City Portrait: Cádiz

Founded 3,000 years ago by the Phoenicians, the ancient port of Cádiz is the oldest city in Western Europe. The city itself is a tiny peninsula, surrounded almost entirely by water. As the 16th century home of the Spanish Navy, the port boomed as a base for exploration and trade. Today, it is better known for its sparkling beauty, friendly and outgoing inhabitants, excellent seafood, and great offer of cultural events – most famously, the Cádiz Carnival. Nature lovers are in for a treat as well – nearby lies the Doñana National Park, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

A history of many cultures

The official founding of Cádiz by the Phoenicians, who called it Gadir, is dated to 1104 BC. Over the years, the city changed hands 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.

In more modern times, Cádiz had its greatest moment of glory in the 17th century, when it had a trade monopoly on the Spanish overseas empire. Christopher Columbus sailed from Cádiz on his second and fourth voyages, and the city later became the home port of the Spanish treasure fleet. However, its history during this time is one not only of riches and exploration, but also of numerous attacks by pirates. The city had no choice but to heavily fortify, and visitors can experience this exciting history through the defensive bastions, castles and watchtowers that still remain. In the 18th century, after decades of intensive trade, Cádiz established itself as one of Spain’s greatest and most cosmopolitan cities, with many of the elegant historic buildings in the Old City dating from this era.

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Cadiz today

With such an impressive history, modern Cádiz has a lot to live up to – but it does so with vibrancy, flair, and an ever-present and all-permeating sense of humor. The Old Town of Cadiz, contained within the city walls, is densely packed with cultural attractions like the Cádiz Archaeological and Fine Arts Museum with its fascinating Phoenician exhibitions, and the stunning church of San Francisco. The city is also dotted with numerous parks where exotic plants flourish, including giant trees supposedly brought to Spain by Columbus from the New World. And for the best views of the Atlantic Ocean there is nothing like a stroll through the Alameda de la Apodaca, the Genovés Park and La Caleta beach.

Within this romantic tangle of ancient streets, humble taverns fry up exquisite seafood and cheerful gaditanos sip Jerez wine. Despite its long history as a trading port and the mixing of diverse cultures that resulted, there is no mistaking that Cádiz belongs to Andalusia – large multi-generational families fill the many plazas with banter, laughter, and flamenco guitars.

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Your tour in Cadiz

Cádiz is sure to be a favorite destination for your group – it also makes a great starting point for visiting the famous White Villages of the region, the Doñana National Park, and many other attractions. Get in touch with us today to start planning your itinerary!

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Katharina Giesler

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