“Cai, cai, cai”, say the people of Cádiz by race when they speak of the historic center of their city. That secluded place where Lord Byron, standard bearer of the English romantic poets, fell in love with a native girl during the War of Independence (1808-1814) and that the Cadiz poet Jose Maria Caballero Bonald labeled as the most American corner of Europe. Located in the north cap of a strip of land surrounded by water, on the Bay of Cádiz, this old part invites you to lose yourself in a legendary journey through its epic past sealed by the Constitution of 1812 O La Pepa.
Six magnum letters and 209 years later, these days of splendor that celebrate the 43 years of the current Spanish Constitution revive that bittersweet symbol of independence, a dream of a lost revolution that did not prevent absolutism. Strategically located in the southwest of Atlantic Andalusia, cultured and wealthy people arrived here. “Cádiz, Cádiz, Cádiz” sounds today to the echo of children playing ball and the murmur of the people in its streets, and it smells of the sea that enters until the Caleta beach, guarded by two castles that threaten its calm.
Indian mansions and giant ficus
Its shape and richness gave the name of tacit payment to this historic area, which preserves its intense popular life and boasts famous works such as the monument to the Cortes of Cádiz, starting point of this tour, crowned by allegorical figures that support the Magna Carta. Shaped like a hemicycle and facing the quay, it welcomes the city from the gardens of Spain Square. A great Athena presides over Aniceto Marinas’ stone sculpture group holding the legal text and a sword of Justice. The mythological founder of Cádiz (Gadir, Phoenician colony), a mighty Hercules, stands at the back among the names of the fathers of a pioneering constitution. In 1812, this was a modern city, liberal and opposed to the obscurantism of the absent Fernando VII. Its commemorative architecture, like that of this emblem projected one hundred years later by the architect Modesto López Otero, would be imitated on the other side of the pond. On one corner, in the Plaza de Argüelles next to the port, sits the House of the Four Towers, a delightful 18th century building converted into a hotel boutique and with a neoclassical façade that was the lodging of porters of the Carrera de las Indias, the commercial flow established with America. It preserves four watchtowers, vaults, domes, skylights, cisterns and cladding of oyster stone, a conglomerate of marine fossils that also dot other walls of Cádiz. Its recent rehabilitation brings sparkle to this Indian area of balconies with galleries due to the unstable Atlantic climate.
Between walls and shrimp omelets
The Andalusian city was an unattainable decoy for Napoleon’s troops during two and a half years of siege, between 1810 and 1812. Part of that victorious legacy are the nearby walls of San Carlos, with a bastion, which baptize the neighborhood and show its military past, between Fernandino-style lampposts and views of Rota and El Puerto de Santa María. Following the promenade over the sea, towards the west, you arrive at the Alameda de Apodaca, a pretty bougainvillea avenue, with giant centennial ficus trees and terraces. A little further on, you can see the Candelaria bastion, another key fort in the cannonball war against the French, which forced their withdrawal. Opposite, the baroque Carmen church it incorporated two colonial towers-cattails and hosted readings from La Pepa.
Cádiz was a cosmopolitan city, of American merchants and European intellectuals. Other emblems are part of its idiosyncrasy: its squares and gastronomy. In the popular Mentidero square deputies of the extraordinary Courts met on March 19. The neighboring San Antonio shows off its church and the bluish Aramburu House (first private bank), and hosted the Apolo Coffee, where enlightened, liberal and constitutionalists debated in gatherings and cenacles. Between the two, Veedor Street houses the large house that the Duke of Wellington inhabited, which today is the Tandem Palace Veedor de Galeras, with 16 luxury apartments. In the Plaza de Mina we see the Cadiz Museum and the House of Manuel de Falla. Returning to the commercial Ancha street, we end in the central Plaza del Palillero.
We are opening our mouths towards Central Market of Abastos, a true delirium of marine products, including tuna, in the Plaza de la Libertad. Outside, between the colonnades, there are atmospheric tasting stalls for aperitif time. On the way, florida looms flower square and the Tavira Tower, the highest viewpoint of a hundred in the city. It is also convenient to enjoy the neighboring fishing district of The vineyard, its tasty fish and shrimp omelettes from The lighthouse or the payoyo cheese of Manteca House. The siesta time stops Cádiz, but the afternoon invites you to visit the famous Oratory of San Felipe Neri, where La Pepa was approved and read. Annex is the Museum of the Courts and his model of the city. The finishing touch to this route (which can be followed with Cadizfornia Tours) is placed by the squares of the Cathedral of Santa Cruz and that of San Juan de Dios, seat of the City Council, which delimit the Pópulo neighborhood, with its Roman theater and three arches from the 13th century. In an alleyway, Duende Circus It is a café-bar with live music and recitals, where art and history do not stop.
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