Hanging off the southwestern edge of Spain, Cádiz is one of Andalucía’s regional capitals and a place bursting with personality. Europe’s oldest continually inhabited city, with a history stretching back 3,000 years, has fallen on hard times in recent years, but a combination of pride, good humor and stoicism keeps it on an even keel. The famous Carnival, one of Spain’s most important in the genre, is a thrilling fiesta into which Cádiz pours all its energy and ingenuity.
The city’s fond nickname, la tacita de plata ("little silver cup"), alludes to its curious geography—it juts out on a long peninsula into a sheltered bay. Old town Cádiz is a warren of cobbled streets where the houses, painted white or dusty ochre, have the weather-beaten look of a place subjected to centuries of wind and salt. This ancient city has one good example of everything that matters: a great food market, a theater (the Teatro Falla, a grand Art Nouveau Moorish gem), a gorgeous cathedral, impressive fortifications and a beach—the picturesque and famous La Caleta.