Cadiz is a fabulous location for a city break. Located on a long promontory in the South West of Andalucia, it has something of an island feel to it. The city is small enough to walk around with ease and there’s enough going on to extend your explorations for a few days. Our visit may have been just a day trip on the train from Jerez de la Frontera but we had a fabulous time.
Leaving the modern railway station you immediately walk past the traditional old station. Signs outside suggest that one day it will be a place of gastronomic delights but friends living locally say the information has been displayed for years so don’t hold your breath!
Crossing over the road towards the port, keep an eye out for the impressive Palacio de Congresso over the main thoroughfare on the left. A little further on, cross over and explore the fountains of Plaza de san Juan de Dios. There are some statues to admire too as you make your way to the beautiful Ayuntamiento.
From there turn right and continue to the cathedral square. For €6 you can explore inside the cathedral and climb up its clock tower. If you are on a tight budget there is an alternative. Entry into the Iglesia de Santiago Apóstol is free and it has some lovely baroque architecture and wooden carvings inside. It is well and truly overshadowed by its gigantic neighbour but a worthy diversion.
Emerge past the cathedral onto Avenida Campo del Sur. Now you have a choice. You can turn left and spend some time on the beach at Playa Santa María del Mar, a 15 minute walk away. This is surfing country so maybe you can find a board to rent somewhere!
Turning right instead allows you to continue our walk. There are some strange sculptures around and even a couple of bizarre coffins/sarcophagi hiding behind a glass panel. there are some beautiful and colourful buildings around too. It is nice and flat and there are wonderful views up and down the coast as well as out to sea.
The promenade turns sharply right at La Caleta beach. Here you have the option of walking out to the old fortifications. Sadly they are closed off to the public but it’s a lovely location for some photos. You may find a fisherman or two landing their catch if you (or they) are lucky.
On the other side of La Caleta beach is Castillo de Santa Catalina. This fort is open to the public and is a great place to wander around and get a feel for its past glories. Also inside is a small museum which tells the story of its history, as well as some gruesome pictures of a devastating gunpowder store explosion in 1947. You can watch a documentary about it on Youtube if your Spanish is up to it. In another section you can often catch an art display. We were lucky enough to see the final day of an exhibition by wildlife painter Juan Varela. It was superb. A quick glance at his website will show you why we enjoyed it so much.
Continuing along the water’s edge you’ll soon find yourself in the cool surrounds of the Genoese Park complete with statues and waterfalls. The city’s Parador is a modern monstrosity built completely out of keeping with its surrounds on the South West corner of the park.
Further round the corner there are many more statues and fountains in the Alameda Apodaca gardens. From there it is just a short stroll to the Monument to the Constitution of 1812. This gleaming white statue dominates the large Plaza España. Nearby you can get a glimpse of the towers atop many of the old merchants’ houses from where they would keep watch for ships coming into port with their wares on board.
Exploring the maze of narrow streets in the historical centre is a pleasure too, and can provide some welcome shade on sunny days. Our aim was to visit the Tavira Tower and see its camera obscura but sadly renovation work on the day of our visit put paid to that idea.
Walking all this way certainly means you build up an appetite. For something completely different we were introduced to La Candela Tapas Bar. Whilst it’s not cheap, the incredible variety of Spanish/Vietnamese fusion tapas they served was fantastic!
All too soon it was time to say goodbye to this lovely city. Hopefully this blog will inspire you to go there and stretch your legs, or perhaps you’ll fall in love with the place and stay a while longer. Their biggest celebration is Carnaval in February when the streets are completely full. Sounds like fun!