Guide to Cadiz, a city in the Costa de la Luz region of Spain.

Spanish Cities - Cadiz

Cadiz Spain - Capital of the Cadiz province of Andalucia, Spain, Cadiz is a city and busy port with a long and interesting history, the oldest continuously inhabited city in Spain, it has been the home port of the Spanish Navy since the 18th century, Cadiz is also a university city, with its university specializing in medicine and marine sciences. The city itself has a resident population of around 130,000 while the metropolitan area numbers over 600,000, it is located on a stretch of coastline known as the Costa de la Luz (Coast of Light).

The old part of Cadiz (the Old City) has some well preserved areas, with a maze of narrow winding streets and alleyways. Originally called Gadir, the first settlement of significance was established there by the Phoenicians, the name meaning "walled stronghold", the Greeks called it Gádeira and the Romans Gades.

The accepted founding date for Cadiz is 1104 BC when the Phoenicians founded a trading post there, in Greek legend it was founded by the hero Hercules after performing his 10th labour. In around 500 BC the city came under the control of the Carthaginians and was a base for the great general Hannibal, it fell to Roman forces under Scipio Africanus in 206 BC, after which is flourished as a naval port.

With the decline of the Roman Empire, Cadiz’s importance declined also, and the original city was mostly destroyed by the Visigoths during the 5th century. With the arrival of the Moors in Spain, Cadiz was an early target and it came under Moorish rule in around 711, under the Moors it became known as Oadis, from which its modern name is derived. The Moors held control of Cadiz until 1262, when Christian forces under Alphonso X of Castille.

During Spain’s great period of exploration, Christopher Columbus sailed from Cadiz on his 2nd and 4th voyages, and later great wealth flowed into the city from the Americas. This led to Cadiz becoming a prime target for pirates and enemies of Spain and several raids occurred including one by Sir Franceis Drake in 1587, when he occupied the harbour for 3 days, capturing a number of ships and destroying others, this is commonly referred to as “The Singeing of the King of Spain’s Beard”, an event which delayed the sailing of the Spanish Armada. In recent years Cadiz has undergone much reconstruction, and many of its notable buildings cleaned and restored to their former glory.

One of Cadiz's most famous landmarks is the cathedral, built during the 18th century on the former site of a 13th century one. Other notable landmarks include the Plaza de Espana with its magnificent old Town Hall, the Gran Teatro from the late 19th century, the Tavira Tower and the Admiral’s House built in 1690.

The newer areas of Cadiz comprise wide avenues and numerous green park areas, planted with exotic flora and giant trees reputed to have been brought there by Christopher Columbus from his travels to the New World.

While still an important port the Cadiz area is a popular tourist destination with some of the finest beaches in Spain.

Cadiz can be reached via the AP-4 from Seville, the closest airport is Jerez (Jerez de la Frontera) which is about 40 kilometres away.

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More Costa de la Luz Places: Ayamonte - Hinojos - Huelva - Isla Canela - Isla Cristina - Punta Umbria - Tarifa

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