The seventh port of call during our Mediterranean cruise with the Vision of the Seas was the Spanish city of Cadiz. Located on the southwestern coast of Spain, Cadiz is not only the principal port of the Spanish Navy – and has been so since the 18th century accession of the Spanish Bourbons – it is not only the oldest continuously-inhabited city on the Iberian Peninsula, but possibly all of Europe having born witness to over 3’000 years of history.
Uniquely situated on a narrow sliver of land jutting out into the sea, the older part of the city within the remnants of the older city walls is known as Old Town – or Casco Antiquo in Spanish – offers not only a wealth of vistas but also a number of historical landmarks and monuments.
Originally established by the Phoenicians as a tradepost with the city-state of Tatessos, believed by archaeologists to be somewhere near the mouth of the Guadalquivir River, approximately thirty kilometres northwest of Cadiz, the Ancient Greeks would later claim the city founded by Hercules after performing his tenth labour, the slaying of the Geryon. With its fall around 500 BCE to Carthage the port became Hannibal’s base of operations for his conquest of southern Iberia. However by 206 BCE it would change hands again under Scipio Africanus, and flourish as a Roman naval base. However with the decline of the Roman Empire, so too did Cadiz’s commercial importance. The founding is traditionally dated to 1104 BCE, but is contended, as no archaeological site can be dated earlier than the 9th century BCE thanks to the near destruction wrought by the Visigoths in 410 CE as they overthrew the Romans. And would only continue to exchange hands as the Byzantium Empire rose, and the Emirate of Granada came and went. However once it entered Spanish hands in 1262, Cadiz has remained in Spanish hands, despite attempts by many of Spain’s enemies to the contrary. In present days the city is home to the University of Cadiz, and is dotted by numerous parks where exotic plants flourish.
Tip: Because there are few English speaking taxi drivers it’s advisable to negotiate the fare in advance. However because of its size, Cadiz is a very walking friendly city. And has even been thoughtful enough to have painted three sightseeing routes through the old section of town.