Roman Augusta Urbs Iulia Gaditana
Moving on to the next and final destination for today after Tarifa, we arrived at the beautiful and historical port city of Cadiz. Located at one of the most beautiful natural bays in Spain where such rich past and importance during the centuries of the colonial times can be felt on every corner around the old town. A succession of squares with impressive palaces, mansions and houses, churches and monuments where construction costs were not a thing to mind in the past.
Then why a small city back then could become so powerful in such short time? The answer are the many wealthy families with businesses in the back then, New World; the merchants and their fleets travelling to the colonies and most important, in Cadiz becoming the main port for arrival and departures of the Fleet of Indies since the Guadalquivir river was not apt anymore for the ships to make the way up to Seville.
Cadiz is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in Europe, and it’s member of the Most Ancient European Towns Network (info here). Make sure you see a map of the city and nearby geography to understand the location and orientate yourself since you are going to see the Atlantic or the bay from almost all sides. The city is completely developed along the narrow peninsula.
Visiting the city therefore is perfect on foot. It’s not too big and will be possible to enjoy most of it in one day (or compressing it a bit as we did in less than a day as we already spent some time visiting Tarifa before arriving to Cadiz).
Being in Andalusia, and by the coast, expect to find in almost any restaurant nice fish and seafood. The most traditional being deep-fried fish (pescaito frito). Personally not my favourite, but definitely give it a try if this is your first time in the region.
For more information about Cadiz check Wikipedia and Wikitravel sites. Spain’s currency is the Euro (EUR). Please note that any price reference is true as from when this guide was created, therefore check prices in advance as with the time they change.
What to see and do in Cadiz
- City Walls and Fortifications Including the Puertas de la Tierra, Stronghold of Candelaria, Arco de la Rosa and Arco de los Blancos.
- Cathedral The main landmark in the city is. Built in 1260 and reconstructed in 1776 after the 1596 fire. You can climb one of the towers for great views over the city.
- Mina Square One of the main squares in the city, virtually unchanged since the 19th century. House number 3 is where Manuel de Falla was born.
- San Francsico Square Next to Mina and with smaller proportions, you will find San Francisco church and convent, originally built in 1566.
- San Antonio Square Entirely surrounded by historical mansions once belonging to the upper class. The 1812 Constitution was proclaimed here.
-San Antonio Church Built in 1669 is the highlight in the square.
- Candelaria Square Where in one of the houses the first president of the Spanish Republic, Emilio Castelar was born.
- San Juan de Dios Square Where the City Hall is located.
- Plaza de Espana Located near the port and where the Monument to the Constitution is. Work started in 1912 celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Constitution, and finished in 1929.
- Grand Theatre Falla Completed in 1905 after the previous one was destroyed in a fire, in neo-mudejar style (Moorish revival).
- San Felipe Neri Church Historically important as being the place where the first Spanish Constitution was signed in 1812.
- Tavira Tower Which holds a camera obscura used by merchants to watch their ships returning from the Americas. As a note of history, in the 18th century there were in existence over 160 watchtowers for this same purpose.
- Admiral’s House One of the wealthiest houses in the city, built in 1690 by the family of the admiral of the Spanish Treasure Fleet, Don Diego de Barrios. Those fleets were the Caribbean Spanish West Indies (Flota de Indias) and Manila Galleon.
- Old Customs House Sited near the port and built in new-classical style, is one of the three identical buildings being the others the House of Hiring and the Consulate.
- Roman Theatre Only discovered in 1980 and excavated one quarter, it’s the second largest Roman theatre ever built after that in Pompeii.
- Santa Catalina Fortress Built in 1598 and located at the end of Caleta Beach, is now an exhibition center.
Reaching Cadiz from anywhere in Spain is convenient by train or bus, but beware distances can be long hence expect long hours specially by bus. By train is another story since high speed trains reach down to Seville where then they follow at slower speed towards the end of the line Cadiz.
By plane you have few options, being the nearest airport Jerez although not many international flights cover the route. Farther is Gibraltar, and almost at the same distance the larger Seville. All those airports are well connected to Cadiz by bus, but the timetable for those from Gibraltar/La Linea de la Concepcion are not very helpful depending on your flight time; for which having a rental car is the best option to move to/from the airport, plus allowing you to visit other places along the way as we did where we landed in Gibraltar and visited Tarifa, Cadiz and Jerez, all in one weekend!
Within the city there is no need for any public transport. The old city and main sights are all well within walking distance, plus many streets are pedestrianized.
Although we did not stay overnight in Cadiz, the city has a great choice of hotels. Either in the city center, new town area or along the beach front, but the cost was higher than the hotels you can find in Jerez. A good and reasonable point to start your search is by checking some of our preferred affiliate hotel search engine such as Hotels.com, Booking.com, Expedia, Otel.com, Agoda, Opodo, LateRooms, Ebookers or TUI.
Our hotel back in Jerez was the Itaca. Right in the city center, few minutes away from the Alcazar and Cathedral. The location could not be better not to mention the hotel itself. A 4* property with great level of comfort, design and facilities, great stuff and nice included breakfast. Unbelievably, it was one of the cheapest hotels on offer for this weekend, and I really mean it as the next available with the same characteristics was almost twice as much. It is not only that I will not hesitate in staying here again if I return, but I have already provided with the business card to my family and friends.