Cadiz - Western Europe's Oldest City

Capitals of the Andalusian Regions - Cadiz

C谩diz was founded around 1100 BC by the Phoenicians on a small island, which today belongs to the "Costa de la Luz", and became, along with the then Onuba (today's Huelva), one of the first coastal factories on the Iberian Peninsula. Archaeological evidence suggests that the city was continuously inhabited for over 3,000 years.

Cadiz is the Western Europe's oldest city! 

Only in the following centuries did Malaga (Phoenician Malaka) and Adra (located in the vicinity of Almer铆a) arise.

The Phoenicians named the city "Gadir", which means "wall" or "fortress". This is not without reason, because when we look at the sturdy defensive walls surrounding the oldest part of the city, we begin to understand the importance of its location at the gates of the Atlantic Ocean.

In its three-thousand-year history, the city has undergone numerous invasions and hegemonies. After the Phoenicians, the city was ruled by the Carthaginians, Romans, Visigoths, Moors, and from 1262 by the Castilians. One of the most important moments in the history of the city was in 1717, when C谩diz took over the monopoly from Seville on trade with the American colonies. This gave the city a truly cosmopolitan character.

The province of C谩diz and the city itself hide many wonderful remains from past times. For example, there is evidence that about 30 km from the city, on a tiny island, Sancti Petri... there was a mythical temple of Hercules, whose remains were destroyed during the Moorish invasion in the 8th century. Today, at the top of the sand dune, from which you can admire the island, a commemorative plaque reads that we are in - "A magical place from which the ancients admired the setting sun, which on the days of the winter and spring equinoxes hid just behind the walls of the temple of Melkart - Hercules"..

In the 15th century, the city was experiencing a true boom due to the development of modern navigation techniques at the time, as well as the mastery of the production of shipbuilding tools.

St膮d Krzysztof Kolumb wyruszy艂 na swoj膮 drug膮 (1493r.) i czwart膮 (1502 r.) wypraw臋 do Nowego 艢wiata…

Kadyks wielokrotnie by艂 celem szturm贸w pirat贸w, a tak偶e wojsk brytyjskich podczas wojen osiemdziesi臋cioletniej & angielsko-hiszpa艅skiej (1587-1604). Na przemian niszczony i odbudowywany, a jednymi z bardziej krytycznych moment贸w by艂y 鈥濧ngielski atak na Kadyks鈥 w 1587 r, i powt贸rzony 鈥濧tak na Kadyks鈥 z 1596 r.,  kiedy to spodziewaj膮c si臋 wielkich 艂up贸w flota angielska pod dow贸dztwem hr. Essexa, przyczyni艂a si臋 do ogromnych zniszcze艅 portu, miasta, i zacumowanej tu floty hiszpa艅skiej. Hiszpanie, by nie odda膰 galeon贸w w r臋ce wroga, spalili je, w rezultacie doprowadzaj膮c do bankructwa kr贸lestwa Kastylii i przerwania na d艂u偶szy czas komunikacji morskiej.

In the 18th century, the city once again experienced a great boom through the renewed, dynamic development of maritime international trade. In the following years, the city became a symbol of democracy:

 W 1812 roku podpisana zosta艂a pierwsza liberalna konstytucja Hiszpanii

Sightseeing tour of Cadiz

The entrance to the city itself is already a breathtaking experience, as it can only be reached by three road bridges. However, the most characteristic building in the city is the 18th century Catedral de Santa Cruz, whose dome is covered with azulejos (ceramic tiles) in gold. This building is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the most valuable monuments in Spain.

The residents of C谩diz, known as "Los gaditanos" (from the ancient name of the city, Gadir), refer to the cathedral as "Catedral Nueva" - the new cathedral. The old cathedral is the "Catedral Vieja", the 13th century cathedral, Iglesia de Santa Cruz.

Zwiedzaj膮c Kadyks nie mo偶e zabrakn膮膰 flamenco – Barrio de Santa Mar铆a, uwa偶ana za kolebk臋 艣piewu flamenco. Tu urodzili si臋 i tworzyli wielcy hiszpa艅scy 艣piewacy tego gatunku: Luisa Butr贸n, Enrique El Mellizo, Curro Dulce, Paquirri el Guant茅, Enrique El Mono, czy Antonio Chico Mellizo. Wsp贸艂cze艣nie z Kadyksem i sam膮 dzielnic膮 zwi膮zany jest artysta Jos茅 Luis Figuereo Franc, znany publiczno艣ci pod nazw膮 El Barrio. Artysta urodzi艂 si臋 w Kadyksie, a jego andaluzyjski temperament 艣ci膮ga koncerty tysi膮ce fan贸w – by艂am, widzia艂am, nog膮 tupa艂am… 馃槈

Dzielnica rozci膮ga si臋 od Puertas de Tierra do placu San Juan de Dios & El barrio del P贸pulo – najstarszej i moim zdaniem naj艂adniejszej dzielnicy miasta. Niekt贸rzy m贸wi膮, 偶e droga w El barrio del P贸pulo powinna by膰 zrobiona ze szk艂a aby m贸c ogl膮da膰 bogactwa schowane kilka metr贸w pod ni膮 – najstarsze fenickie osady na kontynencie europejskim.

Stara cz臋艣膰 miasta otoczona by艂a niegdy艣 murami, kt贸re z r贸偶n膮 skuteczno艣ci膮 chroni艂y miasto przed naje藕d藕cami. Prawdziwym symbolem i pozosta艂o艣ci膮 po nich s膮 Puertas de la Tierra, kt贸re wraz z zamkami Castillo de San Sebasti谩n & Castillo de Santa Catalina, tworzy艂y elementy pot臋偶nej fortyfikacji.

A great attraction is the Torre Tavira, located in the center of the old town. It is built into the Palacio de los Marqueses de Reca帽o complex and is the tallest (45 meters above sea level) of the 129 preserved towers in C谩diz. From the top, there is a stunning panoramic view of the entire city, the cathedral, and the coast. At the top of the tower, in a special room, you can look through the camera obscura. This is a very interesting experience, as similar devices were used to patrol the coast in the 18th century. Here we have two options for visiting: a "right away" entrance ticket - without looking through the camera obscura, or purchasing a ticket for a specific time along with the possibility of admiring the views through the device.

There are many ways to visit C谩diz. You can download 聽a map of the city from the link below and choose a thematic route that interests you. Each one is interesting and offers a lot of experiences.

If you want to relax on the coast, you have three main beaches to choose from: Playa de la Victoria, Playa de Santa Mar铆a del Mar, and, in my opinion, the most interesting beach with a historical background, La Caleta. You can imagine the sight of Carthaginian, Phoenician, and Roman ships moored there. The sunset views are hypnotizing, especially since the impressive Art Nouveau building from the 1920s, Balneario de Nuestra Se帽ora de la Palma Real, is located nearby. It used to be a SPA, and today it houses the Underwater Archaeology Centre. From the beach, you can admire the Castillo de San Sebasti谩n fortress, which is said to have been the site of a temple to Kronos.

C谩diz is famous for its lively carnival celebrations, which have been inscribed on the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Spain. This is a holiday of fun, jokes, dressing up in original costumes, fireworks displays, performances, concerts, parades, balls, and ... criticism. Numerous musical groups, always in outrageous costumes, sing their "chirigotas", satirical songs that deal with the hardships of everyday life or criticize the faults of the ruling class. The culmination is the election of the ball queen, the "diosa del carnaval", and a party in the open air, which is attended by revelers from all over the world. This is a unique opportunity to experience the atmosphere of C谩diz.

007 in Cadiz

Do you remember the scene in the 2002 movie "Die Another Day" starring Pierce Brosnan as Agent 007, when Halle Berry comes out of the ocean in an orange bikini? That scene was filmed on La Caleta beach, which stood in for Havana, Cuba.

Historic Cadiz, what's there to see?

  • Catedral Nuevadating from the 18th to the 19th century.聽- inside is the tomb of Manuel de Falla (the famous Spanish composer) and a museum
  • - is where the Cortes met to sign the first liberal constitution in Europe in 1812. Inside is a painting of the Immaculate Conception by Murillo.
  • The 18th-century Oratorio de la Santa Cueva church is home to three frescoes painted by Francisco Goya.
  • The walls from the 17th century with the Puerta de Tierra gatedecorated with the coat of arms of Castile. At the sides of the gate, the figures of the town's patron saints, St Servandus and St Germanus, can be seen on columns.
  • Gran Teatro Falla - a building from the 19th century that is becoming one of the main venues for Carnival celebrations. This is where the competition of musical groups called COAC (Concurso Oficial de Agrupaciones Carnavalescas) takes place.
  • Plaza de San Juan de Dios 
  • Teatro Romano - ruins of an old Roman theatre
  • El Parque Genov茅s - beautiful park overlooking the ocean

Galleries and museums worth a look 

  • Yacimiento Arqueologico Gadir - excellent museum showing Phoenician remains 
  • Muzeum miejskie Museo de Cadiz - the ground floor is occupied by an exhibition on the history of the city, while the upper floors house a gallery of paintings by Rubens, Murill and Zurbar谩n, among others
  • Museo Historico Municipal de San Fernando - It houses, among other things, Phoenician sarcophagi, and the most important painting gallery in Andalusia after Seville

What to eat

Obowi膮zkowo trzeba spr贸bowa膰 sma偶onych na oliwie ryb i owoc贸w morza, takich jak: adobo, aced铆as, ortiguillas, mojarra, chocos, marrajo, morenas, molla, anguila鈥 lub omletu z krewetkami. Warto rozejrze膰 si臋 za dobrym jedzeniem na ulicach Sopranis i Ploc铆a gdzie mo偶emy znale藕膰 bary, restauracje i bodegi, na ka偶d膮 kiesze艅, oferuj膮ce wspania艂e lokalne przysmaki. Przy okazji warto wst膮pi膰 do 
po艂o偶onego w samym centrum, oferuje 艣wie偶e, lokalne produkty, a tak偶e mo偶na zje艣膰 co艣 w porze obiadowej.

Other interesting:

  • Resteurante Marisqueria Las Flores
  • Restaurante El Faro
  • Caf茅 bar El Palillo
  • El Mes贸n de la Posadilla

A very popular dish is the tartare of red tuna caught using a technique - almadraba - which is practised in the Strait of Gibraltar from April to late July/early August during the migration of these fish.

A wine from the Jerez winery is also a must-try. The sweet Pedro Xim茅nez Muscat will remind you of the 3,000-year-old Andalusian wine tradition.

Cadiz for water sports lovers

  • Playa de Santa Maria del Mar - is one of the surfers' favourite beaches
  • Playa La Victoria - when the wind picks up, kite surfers flock to the beach.

How to get there?

  • The nearest airports are in Seville or Malaga
  • If you're traveling by camper van, the best place to stay is the parking lot near the port (marked in blue on the map below). It's located close to the city center and is very safe. 220V power is available in the parking lot toilet (it sounds strange, but it's a valuable tip for campers ;)).

Map with the most interesting sites in Cadiz 


Always on the go 馃寘, allergic to boredom, and a lack of a sense of humor. Passionate about technology, photography, travel, and sports.
馃枼 馃摳 Professionally, a web designer and graphic artist, also the author of the website

View stories

Leave a comment, ask a question...

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *