Spain Guide

 

Cádiz Tourist Attractions Things to Do

Cádiz has a wealth of fascinating museums, priceless paintings and important historic sites. It's also well placed for exploring the south west corner of Spain with its beautiful Andalucian countryside, ancient villages and virgin beaches.

A good starting point for a tour of the city is the tourist information office in the Plaza San Juan de Dios where you can pick up some excellent guides to all the major places of interest.

The most impressive building in town is the grandiose 18th century cathedral with its unique golden dome. Walk along the seafront to get the best external view of the dome. It's worth paying the small entrance fee to visit the cathedral which houses a priceless collection of religious treasures along with gold, silver and jewellery brought from the New World in the wake of Columbus' voyages of discovery. The cathedral also contains the tomb of one of the city's most illustrious sons, the great Andalucian composer Manuel de Falla.

The Fine Arts and Archaeology Museum in Plaza de Mina has some outstanding exhibitions of Phoenician, Greek and Roman relics, a Rubens canvas and a collection of major works by celebrated 17th century painter Francisco de Zurbaran. At the Oratorio de Santa Cruz church in Calle Rosario you can see the work of another great Spanish master, Francisco Goya who died in 1828 and is considered by many to be the Father of Modern Art.

At various sites throughout the city you'll see various reminders of the famous Cortes of Cádiz the self proclaimed parliament which gathered here to legislate as an alternative to the French imposed government during the bloody six year War of Independence. In the absence of King Ferdinand VII, the Cortes proclaimed a liberal constitution here in 1812, embodying many of the principles of the French revolution.

The new constitution was proclaimed at the church of San Felipe Neri in Cádiz now a place of pilgrimage for many democratic Spaniards. The city's Municipal History Museum has a 19th century mural depicting the establishment of the constitution, along with an extraordinarily detailed model of the city dating back to 1779. Calle Ancha, near to the San Felipe Neri church, was the central street of Cadiz in the early 19th century and its bars and cafes were used for unofficial gatherings of the Cortes.

For a dramatic view of the entire city, climb to the top of the Torre Tavira, one of the surviving watch towers which guarded the harbour in the 18th century. A special feature of the tower is its "camera obscura" a darkened room in which mirrors and lenses are used to project spectacular images of the city onto a screen. The principles of the camera obscura were understood by Aristotle as far back as the 4th century BC but it wasn't until the 18th century that the device flourished as popular entertainment in seaside resorts (you can see another good example in the centre of Bournemouth on the south coast of England.)

Beyond the city boundaries, there are some fascinating sightseeing trips within easy reach of Cádiz. Jerez de la Frontera, home of Spanish sherry and the famous "dancing horses", is just 25 kilometres northeast of Cádiz. Jerez is at the heart of a fertile plain which boasts the oldest vineyards in the whole of Europe.

Head south from Cádiz along the Costa de la Luz (Coast of Light) with its white beaches, small villages and endless miles of sand dunes. The Costa culminates at the "windy city" of Tarifa at the southern tip of Spain. This is the windsurfing capital of Europe, attracting devotees of the sport from all over the world. From Tarifa and nearby Algeciras you can jump on a ferry or hydrofoil and pop across the Straits of Gibraltar for a day's sightseeing in Tangier.

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