Cádiz is an elegant seaport surrounded by endless beaches along the sunny Costa de la Luz in Southern Spain. Settled by the Phoenicians around 1100 BC, Cádiz is the oldest city in western civilization as well as the launching point for the adventures of Christopher Columbus in the New World.
Today, Cádiz is still one of Spain’s leading ports and has a vibrant cosmopolitan culture. From the palm-lined promenades to plazas filled with fragrant orange trees, Cádiz has plenty of Mediterranean charm to match the balmy weather.
Las Puertas de Tierra (the city gates) guard the ancient center of Cádiz, an enchanting jumble of distinct barrios such as La Viña, the old fisherman’s neighborhood; the historic area of El Pópulo; and the gypsy quarter of Santa María, birthplace of the flamenco song.
Spain’s first liberal constitution (La Pepa) was signed here in 1812, while the city’s distinctive urban model provided 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 Cuba’s Havana or Puerto Rico’s San Juan.
Singeing the King of Spain’s Beard is the name derisively given to the attack in April and May 1587 in the Bay of Cádiz, by the English privateer Francis Drake against the Spanish naval forces assembling at Cádiz. Much of the Spanish fleet was destroyed, and substantial supplies were destroyed or captured.
There followed a series of raiding parties against several forts along the Portuguese coast. A Spanish treasure ship, returning from the Indies, was also captured. The damage caused by the English delayed Spanish plans to invade England by more than a year, yet did not dispel them.
From Cádiz, tourists can also explore the beautiful beaches and seaside villages along the Costa de la Luz. More adventurous travelers can head to the nearby port town of Algeciras or Tarifa and embark on an exotic adventure in North Africa