AT THE OTHER END OF ANDALUSIA
To discover of this city, I am accompanied by a Japanese friend I met during my language course in Granada, Nozomi (“Hi !” if you read these lines). As she also is interested in visiting Cádiz, we decide to take a bus leaving Grenada on Friday afternoon to arrive in the evening in Cádiz (5:00 bus!), sleep one night there, and then spend the next day visiting the city before taking a bus back to Granada in the late afternoon. We use ALSA BUS and despite the somewhat expensive price for the round trip, everything went very well. The bus was relatively comfortable, but I must admit that the journey was very long, especially for a little more than a day on the spot! Anyway, we arrive in the evening in Cádiz, we check-in in our hotel and go grab a bite before a good night’s sleep.
Upon awakening, we take our breakfast and head to the port via San Francisco Square. We got a map of the city at the hotel and it will certainly prove useful throughout the day. We reach the Alameda Apodaca walk which offers beautiful views of the sea and the coast. There are not many people in the street, except for some walkers, and sea air is refreshing.
Arriving at the end of the pier, we realize that the harbour we wanted to see is in fact the commercial port with cranes and containers, not the marina, which it is located further south. So we continue our journey and arrive after a few minutes the Spanish Square. The sun rises slowly and barely illuminates the “Monument a la Cortes”, a work of the architect Modesto Lopez Otero and the sculptor Aniceto Marinas, in the center of the square.
The latter is a consequence of the expansion of the Plazuela del Carbon after the demolition of the city wall, work started as part of the commemoration and the centenary of the Spanish Constitution of 1812. We go around it and admire it a few moments. Always with our map of the city, we continue towards San Juan de Dios Square and its City Hall.
The construction of this place began in the 15th century on land reclaimed from the sea. With the demolition of the city walls in 1906, the site has grown in size and a statue of the politician Cádiz Segismundo Moret was unveiled. Overlooking the square is the Town Hall of the old city of Cadiz. This is here that the flag of Andalusia was hoisted for the first time in 1936. We then take a few streets south to arrive later in front of the ramparts and one of the entrances of the city, Las Puertas de Tierra.
This or rather these stone gates were founded in the 16th century although much of the original work have now disappeared. By the 20th century, it was necessary to remodel the entrance to the Old City to accommodate modern traffic. Place and gates that we see today are the result of this transformation.
Then we walk along the seafront, seeing off one of the many beaches of the city. Many concrete blocks lie along the shore, some ordered in walls and other bulk at the edge of the sea.
Further away is the Roman theater, but as it is closed, we cannot visit it. So we head towards the Cathedral, undoubtedly one of the most famous monuments of the city.
Construction began in 1722 under the direction of the architect Vicente Acero y Arebo and later Gaspar Cayon, Torcuato Cayon, Miguel Olivares and Manuel Machuca. The work was stopped between 1796 and 1832. Begun in baroque style with its foundations and the first elevations of itswalls, it culminates in a neoclassical style outside and inside. When the work was stopped, the chapel was intended to serve other purposes: workshops, warehouses, factories but also mortuary during the outbreak. A fire in the chapel of San Firmo, used at that time to store wood, serve as a pretext to complete the construction. Before the end of it, the temple was consecrated in 1838 by Bishop Fray Domingo de Silos Moreno.
Once inside, we rent an audio guide and discover the magnificent building. During our visit, we descend into the crypt where are buried the composer Manuel de Falla and the poet José María Pemán, both born in Cádiz. The place is beautiful and the explanations of the audio guide are very comprehensive and interesting. What I like the most is the crypt and above all the incredible reverb sounds when you stand in the heart of the place. Each footstep and other sound is amplified and resounds through the shape of the stone dome, it’s pretty amazing! Moreover, the lighting gives the place some kind of mystical aspect, with some candles (electric) and paintings here and there.
After visiting the Cathedral, we reach again the seaside for a little walk and then retrace our steps to get something to eat in the center of the old town. It is about 11:30am and we know that we will have little chance of finding a table if we get to a restaurant after 12pm, especially on a Saturday!
We follow the recommendations of TripAdvisor and are going to eat at the restaurant “La Taperia of Columela”. And these advices are great: the food is excellent, the quantity generous and everything is frankly not expensive, between 2 and 3 euros per tapa! We are lucky, because we arrive just in time to seat on one of the last small table along the corridor. Good timing! An overview of our meal below: tartare of salmon with avocado, vegetable patties and fried vegetables with Salmorejo sauce, not to mention a kind of fried eggplant and a paella (no pictures cause too bad quality) . A completely vegetarian meal and simply delicious!
We set off for a walk in the streets of the city. We passed a number of buildings and places, starting with the Halles, the central market. The latter has no less than 169 stands: 57 of fruits and vegetables, 54 of fish and seafood, 44 of meat, 7 of grocery, 4 of bakery and pastry, 1 of olive, 1 of bags and paper, 1 of articles for fishing and finally a cafe on the first floor of the central building. A huge complex where you can even taste the products of the gaditana, national and international cuisine.
Always walking in the streets towards the north of the city, we pass by the Oratory of San Felipe Neri, the Casa de las Cadenas and Women’s Hospital before returning to the seaside and its beautiful views:
We are now going to the castle of San Sebastian, a former military fortification built in 1706 and located at the end of a road leading to the beach of Caleta. Unfortunately, I’m a little disappointed because it is only composed of a large ruin of some old buildings. We go around it quickly and I can only advise you to skip this. Only the view on Caleta beach from the pontoon leading to the castle is somehow worth it.
On our way back, a few meters from the dock, sand sculptors are working on a famous scene known from most people, the Simpsons in their sofa. Not bad, right? Maggie, is missing but the sculpture is still very well done. I give a small coin in the box to encourage these gentlemen and we continue towards Caleta beach.
Located in the historic center of the city, the beach offers half a kilometer of a white sand while bathing in a marine atmosphere. The large white building on the beach is nothing but the ancient baths of La Palma which were inaugurated in 1926. This building function was to replace traditional bathhouses baptized Baños del Real, a wooden infrastructure that already existed at the beginning of 19th century. We walk a while on the beach and then continue to the Castle of Santa Catalina.
The latter is, as Saint Sebastian, a military fortification and is located at the other end of Caleta beach. It was built in 1598 following the sacking of Cádiz by the English two years earlier. Recently renovated, it is so much more pleasant to visit than San Sebastian and it even offers some interesting exhibitions.
We leave the castle, always towards the north with the sea at our side. We briefly visit Genoves park founded in 1892 by the Mayor of Cádiz Eduardo Genoves. It is a beautiful green area with fountains, waterfalls, concert spaces, a café and several botanical species, some of great rarity. The sculptural “child under umbrellas” (niño bajo el paraguas) brought from Paris was installed later with the monuments dedicated to the Duchess of Victoria and Joses Celestino Multi. We continue our journey on the friendly promenade Carlos III whose gardens are a nice connection between Genoves Park and the Alameda de Apodaca, another promenade from which we started our visit. The whole forms a long continuous garden that connects as well Canalejas Gardens through the Spanish Square, bypassing the historic district of Cádiz.
And here we are back to our starting point after a huge city tour. As we still have some time before returning to the bus stop in order to go back to Grenada, we look for a place to rest. In doing so, we go through Mina Square, one of the most emblematic squares of Cádiz and San Antonio Square, once considered the main square of Cádiz. Surrounded by a number of mansions built in the neo-classical architecture or Elizabethan Gothic style, the place is also home to the church of San Antonio built in 1669. We have an ice cream and end up finding a small tetería (tearoom). It is finally towards the end of the day that we go to our hotel to pick up our bags and leave for a 5 hour trip by bus to Granada after a wonderful day in Cádiz, both cultural and gastronomic! Thanks Nozomi to have share this with me 🙂