Everyone always thinks it’s pronounced Ca-DEEZ because of the nickname, “the Butcher of Cadiz,” however this pronunciation is wrong (as many Spaniards will correct you)! In Andalucían, you pronounce it KAH-deeth, with the emphasis on the first syllable (and the Spanish accent is to change a “z” to a “th”).
Cádiz is a beautiful beach town built on what was once an island. There are two parts to Cádiz: “new Cádiz” and “old Cádiz.” New Cádiz is a long, thin strip with high rises, condos, hotels, shops, and restaurants along the long beautiful beach. It reminds me a little of Fort Lauderdale or Miami, and I stayed here once.
If you’re visiting Spain to feel the history and see the real deal though, stay in old Cádiz. You will know you’re entering old Cádiz when you go under the old fort that used to surround the city. You can also find the train and bus station in this fort. Old Cádiz has a pedestrian-only historic center with quaint outside cafés and souvenir shops. There is a market, a clothes shopping district, and a port. There’s also a small beach called Playa de la Caleta – the only beach in old Cádiz!
About a mile into the water is the old fort, Castillo de San Sebastián. It doesn’t look that far from the beach, but it’s a hike to get out there! Unfortunately, it wasn’t open when we got there, so we just watched the sunset behind the fort and admired the beautiful scenery. It’s a great place to watch the sun set.
On the other side of the beach is another old fortress, Castillo de Santa Catalina. It dates back to the 17th century with an Italian-style star-shaped floor plan, serving as a military prison. The city declared it a place of Cultural Interest in 1985 and it’s now used for cultural events. Castillo de Santa Catalina is free to enter, and we got to explore it!
An interesting fact: The James Bond movie “Die Another Day” filmed the Havana scenes on La Caleta beach in Cádiz with Pierce Brosnan and Halle Berry. They also used both castles on the beach: Castillo de Santa Catalina was where James Bond has a mojito with Jinx in Cuba, and Castillo de San Sebastián was the Cuban DNA Replacement Clinic.
Old Cádiz has many lovely squares to sit and have a tapa with friends. It was in Cádiz I first learned that bread, bread sticks, and water are not free! There is also an I.V.A. tax on food that looks strangely like a tip, but it isn’t a tip. I.V.A. is a tax charged everywhere in Spain, though it’s sometimes hidden under a different name.
The Cádiz Cathedral, in the Plaza de la Catedral, is a Roman Catholic church which dates back to the 1200s. Sadly, it burnt down in the 1500s again and rebuilt in the 1700s. It’s an amazing sight with intricate detail in the Roman architecture and is still operational today. In fact, while we were visiting and sitting at a café across the street having a coffee, we saw a wedding take place!
Cádiz is an incredible city and the capital of the Cádiz province. I have visited the city a few times now and definitely recommend visiting it. There is a wonderful little tapas bar in old Cádiz called La Taperia de Columela on Calle Columela in the shopping district. If you can say no to all the surrounding tourist traps of expensive fried food, you can get delicious cheap (2 euro) tapas here! It doesn’t open until 8pm as is typical of Spanish restaurants, so plan accordingly. If you’re daring, ask for the chef’s recommendation and try it before you ask what it is! Everything on the menu is wonderful, and I can’t wait to visit Cádiz again to go back to this restaurant.