Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Cadiz, Spain
The Andalusian port of Cádiz is splendidly situated on a isolated limestone rock rearing out of the sea at the end of a 9km/6mi long promontory which projects into the Atlantic in the Gulf of Cádiz and is linked to the mainland by a bridge. Stout walls up to 15m/50ft in height protect the town from the violence of the waves, with tides which have a rise and fall of almost 2m/6.5ft (3m/10ft at the spring tides). The tall white flat-roofed houses with their balconies and characteristic little outlook towers (miradores), as well as the many parks and gardens with their palms and their extensive sea views, give Cádiz the particular charm which has earned it the name of a taza de plata, a ''silver bowl'' - though it must be said that at first sight the town makes a rather unattractive impression, more particularly since successive wars have left it with few monuments of its great past. Today Cádiz is one of Spain's leading ports, with a considerable shipbuilding industry and oil refineries in the surrounding area. Major contributions are also made to the town's economy by fishing and fish-canning. Rota, on the north side of the bay, is an American air and nuclear submarine base.
Cádiz is probably the oldest town on the Iberian peninsula. Founded by the Phoenicians about 11th century B.C. under the name of Gadir (the ''Fortress'') as an entrepot for the trade in tin and silver, it was occupied about 500 B.C. by the Carthaginians, who advanced from here into southern Spain. During the Second Punic War the town, now known as Gades, was taken by the Romans, under whom it rose to great prosperity, with the name of Julia Augusta Gaditana, as a port shipping silver, copper and salt. Greek scientists came here to study the movement of the tides, to them a new phenomenon; and the cuisine of Cádiz was also renowned during this period. During the Middle Ages the town, known to the Arabs as Jeziret Kadis, sank into insignificance. After its conquest by Alfonso the Wise in 1262 it began to be repopulated, and after the discovery of America it became an anchorage for the Spanish silver fleet. Later wars, pirate raids (including Sir Francis Drake's ''singeing of the king of Spain's beard'') and above all the loss of Spain's American colonies brought a further period of decline. During the Spanish war of independence Cádiz held out against French attempts to capture it. The Cortes met in the town in 1810, and in 1812 promulgated a constitution, which was withdrawn in 1814 by Ferdinand VII. Eight years later Ferdinand was taken prisoner by patriots in Cádiz, and was freed only after the intervention of French troops on behalf of the Holy Alliance in the ''battle of Trocadero''.