The History of Cadiz
Named after Neptune’s son and built between Hercules´ pillars, history and mythology are more closely linked in Cadiz than in any other city in Spain. Its origins date back 3500 years. Cadiz, the oldest city in the Western world, plays an important role in Greek mythology. Some legends speak of the fatal encounter between Hercules and King Gerion, situating it in Cadiz (called Gadeira and Erytheia): Hercules killed the three-bodied winged giant shooting an arrow at the joint of the three bodies. Cadiz itself is one of the 'Twelve Labours of Hercules', that is, the separation of Europe from Africa.
The city of Cadiz was founded in 1100 B.C. by Phoenician sailors over the ruins of the one that the people of Tyre had built. They built a port and a temple, where supposedly Hercules´ashes were kept. Hercules presence survives to this day in the city’s coat of arms where he stands between the pillars that announced the end of the world.
Cadiz began to grow from the 14th century onwards, reaching its golden age in the 18th century due to its position as the centre of sea routes and commercial trade. The importance of trade with the Americas was such that Cadiz monopolized all trade within Spain. Today, this past is still visible in its architecture; Cadiz reminds us of the typical colonial town: long and narrow streets, sunny squares, and magic gardens.
Later, in the 17th and 18th centuries, Cadiz became a fortified town in order to resiszt the repeated naval attacks perpetrated by the English. It was during this period that Cadiz enjoyed its most fruitful economic growth, monopolizing trade with the Americas and forming bridgehead both culturally and politically with the New World. Cadiz bravely resisted the Napoleonic invasion from behind its ancient walls, and it was here that, in the Church of San Felipe Neri, the very first Spanish Constitution was signed. Between the years 1810 and 1813, during the Napoleonic occupation, Cadiz became the capital of Spain. With the loss of the Spanish colonies in America, Cadiz also experienced a loss in relevance in national affairs.
This three thousand years old city invites you to wander and relax through its beautiful narrow streets, finding along your way squares, small palaces and stately buildings. Its cathedral, Caleta Beach, typical barrios such as La Viña or Santa Maria are some of the places that make Cadiz not only the oldest city in the West, but also one of the most beautiful..