Cádiz Province – Andalusia
Useful information about Cádiz Province.
Cadiz is the southernmost province in Spain and borders the provinces of Huelva, Seville and Malaga as well as overlooking the Straights of Gibraltar and the North of Africa. It has a mild climate, with an average annual temperature of 18º, and enjoys some 3.100 hours of sunshine per year. Strangely enough however, in the Sierra de Grazalema there is a microclimate which makes it the place with the highest amount of rainfall in Spain.
The province has good land communications with a first class rail and road network. In terms of air travel there is the airport of Jerez with daily flights to other parts of Spain as well as various European cities, and it also has the ports of Cadiz and Algeciras, the latter being one of the most important maritime passenger terminals in the world.
What was once the legendary Gadir has a wide range of different landscapes: mountainous sierras, a paradise for lovers of nature and fans of adventure sports; huge beaches of golden sand and charming coves and inlets, bathed by the transparent waters of the Atlantic; a huge range of historical sites with ancient noble cities and towns such as Jerez, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, and Cadiz itself; and the picturesque white villages of the Sierra. The province´s mouth-watering cuisine and colourful traditions will also delight and captivate visitors.
Art and Culture
Founded by the Tartessians and the Phoenicians more than 3.000 years ago, Cadiz has seen the passing of numerous cultures including the Visigoths, Romans, and Moors. The legendary Gadir was founded around 1100 BC, making it the oldest western city. Although the Romans left their mark in places such as Baelo Claudia in Tarifa, and Carteia in San Roque, cave paintings such as those of the “Tajo de las Figuras” in Benalup or the Phoenician sarcophagi on display in the Museum of Cadiz are proof of the presence of much earlier cultures.
The Moors took Cadiz in 711 and it remained under their control until the second half of the 13th century, when Alfonso X the Wise, re-conquered the city and annexed it to the Kingdom of Castile. During this period the province was populated with numerous castles, towers, and fortresses, some of which can still be seen today on rocky crags, such as those in Zahara de la Sierra and Olvera, or scattered along the coast in towns like Tarifa or Chiclana. In terms of religious architecture, buildings which stand out include the La Cartuja monastery and the cathedrals of Jerez and Cadiz. The important role which the province played in the discovery and colonization of South America is reflected in the grand mansions and palaces in places such as El Puerto, Sanlúcar and Cadiz.
The province of Cadiz can be said to be the capital of Andalusian leatherwork. Ubrique, along with the neighbouring towns of Prado del Rey and Villamartín, is justly proud of this heritage and its products carry the “Legítimo Ubrique” stamp of quality. Another type of craft which is becoming much scarcer is the art of textile making using a traditional loom but in Grazalema it is still possible to buy the famous blankets and ponchos which are made by hand using high quality wools. Other crafts which continue to be important, particularly in Jerez, are coopering, and saddle making. Cane, reeds, and wicker are still used by artisans in Medina Sidonia, Setenil, Bornos and Vejer, whilst in Paterna and Torre Alháquime palm leaves and esparto are transfored into baskets and shoes.
Musical instruments such as bagpipes and guitars are hand made in Gastor and Algodonales whilist Arcos and Conil are still important for pottery and ceramics. Other craft products include the handmade dolls made in Chiclana, country-style boots in Alcalá de los Gazules and Espera, and wooden chairs and other furniture in Benamahoma and Prado del Rey.
Festivals and Traditions
The festive calendar of Cadiz has numerous events but there are three which are of particular importance and have been declared Fiestas of International Tourist Interest: the Carnival of Cadiz, the Jerez Equestrian Fair, and the horse races on the beach at Sanlúcar de Barrameda. These and all the other fiestas (Easter Week, the many pilgrimages, Corpus Christi) reflect some of the essential characteristics of this land, such as the wine and the equestrian culture, whilst demonstrating the generous hospitality of its people.
As well as these typical fiestas the province hosts a wide range of prestigious cultural events throughout the year including the Alcances Muestra Cinematográfica del Atlántico in Cadiz, or the African Cinema Festival in Tarifa. Other art forms including theatre, dance, and music also have an important role to play and the “A orillas del Guadalquivir” classical music festival in Sanlúcar de Barrameda is just one example.
Flamenco has special relevance in Cadiz particularly since it was the birthplace of important styles such as bulerías, tanguillos or peteneras, as well as leading figures such as Camarón de la Isla, José Mercé, and Manolo Sanlúcar. As a result, the province offers a whole range of festivals where authentic flamenco styles can be appreciated to the full.
Cádiz province cuisine is heavily influenced by the famous wines which are produced in the province and is largely based on the wide range of fish and shellfish which are caught along its coast: gilthead bream, red-banded bream, sea bass, dab, blacktail bream, prawns, lobsters, bocas, dye murex, and the celebrated king prawns from Sanlúcar. Nevertheless, the produce of the Sierra also plays its part and notable products include the well-known payoyo cheeses and the cured meats such as the black pudding or the choricitos produced in El Bosque.
The province´s most typical dishes include: caballa asada con piriñaca, urta a la roteña, dorada a la sal, ajo caliente, berza con tagarninas, tortillitas de camarones. Also worthy of mention is the bienmesabe, a special dressing prepared with vinegar which is used to marínate fish. The Arabic tradition combines with that of the convents in the typical pastries, with sweet delicacies such as the tortas chiclaneras almendradas, the alfajores produced in Medina Sidonia or the turrón from Cadiz.
The famous local wines, which are protected by the Jerez-Xeres Sherry and Manzanilla de Sanlúcar Denominations of Origin, include products such as Fino, Amontillado, Oloroso, Moscatel, and Manzanilla.
Cádiz Province Nature and Active Tourism
The province of Cadiz boasts a wide range of different landscapes of great ecological importance, as is well demonstrated by its six nature paks: the Sierra de Grazalema (declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO); the Los Alcornocales, Del Estrecho, Bahia of Cadiz and La Breña y Marismas del Barbate parks; and last but not least, the areas surrounding the Doñana nature park. Woodland with cork trees, pines and Spanish firs (the latter a survivor of the melting of the glaciers in the Tertiary Age to be found in the Sierra Grazalema) are home to a rich variety of wildlife, including colonies of griffon vultures, storks, imperial and booted eagles, falcons, and eagle owls.
There are also numerous animals such as deer, roe deer, otters and mongoose, and just off the coast it is common to see large marine species such as whales and dolphins. Despite all this there is no doubt that probably the most important natural resource of the province is its beaches. Along the 260 km of coastline there are numerous unspoilt beaches of fine golden sand, small coves, and dunes, as well as well-planed developed area, all of which are bathed by the transparent waters of the Atlantic.
Apart from the undoubted natural attractiveness of all these areas they also offer a whole range of sports and open air activities such as windsurfing, kite-surfing, diving, swimming, hang gliding, potholing, fishing, walking, horse riding. Golf is well served in the province with a whole range of courses including prestigious names such as the Valderrama course in Sotogrande, whereas for those interested in sailing there are numerous marinas. For fans of motor and motorcycle racing there is the Grand Prix circuit in Jerez which hosts a number of important international events.
Cádiz Province Routes
The Route of the Bulls
The Route of the Bulls is an invitation to get to know something of the life of this noble animal in its natural environment, and to learn about the selection process which keeps the breed alive. The route begins in Jerez de la Frontera, passing through the Campiña and ending up in the Campo de Gibraltar.
The villages and towns which go to make up the itinerary are Paterna de Rivera, Medina Sidonia, Benalup-Casas Viejas, Alcalá de los Gazules, Los Barrios, Castellar, Jimena, San Roque and Tarifa and along the way it is important to visit one of the many bull breeding farms. This is the perfect complement to witnessing one of the numerous corridas which are held in legendary bullrings such as that of El Puerto de Santa María or even in the streets in some of the villages.
The Wine Route
On this route we pass through Jerez de la Frontera, Sanlúcar de Barrameda and El Puerto de Santa María focusing on the unusual landscape of the vineyards, the monumental architecture of the bodegas, and the unique crianza system which is used in the maturing process of the most important wines: finos, amontillados, olorosos and manzanillas. Other wine producing areas in the province include Trebujena, Chipiona, Rota, and Chiclana, as well as some of the towns in the sierras such as Arcos or Prado del Rey.
The Equestrian Route
Cadiz is possibly the Spanish province with the strongest link with the tradition of equestrianism. In fact, Jerez de la Frontera could justifiably call itself the capital of the Spanish horse world thanks to the huge number of livestock breeders and stud farms which are based there. It also hosts numerous events dedicated to the equestrian world including: the annual Feria del Caballo, which has been declared a Fiesta of International Tourist Intereset; the Equestrian Parade; and the Ancades International Show Jumping Competition, which is part of the Fiestas de Otoño. Jerez is home to the Royal Andalusian School for the Equestrian Arts and in 2002 it hosted the World Equestrian Games. Other places which play an important part in the equestrian world include: Sanlúcar de Barrameda, with its yearly races on the beach; the Dehesa Monteenmedio complex in Vejer; and Caños de Meca.
The White Villages
History, culture, tradition, gastronomy, crafts and the natural environment all have their place in this route based in the Sierra de Cádiz. The picturesque white painted villages share the typical architecture of steep, narrow, zigzagging streets whose fountains and flower-filled balconies reflect their Andalusí past. Along the route it is also possible to see vestiges of ancient prehistoric cultures and various Roman remains. This route features the municipalities of Alcalá del Valle, Algar, Algodonales, Arcos de la Frontera, Benamahoma, Benaocaz, Bornos, El Bosque, El Gastor, Espera, Grazalema, Olvera, Prado del Rey, Puerto Serrano,Setenil de las Bodegas, Torre Alháquime, Ubrique, Villaluenga del Rosario, Villamartín and Zahara de la Sierra.
The Atlantic Coast Route
From the mouth of the river Guadalquivir, in Sanlúcar de Barrameda, to the Punta de Europa, in Algeciras, the coast of Cadiz is bathed by the clear waters of the Atlantic. A landscape of marshes and salt water lagoons alternates with areas of Mediterranean woodland and steep cliffs where the pine trees almost meet with the sea.
The route begins in the spectacular surroundings of Sanlúcar de Barrameda overlooking the Doñana nature reserve, before passing through Chipiona and Rota, with their typical fishing corrales, and then reaching the Bay of Cadiz. Around the bay are fascinating historic towns and cities such as El Puerto de Santa María or Cadiz itself and villages full of artistry and charm such as Puerto Real and San Fernando, birthplace of the celebrated flamenco artist Camarón de la Isla. Then on to Chiclana with its combination of salt flats and pine forests which continue to Conil, a pretty old fishing village. This is followed by Vejer, perched high on a hilltop, then Barbate, with the beautiful beaches of Zahara de los Atunes, and Tarifa, one of the surfing capitals of Europe. Algeciras, La Línea and finally San Roque mark the end of the route.
The Route of the Americas
Reminders of Spain´s great adventure in South America are to be found in various parts of the province.
Sanlúcar de Barrameda and El Puerto de Santa María for example offer the visitor a series of palaces, fortresses, towers, and churches which owe their origins to Columbu´s voyages on the high seas, many of which began and ended in these ports. However, without doubt, it is the city of Cadiz itself that most reflects this South American influence. A stroll along the seafront from La Caleta to Campo del Sur, evokes the image of the famous beachfront in Havana, Cuba, and there are many similarities with other South American cities thanks to the constant to and fro of people between Cadiz and the New World.
The Cathedral is a good example of this influence, as are the various palatial houses and the look out towers which were built in what was once the ancient Gadir during the Latin American expansion.