You could write several weighty university theses about Cádiz and still fall a mile short of nailing its essence. Old age accounts for much of the complexity. Cádiz is generally considered to be the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in Europe. Now well into its fourth millennium, the ancient centre, surrounded almost entirely by water, is a romantic hodgepodge 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.
But old as it is, Cádiz has also proved to be durable and, ultimately, influential. Spain's first liberal constitution was signed here in 1812, while the city's distinctive urban model went on to provide an identikit for fortified Spanish colonial cities in the Americas. Indeed, the port with its crenellated sea walls and chunky forts is heavily reminiscent of Havana in Cuba or San Juan in Puerto Rico.
Enamoured return 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 Carnaval is an exercise in ironic humour and whose upbeat flamenco songs (known as alegrías) will bring warmth to your heart.
Andalucia - Cadiz Province & Gibraltar (Chapter)
Emblematic regional highlights abound in Cádiz province: thrillingly sited white towns, craggy mountains, olive trees, flamenco in its purest incarnation, fortified sherry, national parks, Andalucian horse culture, festivals galore, and the...
Lonely Planet's Best in Travel: top 10 cities for 2012
After globe-trotting research and fierce debate, Lonely Planet has come to a decision on its favourite cities for 2012. As always, our shortlist has some known gems and a few to raise a quizzical eyebrow, but each one is poised for greatness in 2012...
Cádiz destination guides
Cadiz Shore Excursion: Seville Small-Group Walking Day Trip
When your ship docks in the Cadiz port, head out on a shore excursion to Seville, one of the most remarkable cities in Andalusia (Andalucia). On this small-group tour (limited to 15 passengers) you’ll follow your local guide around Seville, a city full of history and beautiful Moorish architecture.
Cadiz City Hop-on Hop-off Tour
Explore Cadiz with this 24 hour ticket aboard an open-top double-decker bus. See all the main sights as you hop-on and hop-off 12 conveniently located stops around the city. Once a launching point for ships sailing to the New World, the 3,000 year old City of Cadiz is now famous for the picturesque, Moorish charm of its old central quarter.