Travel Postcard: 48 hours in Cadiz, Spain

Fri Sep 21, 2012 6:42pm EDT
 
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By David Adams

CADIZ, Spain (Reuters) - Not as famous perhaps as other cities in the south of Spain such as Seville, Granada and Cordoba, and not as frequented by foreign tourists, the coastal fortress city of Cadiz is one of the country's most attractive destinations boasting a history of almost legendary proportions.

Founded more than 3,000 years ago, it is the oldest city in Europe and was home at different periods to an astonishing variety of civilizations from the times of the Phoenicians, to the Greeks, Visigoths, Romans, and Moors, up to the modern day.

A relatively small city of 125,000 it is almost entirely surrounded by water and shaped like a hand at the end of an arm-like spit of land at the entrance to one of Europe's most famous bays, a major staging post for the Spanish crown during its colonial heyday in the 16th century.

It was from Cadiz that Christopher Columbus sailed to the New World, and his voyages of discovery made the city one of the richest in Spain, as major trading families built palatial homes, many of which still stand today.

SATURDAY

From Madrid, Cadiz is a roughly 4 hour 15 minutes train journey via Seville, with the first leg of the journey aboard Spain's high speed ‘Ave' train.

From Cadiz station it's an easy walk to almost anywhere in the city, so long as it's not too hot a day. In July and August the temperature can easily head up towards 40 degrees Celsius. But even then the city's narrow streets lined by four-story high buildings with windowed balconies, provide plenty of shade. Its colonial streets appear unchanged from centuries past and are so narrow there's little room for cars, and most people get around on foot. That's why the makers of the James Bond film ‘Die Another Day' used Cadiz as a surrogate to shoot sequences set in the old city of Havana, Cuba.

11:30 a.m. - Start the visit a short walk from the train station in the Plaza de San Juan de Dios. If you need an infusion of energy have a quick coffee in one of several outdoor cafes from where you can admire the impressive town hall, or 'ayuntamiento'. Its famous bell-tower chimes on the hour to the tune of Manuel de Falla, the famous Cadiz-born classical composer.   Continued...

 
Boys play soccer on hot summer day at La Victoria beach in Cadiz, southern Spain August 28, 2012. REUTERS/Jon Nazca