On June 24, my last day in Jerez, I went to Cádiz for the afternoon. I had spent a week there in 2012 in the apartment of my first flamenco teacher and friend, Rafaela de Cádiz, and had fallen in love with this charming coastal city (as I tend to do with most cities in Spain the first time I visit them). Since I was so close, only about 45 minutes by train, I decided a day trip there was in order this year.
It was a short walk from my apartment to the beautiful Jerez train station, and I found myself on a train platform full of people all geared up to spend a day at the beach, as it was a sweltering day in the area, with a high in Jerez of 43 degrees centigrade, or 109.4 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cádiz is considered to be the oldest continuously inhabited city in Europe, founded in 1100 B.C. by the Pheonicians. It was one of the most important ports for trade with the Indies. Evidence of its many phases is everywhere, for example in the ruins of the Roman theater, and in the Pópulo neighborhood, which is one of its oldest and one of the cradles of flamenco.
I wanted to spend my limited time in Cádiz mostly in the historic center, which is still mostly preserved in its original state within the walled part of the city. My first stop to orient myself before the maze of narrow medieval streets was the Plaza de San Juan de Dios, which was previously the Plaza Mayor of the city and is where the Ayuntamiento, or City Hall, is located. There was a small artisan bazaar in the plaza that day.
After wandering the pretty streets of that area for a while, I looked for a restaurant that my new friend Tatiana (introduced in the last post) had recommended I try for lunch, called “La gorda te da de comer”. I found this very busy little restaurant without any problem and had a seat at the bar since it was so packed. Despite how busy they were running back and forth, the staff at this cute spot was super friendly and even took a moment to pose when they saw I was taking a picture. The tapas were great, with generous portions and really reasonable prices.
After I cooled down and refueled at La gorda te da de comer, I headed for the cathedral. Known as the Catedral de Cádiz and also la Catedral Nueva, it was built beginning in 1722. In its chapels, there are many important works of art. Visitors can also go down into the crypt where, among other important figures, the composer Manuel de Falla is buried.
A nice long and leisurely audio guided tour of the cathedral allowed me to cool down before climbing to the top of one of the cathedral towers, La Torre del Poniente, where there are breathtaking views of the city and of the sea beyond.
After the cathedral visit, I wandered the old city a little more and headed toward one of the many beautiful beaches in Cádiz, Playa de la Caleta, and then visited the Castillo de Santa Catalina, which is one of the few sites I hadn’t visited when I stayed there in 2012. Built as a military fortress in 1596, it’s currently a cultural center and art gallery, open to the public with free entrance. When I visited there was an intriguing art exhibit of several female contemporary artists.
After my visit to the Castillo de Santa Catalina, I was exhausted by the heat and decided to slowly make my way back to the train station, winding back through the old city. On the way I came across yet another religious procession, my third one in one week. This one was the Magna Mariana, in which floats bearing statues of the Virgin Mary are carried by “costaleros” through the streets to the cathedral, accompanied by bands and incense bearers, and I encountered the early stages of one of several processions that would continue well into the evening. Here’s a link to see a video of the 2017 procession Magna Mariana Cádiz 2017.
It was a short but sweet visit to Cádiz, it was time to head back to Jerez and get ready for my trip the next day to Granada.
Next up: Granada, week 1.