modern monument of Cadiz are the huge pylons of the powerline crossing the bay of Cadiz. These 150 metre high pylons are lattice towers with cylindrical cross section.

Do

The Castle of San Sebastián in Cádiz as seen from the nearby Castle of Santa Catalina

Enjoy the best sunset in Spain at 'Playa de la Caleta' at the northern end of the old town. The main beaches (Santa Maria del Mar, Victoria, and Cortadura) start at the edge of the old town, continue all along the new town, and on alongside the road to San Fernando. In total some 10 km of the widest, cleanest beaches you will find in Europe, with safe bathing from around May to October. The summer heat is usually tempered by an Atlantic breeze, although on days when the Levante blows beware of flying sand.

Victoria Beach is short bus ride (number 7 or number 2) away from the old town and is beautiful with clean water and lots of activities including beach football and volleyball, surfing and kite flying all available.

Events

Do not miss Carnaval in Cadiz, one of the oldest and best in Spain, often cited as the third biggest Carnaval celebration in the world. Usually in February, the weekend before Ash Wednesday is consistently the loudest and most eventful so be sure to check the calendar. Singing, dancing and costumes run for the whole week. Informal groups (chirigotas, cuartetos, coros, comparsas and romanceros) sing at the old town streets, usually with strong critics on local, national and international politics, the jet set, and just about anything/anybody, up to the Royal Family. Make your travel plans early as most accommodation gets booked months in advance and be prepared to spend almost double for the week of Carnaval. One way to experience Carnaval on the dime, and perhaps the preferred way of Andalusian locals, is to board an afternoon train heading to Cadiz, spend the night singing and dancing, then catch the first train back in the morning. Expect singing, dancing, costumes and drinking on all trains. Sleeping on the public beach is also another popular option, though be sure to bring a blanket or sleeping bag, both of which can be stored in lockers at the train station; expect company and use common sense.

Semana Santa (Easter or Holy Week) is less formal than in Sevilla, and probably more authentic and emotive an experience for that.

Buy

Standard souvenirs can be found at several shops in Calle Pelota, Calle Compañía, Calle San Francisco and Plaza de Candelaria.

Eat

Castillo de San Marcos

In Cadiz you will find some of the best and freshest fish and shellfish in the world. They are best eaten as simply cooked as possible: plain boiled shellfish (in varying sizes from tiny prawns up to lobsters), grilled or baked whole fish such as lubina (bass) or dorada (bream), or deep fried with a light flour coating (especially puntillitas (baby squid) and boquerones (anchovies)).

To eat not too expensive fish and shellfish, you can look at Calle Zorrilla (several tapas bars and street vendors) or Calle de la Palma (several restaurants with open air terraces).

For a splurge, the best place in town is Restaurante El Faro (Calle San Félix. But even here food can be not very expensive, if you stand at the bar and eat only tapas.

Drink

Fino, a (16% alcohol) bone dry sherry (or Jerez), or manzanilla, a similar wine from Sanlucar de Barrameda, is the perfect aperitif with olives or a prawn or two. Drinking more than a couple of glasses may spoil your focus on the rest of the meal. The best local white wine (and one of the most popular in Spain) is Barbadillo, made from the same grape but considerably lighter (11%). You should visit Taberna de la Manzanilla, one of the oldest bars and wine merchants in town, selling nothing but sherry wines. No tapas but just 2 complimentary olives per glass of wine. Forget about local red wine. Quality is far below other Spanish areas producing red wines, such as Rioja or Ribera de Duero.

Sleep

Budget

Calle Marques de Cadiz has several budget options, doubles at about €35 with shared bath.

Mid-range

Splurge

Go next

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