Cadiz is a port city on the southwest (i.e. Atlantic) coast of Spain in the province of Cadiz in the autonomous community of Andalusia. It occupies a long tongue of land separated from the mainland by a sandy isthmus and an excellent harbour – the ancient reason for its being. The current population is about 130,000.
A settlement (Gadir="fortress") was founded about 1100 B.C. by the Phoenicians, making it one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in southwestern Europe and almost certainly the oldest continuous port in all Europe. It was controlled by Carthage from about 500 B.C. the Romans (as Gades) from about 200 B.C. then the Visigoths from the 6th century until the Moors invaded the Iberian Peninsula in the 8th century. It was retaken by the Christians in 1262 during the Reconquista. After Columbus’ discovery of the New World, Cadiz became one of the two points of entry for the produce and treasures of the Spanish American colonies between the 16th and 19th centuries.
During the interminable struggles of the 16th to 18th centuries Cadiz and its harbour were under fire a number of times. In 1587 Sir Francis Drake annihilated a fleet being prepared as part of the Spanish Armada and a large amount of srores and equipment. The English attacked and badly damaged the town in 1596. Further English raids and blockades occurred through the 17th and 18th centuries. It was besieged by the French during the Peninsular War It was in the Franco’s hands for the duration of the Spanish Civil War.
It is still a centre for Spanish-American trade and a major naval base.