The various monuments of Cadiz are what make visiting this city so special. Dotted throughout the city are fascinating churches, cathedrals, towers and with them examples of the incredible artistic history of the city.
The Cathedral Square contains both the Cathedral and the Baroque Santiago church, built in 1635. The Cathedral was built between 1722 and 1838 and is considered one of the finest pieces of architecture in Andalucia.
It sits on the site of an older cathedral, completed in 1260, which burned down in 1596. The reconstruction, which was not started until 1776, was supervised by the architect Vicente Acero, who had also built the Granada Cathedral. Acero left the project and was succeeded by several other architects. As a result, this largely baroque-style cathedral was built over a period of 116 years, and, due to this drawn-out period of construction, the cathedral underwent several major changes to its original design. Though the cathedral was originally intended to be a baroque edifice, it contains rococo elements, and was finally completed in the neoclassical style. Its chapels have many paintings and relics from the old cathedral and monasteries from throughout Spain. In the crypt below are buried the composer Manuel de Falla and the poet and playwright José María Pemán, both born in Cádiz.
The cathedral also offers views from the Poniente Tower which is Cadiz's highest tower. Upon reaching the bell tower at the top you will be given breathtaking views of the city. There are also guides available in English.
The Old Cathedral of Cadiz, or the Church of Santa Cruz, is located next to Cathedral Square in the nearby ‘El Populo’ neighbourhood. Built in 1262 by King Alfonso X of Castile, it was considered the Cathedral until 1838, when it moved to the New Cathedral. Since that time its main function has been as a church.
According excavations in the basement of church it is now considered to have been a site of an early Christian temple or Roman Theatre. In 1596 it was burned by the Anglo-Dutch, who while they attacked, invaded and sacked Cadiz also almost destroyed the temple. Fortunately it still stands today as an important monument in Cadiz.
The Convent of Our Lady of the Rosary and Santo Domingo (also called the Church of Santo Domingo) is located on the edge of the old town, close to San Juan Dios Square, near the port. It exhibits Mannerist and Baroque elements. From an artistic point of view its important marble baroque pieces are of Genoese origin and provide a fundamental testimony of the extensive trade and artistic links established between Cadiz and Genoa in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Another church which cannot be missed is the Church of Our Lady of Remedios Convent of San Francisco. It is located in San Francisco Square .It was founded by the Franciscans in the sixteenth century, specifically in 1566, but underwent reforms in later centuries. During the weekend it is not uncommon to witness weddings as it is a popular choice among locals to tie the knot.
The Church of San Agustin de Cádiz is part of the old Convent of San Agustín and can be found in the middle corner of the popular San Francisco Street. Within the church contains known chapels founded by families of Cadiz merchants. Inside the main feature is a neoclassical altarpiece, designed by architect Pedro Albizu Angel surrounded by pictures and paintings from the seventeenth century by Domingo Alvarez.
Las Puertas de Tierra originated in the 16th century, although much of the original work has disappeared. Once consisting of several layers of walls, only one of these remain today.
By the 20th century it was necessary to remodel the entrance to the Old City to accommodate modern traffic. Today, the two side-by-side arches cut into the wall serve as one of the primary entrances to the city. Translated as ‘The Land Gate’ it is a monument which was a stronghold that guarded the entrance to the city of Cadiz. Built by the architect Torcuato Cayon in the eighteenth century, it was conceived more as a religious monument than military fortification. In front of it lie the white marble Baroque statues of San Servando and San Germán sculpted by Andreoli in 1705.
While visiting Caleta beach take a stroll down to San Sebastian castle, located on the small island off the beach. It was built in 1706 as a fort to defend the northern side of the city. Currently the castle is closed to all visitors but the path leading to the castle is a pleasant one and you can even try and follow the locals in leaping into the sea from the bridge.
To get to grips with the city you should head to the Tavira Tower on Marqués del Real Tesoro Street and Sacramentos Street, near the popular square Las Flores Square and the central market, it is easy to find and essential to visit to get to know the city from a different point of view. In the 18th century, Cadiz had more than 160 towers from which local merchants could look out to sea for arriving merchant ships. These towers often formed part of the merchants' houses.
It has a cámara oscura that projects panoramic views of the Old City onto a concave disc. At this time, the Tavira Tower is the official watchtower of Cádiz due to the fact that it is situated in the centre of town, and was also the highest point in the town at 45 meters above the sea level. Don Antonio Tavira was the first watchman of the tower and used his telescope to see the ships full with goods coming from America.
To learn more about monuments and other places of interest make sure to check out our useful information section.