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Cádiz
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Cádiz

This article is about the Spanish city. For other cities and meanings see Cadiz (disambiguation).


Cádiz (population 140,000) is a coastal city in south-west Spain, in the region of Andalusia. It is the capital of the province of Cádiz;.

The city was originally founded as Gadir (meaning walled city) by the Phoenicians, who used it in their trade with Tartessos. The Greeks knew it as Gadira or Gadeira. Traditionally, its date of establishment is circa 1100 BCE, although up to now no finds have been found that date back further than the 9th century BCE. It is regarded as the most ancient still existing city in western Europe. According to Greek legend, Gadir was founded by Heracles after killing Geryon. Indeed, one of its notable features during this era was the temple dedicated to the Phoenician god Melqart. Some historians think that the columns of this temple gave origin to the myth of the Columns of Hercules (Melqart was associated by the Greeks with Heracles, or Hercules).

Circa 500 BCE the city fell into the hands of the Carthaginians. In the 3rd Century BCE, the Romans conquered the city and renamed it Gades. The city flourished under Roman rule, but, with the decline of the Roman Empire, Gades' commercial importance began to fade.

During the Age of Exploration the city had another rennaissance: Columbus sailed from Cadiz on his second voyage in 1495; Sir Frances Drake destroyed a Spanish fleet in its harbor nearly a century later.

During the Anglo-Spanish War Admiral Robert Blake blockaded Cádiz, during which one of his captains, Richard Stayner destroyed most of the Spanish Plate Fleet. A galleon of treasure was captured, and the overall loss to Spain was estimated at £2,000,000.

In the 18th Century, the city surpassed Seville as the port monopolizing commerce with Spanish America.

Other facts: Cádiz was the seat of the liberal Cortes fighting Joseph I of Spain in the Peninsula war; the Spanish Constitution of 1812 was proclaimed there. Cádiz is famous by its carnival with Murgas (amateur satirical choruses) competing for a prize.