The best places to visit in Cádiz

The historical city of Cádiz is characterised by a multitude of historical watchtowers. The port city rewards visitors with excellent beaches, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, ancient cathedrals, and a fascinating old town.

The Spanish city of Cádiz was founded 3,000 years ago, making it one of the oldest cities in Western Europe. Considered by many to be the hidden gem of Andalusia., the city is surprisingly compact and easy to navigate making it an amazing place to explore on foot. A walk through the city is like taking a journey through gorge-like streets with local shops and bars. The ancient stone buildings and cobblestone streets are like a living museum and still retain the same medieval charm it has had for centuries. The picturesque San Antonio plaza is the heart of Cadiz and one of the city’s top landmarks is the Gran Teatro Falla. With the Atlantic on its doorstep, it’s a given that Cadiz has unbelievable fish and seafood restaurants.

The old town of Cádiz is built on a peninsula-island, and remains much as it must have looked cneturies ago with grand, open squares, sailors’ alleyways and high, turreted houses. The Museo de Cádiz, the province’s most important museum, overlooks the leafy Plaza de Mina and incorporates the archaeological museum on the ground floor with many important finds and artefacts from the city’s lengthy history. The main attraction in the museum is two superb Phoenician stone sarcophagi, male and female.

Almost irresistible, even if you don’t normally go for High Baroque, is the attraction of the huge eighteenth-century Catedral Nueva. The cathedral, with dimensions similar to St Paul’s in London, is decorated entirely in stone, with no gold in sight, and in absolutely perfect proportions. The cathedral has a superb carved stone roof and highly decorative early 18th-century choir stalls. On the edge of the Barrio del Populo, the city’s oldest quarter dating from the Middle Ages, lies the ‘old’ or original cathedral, Santa Cruz. This was one of the buildings severely knocked during the English assault on Cádiz in 1596, causing the thirteenth-century church to be substantially rebuilt. A fine Gothic entry portal survived, and inside there’s a magnificent seventeenth-century retablo with sculptures by Martínez Montañés. Behind the old cathedral a first-century-BC Roman theatre has been excavated.

Much closer to us in time is the eighteenth-century mansion, Torre Tavira, with the tallest tower in the city. From here you can enjoy great views over the rooftops to the sea beyond. In addition, one of the most impressive Baroque buildings in the city, the chapel of the Hospital de las Mujeres, houses a brilliant El Greco painting.

Cádiz is also known for the Sherry Triangle: its corners marked by three towns filled with the producers of the fortified wine, and it is from here that Christopher Columbus made his second voyage to the New World. the city is also the perfect gateway to visit the stunning city of Seville or to see the legendary White Villages of Andalusia.

This month MSC Cruises is revealing must-see destinations that are perfect for a winter getaway. From Monday 7 November until Sunday 13 November, the cruise line is celebrating Cadiz. Travellers booking specific cruises calling at any of these destinations benefit from exclusive incentives including onboard credit. For more details and bookings visit MSC Cruises.

Also read: Top seven hidden gems in Bruges

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