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Cruise Diva Goes Ashore in Europe:
The Mediterranean
Sights to see & things to do

 Cádiz & Seville, Spain 

Settled over three thousand years ago, Cádiz is the oldest city in Spain. Founded in 1100BC by Phoenician merchants, Carthaginians, Romans, Visigoths, and Moors are just some of the people to call Cádiz their home. Strategically located between the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean on the southwestern tip of Spain, Cádiz was the preferred port of Spanish explorers and one of the wealthiest cities in Europe. The same qualities, plus a vibrant nightlife, make Cádiz one of the leading resort areas of today’s Costa del Sol. 


The historical area of town is a casual ten-minute walk from the pier. Taxis are available but negotiate the fare before accepting transportation.

Located in the Plaza de Mina, the Fine Arts and Archaeological Museum contains one of Spain’s richest collections of Phoenician exhibits and the works of Murillo, Ruben, van Eyck, and many others. Torre Tavirna was originally a watchtower; however, it presently contains exhibits of the city. The City History Museum is small but interesting with a late 18th century detailed model of the city crafted from wood and ivory.

The 18th century Church of Saint Cueva contains unusual underground chapels and a domed ceiling with frescoes created by Goya. Church of Santa Catalina is noted for the last work of Murillo, entitled “Mystic Marriage of St. Catherine.” While painting the work in 1682, the artist fell from the scaffolding over the high altar and died from his injuries.

Take a stroll on the seaside promenade, Alamada Marqués de Comillas and stop at the baroque church at the end—Nuestra Señora del Carmen where the inner courtyard has an altarpiece designed by El Greco. 

Only twenty miles from Cádiz is captivating Jerez de la Frontera. A quiet village, it is noted for its sherry and architecture—a mixture of Gothic and Islamic styles known as Mudejar.

Docking in Cádiz, the best way to visit Seville is by tour. With so many architectural and artistic wonders, a tour might seem rushed after the scenic eighty-mile ride but it’s worth seeing the highlights of this charming, yet substantial city.

Beautiful and sultry images associated with Andalusia come to life in romantic Seville. The gypsies, orange trees, mantillas, and flower-filled balconies are a reality. Even the tobacco factory where Carmen rolled cigars on her thighs is real—even if she wasn’t. It was in Seville that Ferdinand and Isabella welcomed Columbus upon his return from America and the grand Cathedral claims to contain his remains. 

Adjacent to the tranquil and lush Maria Luisa Park, the Plaza de España is the elaborate pavilion built for the 1929 Iberoamerican Exposition. A canal skirts the vast semi-circular esplanade and the building surrounding it contains alcoves decorated with intricate Sevillian tiles representing the fifty provinces of Spain.

The Royal Alcázar has the distinction of being the oldest palace in Europe still in use by a royal family. Begun in 712AD as a fortress for the Moorish caliphs and reminiscent of the Alhambra, it has evolved and expanded into a rich combination of Arabic and Christian Gothic architecture, set off by exquisite gardens. It was at the Alcázar that Ferdinand and Isabella received Columbus and King Juan Carlos presently uses the palace during his visits to Seville.

Barrio de Santa Cruz was once the ghetto for Spanish Jews near the old walls of the Alcázar. Overlooking the winding cobbled streets balconies are decked with flowers and delightful little plazas appear around many twists and turns.

Seville’s Saint Maria Cathedral, the third largest Gothic cathedral in the world, stands on the site of the 12th century Great Mosque, which was incorporated into the building. The cathedral’s late-Gothic sculptural adornments inside and out are considered some of the world’s finest and the sun still shines through the Flemish stained glass windows installed in the 15th and 16th centuries. The original minaret was converted into the belfry known as the Giralda and expanded to a height of over 100 meters—or approximately twenty stories. Originally designed for riding up on horseback, a climb to the top combines steps and inclined ramps and affords a spectacular view of the city.

Other architectural highlights of Seville include the numerous pavilions built for the 1929 Iberoamerican Exposition, the 18th century La Maestranza Bullring, and dozens of exquisite churches. It’s far too much to see in a day—Seville beckons the cruise passenger to linger on a future land visit. Many walking tours begin and end in the neighborhood of the Hotel Alfonso XIII where coaches park nearby. A peek into the ornate lobby of the hotel, designed for the 1929 Iberoamerican Exposition, reveals a reproduction of a Spanish palace, luxurious with pillars and coffered ceilings.


The entire downtown area of Cádiz is good for shopping and Andalucian ceramics and handicrafts are abundant and most are reasonably priced. Shops are generally closed mid-day from 2:00 until 5:30 pm so shopping should be an early day activity.

After a tour of Seville’s sights and with little time, your best bets for souvenirs such as paintings, watercolors, ceramics, and Sevillian tiles are in the shops of Barrio de Santa Cruz. Vendors tempt visitors with intricately embroidered linens and shawls in the Plaza de España. As in any area of the world, care should be taken to safeguard wallets and other valuables from the pickpockets who thrive in the most popular tourist and shopping areas. 


Most visitors to Cádiz prefer beach areas close to the resort hotels. Check with your ship’s shore excursion desk about transportation before heading off on your own to areas such as Playa de la Caleta.

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