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Cádiz oculta

Hidden and mysterious Cadiz


The Market Square with churros and coffee

Start the day with a proper breakfast near the market in the old city quarter. The traditional way to start the day in Cadiz is to buy a cone full of churros (deep-fried dough sticks) at one of the stands in the area or order them at one of the typical local bars such as the La Marina cafe bar.

There you can spend a while enjoying the hustle and bustle of the earliest risers in the district as they haste to buy the newly-arrived fresh produce in the market, or see the flower sellers in the famous Plaza de las Flores, and absorb the real ambience of Cadiz in the old quarter over a delicious coffee.

And while we're on the subject of coffee, one of the most traditional places to have one in the city is just around the corner from where you are now: the Brim cafe bar in Compañía street.

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On the trail of the Phoenicians

Did you know Cadiz was an important Phoenician settlement, and the first city to be founded in the West? Phoenician sailors in search of metals established the largest commercial base in Europe and gave it the name of Gadir.

A witness to history, the archaeological site of Gadir can now be enjoyed by visitors seeking answers to the mysteries of this ancient civilisation. The place still conserves traces of streets, dwellings, utensils and a few surprises that you can discover yourself.

Would you like to know more about Phoenician culture and what Cadiz was like in this epoch of maritime splendour? Do not worry. Before the visit you can see an exciting video that looks like an episode from the CSI series that will explain to you everything.

If you'd rather leave the visit for later on in the day, just check the entrance times and entry tickets available for each day. By the way, entrance is free.


Goya's hidden treasures

In a little chapel hidden in Rosario street, there is a place frequented by the most illustrious residents of Cadiz in the 18th century.
This very special place is the Oratorio de la Santa Cueva, which was built with money from the trade with South America. Cadiz played a vital role in commerce from across the Atlantic and became the nerve centre and only Spanish port where the fleets of Las Indias unloaded their goods from 1680 onwards. This gives you an idea of the wealth and power wielded by the city in this period; so much so that some European powers looked at the city with greedy eyes.

What makes it so special? Besides the rich decoration of the sacramental chapel, designed in an oval Mannerist style, look up and you can see the arched canvases and then, the big surprise. Three authentic religios-themed works by Goya. A real privilege to see such works so close.

And that's not the only surprise. Joseph Haydn was commissioned to compose "The Seven Last Words of Christ" for this place. The client, the Marqués de Valdeíñigo was a talent scout of the period, and without any need for the Internet he found Haydn, and figured out that he was a tremendously talented composer that will deserve his own place in the History of Music.


Mysteries from beyond the grave

The final visit of the morning consists of two experiences that will send a shiver down your spine and awaken the curiosity of lovers of mystery and the afterlife.

The visit starts with a walk along the Valverde street and, from a seemingly normal residential patio, you go down into an underground passage and enter a set of chambers with a strange design. Here a guide will explain that this place served a number of purposes: it was first used as a burial place for female Christian mystics from the nearby beguinage, but has also served as a hiding place for residents of the area during the Spanish Civil War and as a secret meeting place for local freemasons.

Now, after rehabilitation by local professionals, you can join a guided visit, hear fascinating details about the city's history, and participate in an interactive escape room. Las Catacumbas del Beaterio.
To round off the adventures of underground Cádiz, take a walk to one of the most legendary stately homes of the city: the Pirate's House. And you'd be right in asking how it got its name?
The locals will tell you that a sailor who lived when the city was at the height of commercial splendour sailed off to seek treasure on the high seas, leaving his beloved wife to wait for him. After finding riches, the sailor was shipwrecked for several years on a desert island, and when at last he returned to the city with his treasure buried in a safe place, he promised his wife he would make just one more voyage to recover it. He not only brought his treasure back to Cadiz, he also built a splendid mansion designed with details that make it resemble an imposing ship: large modernist windows, spiral staircases and even a captain's bridge to see ships on the horizon making their way to Cadiz.

Although visits to the Pirate's House are now limited to the cellars and patio of this impressive haunted house, it's worth visiting to see inside and imagine what it was like in the past.

And don't forget that the legends also say that ghostly voices can be heard in the house at night. What more excitement do you need?


Seeing Cadiz from a height

After a delicious gaditano gastronomic homage, such as a paper cone full of local fried fish, while looking onto  La Caleta, or mackerel with piriñaca (a vegetable garnish) in the traditional Carnival district of La Viña, now it's time to set off to the highest point of the city: the Torre Tavira and visit its camera obscura.
An old watch tower kept by Don Antonio Tavira; it would later be named as the official tower of the city for sighting vessels coming from South America in the city's period of maximum splendour.
Now it offers 360° views of the city thanks to an optical system made up of mirrors that reflect views of Cadiz in movement and real time on a circular screen in a dark room. If you're curious by nature, you'll love this unique visit where you can see local residents hanging out their clothes on rooftops or wandering around the streets of the old quarter.

After the virtual tour, the next thing to do is go up to the top of the tower to get a magnificent view of all of Cadiz. Once there you'll find another hidden treasure: the watch tower known as the Hidden Beauty. Where does it get its name from? That’s something for you to discover when you come to see it.


The House of Horror

The writer, José Manuel Serrano Cueto has given life to his trilogy “Cádiz Oculto” in the Casa del Terror y lo Fantástico, in Beato Diego de Cádiz street.
Ghosts, UFOs, mysteries and even a replica of the mummified child of San Lorenzo. If you're fascinated by tales of terror and mystery, then this is the place for you.

To end the day, why not take part in one of the dramatized routes that different activity groups regularly offer?
If you want to maintain the atmosphere of such a weird and  mystery-filled day, why not cap it all by accompanying all your visits to the places of legend and mystery of Cadiz, with its haunted palaces and hospitals, ghost stories based on real life events, the miracle of the Virgin and the tsunami, mummified children, etc... with some reading from one of the bookshops in the old quarter, such as Quorum, Manuel de Falla and Jaime, where you can find some good books on the subject.

So, come to Cadiz and discover places full of hidden treasures and chilling tales in the oldest city in the West!



Kilometres: 1.6
Estimated driving time: 21 minuts.
Recommended number of days: 1
Main attractions: Cultur, nature, gastronomy.
See route on map: Google Maps