With about 120,000 inhabitants, Cadiz is one of the larger cities, but compared to Seville or Malaga, it is rather small. But due to its dreamlike location on a comparatively small headland, the city has a special feature: an extremely high population density. It is also relatively certain that Cadiz is probably the oldest city in Europe, it was probably founded by the Phoenicians as early as 1,104 BC. Although it is a little bit away from the other highlights in Andalusia, you should not miss a visit to Cadiz. It is true that the city does not have those outstanding sights to offer as one knows them from Seville or Cordoba. Nevertheless, a walk through the city center and along the Atlantic coast reveals that Cadiz has an impressive number of attractions. Especially in the evening, before the sun sinks into the sea, you should spend some time on the waterfront. Just for the reason that you can see the golden dome of the cathedral shining even more golden in the last rays. In the immediate vicinity of the cathedral are many colorful houses, which again increases the sight.
Tip 1: Cadiz Cathedral
One of the most important sights of Cadiz is the cathedral from the 18th century. It is located directly on the sea and in the historic center in the Plaza de la Catedral.
The front portal of the Cathedral of Cádiz opens like a large shell and thus lives up to its name Santa Cruz sobre el Mar or Santa Cruz sobre las Aguas. This impression is further emphasized by the pearly white color, which turns to pale pink in the evening hours. Then, directly behind the cathedral, the sun sinks into the sea and tints the water and sky reddish orange.
The bright yellow cathedral dome covered with glazed ceramic tiles is clearly visible from every point in the city. It hovers like an oversized egg yolk above the nueva catedral and the white roofs of Cadiz.
The construction of Cadiz Cathedral took 116 years. Different architects and builders put their pen to paper and integrated very different styles: baroque, rococo and neoclassical – the church was then consecrated in 1838. The bright light continues in the interior of the cathedral, which appears wide and spacious and is structured by Corinthian marble columns. It measures 85 meters long, 60 meters wide and an impressive 52 meters high. Last but not least, it offers pleasantly cool temperatures in the sweltering heat of the Andalusian summer.
Tip 2: Santa Catalina Castle
The Santa Catalina Castle, on the western edge of the old town of Cadiz, dates from the late 16th century. It forms, in a sense, the northern boundary of La Caleta beach.
An important cultural center, it houses a permanent historical exhibition of the region as well as temporary art and craft exhibitions.
In the past, the fortress was used for military purposes, as indicated by the barracks, magazines and halls.
The original structure has been preserved, so you can still see how the architecture of that time was planned. The engineer Cristobal de Rojas, who designed the fortress at that time, is responsible for its construction.
In the chapel with the altar from the Baroque period is the image of Santa Catalina.
Tip 3: Tavira Tower
The Torre Tavira (Tavira Tower) offers the best view of the old town of Cádiz with its many winding streets. When you visit the Torre Tavira, you will find yourself 45 meters above sea level, the highest point in the entire old town.
Built as early as the 18th century as the official watchtower of the city of Cádiz, the Torre Tavira serves many visitors today merely as a point of orientation in the extensive old town. Already the architecture of the tower is typical of the Andalusian 18th century and still impresses 250 years later. So feel like the protectors of the flourishing Cadiz of the 18th century and enjoy the view over the oldest city in Europe from the Torre Tavira.
By the way, the Torre Tavira is very easy to find: It is located exactly in the center of the old town, not far from the market square and can be recognized from far away. If you are interested in Spanish and Andalusian history, the upper third of the Torre Tavira is the right place for you. There you will find two exhibition halls, which, in addition to the history of the city, also tell general stories about the Andalusian Middle Ages and the Renaissance. In the 17th and 18th centuries, Cadiz was one of the most important trading cities in Europe, partly because of its location on the Atlantic Ocean. Goods and raw materials from the New World made their way from here to the most diverse corners of the Old Continent.
Tip 4: Genovese Park
Already towards the end of the 18th century, a first park, the so-called “Parsley Walk” (Paseo del Perejil), was laid out on the site of today’s Parque Genovés in Cádiz, directly by the sea.
This first version of the later park was, however, almost treeless and relatively unkempt. It was not until 1854 that the area was expanded and rebuilt under the new name Paseo de las Delicias. Little by little, Parque Genovés became the green calling card of Cadiz.
With the demolition of the Cuartel de la Columela fortress in 1863, the park could be further enlarged, and subsequently numerous species of trees were also planted. In 1875, the now spacious and green area was used for the first time for the celebrations of the “Velada de los Ángeles”.
The most extensive redesign of the park, however, took place from 1892 under the direction of the garden architect Gerónimo Genovés i Puig, originally from Valencia. He expanded the park to include the former military forest, had fountains, a waterfall with a lake, concert halls and a café built, and planted numerous new and sometimes very rare and spectacular plants.
In addition, various monuments and sculptures were also erected during this period. In the cultivated green area directly at the sea one celebrated once rushing celebrations
At the end of the 19th century, a theater was built in the park, its metal structure designed by the builder of the famous Eiffel Tower in Paris, Gustave Eiffel.
Today, the Parque Genovés, which is shaped like a trapezoid, is the botanical garden of the city of Cádiz with more than 100 tree species, many colorful plant beds, shady palm gardens and various charming water features. The open-air stage hosts many theater and concert performances in the summer.
Tip 5: Old Town
Original and authentic – this is how the old town of Cadiz can be described. In the narrow streets pulsates the life of the locals and you have the opportunity to get closer to everyday life in a special way.
In addition to the numerous historical sights, the colorful, but also crumbling house facades give the old town its unique atmosphere and make it a picturesque spot in Andalusia.
During your stay you should simply let yourself be guided through the alleys and wait full of suspense where it will lead you next. Either you take a seat in one of the cute cafés and listen to the sounds or you stroll through the numerous stores.
Especially worthwhile is a walk through the palm-lined Calle Virgen de la Palma in the famous La Viña district. You should also stroll through the colorful Plaza de las Flores in Cadiz, which is lined with flower stalls.