Some of the city’s 18th century walls still stand, such as the Landward Gate. The old, central quarter of Cadiz is famous for its picturesque charm, and many of the buildings reflect the city’s overseas links. Worth a visit are the city’s Cathedral and churches of Santa Cruz and San Felipe Neri, which is famous throughout Spain as the place where, in defiance of Napoleon’s siege, the provisional government was set up with its own liberal Constitution. Other points of interest are La Santa Cueva, home to several paintings by Goya, and stately mansions such as the Casa del Almirante and Casa de las Cadenas.
The old city looks quite Moorish in appearance and is intriguing with narrow cobbled streets opening onto small squares. The golden cupola of the cathedral looms high above long white houses and the whole place has a slightly dilapidated air. It just takes an hour to walk around the headlands where you can visit the entire old town and pass through some lovely parks with sweeping views of the bay.
Unlike most other ports of its size it seems immediately relaxed and easy going, not at all threatening, even at night. Perhaps this is due to its reassuring shape and size, the presence of the sea making it impossible to get lost for more than a few blocks. It also owes much to the town’s tradition of liberalism and tolerance which was maintained all through the years of Franco’s dictatorship, despite this being one of the first cities to fall to his forces and was the port through which the Republican armies launched their invasion.
Archaeological evidence suggests that there was a Bronze Age settlement on the present site of Rota. The current town was founded by the Phoenicians at approximately the same time as Cádiz. Rota is assumed to be the same city known as Astaroth of the Tartesian empire. It later passed to the Romans, who knew the town as Speculum Rotae.