Going To Spain? Don’t Forget To Visit Cadiz
When it comes to swashbuckling cities, few can compete with Cadiz. This is a city whose fortune was made on the high seas – from the port of Cadiz, the Spanish navy ruled the Americas, returning from the New World laden with treasure that attracted the attention of dastardly pirates. Connected to the rest of Spain by a narrow strip of land, it doesn’t seem impossible that Cadiz might yet follow in the footsteps of Christopher Columbus, and break off and set sail across the Atlantic. In year of 2012, however, the Americas are coming to Cadiz. Though it’s far closer to Morocco than Mexico, Cadiz has found itself named Ibero-American Capital of Culture for 2012 – the first time a European city has held the honor. Events are planned throughout the year, with art, music, and performances from across Latin America being staged at venues across the town.
Fortunately, the swashbuckling spirit has never quite left the city’s veins and Cadiz remains a notorious party animal. Admittedly, this might normally look like a peaceful pocket of old world Spain, complete with old men in flat caps shuffling about in cafe lined squares, and crumbling battlements standing beside shady parks. But once a year, sleepy Cadiz undergoes a Superman like transformation and hosts Spain’s most raucous carnival – a 10 day bender of drinking, singing and dancing, all conducted in fancy dress. The Gaditanos (residents of Cadiz) are famed throughout Spain for their with, and this is put to the test during February’s carnival. Wearing lipstick and neon wigs, groups perform satirical skits before discerning judges, with politicians, priests and public figures among the unfortunate souls who are mercilessly lampooned. If you find the official carnival proceedings a bit too straight-laced, join the ranks of the ilegales – groups of friends who assemble on the spur of the moment to compete with their more organised counter parts.
It may not pull the same crowds as Seville or Cordoba, but few places embody the spirit of gutsy Andalucian living like Cadiz. Try to pick up flamenco in the Barrio de Santa Maria, or brave the heights of the cathedral tower, Torre de Poniente, for views out over the rooftops of the old city, which is little changed sicne its glory days of the 17th century. Alternatively, kick back in one of the cafes that line the Plaza San Juan de Dios and gorge on plates of fried fish, before digesting with a tentative paddle in the Atlantic at Playa de la Caleta – an uraban beach guarded by sturdy fortifications.
Festival & Events in Cadiz
- As if Cadiz needed any more excuses for merry making in 2012, the 19th of March marks the 200th anniversary of the first liberal Spanish constitution (‘La Pepa’), which was proclaimed in the town. this document laid the foundations of modern Spanish state, so come prepared to party like a patriot
- July sees the Tall Ships Race arrive in Cadiz, with sailing boats from around the world anchoring in the harbor before setting sail for A Coruna in northern Spain
- Cadiz’s answer to Halloween is ‘Tosantos’ – an All Saints Day feast on the 1st of November. This gastronomic showdown sees market stalls compete to sell the best fruit and charcuterie to hungry punters.
Classic Place To Stay In Cadiz
A 19th century townhouse hosts the Hotel Argantonio – perhaps the most charming place to stay in the old town of Cadiz. Arranged around a courtyard, there are plenty of reminders of the empires that have checked in over the centuries: French furnishings recall the Napoleonic wars, while ornate arches represent Cadiz’s Moorish past.
Another Facts About Cadiz
Cadiz could well be the oldest city still standing in Western Europe. Dating from the eight century BC, legend tells taht the town was founded by Hercules himself. According to local folklore, the exotic plants in Cadiz’s seafront parks are descended from souvenirs smuggled back from America by Christopher Columbus himself. Locals were pleased when Cadiz was selected to play a starring role in 2002 James Bond film Die Another Day. They were slightly less pleased to find their home town was playing the Cuban capital of Havana.