WHEN we think of booking a city break in Europe- Rome, Barcelona and Paris seem to be the first that pop into our minds.
Let’s keep going down the list and we look at Lisbon, Zurich, and Brussels. However, the latest city that is becoming very popular for weekend getaways is right in the heart of our own Spanish community, Cadiz.
The regional capital city, located on the shorelines in the South West of Spain, is one of Europe’s disregarded treasures. The old trading city with its narrow streets and historic buildings has become easily accessible from Gibraltar or Jerez International airports.
Founded in 1100 BC by the Phoenicians, the city was taken from the Moors by the then Spanish King Alfonso X in 1262 when it began its historic journey as one of Spain’s main trading channels after Christopher Columbus sailed to America from the port on his second and fourth journeys.
Considered now as one of the oldest cities in Western Europe, the main sites to begin a few days site-seeing would be the Plaza de Mina and Plaza de la Catedral in the city center. The Plaza Mina which houses the Cadiz Museum has been untouched since the 19th century, and stands alone with beautiful centuries old trees, gothic architecture and various statues, one of which is the bust of José Macpherson (a pioneer in the development of petrography, stratigraphy and tectonics) who was born in 12 Plaza de Mina in 1839. The museum contains many ancient artifacts and works of art from the Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens.
The Plaza de la Catedral houses both the Cathedral and the Baroque church of Santiago, after enjoying breakfast at one of the many restaurants in the square, a visit inside the crypt is a must if you are visiting the cathedral.
A highly recommended stroll through the bustling narrow streets takes you down along the seafront where the breathtaking views of Caleta Beach snuggled up against the Castillo de San Sebastian (the old fortress) will take your breath away. Keep a look out to see if another James Bond girl surfaces through the waves like Halle Berry did in the Bond classic ‘Die Another Day’ – No it wasn’t Havana it was Caleta Beach!
A Roman market, the Holy cave and a snack outside the San Felipe Neri church where the first constitution was signed in 1812 should also be on the ‘hit list’ as well as sampling the delicious range of freshly caught fish from the area.
On your return don’t forget to photograph Europe’s tallest bridge, La Pepa. Longer and higher than San Francisco’s famous Golden Gate, the bridge, which is over 5km in length and stretches across 3.09 km of water links Cadiz with the rest of the mainland.