Impressions from Cadiz
Glowing white in the intense southern light, Cádiz inspired the poet Lord Byron to praise its heavenly blue setting, gorgeous women and sensuous lifestyle. Nowadays it is one of Andalucia’s under-visited treasures. According to ancient chronicles, it was founded by the Phoenicians as Gadir (“Fortress”) in 1104 BC, giving it a good claim to being Europe’s oldest city. Under the Romans it became Gades and was notable as the city where Julius Caesar held his first public office. Having been almost completely destroyed by an Anglo-Dutch raid in 1596, the old part of the present city is pure 18th-century and has remained virtually unchanged since then.
Best 10 highlights of Cadiz
1.Barrio del Populo
Barrio del Pópulo is the medieval heart of the city, which still retains its three 13th-century gates. The main entrance of what’s left of the 18th-century city wall, the Puerta de Tierra, marks the boundary between the old city and modern-day Cádiz.
2. Plaza San Juan de Dios
On the edge of the Barrio del Pópulo is this palm-fringed plaza dating from the 16th century. Facing the port, it forms the hub of city life.
3. Catedral Nueva
The “New Cathedral” was begun in 1722. The belltoer, or Torre de Poniente (western tower), offers superb views of the city below.
4. Iglesia de Santa Cruz & Teatro Romano
In the midst of the Barrio del Pópulo is this church dating from 1260 and the ruins of a Roman theatre.
5. Plaza de las Flores
This bustling market square is also known as the Plaza de Topete – named after the tophet, a type of ancient Phoenician temple, that once stood here.
6. Museo de las Cortes de Cádiz
A mural in this museum eulogizes Cádiz as the birthplace of liberalism. On 29 March 1812 Spain’s first liberal constitution was conceived here, a document that played a major role in shaping modern European politics. The museum is currently closed for renovation.
7. Torre Tavira
The highest tower in the city (below) offers great views from its 46 m (150 ft) height.
8. Oratorio de la Santa Cueva
This elliptical Neo- Classical chapel has an upper church with an elegant dome supported by Ionic columns. Three frescoes by Goya depict miraculous moments from the life of Christ.
9. Museo de Cadiz
Archaeological finds and Baroque paintings are the museum’s forte. Exhibits include a pair of 5th-century BC Phoenician marble sarcophagi, one male and one female, showing Greek and Egyptian influences; Roman shipwreck finds; and works by Zurbarán, Murillo and others.
10. Hospital de Mujeres
This Baroque former hospital’s main attraction is the chapel’s painting of the Extasia de San Francisco by El Greco.