The city of Cádiz features in each of the novels in my Andalucían Nights trilogy. It’s such a vibrant, luminous city, it was an easy decision to set scenes there; this a thriving and beautiful place with a rich history and culture.
Here’s a glimpse of the city from the perspective of Alexandra, heroine of Indiscretion:
Not quite an island, it was a city of dazzling white houses set on a rocky peninsula, jutting into the sea with the sapphire-blue waters wrapped around it. A jewel that towered over the Atlantic, she well deserved her name. Brilliant and sparkling like a diamond in the sunshine, Alexandra found her beauty was just as arresting at night, under a velvet sky studded with stars, when the city was reflected in the almost unearthly phosphorescence of the ocean.
For me, travelling is all about the vistas: my memory is like a photo album packed with colourful, striking, beautiful scenes. Today I’m sharing with you ten unforgettable vistas in Cádiz city which, I hope, will make you want to travel there, whether in person or via one of my books:
1. Gran Teatro Falla
This theatre is one of the notable monuments of Andalucía, a lovely example of the neo-Mudéjar style. It stands in the Plaza Fragela, in the north-west quarter of the Old Town, a grand and historic theatre. Within, you find a handsome marble staircase, antiquated gold and claret décor, and ornate Moorish revival arches. The theatre is so-named in honour of Manuel de Falla, who is buried in the Cathedral.
The Cathedral de Santa Cruz dates back to the eighteenth century and is prominent in the Cádiz cityscape. It was built painstakingly, over more than a century, to exemplify all that is great about Cádiz and to put it on the spiritual map. It has an iconic gold-tiled dome roof, which gives it an exotic Moorish look. One of the towers is open to the public, and the views from there are spectacular, but quite honestly I find beauty enough in gazing at the cathedral’s façade.
3. San Sebastián Castle
On a little islet jutting out from the Caleta beach, the fortress dates back to the early 1700s and affords amazing views over the ocean and back towards the city. The tall tower within is a lighthouse, built a century ago. To reach the castle, you walk along the zig-zagging causeway, the Paseo Fernando Quiñones, and through magnificent old archways.
4. Roman theatre
The ancient theatre dates all the way back to the first century BC. One of the biggest Roman theatres ever discovered, it could hold an audience of 20,000. It was found in 1980, and is only partially excavated. On the steps, it’s impossible not to be swept away by the thought of who stood there before you.
5. Tavira Tower
The tower itself is quite beautiful, dating back to the eighteenth century when Cádiz was ‘a city of watchtowers’, with no fewer than 160 from which men would watch for merchant ships. But it is the view from the tower that is really special, a panoramic vista of the city in the cámaraoscura, a room in which the view is projected via a convex lens.
6. Monument to the Constitution of 1812
This monument is completely breath-taking, entirely dominating the Plaza de España. It is the combined work of architect Modesto Lopez Otero and sculptor Aniceto Marinas. It was commissioned in 1912 to mark the centenary of the Constitution of 1812, the country’s very first constitution, which established important principles, among them universal male suffrage, national sovereignty and freedom of the press.
7. Plaza San Antonio
The neo-classical and Castilian late Gothic architecture of the buildings on each side of this square is striking. Once, this was the place to live for the upper classes of Cádiz. San Antonio Church in the square dates back to 1669.
8. Genovés Park
With so many stunning buildings to admire, and bedazzled by the blue sky and even bluer sea all around, it is easy to forget that Cádiz also offers lush, verdant vistas. The Genovés Park is beautifully maintained, with many different trees and plants, plus a lake with a spectacular waterfall.
9. Centre for Subaquatic Archaeology
Not a place to visit, but to admire from the outside. The iconic white building is on Caleta beach, and was created in the 1920s. For some thirty years it was a spa, El Balneario de Nuestra Señora de la Palma y del Real, but these days it’s used by the university. Caleta is the smallest beach in Cádiz, but the most popular, and the houses behind give it a colourful backdrop.
10. The sea
Last, but by no means least, the sea. Wherever you go in Cádiz, you are quickly reunited with the ocean – the city is, as the Moors put it, a ‘dish of silver in a bowl of blue’. Whether you find a sea view soothing or stirring, you’re bound to be drawn to the waves lapping someplace nearby in their age-old rhythm.