Cadiz, Spain - Past and Present
Once upon a time the city of Cádiz held all of the trade with the old world (coming from the Americas) and with that brought great responsibilities and inspired stories. The port with its crenellated sea walls and chunky forts is heavily reminiscent of the Havana in Cuba or San Juan in Puerto Rico.
You can reach Cádiz by crossing the Guadalete river with a catamaran from the fishermen's port town of El Puerto de Santa María. A lot of history buffs work on excavating the truths about this ancient city. It is said that the true city of Cádiz is underwater and is the so-called lost city of Atlantis that we have all been hearing about for ages. Depending on your resources, this is said to be the centre of the Atlantean empire as countless other cities (suspected submerged cities) have been picked up by satellites further north near the Doñana National Park, a natural reserve closer to Sanlucar de Barrameda.
Cádiz is considered to be the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in Europe, dating well past the legends of ancient countries as Cyprus, Malta or even Turkey. The city, as well as the region of Andalusia, was under Moorish rule between 711 and 1262. Spain's first liberal Constitution was signed here in 1812, marking a very important step to making it what it is today. Moorish architecture in the city still stands strong and is protected by the city halls and regional government within the province.
Now well into the 21st century, the ancient centre, surrounded almost entirely by water, is a romantic hodge-podge of sinuous streets where Atlantic waves crash against eroded sea walls, municipal beaches stretch for miles, and rambunctious taverns echo with the sounds of cawing gulls and frying fish. Here stands strong the Santa Catalina Castle, a fortress overlooking the sea. The castle is a fine example of the military architecture of the Modern Era and has survived to the present practically intact. This fortress has now become a multipurpose recreational and cultural venue.
Enamoured returning visitors to Cádiz talk fondly of its seafood, surfing and cache of intriguing churches and museums that inflict little, if any, damage on your wallet. More importantly, they wax lyrically about the Gaditanos, an upfront and gregarious populace whose Carnival is an exercise in ironic humour and whose upbeat flamenco songs (known as alegrías) will bring warmth to your heart. The gastronomy in the city is impressive, given that in most European cities you have to do your research to find a decent meal. Cádiz is easy on the tummy, and we have our favourite eats.
Chiringuitos (beach side snack bars) are packed by the dozens as the long, extensive beach houses some of the most amazing fried fish. Some of our favourites are Nahu Beach, Pez Frito and Bebo. Two local favourites' gastrobars are La Candela and Arsenio Manila, both known for their interior design, superb customer service, food and ambience. For a treat, you should try the breakfast champion, Café Royalty, also great for brunch and afternoon tea in a scenic ambience. We tried two buzzing local bars, Taberna El Manteca and El 10 de Veedor. Both are in the humble centre of the city, through the monument spewed sites.
We opted to get a private day tour with Genuine Andalusia. The tour guide Iván Ricoy even took us through some of these great eats as we told him we love our food!