Day Trip to Cadiz  

A. Transportation 

One can take the train from Seville's Santa Justa Station and spend the day in Cadiz, and return in the late afternoon. There are two trains in the morning that one can take, at 07:55H and at 09:05H. The train reaches Cadiz 2 hours later. One can return at 17:10H or 18:02H or 19:13H or 20:15H (last train). 

Read Buying Renfe Tickets Online. 

The Renfe station in Cadiz is located at Plaza de Sevilla, 1. This is easy walking distance to any part of the old city. 

One can also take a bus to Cadiz from the Prado de San Sebastian bus terminal. 

B. The Best Sights of Cadiz

Cadiz is the oldest city in Europe. It was founded in 1100 B.C. by the Phoenicians on land that had a strategic importance in the bay. The legend is that Hercules was the founder of Cadiz. In the 16th century the city became very prosperous because the king transferred trade to the Americas from Seville to Cadiz.  Unfortunately in 1596 the English and Dutch forces under the Earl of Essex sacked the city. After that the city undertook massive fortification with the newest technology designed by the Frenchman Vauban that involved crossfire, that made the city invulnerable. Most of the walls were demolished in the early 20th century. 

1. The New Cathedral 

The New Cathedral was started in 1722. The architect was Vicente Acero, who also worked for five years on the Cathedral of Granada. After this architect, there were five more architects who worked on the building. The building was finished in 1853 for lack of funding. It started with the Baroque style and was finished with the Neoclassic style. The dome of the church is covered with glazed tiles and its gilt surface reflects the sun with intensity. The ground plan is that of a Latin Cross. There are two towers on the facade. The roofing consists of barrel vaults and the transept has a semi-spherical dome. There are many windows that let in a lot of light and much of the material used in construction is limestone, with marble facing. There is a choir and the chairs made of caoba wood were the work of Agustin de Perea in 1697, and these came from the Cartuja de las Cuevas de Sevilla. Unfortunately one can see that there has been a lot of erosion on the ceiling and that the church needs a lot of restoration. The church has a crypt that has the remains of two of the most famous sons of the city, the composer Manuel de Falla and the poet Jose Maria Peman. 

2. The Victoria Beach in Cadiz 

One of the most beautiful beaches in Spain, with white sand and with a backdrop of the Cathedral and old town. The Playa Victoria Hotel beside it has a wonderful design and beautiful views.The beach is extremely wide and has white sand. This is one of the best beaches in Spain. There is plenty of space for many people. The beach does not allow chiringuitos, the informal restaurants that can be found in other places.  

3. Oratory of La Santa Cueva

The most important sight in Cadiz is the Oratory of La Santa Cueva (the Holy Cave). The outside of the building is not impressive and does not give a hint of what is inside the building. There is a small nominal fee to see it. Everyday there is a different volunteer guide (free) who explains everything. If one is lucky, one will get Jose Manuel Rabina, a retired colonel in the Spanish Navy. He gives the most splendid explanation of what is found in the building. 

In the early 18th century, a fraternity of men met every Thursday to meditate on the Passion of Christ. In 1730 the fraternity moved to the Rosario parish church for their meetings. In 1756 they found a cave underground, which they cleaned up and where they continued their religious meetings. The group was then called the Brotherhood of the Santa Cueva. In 1771 the Jesuit priest called Jose Saenz de Santamaria started conducting the meetings. Father Santamaria was born in Veracruz, Mexico, and was the second child of the Marquis of Valde-Iñigo, a very rich man who made his fortune in business and trade. Father Santamaria decided to enlarge the cave and reform the attached Rosario church, with his own money. He hired the architect Torcuato Cayon, who had worked on the Cathedral. After Cayon died, his disciple Torcuato Benjumeda finished the work in 1783 and the place was called the Oratory of La Santa Cueva.  

It so happened that the Marquis died and left his fortune to his first born, who also died soon after that. The fortune then passed to Father Santamaria! By this time, the fortune was one of the largest in Spain! Father Santamaria then decided to build the upper chapel, which was finished in 1796.  

The lower chapel, where the cave was, is called the penitential chapel. There is little furniture and everything is plain. The altar has a sculpture of Christ crucified, and He is surrounded by the Virgin Mary, Saint John the Evangelist, and Mary Magdalene, Mary Cleofas, and Mary Salome. The mood in this chapel is very solemn. However one can hear the beautiful music of Haydn coming from above.  

The upper chapel is called the Chapel of the Holy Sacrament. This chapel is very luxurious and beautiful, and is a jewel. There are eight large Ionic columns made of jasper, in a room with the shape of an ellipse. The altar is made of silver and jasper, with a beautiful design. The floor of the chapel has a marvelous design in marble of different colors. The most important thing is that towards the ceiling, there are five lunettes with paintings, and three of them were painted by Goya. On two walls there are huge stucco reliefs that show scenes in the lives of saints.  

Father Santamaria commissioned the Austrian composer Joseph Haydn to compose the music for the oratory. Haydn composed the work called "The Last Seven Words of Our Savior on the Cross", which is now played in Cadiz during Holy Week. The cities of Berlin and Vienna wrongfully claimed credit for commissioning the work in the past! This oratory is now considered the most beautiful neoclassic work in Cadiz.       

4. Puertas de Tierra 

At the entrance to the historic center is the Plaza de la Constitucion. There is a big monument here called the Puertas de Tierra, with a reflecting pool and a fountain, beside the old city walls. There are two pillars, on top of which there are sculptures of St. Servando and St. German, who are the patron saints of Cadiz. On each side of the monument, there is a large opening in the city walls that allows traffic to circulate to the old city. These are called the Earth Gates (Puertas de Tierra), and are from the 17th century. There is a tower  in the walls that has a marble entrance that was made by Torcuato Cayon in 1755. 

5. Oratory of San Felipe Neri 

There is a church in the city called the Oratory of San Felipe Neri, where the people who drafted the Constitution debated every point of the document. This document was a milestone because it was the first document in Spain that declared the rights of the people and it was signed in 1812. The church was built between 1679 and 1719.  The church is now in repair. The main altar and retable are faced in gold leaf, with a very impressive design. There is a very good apinting of the Immaculate Virgin in the church that was painted by Murillo. 

6. Monumento de las Cortes 

At the Plaza de España there is a huge monument built between 1912 and 1929. The monument is called the Monumento de las Cortes, and is dedicated to the Constitution of 1812. This monument has a high pillar in the center with statues, and there is a frieze on each side full of human figures that ends on a short pillar with an equestrian statue. This is the main monument in the city and is surrounded by a little park filled with flowers. 

7. Ayuntamiento 

There is a beautiful Ayuntamiento (Town Hall) in the Plaza de San Juan de Dios. The first phase was built in the Neoclassic style by the architect Benjumeda in 1799 and the second phase was in the Isabelline style by the architect Garcia del Alamo in 1861. 

8. Cadiz Court Museum 

The Cadiz Court Museum is dedicated to the Constitution of 1812. In the museum there is a very large scale model of Cadiz as it looked in the 18th century, during the height of its glory. 

9. The Cadiz Museum 

The Cadiz Museum contains the history of the city. The Phoenician archeological section displays two large and beautiful marble sarcophagi, one of a man and the other of a woman, from the 5th century B.C. These are the main treasures of the museum. The museum also shows Roman archaeological artefacts, with many marble statues of the Roman emperors. There is a Fine Arts department, with a very important collection of 18 Zurbaran paintings. These come from the Carthusian monastery in Jerez de la Frontera, and these are considered the pride of Cadiz. There are other paintings by Spanish masters like Ribera and Murillo. 

10. Torre Tavira 

During the 18th century many local merchants built towers on top of their buildings so that they could scan the seas and watch the approach of ships from the watchtowers. The ships came from the Americas. There were 160 of these watchtowers built, and about 120 have been conserved. Most of the watchtowers are whitewashed and have decorations with geometric drawings in red ochre colors. These watchtowers were a sign of prestige. The Torre Tavira was named the official city watchtower because it was the highest (45 meters over the sea) and the Antonio Tavira was the watchman. This watchtower is located at the corner of Calle Marques del Real Tesoro and Calle Sacramento (near the Plaza de las Flores). There is a camara oscura on top of the tower which gives viewers an optical effect that makes far objects appear closer than they are. 

11. La Caleta Beach 

This beach is the beach in the old town of Cadiz, close to the old Phoenician and Roman ports. There is a modernist building called Balneario de la Palma by the beach, and this was built in 1926.