The Wonders of Cádiz

Half island, half peninsula, connected to the mainland by a slender, sandy strip, the city of Cadiz has been totally dedicated to seafaring pursuits since its foundation. Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans and Arabs all passed through what is believed to be the western world’s oldest city, and it was here that Spain’s first democratic Constitution was drawn up.

Despite its essentially urban nature, it also boasts areas of natural interest, such as the beaches of La Cortadura and El Chato, as well as Santibañez Mud Flats, all part of Cádiz Bay Natural Park. The city, popularly known as the Tacita de Plata (Silver Cup), has an unmistakable marine flavour, and its people are famous for their good humour and hospitality, as witnessed by their famous carnival; it boasts monuments of great interest, such as the Cathedral, the city walls, Holy Cross Parish Church, the Genovese Park, Puerta de la Caleta, etc. All places of indubitable charm, to which we must add the city’s cuisine and beaches, famous for their beauty, such as La Caleta, Santa Maria del Mar and La Victoria.


Founded 3,000 years ago by the Phoenicians, Cádiz is the oldest city in Western Europe. This peninsula, right on the Andalusian Atlantic coast, has been able to preserve an important historical legacy together with excellent beaches and an exquisite regional cuisine. The Costa de la Luz, divided between the provinces of Huelva and Cádiz, also offers a multitude of destinations combining culture and leisure.


The former Phoenician Gades and Roman Gadir experienced its most splendid period when, in the 17th Century, it had the Ultramar (Spanish overseas empire) trade monopoly. This rise attracted attacks by pirates, which made the city fortify itself, constructing defensive bastions, castles and watchtowers on each flat roof. These are some of the characteristics of the city, in which the balcony railings are also outstanding.


A visit might begin in Puerta Tierra, the entry point through the walls and the dividing line between modern and old Cádiz. On one side, wide avenues, beaches (La Victoria, Santa María and La Cortadura), sailing clubs and modern sporting facilities. On the other, a Cádiz with more flavour and history, that of the old districts: El Pópulo – the old medieval town; La Viña – fishing district and centre of the local tradition of satirical verses, or Santa María – living temple to flamenco. Streets with distinct characters but which have maintained a uniformity in the look of their houses which together form an exceptionally beautiful pattern.


The rich cuisine of Cádiz brings together the wealth of the whole province and offers us langoustines from Sanlúcar, sole from San Fernando, wines from Jerez (sherry) and Cádiz turrón (nougat), while cold meats include Iberian ham and pringá (different sausages, meat and bacon), always from the mountains of the interior.

Tortillita de camarones, image by kochtopf (Flickr) via Wikimedia Commons
Tortillita de camarones, image by kochtopf (Flickr) via Wikimedia Commons

As in all of Andalusia, tapas stand out. The products of the sea stand out as fried fish: bienmesabe or marinated dogfish, the brunette in adobo, the shrimp tortillita, the roasted mackerel, and so on. In particular, among the seafood, there are the crayfish, the coquinas, the muergos (or knives), the cañaillas, the lobster, the cockles, the prawns, the spider crab, the shrimp and the prawns.


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