Sixth stopover of the cruise: The city of Cádiz
Cádiz is a dynamic city with a rich historical and cultural heritage. It is known for its picturesque old town, historical monuments and lively atmosphere. The city continues to attract visitors with its beaches, festivals and maritime traditions.
A little history...
Cádiz is considered one of the oldest inhabited cities in Western Europe, with its roots dating back to Phoenician times. The Phoenicians established a colony called Gadir on a small island around 1100 BCE, which eventually became Cádiz.
The town rose to prominence in Roman times when it was known as Gades. It became a thriving Roman port and an important center of trade and commerce in the region. The city prospered with the construction of theaters, temples and other Roman structures.
After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Cádiz came under the domination of the Visigoths and later the Moors. During this period, the importance of the city declined.
Cádiz was recaptured from Muslim rule during the Christian Reconquista in 1262 by Alfonso X of Castile. Over the following centuries, the city experienced periods of prosperity and decline, partly due to its strategic maritime location.
With the discovery of the Americas in the 15th century, Cádiz became a crucial port for trade and exploration. The city played an important role in transatlantic trade and received wealth from the newly discovered territories. When the other maritime powers of Europe began to threaten Spain's naval supremacy, Cádiz faced many battles. An English fleet led by Sir Francis Drake attacked the port in 1587 destroying many vessels and in 1596 the town was plundered by English ships under the command of Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex. Over the next century, Cádiz was attacked by the English three times.
Cádiz reached its peak in the 18th century, during the Age of Enlightenment. The city became a key hub of Atlantic trade, connecting Spain with its American colonies. This period of wealth is reflected in the architecture of the city, notably in the construction of the Cádiz Cathedral.
Cádiz played a crucial role during the Spanish War against Napoleon's forces. The city was one of the few Spanish strongholds to resist French occupation and served as Spain's provisional capital during part of the conflict.
On August 31, 1823, the Trocadéro fort which defended the port was captured at low tide by the French expeditionary force commanded by the Duke of Angoulême, sent by his uncle Louis XVIII to restore King Ferdinand VII to his throne. The old Trocadéro palace in Paris was built to commemorate this feat of arms.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, Cádiz continued to evolve as a port city. It has faced challenges such as economic decline and social change, but has retained its maritime and cultural significance.
My selection of sites to visit
Catedral de Cádiz (Cádiz Cathedral): also known as the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, it is a symbol of the city. It is a typical building of Baroque architecture, completed in 1722 over a period of 116 years, the length of which caused numerous modifications to the initial plans; it notably incorporates elements of the rococo style, and was finished in the neoclassical style.
Its chapels have many paintings and relics from the ancient cathedral and numerous Spanish monasteries.
Buried in the crypt are the composer Manuel de Falla and the writer José María Pemán, both born in the city.
Torre Tavira: The Tavira Tower is one of the city's watchtowers and the highest point of the old town at 45 meters above sea level. It offers spectacular views of Cádiz and has a bedroom black., offering a unique way to observe the city.
San Sebastian Castle: this fortress, located on a small island which takes its name from a chapel built in 1457 by the crew of a Venetian ship, who obtained permission to stop at this place to heal the plague that had affected them. The Venetians, to build this chapel, used the remains of an old lighthouse, replaced in 1613 by a watchtower, which in addition to serving as a guide for sailors had defensive functions.
To strengthen the defense of this site, a castle was built in 1706, accessible from the drawbridges which covered the peripheral ditch. A parapet surrounded the island, except in the southern area, where the cliff was considered sufficient
Museo de Cádiz: the origin of the Museum of Cádiz begins with the Demortization of Mendizábal (law of expropriation of clergy property) in 1835 and the deposit, at the Academy of Fine Arts of the city, of a series of paintings from various secularized convents. The Fine Arts section offers a tour of painting from the 16th century to the present day. There are Flemish and Spanish works from the 16th century, works created by Zurbarán for the Carthusian monastery of Jerez between 1637 and 1639, several paintings by Murillo and his disciples from the Baroque collection or even a painting by Joan Miro in the Contemporary Art section.
Barrio del Pópulo: the historic district of Pópulo is the oldest in Cádiz. Its narrow streets, whitewashed buildings and historic architecture make it a charming area to wander around.
Mercado Central de Abastos: Built on the site of the Convent of Los Descalzos, the Central Market of Cádiz is a bustling place where locals and visitors can find a variety of fresh produce, seafood and local produce. It’s a great place to experience the local culinary culture.
Oratorio de San Felipe Neri: this baroque church dating from the early 18th century is one of the few to feature an astonishing ellipse-shaped interior. It was declared a historic artistic monument in 1907, in recognition of having been the location of the courts (Las Cortes) which drafted the Constitution of 1812. The exterior facade is covered with plaques commemorating these historical facts.
Parque Genovés: Parque Genovés is an urban park surrounded by the walls of the old town and located next to the historic center of Cádiz.
The garden dates back to the late 18th century, when what was then commonly called "Paseo del Parsley" was transformed and improved. In the mid-19th century, the gardens were enlarged and the number of trees significantly increased, transforming it into a green park called “Paseo de las Delicias” ever since.
Some celebrities who left their mark on Cádiz
Manuel de Falla: composer among the most important in Spain, born November 23, 1876 in Cádiz (Spain), and died November 14, 1946 in Alta Gracia (Argentina). Manuel de Falla began studying the piano at age eight with provincial teachers, before becoming, in 1890, a student of José Tragó, a high-level pianist. He won a prize after having been, from 1896 to 1898, a student at the Royal Conservatory of Madrid. In 1904 he wrote La Vie Brief (La vida breve), a sort of exercise to complete his short training in instrumentation with Felipe Pedrell who was the initiator of the revival of Spanish music.
Becoming friends with Paul Dukas, he spent a stay in France (1907-1914) where he met Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel and Isaac Albéniz.
His major works include: Nights in the Gardens of Spain (1921), for piano and orchestra; The Brief Life (La Vida breve), lyrical drama in two acts, unfolding through the evocation of the charms of the city of Granada; The Altarpiece of Maître Pierre (1922), chamber opera6; his Concerto for harpsichord and five instruments (1923-1926) dedicated to Wanda Landowska: one of the very first modern works dedicated to this instrument currently undergoing “resurrection”.
After the Civil War in Spain (1936-1939), Manuel de Falla left for Argentina. He will live there, in perpetual nostalgia for his native country, until his death, in the Alta Gracia mountain range.
Emilio Castellar y Ripoll: born September 7, 1832 in Cádiz and died May 25, 1899 in San Pedro del Pinatar (Murcia), he was a Spanish politician and writer, president of the government of the first Spanish republic.
Pescaíto Frito: it is a popular dish in Cádiz and throughout Andalusia. It consists of small fish (usually anchovies, sardines, or other white fish) coated in flour and fried until crispy. It is often served with a lemon wedge.
Tortillitas de Camarones: these are small, thin pancakes made with a batter made from chickpea flour and tiny shrimp (camarones). The combination creates a tasty and crunchy snack, commonly enjoyed in Cádiz.
Salmorejo: although this dish originates from the Andalusian region, it is also very popular in Cádiz. Salmorejo is a cold soup made with tomatoes, bread, olive oil, garlic and vinegar. It is usually topped with hard-boiled eggs and jamón (cured ham).
Cazón en Adobo: marinated and fried dogfish, usually served in bite-sized pieces. The fish is marinated in a mixture of garlic, paprika, cumin and vinegar before being fried.
Albóndigas de Choco: Meatballs made from cuttlefish, often served with a rich seafood sauce. This dish highlights local marine ingredients.
Espinacas con Garbanzos: a simple but flavorful dish made with spinach and chickpeas cooked with garlic, olive oil and spices. It is a vegetarian option that reflects the local gastronomy.
Tarta de Almendra: For dessert, try almond cake, a sweet treat made with almonds, sugar and eggs. It's a delicious way to end a meal.
In his art history lectures, Fabrice Roy combines the past with the present, in a poetic and playful evocation of the 19th century in France...