Jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean, like the keel of a ship, Cádiz is a long peninsula and has the cooling breeze of the Atlantic ever present.
Cádiz is one of the oldest continuously inhabited Cities in Europe and was founded by the Phoenicians.
It has been the principal home of the Spanish Navy with the famous Armada sailing to invade Great Britain in 1588.
The very old part of Cádiz ‘Casco Antiguo’ encompasses a great Roman Theatre with an excellent exhibition centre, it is within the remnants of the original walls and consists of three principal Barrios, or Districts, El Pópulo, La Viña, and Santa María.
Cádiz has a great central market, which is open in the morning and lunch time, and well worth a visit is the Camera Obscura at the top of the Torre Tavira tower.
The Phoenicians originally named the City Gadir which became Gādēs during the Roman times.
Since Columbus’ voyage came from around the Cadiz and Huelva area, then many of the Hispanic people in Latin America have roots that go back to this region.
The population of the City of Cádiz is around 120,000 and in recent years the population has steadily declined. It is a popular destination for cruise ships as it is a delight to wander the lanes and enjoy the beautiful architecture of the merchants houses and small plazas.
Founded around 1104 BC, Cádiz is widely regarded as the most ancient city still standing in Western Europe. The Phoenician settlement traded with Tartessos, a city-state whose exact location remains unknown but is thought to have been somewhere close-by.
Hercules is sometimes credited with founding the City after performing his tenth labour, the slaying of Geryon, a monster with three heads and torsos joined to a single pair of legs. And the City flag depicts Hercules and representation of the ‘Pillars of Hercules’
Cádiz became the base for Hannibal’s conquest of southern Iberia, and he sacrificed there to Hercules/Melqart before setting off on his famous journey in 218 BC to cross the Alps and invade Italy.
Under Moorish rule between 711 and 1262, it was called ‘Qādis’, whence the modern Spanish name was derived. A famous Muslim legend developed concerning an “idol” (Sanam Qãdis) over 100 cubits tall on the outskirts of Cádiz, whose magic blocked the strait of Gibraltar with contrary winds and currents, its destruction by Abd-al-Mumin in 1145 supposedly permitted ships to sail through the strait once more.
During the Age of Exploration, the city experienced a renaissance. Christopher Columbus sailed from Cádiz on his second and fourth voyages and it later became the home port of the Spanish treasure fleet. Consequently, becoming a major target of Spain’s enemies. The 16th century saw a series of failed raids by Barbary Corsairs; the greater part of the old town was consumed in a major fire in 1569; and in April, 1587, a raid by the Englishman Francis Drake occupied the harbour for three days, captured six ships, and destroyed 31 others (an event which became known in England as ‘The Singeing of the King of Spain’s Beard’). The attack delayed the sailing of the Spanish Armada by a year.