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Cádiz is a city and port in southwestern Spain. It is the capital of the province of the same name, a province which is one of eight comprising the autonomous community of Andalusia.

Cádiz, the oldest continuously-inhabited city in the Iberian Peninsula and possibly of all south-western Europe, has been a principal home port of the Spanish Navy since the accession of the Spanish Bourbons in the 18th century. It is also the site of the University of Cádiz.

Its peculiar location at the end of a narrow isthmus protruding into the Bay of Cádiz lends added charm to this ancient city. In actuality, Cádiz is on an island which is separated from the mainland by a larger island, the Isla de Léon; thus, to reach the mainland from Cádiz, it is necessary to cross a narrow channel to the low-lying Isla de Léon, before crossing another narrow channel to the mainland. This geographical circumstance has played, time and again, a significant part in the city's history, commerce, and culture. Isolated behind its high thick medieval walls on its improbable site in the middle of the bay, Cádiz, on approach from the sea, presents a dramatic and aesthetically appealing view.

Despite its unique site, Cadiz is, in most respects, a typically Andalusian city with a wealth of attractive vistas and well-preserved historical landmarks. The older part of Cádiz, within the remnants of the city walls, is commonly referred to as the Old City (in Spanish, Casco Antiguo). It is characterized by the antiquity of its various quarters (barrios), among them El Populo, La Viña, and Santa Maria, which present a marked contrast to the newer areas of town. While the Old City's street plan consists largely of narrow winding alleys connecting large plazas, newer areas of Cádiz typically have wide avenues and more modern buildings. In addition, the city is dotted by numerous parks where exotic plants, including giant trees supposedly brought to Spain by Columbus, flourish.

Etymology of the city's name

1813 Map of CádizGadir the original name given to the outpost established here by the Phoenicians, means "wall, compound", or, more generally, "walled stronghold". The Punic dialect lent this word, along with many others, to the Berber languages, where it was nativised as agadir meaning "wall" in Tamazight and "fortified granary" in Tashelhiyt; it appears as a common place name in North Africa.

Later, the city became known by a similar Attic Greek name, Gádeira, t? G?de??a. In Ionic Greek, the name is spelled slightly differently, G?deira G?de??a. This spelling appears in the histories written by Herodotus. Rarely, the name is spelled Gadeíra ? Gade??a, as, for example, in the writings of Erastosthenes (as attested by Stephanus of Byzantium).

In Latin, the city was known as Gades. The Spanish autonym for a resident of Cádiz is gaditano.

Population and demographic trends

According to a 2006 census estimate, the population of the city of Cádiz was 130,561, and that of its metropolitan area was 629,054. Cádiz is the seventeenth-largest Spanish city. In recent years, the city's population has steadily declined; it is the only municipality of the Bay of Cádiz (the comarca composed of Cádiz, Chiclana, El Puerto de Santa María, Puerto Real, and San Fernando), whose population has diminished. Between 1995 and 2006, it lost more than 14,000 residents, a decrease of 9%.

Among the causes of this loss of population is the peculiar geography of Cádiz; the city lies on a narrow spit of land hemmed in by the sea. Consequently, there is a pronounced shortage of buildable land. The city has very little vacant land, and a high proportion of its housing stock is relatively low in density. (That is to say, many buildings are only two or three stories tall, and they are only able to house a relatively small number of people within their "footprint".) The older quarters of Cádiz are full of buildings that, because of their age and historical significance, are not eligible for urban renewal. Replacement of these old buildings with high-density apartment projects would allow Cádiz to sustain a higher population.

Two other physical factors tend to limit the city's population. It is impossible to increase the amount of land available for building by reclaiming land from the sea; a new national law governing coastal development thwarts this possibility. Also, because Cádiz is built on a sandspit, it is a costly proposition to sink foundations deep enough to support the high-rise buildings that would allow for a higher population density. As it stands, the city's skyline is not substantially different than it was in medieval times. A seventeenth-century watchtower, the Tavira Tower, still commands a panoramic view of the city and the bay despite its relatively modest 45-metre height.

Cádiz is the provincial capital with the highest rate of unemployment in Spain. This, too, tends to depress the population level. Young Gaditanos, those between 18 and 30 years of age, have been migrating to other places in Spain (Madrid and Castellón, chiefly), as well as to other places in Europe and the Americas. The population younger than twenty years old is only 20.58% of the total, and the population older than sixty-five is 21.67%, making Cádiz one of the most aged cities in all of Spain.

Despite these trends, some are cheered by the fact that the other towns and cities surrounding the Bay of Cádiz are growing modestly, absorbing some of the population fleeing the capital. Improvements in roads and railways have allowed people to commute to Cádiz for work more easily. Increasingly, outlying communities, like Puerto Real and San Fernando, are providing bedrooms for Cádiz's workforce. In recent years, Cádiz has become more of a place to work than a place to live.


The city was originally founded as Gadir (Phoenician ??? "walled city") by the Phoenicians, who used it in their trade with Tartessos, a city-state believed by archæologists to be somewhere near the mouth of the Guadalquivir River, about thirty kilometres northwest of Cádiz. (Its exact location has never been firmly established.)

Phoenician sarcophagus found in Cadiz, now in the Archaeological Museum of Cádiz. The sarcophagus is thought to have been designed and paid for by a Phoenician merchant and made in GreeceCádiz is the most ancient city still standing in Western Europe. Traditionally, its founding is dated to 1104 BC although no archaeological strata on the site can be dated earlier than the ninth century. One resolution for this discrepancy has been to assume that Gadir was merely a small seasonal trading post in its earliest days.

Later, the Greeks knew the city as Gadira or Gadeira. According to Greek legend, Gadir was founded by Hercules after performing his fabled tenth labor, the slaying of Geryon, a monstrous warrior-titan with three heads and three torsos joined to a single pair of legs. As late as the early third century CE, a tumulus (a large earthen mound) near Cádiz was associated with Geryon's final resting-place.

Votive statues of Melqert-Hercules from the Islote de Sancti PetriOne of the city's notable features during antiquity was the temple dedicated to the Phoenician god Melqart. (Melqart was associated with Hercules by the Greeks.) According to the Life of Apollonius of Tyana, the temple was still standing at the beginning of the third century CE. Some historians, based in part on this source, believe that the columns of this temple were the origin of the myth of the pillars of Hercules.

Around 500 BCE, the city fell under the sway of Carthage. Cádiz became a base of operations for Hannibal's conquest of southern Iberia. However, in 206 BCE, the city fell to Roman forces under Scipio Africanus. The people of Cádiz welcomed the victors. Under the Romans, the city's Greek name was modified to Gades; it flourished as a Roman naval base. By the time of Augustus, Cádiz was home to more than five hundred equites (members of one of the two upper social classes), a concentration of notable citizens rivaled only by Padua and Rome itself. It was the principal city of a Roman colony, Augusta Urbs Julia Gaditana. However, with the decline of the Roman Empire, Gades's commercial importance began to fade.

The fifth century overthrow of Roman power in Hispaniia Baetica by the Visigoths saw the destruction of the original city, of which there remain few remnants today. Under Moorish rule between 711 and 1262, the city was called Qadis, from which the modern Spanish name, Cádiz, was derived. The Moors were finally ousted by Alphonso X of Castile in 1262.

Defense of Cádiz against the English, by Francisco de Zurbarán, 1634 (Prado Museum, Madrid)During the Age of Exploration, the city experienced a renaissance. Christopher Columbus sailed from Cádiz on his second and fourth voyages, (see Voyages of Christopher Columbus) and the city later became the home port of the Spanish treasure fleet. Consequently, the city became a major target of Spain's enemies. The sixteenth century also saw a series of failed raids by Barbary corsairs. The greater part of the old town was consumed in the conflagration of 1569. In April 1587 a raid by the Englishman Sir Francis Drake occupied the harbour for three days, capturing six ships and destroying 31 others as well as a large quantity of stores. The attack delayed the sailing of the Spanish Armada by a year.Archive copy at the Internet Archive The city suffered another raid in 1596 by the Earl of Essex and Lord Charles Howard, who sacked part of the town but were unable to hold the city and port. In the Anglo-Spanish War Admiral Robert Blake blockaded Cádiz from 1655 to 1657. In the Battle of Cádiz (1702), the British attacked again under Sir George Rooke and James, Duke of Ormonde, but they were repelled after a costly siege.

In the eighteenth century, the sand bars of the river Guadalquivir forced the Spanish government to transfer the port monopolizing trade with Spanish America from upriver Seville to Cádiz with better access to the Atlantic. During this time, the city experienced a golden age during which three-quarters of all Spanish trade was with the Americas. It became one of Spain's greatest and most cosmopolitan cities and home to trading communities from many countries, among whom the richest was the Irish community. Many of today's historic buildings in the Old City date from this era.

By the end of the century, however, the city suffered another series of attacks. The British blockade and siege of Cádiz between February 1797 and April 1798 was, by most standards, a costly failure. Nelson, returning from his defeat at Santa Cruz, bombarded the city in 1800. During Napoleon's conquest of Europe, Cádiz was one of the few cities in Spain that was able to resist the French invasion.

The success of the Irish merchant community in late eighteenth-century Cádiz was due mainly to their engagement in the colonial trade. Small in number compared to other immigrant groups, they played a disproportionately prominent role in civic and ecclesiastical life, and as patrons of the arts in their adopted city. Their success stories in Cádiz contrast starkly with the lack of opportunity available to them in Ireland. Nevertheless, they did maintain vigorous mercantile and dynastic connections with their homeland. Their accomplishments were all the more remarkable in that they were achieved against a background of fierce competition in Europe's most dynamic entrepôt of the day. It is a connection that continutes to this day.

Cádiz was also the seat of the liberal Cortes (parliament) that fought against Joseph Bonaparte (who reigned as Joseph I) in the Peninsular War; at Cadiz the liberal Spanish Constitution of 1812 was proclaimed. The citizens revolted in 1820 to secure a renewal of this constitution; the revolution spread across Spain, leading to the imprisonment of King Ferdinand VII in the city of Cádiz. French forces secured the release of Ferdinand in the Battle of Trocadero (1823) and suppressed liberalism. In 1868, Cádiz was once again the seat of a revolution, resulting in the eventual abdication and exile of Queen Isabella II. The same Cádiz Cortes decided to reinstate the monarchy under King Amadeo I just two years later.


The diocese of Cadiz y Ceuta is a suffragan of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Seville; that is, it is a diocese within the metropolitan see of Seville. It became a diocese in 1263 after its Reconquista (reconquest) from the Moors. By the Concordat of 1753, in which the Spanish crown also gained the rights to make appointments to church offices and to tax church lands, the diocese of Cadiz was merged with the diocese of Ceuta, a Spanish conclave on the northern coast of Africa, and the diocesan bishop became, by virtue of his office, the Apostolic Administrator of Ceuta.

Historically, the diocese counts among its most famous prelates Cardinal Juan de Torquemada, a Dominican theologian and expert on canon law, who took a leading part in the Councils of Basle and Florence, and defended, in his Summe de Ecclesiâ, the direct power of the pope in temporal matters. It is Torquemada who is most closely associated with the fifteenth-century Spanish Inquisition

Architecture and Major landmarks

Among the many landmarks of historical and scenic interest in Cadiz, a few stand out. The city can boast of an unusual cathedral of various architectural styles, a magnificent theatre, an attractive old municipal building, an eighteenth-century watchtower, a vestige of the ancient city wall, an ancient Roman theatre, and electrical pylons of an eye-catching modern design carrying cables across the Bay of Cadiz. The old town is characterised by its narrow streets connecting into magnificent squares, bordered from the sea by the City walls. Most of the landmark buildings are situated in the squares.

Plazas and their landmark buildings
The old town of Cadiz is one of the most densely populated urban areas in Europe, and is packed with narrow streets. The old town benefits though from several striking plazas, which are enjoyed by citizens and tourists alike. These are Plaza de Mina, Plaza San Antonio, Plaza de Candelaria, Plaza de San Juan de Dios and Plaza de España.

Plaza de Mina
Located in the heart of the old town, Plaza de Mina, (the most beautiful of the Cadiz plazas) was developed in the first half of the nineteenth century. Previously, the land occupied by the plaza was the orchard of the convent of San Francisco. The plaza, was converted into a plaza in 1838 by the architect Torcuato Benjumeda and (later) Juan Daura, with its trees being planted in 1861. It was then redeveloped again in 1897, and has remained virtually unchanged since. It is named after General Francisco Espoz y Mina, a hero of the war of independence. Manuel de Falla y Matheu was born in Number 3 Plaza de Mina, where a plaque bears his name. The plaza also contains several statues, one of these is a bust of José Macpherson (a pioneer in the development of petrography, stratigraphy and tectonics) who was born in number 12 Plaza de Mina in 1839. The Museum of Cadiz, is to be found at number 5 Plaza de Mina, and contains many objects from Cadiz's 3000 year history as well as works by artists such as Peter Paul Rubens. The houses which face the plaza, many of which can be classified as neo-classical architecture or built in the style of Isabelline Gothic, were originally occupied by the Cadiz bourgeoisie.

Plaza de San Francisco and San Francisco Church and Convent
Located next to Plaza de Mina, this smaller square houses the San Francisco church and convent. Originally built in 1566, it was substantially renovated in the 17th Century, when its cloisters were added. Originally, the Plaza de Mina formed the convent's orchard.

Plaza San Antonio
In the 19th century Plaza San Antonio was considered to be Cadiz’s main square. It is a beautiful square, surrounded by a number of mansions built in neo-classical architecture or Isabelline Gothic style, once occupied by the Cadiz upper classes. San Antonio church, originally built in 1669, is also situated in the plaza,

The plaza was built in the 18th century, and on 19 March 1812 the Spanish Constitution of 1812 was proclaimed here, leading to the plaza to be named Plaza de la Constitución, and then later Plaza San Antonio, after the hermit San Antonio.

In 1954 the cities mayor proclaimed the location a historic site. All construction is prohibited.

Plaza de Candelaria
The Plaza de Candelaria is named after the Candelaria convent, situated in the square until it was demolished in 1873, when its grounds were redeveloped as a plaza. The plaza is notable for a statue in its centre of Emilio Castelar, president of the first Spanish republic, who was born in a house facing the square. A plaque situated on another house, states that Bernardo O'Higgins, an Irish-Chilean adventurer and former dictator of Chile also, lived in the square.

Plaza de la Catedral and the Cathedral

The Plaza de la Catedral houses both the Cathedral and the baroque Santiago church, built in 1635.

One of Cádiz's most famous landmarks is its cathedral. It sits on the site of an older cathedral, completed in 1260, which burned down in 1596. The reconstruction, which was not started until 1776, was supervised by the architect Vicente Acero, who had also built the Granada Cathedral. Acero left the project and was succeeded by several other architects. As a result, this largely baroque-style cathedral was built over a period of 116 years, and, due to this drawn-out period of construction, the cathedral underwent several major changes to its original design. Though the cathedral was originally intended to be a baroque edifice, it contains rococo elements, and was finally completed in the neoclassical style. Its chapels have many paintings and relics from the old cathedral and monasteries from throughout Spain.

Plaza de San Juan de Dios and the Old Town Hall
Construction of this plaza began in the 15th century on lands reclaimed from the sea. With the demolition of the City walls in 1906 the plaza increased in size and a statue of the Cadiz politician Segismundo Moret was unveiled. Overlooking the plaza, the Ayuntamiento is the town hall of Cádiz's Old City. The structure, constructed on the bases and location of the previous Consistorial Houses (1699), was built in two stages. The first stage began in 1799 under the direction of architect Torcuato Benjumeda in the neoclassical style. The second stage was completed in 1861 under the direction of García del Alamo, in the Isabelline Gothic (in Spanish, "Gótico Isabelino" or, simply, the "Isabelino") style. Here, in 1936, the flag of Andalusia was hoisted for the first time.

Plaza de España and the monument to the constitution of 1812
The Plaza de España is a large square close to the port. It is dominated by the Monument to the Constitution of 1812, which came into being as a consequence of the demolition of a portion of the old city wall. The plaza is an extension of the old Plazuela del Carbón. The goal of this demolition was to create a grand new city square to mark the hundredth anniversary of the liberal constitution, which was proclaimed in this city in 1812, and provide a setting for a suitable memorial. The work is by the architect, Modesto Lopez Otero, and of the sculptor, Aniceto Marinas. The work began in 1912 and finished in 1929.

The lower level of the monument represents a chamber and an empty presidential armchair. The upper level has various inscriptions surmounting the chamber. On each side are bronze figures representing peace and war. In the center, a pilaster rises to symbolize, in allegorical terms, the principals expressed in the 1812 constitution. At the foot of this pilaster, there is a female figure representing Spain, and, to either side, scuptural groupings representing agriculture and citizenship.

Plaza de Falla and the Gran Teatro Falla (Falla Grand Theatre)
The original Gran Teatro was constructed in 1871 by the architect García del Alamo, and was destroyed by a fire in August, 1881. The current theatre was built between 1884 and 1905 over the remains of the previous Gran Teatro. The architect was Adolfo Morales de los Rios, and the overseer of construction was Juan Cabrera de la Torre. The outside was covered in red bricks and is of a neo-Mudejar or Moorish revival style. Following renovations in the 1920s, the theatre was renamed the Gran Teatro Falla, in honor of composer Manuel de Falla, who is buried in the crypt of the cathedral. After a period of disrepair in the 1980s, the theatre has since undergone extensive renovation.

Other Landmarks

Tavira tower
In the 18th century, Cádiz had more than 160 towers from which local merchants could look out to sea for arriving merchant ships. These towers often formed part of the merchants' houses. The Torre Tavira, named for its original owner, stands as the tallest remaining watchtower. It has a cámara oscura, a room that uses the principal of the pinhole camera (and a specially-prepared convex lens) to project panoramic views of the Old City onto its interior walls. (Also see the article titled Widow's walk.)

Admiral's House
The Casa del Almirante is a palatial house, adjacent to the Plaza San Martín in the Barrio del Pópulo, which was constructed in 1690 with the proceeds of the lucrative trade with the Americas. It was built by the family of the admiral of the Spanish treasure fleet, the so-called Fleet of the Indies, Don Diego de Barrios. The exterior is sheathed in exquisite red and white Genoan marble, prepared in the workshops of Andreoli, and mounted by the master, García Narváez. The colonnaded portico, the grand staircase under the cupola, and the hall on the main floor are architectural features of great nobility and beauty. The shield of the Barrios family appears on the second-floor balcony.

Old customs house
Within the plan of reforms of the walls that protect the flank of the port of Cadiz projects the construction of three identical and next buildings to each other: the Customs, the House of Hiring and the Consulate. Of only the three it is executed first, of neoclassic, sober style and of ample and balanced proportions. The works began in 1765 under the direction of Juan Caballero at a cost of 7,717,200 reales.

Palacio de Congresos
Cadiz's superbly refurbished tobacco factory offers excellent international conference and trade-show facilities. Home to the third annual MAST Conference and trade-show (12th to 14th November 2008)

Roman theatre
In 1980, in the El Pópulo district of Cádiz, there was a fire in some old warehouses belonging to a company called Vigorito, SA, causing catastrophic damage. In the aftermath of the fire, an exciting discovery was made: the remains of an ancient Roman theatre. The fire had destroyed the warehouses revealing a layer of construction that was judged to be the foundations of some medieval buildings; the foundations of these buildings had been built, in turn, upon much more ancient stones, hand-hewn limestone of a Roman character. Systematic excavations, which still continue, have revealed a largely in-tact Roman theatre.

The theatre, constructed by order of Lucius Cornelius Balbus (minor) during the first century BCE, is the second largest Roman theatre in the world, surpassed only by the theater of Pompeii, south of Rome. Cicero, in "Epistulae ad Familiares" (Letters to his friends), wrote of its use by Balbo for personal propaganda.

According to archaeologists, this discovery confirms the greatness of the Roman city of Gades. The ancient city had a population even greater than the 80,000 people who lived in Cádiz during the sixteenth and seventeenth century, when the city dominated trans-Atlantic commerce, and it was one of the most prosperous cities of the Roman empire.

Pylons of Cádiz
The Pylons of Cádiz are electricity pylons of unusual design, one on either side of the Bay of Cádiz, used to support huge electric-power cables. The pylons are 158 metres high and designed for two circuits. The very unconventional construction consists of a narrow frustum steel framework with one crossbar at the top of each one for the insulators.

City walls and fortifications

City Gates
Las Puertas de Tierra originated in the 16th century, although much of the original work has disappeared. Once consisting of several layers of walls, only one of these remain today. By the 20th century it was necessary to remodel the entrance to the Old City to accommodate modern traffic. Today, the two side-by-side arches cut into the wall serve as one of the primary entrances to the city.

Las puertas de tierraEl Arco de los Blancos, is the old gate to the Populo district, built around 1300. It was the principal gate to the medieval town. The gate is named after the family of Felipe Blanco who built a chapel (now disappeared) above the gate.

El Arco de la Rosa (The Rose Arch) is the old gate carved into the walls of medieval Cádiz next to the cathedral. These walls and the gate were built during the reign of Alfonso X. The gate is named after Captain Gaspar de la Rosa, who lived in the City in the 18th Century. The gate was renovated in 1973.

Fortress of Candelaria
The Baluarte de la Candelaria (fortress or stronghold of Candlemas) is a military fortification. Taking advantage of a natural elevation of land, it was constructed in 1672 at the initiative of the governor, Diego Caballero de Illescas. Protected by a seaward-facing wall that had previously served as a seawall, Candelaria's cannons were in a position to command the channels approaching the port of Cádiz. In more recent times, the edifice has served as a headquarters for the corps of military engineers and as the home to the army's homing pigeons, birds used to carry written messages over hostile terrain. Thoroughly renovated, it is now used as a cultural venue. There has been some discussion of using it to house a maritime museum, but, at present, it is designated for use as a permanent exposition space.

San Sebastian
The Castillo de San Sebastian is also a military fortification, and is situated at the end of a road leading out from the Caleta beach. It was built in 1706. Today the castle remains unused, although its future uses remain much debated...

Santa Catalina
The Castillo de Santa Catalina is also a military fortification, and is situated at the end of the Caleta beach. It was built in 1598 following the English sacking of Cadiz two years earlier. Recently renovated, today it is used for exhibitions and concerts.

Notable people born in Cádiz and Cádiz province

Esteban Piñero Camacho, know as Basty, member of the Spanish band D'NASH

Daniel Güiza, football striker for RCD Mallorca and the national team


La Caleta beachCádiz, situated on a peninsula [2], is home to some of Spain's most beautiful beaches.

La Playa de la Caleta is the best-loved beach of Cádiz. It has always been in Carnival songs, due to its unequalled beauty and its proximity to the Barrio de la Viña. It is the beach of the Old City, situated between two castles, San Sebastian and Santa Catalina. It is around four hundred meters long and thirty meters wide at low tide. La Caleta served as the set for several of the Cuban scenes in the beginning of the James Bond movie Die Another Day.

La Playa de la Victoria, in the newer part of Cádiz, is the beach most visited by tourists and natives of Cádiz. It is about three kilometers long, and it has an average width of fifty meters of sand. The moderate swell and the absence of rocks allow family bathing. It is separated from the city by an avenue; on the landward side of the avenue, there are many shops and restaurants.

La Playa de Santa María del Mar or Playita de las Mujeres is a small beach in Cádiz, situated between La Playa de Victoria and La Playa de la Caleta. It features excellent views of the old district of Cádiz.


The Carnival of Cádiz is one of the best known carnivals in the world. Throughout the year, carnival-related activities are almost constant in the city; there are always rehearsals, public demonstrations, and contests of various kinds.

The city of Cádiz is often noted for having the most humorous people in Spain. Consequently, the central themes of the carnival are sharp criticisms, often of a political nature, clever plays on words, and the off-beat imagination displayed in revelers' costumes, which, unlike in carnival venues elsewhere in the world, do not emphasis the glamourous or scandalous.

A chorus singing in the Carnival of CádizThe Carnival of Cádiz is famous for the satirical groups called chirigotas, who perform comical musical pieces. Typically, a chirigota is composed of seven to twelve performers who sing, act and improvise accompanied by guitars, kazoos, a bass drum, and a variety of noise-makers. Other than the chirigotas, there are many other groups of performers: choruses; ensembles called comparsas, who sing in close harmony much like the barbershop quartets of African-American culture or the mariachis of Mexico; cuartetos, consisting of four (or sometimes three) performers alternating dramatic parodies and humorous songs; and romanceros, storytellers who recite tales in verse. These diverse spectacles turn the city into a colorful and popular open-air theater for two entire weeks in February.

The Concurso Oficial de Agrupaciones Carnavalescas (the official association of carnival groups) sponsors a contest in the Gran Teatro Falla (see above) each year where chirigotas and other performers compete for prizes. This is the climactic event of the Cádiz carnival.

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