Welcome back to my blog! Today I would like to show you my favourite Spanish port - Cadiz, along with its neighbouring town Jerez. Cadiz is the oldest continuously-inhabited city in the Iberian Peninsula and possibly all southwestern Europe, and it was a regular stop on our Mediterranean runs.
Above: One of the main squares in the Old Town of Cadiz.
The city was originally founded as Gadir (Phoenician for "walled city") by the Phoenicians from Tyre. Traditionally, its founding is dated to 1104 BC although no archaeological strata on the site can be dated earlier than the 9th century BC. One resolution for this discrepancy has been to assume that Gadir was merely a small seasonal trading post in its earliest days.
Above: One of the many beautiful gardens found throughout the Old Town.
The older part of Cadiz, within the remnants of the city walls, is commonly referred to as the Old Town and features narrow winding alleys connecting large plazas. The city is dotted with numerous parks where exotic plants flourish, including giant trees supposedly brought to Spain by Columbus from the New World.
Above: The Monument to the Constitution of 1812, constructed between 1912 and 1929 in order to mark the hundredth anniversary of the liberal constitution. The monument is in a large square, the Plaza de España, close to the ship.
One of Cadiz's most famous landmarks is its cathedral. It sits on the site of an older cathedral, completed in 1260, which burned down in 1596. The reconstruction, which was not started until 1776, was supervised by the architect Vicente Acero, who had also built the Granada Cathedral. Acero left the project and was succeeded by several other architects. As a result, this largely Baroque-style cathedral was built over a period of 116 years, and, due to this drawn-out period of construction, the cathedral underwent several major changes to its original design.
Above: The front facade of Cadiz Cathedral.
Its chapels have many paintings and relics from the old cathedral and monasteries from throughout Spain. Like many cathedrals in Spain there was an entry fee but you can simply walk up to the barrier, take a picture and walk back out!
Above: Inside the Cathedral.
In the 18th century, Cadiz had more than 160 towers from which local merchants could look out to sea for arriving merchant ships. The Torre Tavira, named for its original owner, stands as the tallest remaining watchtower and I paid it a visit during one of our stops. It has a cámara oscura, a room that uses the principal of the pinhole camera (and a specially-prepared convex lens) to project panoramic views of the Old City onto a concave disc. Despite the rather 'old-school' technology that this oscura utilises it is still quite an amazing experience to view the city projected right in front of you.
Above: The view from the Torre Tavira. You can see how narrow the strip of land is which Old Town Cadiz occupies. Note the Cathedral on the right and the Ryndam on the left.
On my fairly exhaustive walking tour (independent) of the city, I also passed by the city gates of Las Puertas de Tierra. These originated in the 16th century, although much of the original work has disappeared. Once consisting of several layers of walls, only one of these remain today. By the 20th century it was necessary to remodel the entrance to the Old City to accommodate modern traffic. Today, the two side-by-side arches cut into the wall serve as one of the primary entrances to the city.
Above: The city gates of Las Puertas de Tierra.
Those of you who have been following my blog know that I love to find locations from movies on my travels and Cadiz is no exception. La Playa de la Caleta is the best-loved beach of Cadiz and is the beach of the Old City, situated between two castles, San Sebastian and Santa Catalina. La Caleta and the boulevard show a lot of resemblance to parts of Havana, the capital city of Cuba, like the malecon. Therefore it served as the set for several of the Cuban scenes in the beginning of the James Bond movie 'Die Another Day'.
Above: La Playa de la Caleta, where Halle Berry's entrance from the 'Cuban' waters was filmed!
I walked out to one of the castles flanking the beach, San Sebastián which is an old military fortification built in 1706. Today the castle remains unused, although its future uses remain much debated.
Above: The view of Cadiz from San Sebastián.
On another stop in Cadiz, I took a tour to neighbouring Jerez de la Frontera, situated midway between the sea and the mountains. It has become the transportation and communications hub of the province, surpassing even Cádiz, the provincial capital, in economic activity and its sprawling outlying areas are a fertile zone for agriculture.
Above: There are many horse statues in downtown Jerez.
Jerez is known as the capital of sherry wine, horsemanship, and flamenco dancing. It is the home of the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art, a riding school comparable to the world-famous Spanish Riding School in Vienna. Jerez, the city where flamenco singing began, is also proud of its Andalusian Centre of Flamenco.
Above: The entrance to the Harveys Bristol Cream factory.
During our time in Jerez, we visited a Harveys Bristol Cream factory for a tour and a tasting session. Originally Bristol imported large quantities of sherry from different places, mainly from Jerez, Oporto and Maderia and sherry was then shipped from Bristol up to the 1960s. Today Harveys ships Bristol Cream directly from Jerez and current exports go to around 100 countries.
Above: 2328 butts of Finos and Olorosos are aged in this bodega, it was built in the 19th Century and it is where the Sherry butts are prepared before being shipped.
I will leave with you with a final arty shot of the Town Hall in old town Cadiz. Thanks for reading!