Cadiz is one of Europe’s oldest city, a city with a wealth of attractive vistas and well-preserved historical landmarks. Here is the starting point of the Spanish Empire’s sea routes and great wealth, Columbus’ second expedition to the Americas set sail here. The port later became an important link connecting Spain with its overseas empire. In 1812 it was the seat of the Cortes de Cádiz, where the first Spanish Constitution was drafted. Cadiz has the most beautiful coastline, which featured in the opening scene of the James Bond film “Die Another Day”.
Founded 3,000 years ago by the Phoenicians, Cádiz is the oldest city in Western Europe. The different peoples who settled here left an important cultural imprint. Cádiz’s centro historico has a charm which not only one of the oldest European settlements, and also used to be a center of global trade and colonial wealth. In the 17th Century, it had the Spanish overseas empire trade monopoly. Once one of the richest parts of Spain, the old city center retains traces of time.
The city located on peninsula situated on a narrow slice of land surrounded by the sea‚ with 360 views of the water make for gorgeous sunrises and sunsets. The whole coast is part of the Costa de la Luz, its 260 kilometres of Atlantic coastline feature long beaches with fine sand. Walking along the long stone promenade that lines the coast is a must, relax and enjoy the amazing views of Cádiz city and the Atlantic Ocean, the port, the sea walls and fort with brings with sort of a Caribbean flavor.
The Old City’s street plan consists of narrow winding alleys connecting large plazas, among the many landmarks of historical and scenic interest in Cádiz, a few stand out. At the center of the historic center is the cathedral, built in both Baroque and Neo-Classical styles. The city can boast of an unusual cathedral of various architectural styles, a theater, an old municipal building, an 18th-century watchtower, a vestige of the ancient city wall, an ancient Roman theater, and electrical pylons of an eye-catchingly modern design carrying cables across the Bay of Cádiz.
The old town is characterized by narrow streets connecting squares, bordered by the sea and by the city walls. Most of the landmark buildings are situated in the plazas.It is characterized 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. The city fortify itself from pirates, constructing defensive bastions, castles and watchtowers on each flat roof. These are some of the characteristics of the city, in which the balcony railings are also outstanding.
In the 18th century, it became one of Spain’s greatest and most cosmopolitan cities and home to trading communities from many countries. The city has undergone much reconstruction. Many monuments, cathedrals, and landmarks have been cleaned and restored, adding to the charm of this ancient city. Newer areas of Cádiz typically have wide avenues and more modern buildings. In addition, the city is dotted with numerous parks where exotic plants flourish, including giant trees allegedly brought to Spain by Columbus from the New World.
Wander around the history-laded quarters, such as the Barrio de la Viña, the hot spot during the Carnival season and the best place to enjoy fresh fish from the Bahía, the Old Town, where most of the monuments are, and the Barrio del Pópulo. The Mercado Central with nearly 60 stalls selling everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to seafood, with all the local products in between, the market is worth a stop on any foodie’s itinerary.
Surrounded almost entirely by water, Cádiz has the atmosphere of an urban island, marked almost entirely by beaches and overseas ports dotted with fishing boats. Cobbled medieval streets stretch to whitewashed Spanish plazas and Roman ruins, local vibe with characterful tapas bars on street corners. Romantic jumble of sinuous streets where Atlantic waves crash against eroded sea walls, vivid green water dotted with fishing boats, salty beaches filled with the finest grade fine sand. Along Costa de la Luz there are many charming whitewashed villages, cheerful taverns fry up fresh fish.
Columbus chose Cadiz as the starting point for his second voyage to the New World. The city become a port of the commercial flow with America. This frenetic commercial activity translated into a stage of economic and cultural splendor, in which Baroque palaces with their characteristic lookout towers are erected. The Cathedral, visible from the sea, especially its dome covered in golden tiles, fits perfectly with the Cadiz physiognomy of colonial airs. It combines baroque and neoclassical styles.
Puerta Tierra, the entry point through the walls and the dividing line between modern and old Cádiz. On one side, wide avenues, beaches (La Victoria, Santa María and La Cortadura), sailing clubs and modern sporting facilities. On the other, a Cádiz with more flavour and history, that of the old districts: El Pópulo, the old medieval town; La Viña, fishing district and centre of the local tradition of satirical verses, or Santa María, living temple to flamenco. Streets with distinct characters but which have maintained a uniformity in the look of their houses which together form an exceptionally beautiful pattern.
On the Atlantic front rise the dome and yellow tiles of the Cathedral, looking towards Campo del Sur. Baroque and Neoclassical in style, its crypt guards the remains of the composer Manuel de Falla. Beside it are the old Roman theatre and the old cathedral. What was a royal square, parade ground and market, originating on land won from the sea, is also worth a visit. This is the Plaza de San Juan de Dios where the Neoclassical structure of Cádiz City Hall stands, looking towards the nearby port.
The old town of Cádiz is one of the most densely populated urban areas in Europe, and is packed with narrow streets. The old town is characterized by narrow streets connecting plazas, bordered by the sea and by the city walls. Most of the landmark buildings are in the plazas. Many lively squares lie along any route.
In the Plaza de España, beside the port, stands the palace of the Provincial Government and Monument to the Liberal Cortes (Parliament). In the tree-lined Plaza Mina you can visit the Cádiz Archaeological and Fine Arts Museum, which has interesting Phoenician exhibitions, while in the Plaza de San Francisco you can visit the church of the same name. Very well known is Plaza Mina, home to the Museum of Cádiz, with its famous Phoenician sarcophagi and collections in its Fine Arts section that make it one of the most important art galleries in the country.
The city’s most important shopping streets begin around the Plaza de las Flores. There is a good reason why the Central Market located here. Another square, that of Tío de la Tiza, is the heart of the district of La Viña, where the Carnival, a Festival of International Tourist Interest, begins with the traditional satirical verses. Right in the centre of Cádiz you can visit the Cádiz Municipal Historical Museum, the Tavira Tower, one of the most symbolic in the city, and the Oratory of San Felipe Neri, a National Monument in which the Liberal Constitution of 1812 was debated.
In the emblematic Plaza de San Juan de Dios you can try the typical fried “pescaíto” while listening to the clock of the Town Hall Amor Brujo by Manuel de Falla from Cádiz. The neighboring neighborhood of Santa María is one of the most deeply rooted in the city, with stately residences such as the baroque Casa Lasquetty and the Cárcel Real, an important neoclassical building.
The Plaza de San Antonio, in the Mentidero neighborhood, which was the nerve center of the city for many years, is the Oratorio de San Felipe Neri, a Baroque temple that has an Immaculate Conception by Murillo on its main altar. In 1812 it was the seat of the Cortes de Cádiz, where the first Spanish Constitution was drafted, nicknamed “la Pepa” for the day of her birth (that of San José).
The Vina quarter perfect setting to try the typical dish of mackerel with ‘piriñaca’ (a tomato and pepper salad), the district meets the sea at La Caleta, which is the most representative of the city’s beaches and stretches for 3 km along the coast (Santa María del Mar, Cortadura and La Victoria). Zorrilla street, the street of tapas bars par excellence, leads to the perfect viewpoint over the sea made up of the Jardines de la Alameda Apodaca and Parque Genovés. Taking a walk you reach the port of Cádiz, a regular stopover for tourist cruises between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic.
The current City Hall of Cádiz was built in 1799 on the foundations and location of the previous Town Halls and is the result of two stages: the first, neoclassical, begun in 1799 by Torcuato Benjumeda, and a second corresponding to the Elizabethan style, the work of García del Álamo in 1861 and that would affect the interiors.
Monument to the Constitution of 1812
The Monument to the Constitution of 1812 is a commemorative monument of Spain that commemorates the centenary of the Constitution of 1812 located in the Plaza de España in Cádiz. It was a project by Modesto López Otero, as an architect, and Aniceto Marinas, as a sculptor. It was made in 1912 and contains various allegories of War, Peace, Agriculture and Industry, along with reliefs alluding to the Cádiz resistance during the War of Independence. The sides of the monument show the allegorical figures of Agriculture to the left and Citizenship to the right. The columns with female figures—commonly called caryatids—that support the piece that represents the Constitutional Code of 1812 finish off the set with a great sense of scenographic showiness of a palatial and solemn type. The monument is integrated into the gardens of the Plaza de España and is also integrated with its shape and structure through its colour.
In the 18th century, Cádiz had more than 160 towers from which local merchants could look out to sea to watch for arriving merchant ships from the New World. These towers often formed part of the merchants’ houses, but this particular tower was located on a high point in the city, 45 meters above sea level, and was chosen by the Navy as their official lookout in 1787 (after eliminating several other locations previously.) The Torre Tavira, was named for its original watchman, Don Antonio Tavira, a lieutenant in the Spanish Navy. Today it is the tallest of the towers which still dot the Cádiz skyline. Since 1994 there is a camera obscura, a room that uses the principle of the pinhole camera and a specially prepared convex lens to project panoramic views of the Old City onto a concave disc. There are also two exhibition rooms and a rooftop terrace.
The Casa del Almirante is a palatial house, adjacent to the Plaza San Martín in the Barrio del Pópulo, which was constructed in 1690 with the proceeds of the lucrative trade with the Americas. It was built by the family of the admiral of the Spanish treasure fleet, the so-called Fleet of the Indies, Don Diego de Barrios. The exterior is sheathed in exquisite red and white Genoan marble, prepared in the workshops of Andreoli, and mounted by the master, García Narváez. The colonnaded portico, the grand staircase under the cupola, and the hall on the main floor are architectural features of great nobility and beauty. The shield of the Barrios family appears on the second-floor balcony.
Old customs house
Situated within the confines of the walls which protect the flank of the port of Cádiz are three identical adjacent buildings: the Customs House, the House of Hiring and the consulate. Of the three, the former had been erected first, built in a sober neo-classical style and of ample and balanced proportions. The works began in 1765 under the direction of Juan Caballero at a cost of 7,717,200 reales.
The Roman theatre was discovered in 1980, in the El Pópulo district, after a fire had destroyed some old warehouses, revealing a layer of construction that was judged to be the foundations of some medieval buildings; the foundations of these buildings had been built, in turn, upon much more ancient stones, hand-hewn limestone of a Roman character. Systematic excavations have revealed a largely intact Roman theatre. The theatre, constructed by order of Lucius Cornelius Balbus (minor) during the 1st century BC, is the second-largest Roman theatre in the world, surpassed only by the theatre of Pompeii, south of Rome. Cicero, in his Epistulae ad Familiares (‘Letters to his friends’), wrote of its use by Balbus for personal propaganda.
Grand Theater Falla
The theater is in the Neo-Mudejar style and the façades are made of red brick and it has three large doors with a horseshoe arch on its main façade, with alternating voussoirs in red and white. The plan is in the shape of a horseshoe, to which the floors are adapted, each one surrounded by a gallery that connects with the access stairs, which start from a large hall renovated in the 1920s. The stage measures 18 meters long by 25.5 meters deep, and the ceiling shows an allegory of Paradise, the work of Felipe Abárzuza and Rodríguez de Arias. Among the numerous shows that it hosts throughout the year, it is worth noting the official Contest of Cádiz carnival groups held according to the Pastoral Calendar, which becomes one of the biggest attractions of the city’s carnival. During the Carnival the different carnival groups show all their art and genius in different modalities in the Gran Teatro Falla.
Museum of Cádiz
The Museum of Cádiz is located in the Plaza de Mina. It was built on land disentailed from the Convent of San Francisco in the 19th century. The building is the work of Juan Daura, inaugurated in 1838 in neoclassical style. The museum after a reform has three sections: Archaeology, Fine Arts and Ethnography. Among its outstanding funds are: the Phoenician anthropoid sarcophagi, the findings from the Roman era (with various objects from Baelo Claudia, Medina Sidonia, Carissa Aurelia, Sancti Petri or Gades itself) and the rooms of Baroque painting, with works by Zurbarán, Alonso Cano, Rubens, Juan Carreño de Miranda and Murillo. From the beginning of the 20th century, Muchacha haciendo hosiery by Eugenio Hermoso stands out for its simple and naive realism. And in the room dedicated to this period, the blues of the Portrait of Micaela Aramburu painted by Ignacio Zuloaga in 1928 stand out.
Cádiz has important religious buildings that tell us of Andalusian religious feeling. In Santa María, the church that gives its name to the district and the Convent of Santo Domingo are important. Near La Viña the parish church of La Palma awaits, while at the other end of the city, next to Candelaria Bastion, stands the church of Carmen.
Cádiz Cathedral was known as “The Cathedral of The Americas” because it was built with money from the trade between Spain and America. The new cathedral was built from 1722 to 1838, 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 finally completed in the neoclassical style. Its chapels have many paintings and relics from the old cathedral and monasteries from throughout Spain. In the crypt are buried the composer Manuel de Falla and the poet and playwright José María Pemán, both born in Cádiz. Levante Tower, one of the towers of Cádiz Cathedral, is open to the public and shows panoramas of the city from on high.
The intense trade with the Indies aroused the greed of the pirates making it necessary for the city to fortify itself. The remains of the primitive although remodeled crossfire defensive system devised by Vauban make up an important part of the patrimonial wealth of Cádiz. The Puertas de Tierra conserve on both sides canvases of walls and semi-bastions such as those of San Roque and Santa Elena. A walk through Campo del Sur allows you to see the defensive bastions of Los Mártires and Capuchinos, next to La Caleta, escorted by the Castles of San Sebastián and Santa Catalina.
In the direction of Alameda Apodaca, you can admire the Baluarte de la Candelaria and the Walls of San Carlos. The Walls of the Land Gates clearly separate the new city reclaimed from the sea -structured along a large avenue and its extensive and atmospheric promenade- from the old one. The historic center has narrow streets and small squares with popular neighborhoods such as La Viña, El Mentidero, Santa María (true home of flamenco singing) and El Pópulo. The Pópulo neighborhood, the oldest in the capital, preserves the three gates of the primitive medieval city: Arco del Pópulo, de la Rosa and de los Blancos.
Las Puertas de Tierra originated in the 16th century. Once consisting of several layers of walls, only one of these remain today. By the 20th century it was necessary to remodel the entrance to the Old City to accommodate modern traffic. Today, the two side-by-side arches cut into the wall serve as one of the primary entrances to the city. El Arco de los Blancos is the gate to the Populo district, built around 1300. It was the principal gate to the medieval town. The gate is named after the family of Felipe Blanco who built a chapel (now disappeared) above the gate. El Arco de la Rosa (“Rose Arch”) is a gate carved into the medieval walls next to the cathedral. It is named after captain Gaspar de la Rosa, who lived in the city during the 18th century. The gate was renovated in 1973.
The Baluarte de la Candelaria (fortress or stronghold of Candlemas) is a military fortification. Taking advantage of a natural elevation of land, it was constructed in 1672 at the initiative of the governor, Diego Caballero de Illescas. Protected by a seaward-facing wall that had previously served as a seawall, Candelaria’s cannons were in a position to command the channels approaching the port of Cádiz. In more recent times, the edifice has served as a headquarters for the corps of military engineers and as the home to the army’s homing pigeons, birds used to carry written messages over hostile terrain. Thoroughly renovated, it is now used as a cultural venue.
The Castle of San Sebastián is also a military fortification and is situated at the end of a road leading out from the Caleta beach. It was built in 1706. Today the castle remains unused, although its future uses remain much debated. The Castle of Santa Catalina is also a military fortification, and is situated at the end of the Caleta beach. It was built in 1598 following the English sacking of Cádiz two years earlier. Recently renovated, today it is used for exhibitions and concerts.
Province of Cadiz
The province of Cadiz is very diverse and contains numerous places which are well worth a visit, from the countryside around Jerez de la Frontera to the villages in Campo de Gibraltar, or you can take a tour of the white villages and stop to relax somewhere along the coast between Tarifa and Sanlúcar de Barrameda. The exceptional geographical position of Cádiz enables you to go to beautiful places like the Costa de la Luz, El Puerto de Santa María, Puerto Real (whose old quarter is a historic-artistic site) or Chiclana de la Frontera. At the western end of the Cadiz coast lies Sanlúcar de Barrameda, well known for its manzanilla, with Denomination of Origin, and for being one of the entrances to the Doñana Natural Park, declared a World Heritage Site.
Its 260 kilometres of Atlantic coastline feature long beaches with fine sand, many of them undeveloped and not excessively exploited for tourism. The whole coast is part of the Costa de la Luz. From first-rate urban beaches like La Victoria in the city of Cadiz or La Barrosa in Chiclana, through to virgin beaches such as the Levante in El Puerto; Los Caños de Meca and Zahora in the Barbate area, Bolonia in Tarifa and El Palmar in Vejer. A highly recommended tour is the Roman Bética Route, which takes you to places in the former Roman province, from Santiponce (Seville) to Tarifa (Cádiz), a good place for walking in the old town and going windsurfing.
Places worth visiting inland include the vineyards of Jerez or the White Villages Route and the Bullfighting Route. Inland, Jerez de la Frontera awaits, a city with one of the most famous wines in Spain, (also with Denomination of Origin) and home to the “cartujano” horses. It is a good starting point for doing the White Villages Route. This way you will discover Serranía de Ronda – the natural parks of Grazalema and Los Alcornocales – as well as places with impeccable white houses like Arcos de la Frontera, Medina Sidonia or Vejer de la Frontera.
Costa de la Luz
Cádiz Spain has some of the best hidden beaches in the country. Here the coastline is called la Costa de la Luz, which translates into “the coast of the light”. This coast is one of the longest, with more than 200 km of stunning beaches with fine, golden sands exposed to the Atlantic Ocean. Costa de la Luz is aptly named due to the bright, vivid light that highlights the comeliness of its streets, the whitewash of its walls, the golden hue of the dunes and the reflection of the sea.
There are coastal towns dotted along the coastline, where you can sample a cuisine that mainly features fish and seafood: Sanlúcar, also famous for its horse races along the beach, Rota, Chipiona, Conil de la Frontera, El Puerto de Santa María and Chiclana de la Frontera. The village of Vejer de la Frontera. This whitewashed village (pueblo blanco) that’s also on the list of most beautiful villages in Spain, has so much history! It even has a historic Jewish quarter for those interested in Sephardic Spain.
Zahara de las Atunes s a stylish and chic village on the coast, with beautiful beaches to the south. Even though it is trendy, it doesn’t see mass tourism. Bolonia with some Roman ruins, and the nearby beach is beautiful. Nearby be sure to also stop by Punta Paloma to explore the sand dunes and long sandy beach. And at the end of the peninsula lies the hippie-vibe surf village of Tarifa. With so many vegan and vegetarian food options for a small town, Tarifa has a Spanish element too with a beautiful old walled historic center and castle. The southernmost point of mainland Europe, Tarifa is where the Mediterranean and Atlantic meet.
Campo de Gibraltar/Los Alcornocales
It is the southernmost point, where two oceans and two continents merge together. The region includes the coastal towns of Algeciras, La Línea de la Concepción, San Roque and Tarifa, a walled, Moorish city that is famous for windsurfing and kitesurfing and the Baelo Claudia roman ruins nearby. The landscape is so unusual that two Nature Reserves also come together here: Los Alcornocales and the Parque Natural del Estrecho, part of the Intercontinental Biosphere Reserve of the Mediterranean Andalusia (Spain) – Morocco.
Inside the Alcornocales Nature Reserve, considered the best-kept forest in Europe, the towns of Jimena and Castellar de la Frontera are worth a visit, the first for its Roman-Moorish castle and the second for its medieval fortress. If you are touring the region, you must not miss out the municipality of Los Barrios and Alcalá de los Gazules, which has been granted the historic-artistic designation.
Jerez de la Frontera
Jerez is in a lush area of countryside formed by the fertile lowland of the River Guadalquivir, just a few minutes away from the Atlantic beaches and the Cádiz mountain range. Jerez has become famous across the borders due to its wine. This and its truly distinctive urban character are only part of what this region has to offer: Carthusian horse riding, the birthplace of flamenco, the host of the motor racing circuit, as well as the monuments in the city centre, granted the historic-artistic designation. Jerez is also home to the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art and no end of wine cellars to visit and sample exquisite wine.
Jerez’s historic center is abundant with rich architecture. Full of palaces and tree-lined streets, the city has that feeling of old wealth in the air. The town has many interesting examples of Gothic architecture. In the Santiago quarter, home of bulería music, there is the Church of Santiago, dating from the 15th century, which holds the image of Our Father Jesús del Prendimiento, attributed to La Roldana. The Convent-Church of Santo Domingo and San Marcos’ Church are also good examples of this style. They each house some of the images which are carried through the streets during Easter Week (Jerez’s main festival, along with the Horse Fair).
Very nearby is the Cathedral, a beautiful, highly monumental work of Baroque architecture. Inside, the choir stalls, the Virgen Niña de Zurbarán, an Inmaculada by Vaccaro, a crucifix by Juan de Arce and the Cristo de la Viga, are all worth a visit. The adjacent tower is built on the site of the Arab minaret. San Dionisio church is one of the best examples of Jerez Mudejar architecture. It is situated in one of the most enchanting little squares in Jerez, Asunción Square, where the municipal council office is also to be found, a splendid Zenaissance building.
The Alcázar of Jerez de la Frontera, a well-restored Moorish fortress with an ancient mosque, arab baths, and aljibe water system, with its cisterns and fountains which are in perfect harmony with the Baroque palace of Villavicencio, built upon the ruins of the original Islamic palace, with a tower where the visitor can find the original Camera Obscura.
Declared Property of Cultural Interest, Cartuja de Santa Maria de la Defension is considered to be the most important religious monument in the province. Flamboyant Gothic, Plateresque Renaissance and Baroque styles go hand in hand in harmony in this structure, demonstrating great beauty and charm in features such as the Entrance Portico, the Chapel of Santa María de la Defensión, can be visited by appointment or on specific days the Patio de los Arrayanes, the Chapel to Los Caminantes, the layman’s cloister, or the so-called Jasmine Patio. But apart from its artistic value, La cartuja has entered the history books as the birthplace of the Cartujan horse.
Walk along the Calle Larga, the nerve centre of the town. This is where the town’s heart beats strongest, -where the best shops are to be found alongside the pavement cafés where you can enjoy a drink and some of the delicious Jerez tapas. Then we can head for the Plaza del Arenal, Jerez’s most emblematic square, the Mamelón, and the little Placita del Banco, which are all buzzing with activity, then to either Plateros or Rafael Rivero Square, which are friendly places with plenty of pavement cafés offering the town’s tasty cuisine.
San miguel is a quarter with a gypsy air, and birthplace of singer Lola Flores, this is one of the most stately districts in Jerez, whilst also being one of the most popular. The manor houses, such as the Villapanés Palace, provide the Quarter with its special flavour. At the heart of the district, there stands the church of the same name, which was built in the Gothic style, starting in the 15th century, although the façade is a good example of Baroque architecture. The main altarpiece, the work of Martínez Montañés and Juan de Arce.
Attending an authentic Andalucían equestrian show is a must. The Real Escuela Andaluza del Arte Ecuestre (the royal school of Andaluz equestrian arts) puts on a show called “Cómo bailan los caballos andaluces” (how the Andaluz horses dance) It is a spectacular ballet and is so intrinsic to Andaluz culture. Sherry wine comes from this area, with over 20 bodegas in the city itself, there is something for everyone. For flamenco be sure to pop by the Centro Andaluz de Flamenco. Not only can you catch a live show, but you can learn a lot about flamenco.
Sanlucar de barrameda
Sanlucar de barrameda has an urban design characterised by being divided into two great nuclei: the Barrio Alto and the Barrio Bajo. The Barrio Alto is the historic centre with the town’s monuments, narrow streets, white house fronts and aristocratic palaces such as the Palace of Orleáns y Borbón (beside the Basílica de Nuestra Señora de la Caridad) or the Renaissance Palacio Ducal de Medina Sidonia. Nearby, we can find the Arquillo or Rota Gate, the remains of the Medieval walls, the Santiago Castle (15th century), the Las Descalzas Convent and Nuestra Señora de la O Church.
Going down the Cuesta Belén towards the Barrio Bajo, there is the Auditorio de la Merced, and the 15th century ‘Covachas’ -the best example of Gothic architecture in the town– which decorate one of the façades of the Dukes Palace. On the way to the Church of Santo Domingo (16th century), we find the Church of San Jorge and the Regina Coeli Convent. In the opposite direction, there is the Church of El Carmen and the Capuchin Convent. To go for tapas in Sanlúcar, nowhere is better than the Plaza Cabildo or Bajo de Guía, the fisherman’s district inundated with restaurants where you can try the famous king prawns, fried fish and seafood dishes. The steamer “Real Fernando”, which crosses the river as far as the river mouth, allowing the visitor to discover Doñana, departs from the pontoon in Bajo de Guía. The coast of Sanlúcar has 6 km of beach. In Doñana, the famous Horse Races (International Tourist Interest) take place on the beaches of this town.
Tarifa, the southernmost point in Europe and the closest point to Africa, is one of the coastal towns with the greatest tourist renown. Besides its numerous prehistoric remains (such as the naturalistic paintings in the Moro Cave, and the necropolis at Los Algarbes), there are not only Phoenician remains on the Island of Las Palomas but also remains from the Roman period, with the archaeologically important town of Baelo Claudia, considered the most important find in the province. Dating from the 10th-15th centuries, Guzman el Bueno’s Castle is one of the local jewels, the fortress was ordered to be built by Abderramán III it is currently well preserved with a historical Interpretation Centre inside.
Its idyllic, extensive beaches beaten by the winds from the east make Tarifa a cult centre for fans of water sports, such as paddlesurf, kite-surfing, fly-surfin or diving, to name but a few. Tarifa having become an authentic Mecca for kitesurfers. Bolonia Beach, a wild, huge dune with areas reserved for nudists. El Cañuelo is a beach with natural surroundings, spectacular vegetation, and crystal-clear water, which can be reached from the Camarinal Lighthouse. Los Alemanes beach stretches from the La Plata Cape to Gracia Cape.
The borough extends across four different protected natural areas: the Los Alcornocales natural park, El Estrecho Natural Park, the Los Lances Beach Beauty Spot,an area where many birds come together going to and from the crossing at the Strait of Gibraltar- and the Natural Monument of the Bolonia Dune, which is more than 30 metres high and is situated on the Punta Camarinal isthmus, on the southern Atlantic coast of Cadiz. The Campo de Gibraltar area and the Tarifa coast are one of the main European enclaves for bird and cetacean watching. This is thanks to their close proximity to Africa, and the Strait of Gibraltar: where the Atlantic meets the Mediterranean. A visit to the Cetacean Interpretation Centre is a must see, where you can board a guided tour to see the mammals.
Vejer de la Frontera
Vejer de la Frontera sits a beautiful hill at the foot of the river Barbate. Its Moorish heritage is evident in the popular architecture and design of neighbourhoods like the Judería. It is perched on top of a beautiful hill overlooking the River Barbate. The town takes pride in its historic legacy from past civilizations such as the Phoenicians, Carthaginians and Romans. The town has always been walled, and the labyrinth of twisting streets transports you to another time. The Castle stands at the highest part of the old town and can be reached through a beautiful horseshoe arch. It combines elements of Muslim and Christian architecture.
The town also boasts some magnificent examples of religious architecture. The Divino Salvador Parish Church overlooks the town and is a beautiful example of architectural evolution, with Gothic-Mudejar, Renaissance and Baroque elements. The town has other outstanding churches: the Monjas Concepcionistas Church, with its stunning Las Monjas Arch; the Hospedería de San Francisco Convent; and, on the outskirts of the town, the Visigoth Nuestra Señora de la Oliva hermitage. The most outstanding civil buildings in the town are the Baroque Palace of the Marquis of Tamarón and the Mayorazgo House, both dating from the 18th Century, and the San Miguel Windmills.
Pueblos Blancos/Sierra de Grazalema
The Cádiz mountain range, with a rich architectural heritage, stretches to the north of the province along a steep, beautiful, green and thrilling route: the Trail of the Whitewashed Villages. The Sierra de Grazalema is a beautiful natural park. With miles and miles of hiking trails, backroads perfect for cyclists, and gorgeous scenery, anyone craving nature shouldn’t miss the Sierra de Grazalema area.
Hiking, biking, birdwatching, rock climbing, and caving, for those who just want to be outside the Sierra de Grazalema has it all. A car is very helpful to get to the start of the trails or to these spots, but for those without their own wheels, there are several guided tour options. The information center in the town of El Bosque has trail maps and information about all of these activities. Cádiz Province’s famous Payoyo cheese comes from these parts. There are places to taste it and even a cheese museum in the town of El Bosqe.
The trail goes deep into the Grazalema Nature Reserve, declared a Biosphere Reserve. Here you must visit the town of the same name, and Zahara de la Sierra, which has one of the most dramatic landscapes in the area. Finally, you will find Alcalá del Valle and Setenil de las Bodegas, with their unusual layout of houses built into the mountain, following the river’s course.
Arcos de la Frontera, granted the historic-artistic designation, is one of the most famous whitewashed villages. It is followed by Ubrique, El Bosque and Prado del Rey, not only famous for their stunning scenery, but also for their arts and crafts. Algar, Algodonales, El Gastor, Puerto Serrano and Villaluenga del Rosario are also part of the trail. Then there are Benaocaz, Bornos, Espera, Villamartín and Olvera, each one with its typical fiestas, castles and idiosyncrasies.
Castellar de la Frontera
Castellar de la Frontera, founded in 1303 by Alfonso Pérez de Guzmán, this town experienced great economic development in the 18th century, as the intense merchant and trading activity caught on around the entire Bay. Many manor houses, such as that of the Conde del Pinar, were built around this time. Divided into two separate parts – a newer part and an older part. Castellar Viejo, the older part is entirely surrounded by a well-preserved Moorish castle. Constructed between the 12th and 15th centuries is one of the few castles where a town still fully exists within its walls. Surrounded entirely by the castle complex, you will find a small town with winding streets and whitewashed houses typical of Andalucía.
Well worth a visit are the Neoclassical Parish Church of San Juan Bautista, the Church of Jesús Nazareno, the Church of San Telmo and the Hermitage of Santa Ana. The 18th century Torre del Reloj (The Clock Tower) is also of great interest. Chiclana has a beach for everyone. From the typical family beaches such as La Barrosa with its wide promenade and variety of services and facilities, to the more natural and tranquil ones like El Puerco, which is sheltered by small cliffs or Punta de la Pierdas. Sancti-Petri is another popular beach ideal for kite surfing.
The municipality’s many appealing features, an enviable natural setting and magnificent beaches – which have contributed to the burst of luxurious urban developments which have appeared, such as the Novo de Sancti Petri, with its marina and incredible golf courses. The town is also at the vanguard of Health Tourism, with the Fuente Amarga Spa (1803), now considered one of the main health centres in Spain. As well as the usual types of treatment for pain, rheumatic, respiratory or dermatological disorders, the spa has amazing relaxing properties, and is a great beauty treatment. And everything is totally natural, with the sulphurous waters which characterise the centre.
From La Barrosa Beach, one can see the picturesque Island of Sancti Petri, the only remaining part of the southern tip of Cadiz’s largest island, where tradition cites as the location of the famous temple of Hercules, erected for the Phoenician god Melkart, and visited by, amongst others, Julius Caesar and Hannibal.
El Puerto de Santa Maria
El Puerto de Santa Maria is a historic coastal port, throughout the Middle Ages, there was a progressive sea-faring boom here, so it is no surprise that many of its sailors participated in the discovery and conquest of America. It was in this town that sailor Juan de la Cosa drew, in the year 1500, the first map of the world to include the American continent. El Puerto is known worldwide as the birthplace of Rafael Alberti, one of the central figures of the Generation of ’27, a Spanish literature school in its Golden Age. The Fundación Rafael Alberti Museum is devoted to introducing people to, and popularising, his work. In summer, the important Comedy Theatre Festival owes its origins to another writer, as it is organised by the Fundación Pedro Muñoz Seca.
One of its most emblematic buildings is the Castle of San Marcos (10th-14th century), originally and Arabic mosque and currently a beautiful fortress; other buildings might be the Monastery of La Victoria and the Iglesia Mayor Prioral (both of Gothic style). Notable examples of civil architecture are La Lonja (the old Market building), the San Juan de Dios Hospital and Las Galeras Fountain. The ever popular Bull belonging to the Osborne Group, from El Puerto de Santa María, is a constantly visible companion to the traveller, as around 90 of them are dotted along Spain’s roads and have become an inseparable part of the landscape. This bull has become a national symbol, making the province well-known worldwide.
During the 18th century, the town reached new heights of splendour, and became known as the “Town with a Hundred Palaces”, although it took on its present-day structure in the 20th century, thanks to the wine trade. Some of the beautiful, mainly Baroque-style palaces are still to be admired: the Vizarrón Manor House (Casa de las Cadenas), the Reinoso Mendoza Manor House (Town Hall), the Aranibar Manor House, the Valdivieso Manor House, the Purullena Palace, the Varela House…
El Puerto is considered the leisure centre of la Bahía. Throughout the year, the activity is constant, but summer is the best season. Its beaches (Levante-Los Toruños, Valdelagrana, La Puntilla, Caleta de Agua, Santa Catalina and Fuentebravía) are ideal for water sports, and its modern sports facilities along with the extensive range of entertainments, restaurants and so on make this a first class tourist destination. A visit to the famous wineries is compulsory; these are the places where the wines are matured that then accompany the succulent fish and seafood dishes on offer in places such as the typical La Ribera del Marisco.
Discover one of the provinces in Spain with the most biological diversity. A magical panorama that surpasses description. Its mountainous, multi-coloured landscape, its remote pathways, the charm and bewitchment of its unspoilt expanses. 6 naturals parks to explore on land or sea, each one a perfect setting to enjoy the experience.
The Sierra de Grazalema Nature Park, with over 50,000 hectares, is the location of the “Pinsapar de Benamahoma”, a forest of firs that survived the retreat of the Ice Age. With an annual average of over 200 centimetres per square metre, it has the highest rainfall in the Iberian Peninsula. The Sierra de Grazalema also encompasses the White Villages Trail, and there are companies that organise multi-adventure activities, caving, horse-riding or rock-climbing. The Green Gorge Trail is one of the most characteristic in the area. A spectacular rocky canyon caused by the lashing of the waters of the Bocaleones river, and ending in a cavity called Cueva de la Shrine or Ermita de la Garganta.
The Los Alcornocales Nature Park with a surface area of 170,025 hectares, this is known as “the jungle of the Iberian Peninsula”. From here it is possible to see the African coast. In the park it is common to see griffon vultures, Eurasian eagle-owls, storks, booted eagles and hawks. You can also see Andalusian deer, roe deer, otters and Egyptian mongooses. Its micro-climate, very similar to that of tropical areas, has encouraged the proliferation of a lush, almost impenetrable, vegetation. A characteristic of its orography can be found in the “canutos”, deep, narrow river valleys. At Los Alcornocales you can go canyoning, kayaking, visit archaeological remains or go on a balloon trip. This trail, located in Los Barrios, is adapted to an irregular terrain that reveals to us the most distinctive plant formation of the “Parque Natural Los Alcornocales”, the gallery forests.
The El Estrecho Nature Park comprises mountain ranges, coasts and sea beds between Tarifa and Algeciras. Located between two seas and two continents, it offers unique historic, scenic and natural wealth. Imperial eagles, whales and dolphins beside the ruins of Baelo Claudia, the city that best represents Roman urban construction in the Iberian Peninsula. This city used to export garum, a delicious fish sauce with an exquisite taste, to the entire Roman empire. Approximately thirty caves with paintings on their walls, sand dunes at Bolonia and Punta Paloma beaches. The Strait of Gibraltar is a corridor for dolphins, orcas, pilot whales and humpback whales. Several companies organise excursions to view them from the comfort of a boat.
Where the sea and the forest meet, the vertiginous cliffs and the Caños de Meca beaches is the location of the La Breña and Marshes of Barbate Nature Park. With freshwater springs right beside the sea, trails for hikers and the opportunity to go diving. White wagtails, collared pratincoles and other birds flit through the cavities of these cliffs which may exceed a hundred metres in height and drop sharply into the Atlantic. Cycling along the cliffs of Barbate, with its impressive sea views, seven low-difficulty kilometres to see, smell and feel the Atlantic.
Marshes, beaches, pine forests, inlets and dunes make up the Bay of Cadiz Nature Park, where you can go on sea trips and visit estuaries and salt flats, a reminder of what used to be one of the most thriving industries of the Bay in the 19th century, when there were over a hundred saltworks. And opposite the coast, the Sancti Petri islet, where mythology sites the temple of Hercules and Atlantis, and which witnessed the passage of historic personalities as significant as Hannibal or Julius Caesar, the Roman emperor. This was the site of the Phoenician sanctuary dedicated to Melkart, the deity worshipped by the mariners who reached this coast about 3,000 years ago on their journey from the easternmost side of the Mediterranean. It’s a delight to enter the maze of the park by boat and taste the fish freshly caught in the estuaries, baked either on a tile or in salt.
At the mouth of the river Guadalquivir, as it flows into the Atlantic, is the Doñana Nature Park, another of the best places to go riding. In the part of the Park located in the province of Cadiz, you can visit marshes and pine forests, go bird-watching, or take the “Real Fernando” boat from Sanlúcar de Barrameda to cross the Guadalquivir to the National Park. 3,400 hectares of marshes, salt flats and pine forests beside the river Guadalquivir belong to the nature park surrounding the national park bearing the same name. The lighthouse of Chipiona, the highest in Spain at 62 metres, permanently marks a key point for navigation: the mouth of the Guadalquivir.
The province of Cádiz offers you 260 kilometres of coast and 138 kilometres of beaches: bays, coves, kilometres of open sands. Some of them have a history, such as the beach at Trafalgar, where the famous battle took place off its shores, or others that are now film stars, such as La Caleta, where scenes of a James Bond film were shot. There are beaches that are pioneers in Europe, such as La Victoria, for receiving one of the first EU environmental management certificate, and others of many colours, such as the beaches at Tarifa, with the vertigo of fly surfing and kiting. Beaches that are ideal for windsurfing; many others that are perfect for underwater fishing in their crystal-clear waters: Los Lances, Bolonia, Valdevaqueros and many others. A total of 74 different beaches.
The Costa de la Luz offers a multitude of destinations combining culture and leisure. And for the best views of the Atlantic Ocean there is nothing like a stroll in the garden walks of the Alameda de la Apodaca, the Genovés Park and La Caleta beach. This beach is the only one is the old town and is framed by the Santa Catalina and San Sebastián castles. Its sands give way to the bathing area of La Palma and El Real. You can continue as far as the beaches of the modern city, passing through Campo del Sur and stopping at the Mártires, Capuchinos and San Roque bastions.
Playa de la Caleta is Cádiz’s urban beach, and one of Spain’s most charming beaches set in a city. Set between two castles, Castillo de Santa Catalina and Castillo de San Sebastián, which gives it a very cultural feel. As a Blue Flag beach, this sandy stretch has all of the facilities that you will need in order to have a stress-free and relaxing day in the sun. There is an mock Moorish bathhouse. James Bond fans might recognize the beach from the film Die Another Day.
Should you prefer a slightly quieter beach, opt for the Playa de la Victoria instead, as this 2.8 km beach is big enough to mean that you can avoid the crowds if you like. One of Europe’s best urban beaches, Playa de la Victoria is also a great choice if you want to get active, as it is home to volleyball courts, and an outdoor gym, and it is possible to play football there too.
There are many 4-5 stars hotels in Cádiz that are only a stone’s throw from the beach. The city boasts numerous hotels from international brands such as Iberostar. They are the perfect place to stay in order to make the most of your trip to Cadiz. You will also find children’s playgrounds here, making it the ideal destination if you are travelling with kids, and there are plenty of restaurants, bars, shops, and hotels to choose from.
The easterly wind and sunsets of Cadiz have played witness to the passage of so many different civilisations in its towns and cities. The province plays host to many unmissable events throughout the year: its festivals, many of which have been officially declared to be of interest to tourism, and whose atmosphere and spirit of fun will leave no visitor unaffected.
The humorous and fun image of the Carnival of Cádiz makes it a unique party that is worth discovering. With all the playful events most expected, perhaps of the Spanish carnivals the one with the most jocular and fun image. During these days there is no shortage of other shows so that the party in Cádiz is complete. The Carnival of Cádiz is famous for the satirical groups called chirigotas, who perform comical musical pieces. The official association of carnival groups sponsors a contest in the Gran Teatro Falla each year where chirigotas and other performers compete for prizes. This is the climactic event of the Cádiz carnival. The entire population dons fancydress and heads for the street to take part in the fun, the laughter and the partying in the midst of the choral groups, the satirical ‘chirigotas’ and the swaying, rhythmic ‘comparsas’, who parody and criticise the year’s events. The satire and parody are without equal, and the Cadiz sense of fun unleashes its full force.
Every spring, Jerez celebrates its traditional Horse Fair, one of the most important events in the country’s festive calendar. As always, the relevant role of the horse at the fair will be present with the ride for horsemen and carriages, the equestrian events, and Equisur. Without forgetting flamenco as another of the essences of this fair, as the economic and tourist potential of the city.
The horse races of Sanlúcar de Barrameda, those that were born almost two centuries ago and that have been declared of International Tourist Interest since 1997. The dates follow the tidal calendar, since the days of the races have to coincide with a good low tide so that the horses can compete for the beach with enough shoreline.
La fiesta de Moros y Cristianos is held in Benamahoma, in Sierra de Cádiz, in honour of their patron saint, San Antonio. Benamahoma, a small village near Grazalema, whose name means the “Sons or House of Muhammad” each year on the first weekend of August recreates when the Christian armies reconquered Al-Andalus, and expelled the Moors from Spain. A celebration of the sixteenth century battle is celebrated every summer.
In Cadiz city, the former Gades offers you its Parador de Turismo, the “Hotel Atlántico”. Staying in the heart of the old town in a room with sea views is ideal preparation for tasting the rich cuisine of Cádiz. Cadiz brings together the wealth of the whole province and offers us langoustines from Sanlúcar, sole from San Fernando, wines from Jerez (sherry) and Cádiz “turrón” (a kind of nougat). Cold meats include Iberian ham, always from the mountains of the interior.
The gastronomy of Cadiz has gained a lot of prestige in recent years, the proof of which can be seen in the tremendous number of national and international awards and, of course, in all the public support. In 2017, Ángel León and his restaurant Aponiente in El Puerto de Santa María was the first restaurant in Andalusia to be awarded three Michelin stars. His other restaurant, Alevante, in Chiclana also holds one Michelin start, as do the restaurants Cocina y Alma and Mantúa in Jerez.
Cadiz also prides itself to have cheeses made in the interior of the province that have been awarded hundreds of national and international prizes. More than 30 cheese dairies already use milk from Payoya goats and Grazalemeña merino sheep. An indispensable ingredient in many dishes is the olive oil of the Sierra de Cádiz, which has had its own designation of origin since 2002. Sherry and almadraba tuna are undoubtedly the gastronomic icons of the province and are also an important factor in regional tourism. The wine cellars of the Marco de Jerez are the most frequently visited ones in Spain and every Spring a lot of tourists visit the province attracted by the blue fin tuna caught using the traditional almadraba netting method.