Cadiz is a city and port in southwestern Spain. It is the capital of the homonymous province, one of eight which make up the autonomous community of Andalusia.
Cadiz, the second oldest continuously inhabited city in the Iberian Peninsula and one of the oldest in all southwestern Europe, has been a principal home port of the Spanish Navy since the accession of the Spanish Bourbons in the 18th century. The city is a member of the Most Ancient European Towns Network.
Later, the Greeks knew the city as Gadira or Gadeira. According to Greek legend, Gadir was founded by Hercules after performing his fabled tenth labour, the slaying of Geryon, a monstrous warrior-titan with three heads and three torsos joined to a single pair of legs. As early as the 3rd century, a tumulus (a large earthen mound) near Cádiz was associated with Geryon's final resting-place.
One of the city's notable features during antiquity was the temple dedicated to the Phoenician god Melqart. (Melqart was associated with Hercules by the Greeks.) According to the Life of Apollonius of Tyana, the temple was still standing during the 1st century. Some historians, based in part on this source, believe that the columns of this temple were the origin of the myth of the pillars of Hercules.
The overthrow of Roman power in Hispania Baetica by the Visigoths in 410 saw the destruction of the original city, of which there remain few remnants today. The city was later reconquered by Justinian in 550 as a part of the Byzantine province of Spania. It would remain Byzantine until Leovigild's reconquest in 572, and returned to the Visigothic Kingdom.
Under Moorish rule between 711 and 1262, the city was called Qādis, from which the modern Spanish name, Cádiz, was derived. The Moors were finally ousted by Alphonso X of Castile in 1262.
The city suffered a still more serious attack in 1596, when it was captured by an English fleet under the Earl of Essex and Sir Charles Howard. 32 Spanish ships were destroyed and the city was captured, looted and occupied for almost a month. Finally, when the royal authorities refused to pay a ransom demanded by the English for returning the city intact, they burned much of it before leaving with their booty. Another English raid was mounted by the Duke of Buckingham in 1625 against the city, commanded by Sir Edward Cecil, but this was unsuccessful. In the Anglo-Spanish War Admiral Robert Blake blockaded Cadiz from 1655 to 1657. In the Battle of Cádiz (1702), the English attacked again under Sir George Rooke and James, Duke of Ormonde, but they were repelled after a costly siege.
The Carnival of Cadiz is famous for the satirical groups called chirigotas, who perform comical musical pieces. Typically, a chirigota is composed of seven to twelve performers who sing, act and improvise accompanied by guitars, kazoos, a bass drum, and a variety of noise-makers. Other than the chirigotas, there are many other groups of performers: choruses; ensembles called comparsas, who sing in close harmony much like the barbershop quartets of African-American culture or the mariachis of Mexico; cuartetos, consisting of four (or sometimes three) performers alternating dramatic parodies and humorous songs; and romanceros, storytellers who recite tales in verse. These diverse spectacles turn the city into a colourful and popular open-air theatre for two entire weeks in February.
- Cádiz Cathedral is a Roman Catholic church which was built between 1722 and 1838. It was declared Bien de Interés Cultural in 1931. The Plaza de la Catedral houses both the Cathedral and the Baroque Santiago church, built in 1635. The church sits on the site of an older cathedral, completed in 1260, which burned down in 1596. The reconstruction, which was not started until 1776, was supervised by the architect Vicente Acero, who had also built the Granada Cathedral. Acero left the project and was succeeded by several other architects. As a result, this largely baroque-style cathedral was built over a period of 116 years, and, due to this drawn-out period of construction, the cathedral underwent several major changes to its original design. Though the cathedral was originally intended to be a baroque edifice, it contains rococo elements, and was finally completed in the neoclassical style. Its chapels have many paintings and relics from the old cathedral and monasteries from throughout Spain.
- The Museum of Cadiz was founded in 1970 after the merger of the Provincial Museum of Fine Arts with the Provincial Museum of Archaeology. The museum is to be found at number 5 Plaza de Mina, and contains many objects from Cádiz's 3000 year history as well as works by artists such as Peter Paul Rubens.
- Fortress of Candelaria The Baluarte de la Candelaria (fortress or stronghold of Candlemas) is a military fortification. Taking advantage of a natural elevation of land, it was constructed in 1672 at the initiative of the governor, Diego Caballero de Illescas. Protected by a seaward-facing wall that had previously served as a seawall, Candelaria's cannons were in a position to command the channels approaching the port of Cádiz. In more recent times, the edifice has served as a headquarters for the corps of military engineers and as the home to the army's homing pigeons, birds used to carry written messages over hostile terrain. Thoroughly renovated, it is now used as a cultural venue. There has been some discussion of using it to house a maritime museum, but, at present, it is designated for use as a permanent exposition space.
- The Casa del Almirante is a palatial house, adjacent to the Plaza San Martín in the Barrio del Pópulo, which was constructed in 1690 with the proceeds of the lucrative trade with the Americas. It was built by the family of the admiral of the Spanish treasure fleet, the so-called Fleet of the Indies, Don Diego de Barrios. The exterior is sheathed in exquisite red and white Genoan marble, prepared in the workshops of Andreoli, and mounted by the master, García Narváez. The colonnaded portico, the grand staircase under the cupola, and the hall on the main floor are architectural features of great nobility and beauty. The shield of the Barrios family appears on the second-floor balcony.
- The Roman theatre was discovered in 1980, in the El Pópulo district, after a fire had destroyed some old warehouses, revealing a layer of construction that was judged to be the foundations of some medieval buildings; the foundations of these buildings had been built, in turn, upon much more ancient stones, hand-hewn limestone of a Roman character. Systematic excavations have revealed a largely intact Roman theatre. The theatre, constructed by order of Lucius Cornelius Balbus (minor) during the 1st century BC, is the second largest Roman theatre in the world, surpassed only by the theatre of Pompeii, south of Rome. Cicero, in his Epistulae ad Familiares ("Letters to his friends"), wrote of its use by Balbus for personal propaganda.