This article is about the city in Spain; for other uses, see Cadiz (disambiguation).
Cádiz is a city and port in southwestern Spain. It is the capital of the province of the same name, a province which is one of the eight comprising the autonomous community of Andalusia.
Cádiz, the oldest continuously-inhabited city in western Europe, has been a principal home port of the Spanish Navy since the accession of the Spanish Bourbons in the 18th century. It is also the site of the University of Cádiz.
Its peculiar location at the end of a narrow "peninsula" protruding into the Bay of Cádiz lends added charm to this ancient city. In actuality, Cádiz is on an island which is separated from the mainland by a larger island, the Isla de Léon; thus, to reach the mainland from Cádiz, it is necessary to cross a narrow channel to the low-lying Isla de Léon, before crossing another narrow channel to the mainland. This geographical circumstance has played, time and again, a significant part in the city's history, commerce, and culture. Isolated behind its high thick medieval walls on its improbable site in the middle of the bay, Cádiz, on approach from the sea, presents a dramatic and aesthetically appealing view.
Despite its unique site, Cadiz is, in most respects, a typically Andalusian city with a wealth of attractive vistas and well-preserved historical landmarks. The older part of Cádiz, within the remnants of the city walls, is commonly referred to as the Old City (in Spanish, Casco Antiguo). It is characterized by the antiquity of its various quarters (barrios), among them El Populo, La Viña, and Santa Maria, which present a marked contrast to the newer areas of town. While the Old City's street plan consists largely of narrow winding alleys connecting large plazas, newer areas of Cádiz typically have wide avenues and more modern buildings. In addition, the city is dotted by numerous parks where exotic plants, including giant trees supposedly brought to Spain by Columbus, flourish.
Etymology of the city's name
According to the 2006 census, the population of Cádiz proper was 130,561, and the population of the entire metropolitan area was estimated to be 629,054. Cádiz is the seventeenth largest Spanish city. However, in recent years, the city has been steadily losing population; it is the only municipality of the Bay of Cádiz (the comarca composed of Cádiz, Chiclana, El Puerto de Santa María, Puerto Real, and San Fernando), whose population has diminished. Between 1995 and 2006, it lost more than 14,000 inhabitants, a decrease of 9%.
Among the causes of this loss of population is the peculiar geography of Cádiz; the city lies on a narrow spit of land hemmed-in by the sea. Consequently, there is a pronounced shortage of buildable land. The city has very little vacant land, and a high proportion of its housing stock is relatively low in density. (That is to say, many buildings are only two or three stories tall, and they are only able to house a relatively small number of people within their "footprint".) The older quarters of Cádiz are full of buildings that, because of their age and historical significance, are not eligible for urban renewal. Replacement of these old buildings with high-density apartment projects would allow Cádiz to sustain a higher population.
- Source: INE (Spain)
Two other physical factors tend to limit the city's population. It is impossible to increase the amount of land available for building by reclaiming land from the sea; a new national law governing coastal development thwarts this solution. Also, because Cádiz is built on a sandspit, it is a costly proposition to sink foundations deep enough to support the high-rise buildings that would allow for a higher population density. As it stands, the city's skyline is not substantially different than it was in medieval times. A seventeenth-century watchtower, the Tavira tower, still commands a panoramic view of the city and the bay despite its relatively modest 45-metre height. (See below.)
Cádiz is the provincial capital with the highest rate of unemployment in Spain. This, too, tends to depress the population level. Young Gaditanos, those between 18 and 30 years of age, have been migrating, to other places in Spain (Madrid and Castellón, chiefly), as well as emigrating to other places in Europe and the Americas. The population younger than twenty years old is only 20.58% of the total, and the population older than sixty-five is 21.67%, making Cádiz one of the most aged cities in all of Spain.
Despite these trends, some are cheered by the fact that the other towns and cities surrounding the Bay of Cádiz are growing modestly, absorbing some of the population fleeing the capital. Improvements in roads and railways have allowed people to commute to Cádiz for work more easily. Increasingly, outlying communities, like Puerto Real and San Fernando, are providing bedrooms for Cádiz's workforce. In recent years, Cádiz has become more of a place to work than a place to live.
Population and demographic trends
The city was originally founded as Gadir (Phoenician גדר "walled city") by the Phoenicians, who used it in their trade with Tartessos, a city-state believed by archæologists to be somewhere near the mouth of the Guadalquivir River, about thirty kilometres northwest of Cádiz. (Its exact location has never been firmly established.)
Cádiz is the most ancient city still standing in western Europe It is a connection that continutes to this day.
Cádiz was also the seat of the liberal Cortes (parliament) that fought against Joseph Napoleon Bonaparte (also known as Joseph I of Spain) in the Peninsular War and where the Spanish Constitution of 1812 was proclaimed. The citizens again revolted in 1820 to secure a renewal of this constitution; the revolution spread across Spain, leading to the imprisonment of King Ferdinand VII in the city of Cádiz. French forces secured the release of Ferdinand in 1823 and suppressed liberalism. In 1868, Cádiz was once again the seat of a revolution, resulting in the eventual abdication and exile of Queen Isabella II. (The same Cádiz Cortes decided to reinstate the monarchy under King Amadeo I just two years later.)
In recent years, the city has undergone much reconstruction. Many monuments, cathedrals, and landmarks have been cleaned and restored, adding to the considerable charm of this ancient city.
- Source: INE (Spain)