Visiting the oldest city in Europe

Cadiz in Spain is believed by most to be the oldest continuously inhabited city in Western Europe. It sits out on a tiny little spit of land, and the walled city is almost entirely surrounded by the sea. Because of its historical significance, the original walled city has been protected against development. This means that the buildings are a little run down, but it’s a small price to pay for over 3000 years of history.

Step outside the walled city and look down towards the coast. You’ll see high-rise hotels stretching as far as the eye can see along the sand – it’s very Gold Coast-esque, and the development comes right up to the doorstep of the protected historical area. Step back inside and you’re in a quiet, secluded time warp.

Cadiz is structured around winding streets and alleys, with a few major plazas for religious and government buildings. The best way to see it is to walk – it’s not a big place, and you could comfortably walk every square inch of cobblestones within a three or four day visit. Cadiz is all about history – some of the buildings date back to the Roman Empire – so take the time to read the plaques, and visit the various museums. A trip to the original castle is a must, and I personally loved the Museo del Títere (museum of puppets), which has free entry, and the Museo Litografico, which houses some incredibly old printing presses. Be warned, these museums are sometimes closed without warning, so if there is one you particularly wish to visit, I would recommend going early in your visit to give you time to return at a later date, if necessary.

The other highlight of Cadiz, as with everywhere in Spain, is the food and drink. The Mercado Central is a food mecca, where you can buy some of the freshest seafood you’ve ever had the pleasure of consuming. Visit La Clandestina Libreria for a beautiful book shop/coffee shop combination in the afternoon, and then head to Bar La Tabernita in the evening, where you can relax at a wine barrel table with a glass of local sherry – Cadiz is located in the sherry region of Spain – and slowly order plate after plate of freshly made tapas.

Getting to and from Cadiz is made easy by the train service – simply catch a flight into the nearby Jerez airport, and then hop on a local train (they run hourly) right into the heart of Cadiz. Most accommodation will be walking distance from the train; otherwise, there are taxis waiting there to collect you and your luggage.

Have you been to Cadiz? Which is the oldest city you’ve ever visited?

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