CADIZ DE LA LUZ

CADIZ; COSTA DE LA LUZ, SPAIN

Cadiz is located on the south-west coast of Spain, and it’s better reached from sea than by land. By land it’s so out-of-the way that you simply won’t discover it by accident. Arriving by sea, you see why Cadiz is such an important port. Sailing from Gibraltar, passing Tarifa and Barbate, the so-called Tacita de Plata (Little Silver Bowl) is an obvious destination. Just ask Hannibal, Julius Cesar, Sir Francis Drake, Lord Byron, and Christopher Columbus – who departed from Cadiz on three of his 5 trips to America.

 

Cadiz is an authentic Spanish city with an amazing presence of history. From my window I see the distinctive rooftop of Oratorio de San Felipe where the Spanish Constitution was born. The moorish influence in architecture contrasts and blends with the post-Columbus colonial style buildings. I seek to convey the atmosphere and visual feast that is the 3000 year old city of Cadiz. Contemporary Cadiz is defined by its people with the most impressive deadpan humour, with a liberal live-and-let-live attitude. It’s traditional, yet gay friendly. With equal vigour it’s religious and anti-establishment; the carnival is a satirical feast more than a feast of the flesh. Children are free to play in the plazas and old ladies are dressed up, out and about, even flirting with the waiters. It’s appropriate that the city has two opposing winds, the hot Sahara Levante and the cooling Poniente.

 

I call this gallery Cadiz de la luz because it was the glittering light and stunning views first wow’ed me when I came here.  I’ve been fortunate to live in an attic with rooftop terraces  where I can enjoy the sunsets against the washing lines, aerials and Torre Miradores scattered on rooftops like mushrooms. It’s not only visual though. Part of the atmosphere is the barely audible snippets of authentic flamenco, and marching bands in the distance.

 

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Comparisons to other cities are always being made. Some – like La Canalla on Tito Wanted – would be so cheeky to compare it with Manhattan. This view of the new part of town, seen from the Tele-Torre, shows the Narrow strip of land that connects Cadiz with San Fernando. It’s no Manhattan, but an extremely densely populated place.

 

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I haven’t even mentioned the sunshine and beaches; I hope these images are a true testament to this beautiful town and its lively people. Playa Santa Maria del Mar. Towards the end of the summer an important football game, Trofeo Ramón de Carranza culminates in a huge beach party. This is the spill-over to the town beach. See more on the Barbacoa del Trofeo Carranza further down.

 

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Every afternoon you’ll find these young guys practicing their ‘salto’ on La Caleta beach. Practice makes perfect! Each take their turn, and they don’t mind you watching.

 

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This guy is my favourite. He’s always there, and I love how he just floats in the air.

 

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Start of the Barbacoa Trofeo Carranza on Playa Victoria. I love the guy bullfighting with the kid!

 

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Bumped into these guys while Barbacoa Trofeo de Carranza was just starting to warm up. Clearly a blonde ‘guiritana’ like me with a camera was a serenading target! Or more like a carnaval salute!

 

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This is my street, typical of the Colonial style houses and cobbled streets. On my way home one summer night, I caught this ‘romantic moment’. Whether the third person was part of it, I don’t really know.

 

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Plaza San Antonio in the dark blue hour, where the mixed lights reflect into the cobbled stones, and people mill about with no hurry.

 

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The street is where it happens, most of the time. The Plazas are full of kids playing, casually overlooked by parents who take an aperitivo and often have a little kickabout themselves. Again, Plaza San Antonio.

 

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Among the many comparisons made with Cadiz, Havana’s el Malecón is rather similar to Campo del Sur. Or is it the other way around? In James Bond, ‘Die Another Day’, Cadiz was used as a stand-in for Havana.

 

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Here you see an amazing  time-perspective, from the Roman wall at the front (there is a roman amphitheatre behind it, albeit currently unaccessable), with the old cathedral behind it, and the well-known dome of the newer Catedral de Cadiz at the back. It’s a triple-decker of Cadiz history. But it goes further back, to the Phoenecians and even Tartessians.

 

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A little jig and picnic on the defensive wall, with the blue Atlantic in shimmering light at low tide.

 

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On my way to meet friends at a Chiringuito, I caught this reflection towards the late afternoon beach, around 8pm.

 

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The Castillo de San Sebastian is now open to the public. It’s a vast empty space, and I love playing with the perspectives of the few structures that are there. It no longer has a military role…

 

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… but the lighthouse flickers its light over the highest points in town.

 

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Grabbing some shots on my phone, the first summer I spent here. Little did I know that this would be my street!

 

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In Cadiz 17th century, the more towers you had, the more it showed your power as a rich merchant. This one on the left went a little bit overboard! Right: El Gran Teatro Falla.

 

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Seeing Cadiz from the bay of San Fernando it looks more industrial. I love the approach road from San Fernando, and the old salinas, abandoned buildings and what I call the ‘bicycles in the sky’ which are part of the railway line.

 

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The ‘digeridoo tree’ as I call it. Actually, it grows from an agave in flower. And my friend, the lovely Simo.

 

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Plaza España and Plaza Mina. Very different plazas. These may not do Plaza Mina much justice. Hopefully I’ll have a great image of it soon.

 

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It’s never the really pretty weather that makes the walk to the castle San Sebastian interesting. The best days are the ones where you get splashed, or you have to run to avoid the next wave. I love its many perspectives and lights. It gives me something different every time I shoot it.

 

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Fishing is not one of my favourite activities, but it’s one of the main ways of making a living for the many unemployed. Or just a way of catching fresh atlantic fish at La Caleta.

 

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Moody afternoon at the road out to Castillo de San Sebastian. The last light of the day just hangs in the air.

 

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Two women gossiping on the streets of La Viña. Not a rare thing. I’d say a pretty typical sight actually.

 

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This square, filled with Jacaranda Trees, is called the Plaza Mentidero. It means the Liars square. Maybe more in the meaning of ‘gossiping’, which is not an uncommon thing here. Here you see one of the marching bands, which you’ll see and hear around Semana Santa, playing street marching music that influenced Miles Davis ‘Sketches of Spain’.

 

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Cadiz is full of these green parrots, especially Plaza Mina and the Genovese Park. They haven’t learned to talk. If they could, I’m sure they’d gossip in thick Gaditanian accents. This couple were captured close up at Plaza Mina, posing willingly for the camera.

 

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A Carnaval chorus getting ready to go, at Plaza Mina. This is a carnival more in the Venetian tradition than the Rio type street fiesta. I prefer shooting before they start performing, while they are all dressed up but still at ease.

 

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The most important word here is Fiesta! As I write, we’re just out of the double-whammy that is Christmas and the Three Kings day, and now we’re gearing up for Carnaval, which starts this year the 13th of February. This is a Chorus from last year’s Cadiz Carnaval.

 

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Last year we – Luzia Photo Holidays – were able to attend the final rehearsal of a Chirigota before the big final at Gran Teatro Falla. At this point, they were only half-way dressed-up, to become the Spanish Government. I have a blog post totally dedicated to the carnival.

 

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Following the Chirigota ‘Esto si que es una chirigota’ to the final, little did we know that they’d be winners of the category. But this guy clearly knew it!

 

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From Cadiz Carnaval 2013 these were some of the ‘illegals’ – chirigotas on the street, here at Plaza Mentidero.

 

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Carnaval revellers often dress up in groups, without performing.

 

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At Plaza San Antonio, some take a break.

 

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Just around the corner from me there’s a shop that sells incense and all things religious. Virgins and angels come in all sizes.

 

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After a 2-3 week carnival street party (the second biggest in the world after Rio) there’s hardly time to draw breath before Semana Santa (Easter) begins, and they wheel out the Virgins from every church, with amazing processions and marching bands. The air is full of Holy Smoke and people of all persuasions line up to see the spectacle.

 

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To me, a scary form of dress, with rather uncomfortable connotations. The brotherhoods’ hoodies come in all different colours, but never white.

 

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Enjoying a Cecilio Chavez-palette of afternoon colours with blue shadows and the last of the yellow sun, I dived downstairs to get my camera. By the time I came back up, it had turned into this pink-blue light. View towards North. Cadiz de la luz… y sombra.

 

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View towards North-East and Calle Ancha. I love the jumble of the ‘secret life’ of these rooftops.

 

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Looks like everybody still has an old TV here in Cadiz. Or at least an aerial. I have stalked this view with my camera so many times. Just can’t get enough. It looks different every day. It really is Cadiz de la luz.

 

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The last afternoon rays hit the highest point, the Torre Tavira. Should you come to Cadiz, let Torre Tavira with its Camera Oscura be your first port of call. Look closely, and you’ll see the ‘periscope’ which projects a live view of Cadiz in a white dish in the camera obscura. You can also go up on the viewing platform. If you do – give me a little wave!

 

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This morning light is spectacular when it hits the atriums and leave the rest in shadows. It occurs only at a certain time in the autumn and spring, and only when I get up early enough!!

 

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The Cathedral steps is another place to meet and gossip. I just love the light there in the evening.

 

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It’s a curious park, the Parque Genovese. A mixture of French style and a proper botanical park/garden. I go there to observe how plants grow, to see when the prune the trees and bushes, or just to enjoy this view.

 

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The Valcarcel used to be a children’s orphanage. Now it’s derelict and unused. Even the squatters are no longer there. It would have been a great hotel!

 

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Callejon del Duende is such a curious alleyway. Apparently there’s a ghost there… I love the phone.

 

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Plaza de Flores in that afternoon light that I love, when the lamps have just turned on and compete with the daylight.

La Caleta splash

Couldn’t resist adding a last one from La Caleta. Splash!