You may find it odd that there is a Youtube link at the head of this page but bear with me!
Cadiz is the oldest continuously inhabited city in Spain and one of the oldest in all south western Europe. It has been a principal home port of the Spanish Armada (NAVY) since the accession of the Spanish Bourbons in the 18th century. The city is a member of the Most Ancient European Towns Network and is also the site of the University of Cadiz.
Despite its unique site — on a narrow slice of land surrounded by the sea — Cadiz is, in most respects, a typically Andalucian city with a wealth of attractive vistas and well preserved historical landmarks. The older part of Cadiz, within the remnants of thecity walls is commonly referred to as the Old Town (Casco Antiguo). It is characterised by the antiquity of its various quarters (barrios), among them El Pópulo, La Viña, and Santa María, which present a marked contrast to the newer areas of town. While the Old City’s street plan consists of narrow winding alleys connecting large plazas, newer areas of Cadiz typically have wide avenues and more modern buildings. In addition, the city is dotted with numerous parks where exotic plants flourish, including giant trees supposedly brought to Spain by Colombus from the New World.
Among the many landmarks of historical and scenic interest in Cadiz, a few stand out. The city can boast of an unusual cathedral of various architectural styles, a theatre, an old municipal building, an 18th-century watchtower, a vestige of the ancient city wall, an ancient Roman theatre, and electrical pylons of an eye-catchingly modern design carrying cables across the Bay of Cádiz. The old town is characterised by narrow streets connecting squares (plazas), bordered by the sea and by the city walls. Most of the landmark buildings are situated in the plazas.
LANDMARK BUILDINGS AND PLAZAS
The old town of Cadiz is one of the most densely populated urban areas in Europe and is packed with narrow streets. The old town benefits though from several striking plazas, which are enjoyed by citizens and tourists alike. These are Plaza de Mina, Plaza San Antonio, Plaza de Candelaria, Plaza de San Juan de Dios and Plaza de España.
Plaza de Mina
Located in the heart of the old town, Plaza de Mina, (the most beautiful of the Cadiz plazas) was developed in the first half of the 19th century. Previously, the land occupied by the plaza was the orchard of the convent of San Francisco. The plaza was converted into a plaza in 1838 by the architect Torcuato Benjumeda and (later) Juan Daura, with its trees being planted in 1861. It was then redeveloped again in 1897, and has remained virtually unchanged since that time The Museum is to be found at number 5 Plaza de Mina, and contains many objects from Cádiz’s 3000 year history as well as works by artists such as Rubens. The beautiful neo-classical houses which face the plaza were originally occupied by the Cadiz bourgeoisie.
The Plaza de la Catedral houses both the Cathedral and the Baroque church of Santiago, built in 1635.
Plaza de San Francisco and San Francisco Church and Convent
Located next to Plaza de Mina, this smaller square houses the San Francisco church and convent. Originally built in 1566, it was substantially renovated in the 17th century, when its cloisters were added. Originally, the Plaza de Mina formed the convent’s orchard.
Plaza San Antonio
In the 19th century Plaza San Antonio was considered to be Cadiz’s main square. Surrounded by a number of neo-classical mansions San Antonio church, originally built in 1669, is also situated in the plaza.
The plaza was built in the 18th century, and on 19 March 1812 the Spanish Constitution of 1812 was proclaimed here, leading to it beng named Plaza de la Constitución, and then later Plaza San Antonio, after the hermit San Antonio.
In 1954 the city’s mayor proclaimed the location a historic site. All construction is prohibited.
Plaza de Candelaria
The Plaza de Candelaria is named after the Candelaria convent, situated in the square until it was demolished in 1873, when its grounds were redeveloped as a plaza. The plaza is notable for a statue in its centre of Emilio Castelar, president of the first Spanish republic, who was born in a house facing the square. A plaque situated on another house, states that Bernardo O’Higgins, an Irish-Chilean adventurer and former dictator of Chile also, lived in the square.
Plaza de la Catedral and the Cathedral
One of Cadiz’s most famous landmarks is its cathedral. It sits on the site of an older cathedral, completed in 1260, which burned down in 1596. The reconstruction, which was not started until 1776, was supervised by the architect Vicente Acero, who had also built Granada Catedral. Acero left the project and was succeeded by several other architects. As a result, this largely Baroque-style cathedral was built over a period of 116 years, and, due to this drawn-out period of construction, the cathedral underwent several major changes to its original design. Though the cathedral was originally intended to be a baroque edifice, it contains rococo elements, and was completed in the neoclassical style. Its chapels have many paintings and relics from the old cathedral and monasteries from throughout Spain.
Plaza de San Juan de Dios and the Old Town Hall
Construction of this plaza began in the 15th century on lands reclaimed from the sea. With the demolition of the City walls in 1906 the plaza increased in size and a statue of the Cadiz politician Segismundo Moret was unveiled. Overlooking the plaza is the town hall of Cadiz’s Old City. Here, in 1936, the flag of Andalucia was hoisted for the first time.
Plaza de España and the monument to the constitution of 1812
The Plaza de España is a large square close to the port. It is dominated by the Monument to the Constitution of 1812 which came into being as a consequence of the demolition of a portion of the old city wall.
The lower level of the monument represents a chamber and an empty presidential armchair. The upper level has various inscriptions surmounting the chamber. On each side are bronze figures representing peace and war. In the centre, a pilaster rises to symbolize, in allegorical terms, the principals expressed in the 1812 constitution. At the foot of this pilaster, there is a female figure representing Spain, and, to either side, sculptural groupings representing agriculture and citizenship.
Plaza de Falla and the Gran Teatro Falla (Falla Grand Theatre)
The original Gran Teatro was constructed in 1871 but was destroyed by a fire in August 1881. The current theatre was built between 1884 and 1905 over the remains of the previous Gran Teatro. The outside was covered in red bricks in a Moorish style. Following renovations in the 1920s, the theatre was renamed the Gran Teatro Falla, in honor of composer Manuel de Falla who is buried in the crypt of the cathedral. After a period of disrepair in the 1980s, the theatre has since undergone extensive renovation.
So as you can see there is lots of history in this city which is also the holiday capital for the Spanish of the area. Fourteen kilometres of white sand with a strong sea breeze makes it ideal to escape the summer heat and indulge in sea sports such as windsurfing. There are abundant hotels, bars and restaurants but it is not spoiled. Although you may want to avoid the height of the season in August!
Back to that Youtube reference if you haven’t lost interest yet. My French guests love to visit Cadiz as it has romantic undertones for them much as we English think of Paris. This song sums it up for them. It is a comic operatic song which once heard ‘sticks’ in your mind. It always makes me smile when i hear it and reminds me of my many adorable French guests.