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South of Seville on Andalusia’s Atlantic Coast, Cadiz is often bypassed by travelers. It shouldn't be. Perhaps Europe’s oldest inhabited city, Cadiz is the site of its earliest known Phoenician settlement, dating back to 1100 BC. A good site for such a trading settlement, the city is almost an island at the end of a long, thin peninsula; today, white sand beaches extend right under its fortified walls. Paintings by Goya, El Greco and Murillo hang in its churches, easily found with a walking tour map provided by the tourist office on Plaza del San Juan Dias. The baroque Nuestra Señora del Carmen has an altarpiece by El Greco; on the high ...

South of Seville on Andalusia’s Atlantic Coast, Cadiz is often bypassed by travelers. It shouldn't be. Perhaps Europe’s oldest inhabited city, Cadiz is the site of its earliest known Phoenician settlement, dating back to 1100 BC. A good site for such a trading settlement, the city is almost an island at the end of a long, thin peninsula; today, white sand beaches extend right under its fortified walls. Paintings by Goya, El Greco and Murillo hang in its churches, easily found with a walking tour map provided by the tourist office on Plaza del San Juan Dias. The baroque Nuestra Señora del Carmen has an altarpiece by El Greco; on the high altar of the convent church Santa Catalina is Murillo's last work; in the chapel of Hospital del Carmen de Mujeres is El Greco's Ecstasy of St. Francis. On the high altar of the oval San Felipe Neri is a Murillo, and La Santa Cueva, another oval church, has several Goya paintings, and is exceptionally rich, with an altar of silver and jasper. Stroll the narrow streets around the flower market to find shops (look especially for torrone, the Andalusian almond nougat) and old houses. Overlooking the sea, the promenade of Alameda Apocada is cool in the summer, its tiled fountains shaded by trees. The forts of Santa Catalina and San Sebastian guard the western shore, bookending the beach of La Caleta, below the old fishermen’s quarter where painted fishing boats haul up along the shore. The Costa Ballena's four miles of beaches are especially popular with families; children love exploring for critters in the natural tidal pools. One of Spain’s most elaborate festivals begins just before the traditional carnival in February, when street parties fill the city with food, singing and open air performances, in preparation for the riotous Carnaval.

Lura Seavey
About the Expert

Lura Seavey is the author of Fun with the Family in Vermont and New Hampshire and she has contributed to several Thomas Cook guidebooks, including Drive Around Catalonia, Travellers Mallorca, and Travellers Barcelona.

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Lura Seavey for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    The mild climate makes all seasons pleasant, although summers can be very hot. Visit just before the beginning of Lent, usually in February for Carnaval.