The city of Cadiz, capital of the province of the same name, is situated in the southwest of Andalusia and is one of Spain’s best-kept secrets.
Founded 3000 years ago by the Phoenicians, Cádiz is the oldest city in Western Europe. The different peoples who settled here left an important cultural imprint, whose influence still remains in the character of the city's people. This peninsula, right on the Andalusian Atlantic coast, has been able to preserve an important historical legacy - the result of its commercial importance - together with excellent beaches and an exquisite regional cuisine.
The former Phoenician Gadir and Roman Gades 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. The city's distinctive urban model provided an identikit for fortified Spanish colonial cities in the Americas. Indeed, its crenellated sea walls and chunky forts is heavily reminiscent of Cuba's Havana or Puerto Rico's San Juan.
Now well into its fourth millennium, the ancient centre, surrounded almost entirely by water, is a romantic jumble of sinuous streets where Atlantic waves crash against eroded sea walls, salty beaches teem with sun-worshippers, and cheerful taverns echo with the sounds of cawing gulls and frying fish.
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 Carnival, 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. On the Atlantic front rise the dome and yellow tiles of the CATHEDRAL, looking towards Campo del Sur. Beside it are the OLD ROMAN THEATRE and the old cathedral. What was a royal square, parade ground and market, originating on land won from the sea, is also worth a visit. This is the PLAZA DE SAN JUAN DE DIOS where the Neoclassical structure of Cádiz City Hall stands, looking towards the nearby port. Many lively squares lie along any route. In the PLAZA DE ESPAÑA, beside the port, stands the palace of the Provincial Government and Monument to the Liberal Cortes (Parliament). In the tree-lined Plaza Mina you can visit the Cádiz ARCHAEOLOGICAL AND FINE ARTS MUSEUM, which has interesting Phoenician exhibitions. The city's most important shopping streets begin around the Plaza de las Flores. There is a good reason why the CENTRAL MARKET located here. Right in the center of Cádiz you can visit the Cádiz MUNICIPAL HISTORICAL MUSEUM, the TAVIRA TOWER, one of the most symbolic in the city, and the ORATORY OF SAN FELIPE NERI, a National Monument in which the Liberal Constitution of 1812 was debated. And for the best views of the Atlantic Ocean there is nothing like a stroll in the garden walks of the ALAMEDA DE LA APODACA, the GENOVESE PARK and LA CALETA BEACH. This beach is the only one is the old town and is framed by the Santa Catalina and San Sebastian castles.
The exceptional geographical position of Cádiz enables you to go to beautiful places like the COSTA DE LA LUZ. At the western end of the Cadiz coast lies SANLÚCAR DE BARRAMEDA, well known for its manzanilla (a sherry wine type) and for being one of the entrances to the DOÑANA NATURAL PARK, declared a World Heritage Site. Inland, JEREZ DE LA FRONTERA awaits, a city with one of the most famous wines in Spain, (Sherries) and home to the "cartujano" horses. It is a good starting point for doing the WHITE VILLAGES ROUTE. This way you will discover Serranía de Ronda as well as places with impeccable white houses like ARCOS DE LA FRONTERA, MEDINA SIDONIA or VEJER DE LA FRONTERA. In addition, Cádiz is only about 100 km afar from the southernmost point of the European continent: Tarifa, the best place for the kite and windsurf lovers.