Should you find yourself in Jerez de la Frontera for the 25th Flamenco Festival in late February 2021, you’ll discover that you can easily do a day trip to visit the oldest continuously inhabited city in Europe, Cádiz, Spain’s ancient port city on the Costa de la Luz, as well as the main Sherry centers of El Puerto de Santa María and Sanlúcar de Barrameda. Each of these cities has its own unique charm and can easily and inexpensively be reached from Jerez by train or bus, no car needed.
This port city, founded by the Phoenicians some 3100 years ago as Gadir, bloomed in the late 15th-century with the discovery of America and was the main base for exploration and trade during the 16th-century. It enjoyed a golden age during the 18th-century when it was one of the wealthiest and most cosmopolitan cities in Spain which you can see in its period architecture. Known worldwide for its more than 100 watchtowers, the iconic Torre Tavira, the highest point in Cádiz at 45 meters above sea level, sits in the center of the city. Originally used for spotting ships returning from the Americas ladened with silver and gold and other goods, you can now experience an unobstructed sweeping panoramic view of the city from it’s highest point. The tower opens daily at 10:00 am.
The 18th-century Cádiz Cathedral, featuring baroque and neoclassical elements, sits at the cities waterfront and is only a 15-minute walk from its most famous beach, Playa de La Caleta in the old town. Get there an hour before sundown to watch the sun slip gently into the Atlantic as the small fishing boats return, painted gold by its rays. This beach served as Havana’s craggy harbor in the James Bond film “Die Another Day”, as the city itself reminds one of Havana. The cove is marked by a distinctive Moorish-style white balneario (bathhouse) and flanked by two ancient fortresses, the 17th-century Castillo de Santa Catalina and 18th-century Castillo de San Sebastián.
The city was profiled in the NYT 52 Places in September 2019 Cádiz, an Underrated Corner of Spain
Be sure to stop by to see La Perla de Cádiz, the monument to Antonia Gilabert Vargas, the famous gypsy flamenco singer who was born in 1924 in its most ‘typically flamenco’ neighborhood of Santa María. She was considered the most significant female voice of Cádiz flamenco, but passed away at the age of 51. The monument can be found a short walk from the train station near the Conventual de Santo Domingo (Cádiz del Rosario), sanctuary of the Virgin of the Rosary, patron saint of Cadiz. The Peña Flamenca La Perla de Cadiz is nearby on Calle Concepción Arenal.
Where to dine in Cádiz
There are a few interesting lunch or tapas options in Cádiz. As it was a Monday, the restored central market was closed, and our favorite stop, El Faro de Cádiz in the Barrio de la Viña was temporality closed for some type of maintenance, so we headed to Taberna Casa Manteca, know locally as simply Bar Manteca, at Calle Corralón de los Carros, 66, for a delicious tapa of Ventresca de Atún Rojo (Bluefin tuna from Cadiz) and a cold beer, a caña, before heading to lunch at Sonámbulo, at Plaza Candelaria, 12.
Other possible lunch stops while on a day trip to Cádiz include Restaurante Balandro, at Alameda Apodaca, 22, overlooking the Bay of Cádiz near the Jardines de Alameda Apodaca, open daily. Bar Nono, a tapas bar at Calle Dr. Marañón, 8, is only a few minutes walk from the Parador. Vintage El Palmito, is located around the corner from Bar Manteca at Calle Virgen de la Palma, 15, while Sondemar is only a few steps away at Calle Corralón de los Carros, 55. And of course Freidor Casa Manteca the new addition to the Manteca dining experience, sits directly across the street on the corner at Calle Corralón de los Carros, 59.
Staying in Cádiz
As far as we are concerned, the Parador de Cádiz, Avda. Duque de Nájera, 9, is about as nice a place to spend a couple of nights if you want to spend more time in Cádiz, and perfect during Carnival. Its a modern building with 68 double rooms and 11 suites, and offers a spa and beautiful outdoor pool area. It also boasts an excellent restaurant. The 18-century Hotel Casa de las Cuatro Torres, a 4-star boutique hotel near the Plaza de España, is an excellent option. The Senator Cádiz Spa Hotel, Calle Rubio y Díaz, close to the town hall, is another good option, as is the stately 3-star El Armador Casa Palacio, at Ancha, 7. The Hotel La Catedral, with a rooftop pool, sit directly across from the Catedral. It’s nice, but can be a little noisy at times.
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