Looking down on Cadiz

Jesus said to spread his word throughout the world but Cadiz cathedral says you can’t. The place is hardly even a cathedral anymore with an exhibition taking up all the worshipping places. I have no problem with an exhibition and I love a cathedral but when the two are combined it’s just wrong.

And why no photos? Surely they want free advertising; they want people to comment on how wonderful it is so more and more suckers pay at the door. I’m not sure what kind of cultural rights are being protected but I think it’s pretty pathetic when you can walk into any other Christian church and take as many photos as you want.

It is a deeply depressing reflection of religion today. They happily take your money but give nothing in return. Surely a couple of pictures on Instagram or Flickr would be a great thing for them. Alas, they do not see it that way. There’s no way I’d recommend this travesty.

I have to assume there’s no longer a cathedral in Cadiz because what I saw today was not one. It was a museum of things that may or may not have once been housed in a cathedral. It made me quite angry.

If you’re looking for God he’s not here. A cynical hypocrisy, on the other hand, certainly is.

Fortunately Cadiz cathedral was only a tiny bit of today. Mind you, I did find a toilet which came in rather handy after drinking about 38 gallons of beer just prior to visiting. The beer was had at a small bar just off the town market and enjoyed in the sunshine after being buffeted by chill winds in the lead up to beer o’clock.

Actually the morning (after a lovely Spanish breakfast) hadn’t exactly been a huge success. Our tour guide made the cardinal mistake of not checking opening times with any great degree of accuracy. This meant, having wandered the very long way around, we turned up at the Cadiz Museum to find it closed for the day. Every Monday, actually.

So we wandered some more. Mind you, the wandering did give us a lovely walk through the botanical garden where we saw the famous broccoli tree as well as lots of ducks and dogs.

Broccoli Tree

On the way we found a boyfriend for Denise. Called Carolos Edmundo de Ory, he was a poet born in Cadiz in 1923. Sadly he’s dead. So a pretty lousy boyfriend really. 

Here’s one of his poems, written in Amiens in September 1968 and translated by Google:

THE STARS AND BEAUTY
Under the sky everything is temptation
and death comes after
Eat drink and coitus
what was called sin
Throw me wine and throw me women
Beauty is spent and health
There is Paradise
and here the earth and the coal
Give me your hands that kiss me
while so far we are
of the Onyx and the stone Bdellah.

I like him. As you can see from the next photograph.

Me and my mate Carlos

There was quite a bit of walking today, wandering the ever more interesting streets of Cadiz. It seems in Cadiz that the further you walk the more crowded it becomes and the more crowded it becomes the more places are actually open. Which is how we found the black Madonna.

We were sitting in a cafe having a coffee/tea when we realised that a Franciscan convent just across the plaza was open. Having finished our much needed refreshments, we sauntered over and popped inside.

It was all a bit dark and oppressive, if I’m being really honest. And, naturally, there was a lot of St Francis and many Marys. Jesus obviously did get a bit of a look in though my favourite bit was the saint who was lifting off his head as if showing off a particularly spectacular party trick.

Not David Blaine

The black Madonna was hidden away in a back room. I think the main problem may have been the fact that she was proudly holding and displaying a little white Jesus and the nuns may have had an issue with this sort of thing being too much on public display. Of course, I could be wrong.

But our relentless tour guide was saving the best for the last today as she proudly turned up at the Camera Obscura tower. She knows how much I love this sort of thing. Of course we had to buy tickets and then go away for a few hours in order to be included as part of the 3:20pm group but we didn’t mind. It was well worth it.

The amazing live view of the city from above was simply spectacular. Of everything we’ve seen so far this trip, this was possibly my favourite. 

Looking out over Cadiz from the camera obscura tower

The Tavira Tower is one of the many Cadiz towers. In the past they were used to spot trading ships arriving. Presently there are 133 but the Tavira (named after Antonio Tavira who was the first watchman in it) is the only one with the camera obscura, mainly because it is the highest. It stands 45 metres above sea level which gives a wonderful view of the whole city.

Our guide (a young woman who lives next door – she showed us) took us on an incredible tour of the city, pointing out various landmarks and areas of importance. She also told us that, in a wonderful piece of understatement, the 1812 Constitution of Spain which was signed in Cadiz is locally called The Paper.

For anyone who doesn’t know, a camera obscura is a series of lenses and mirrors which reflect live images down onto a big round concave surface, creating a live picture. It is brilliant because it doesn’t use anything mechanical (except to raise the surface up or down to focus) and the image is exactly what you’d see if you were standing on the roof looking down. The first mention of anything like it was by a Chinese person writing in around 500BC.

The walk down the tower felt a lot further than the walk up so I can only assume it rises and falls with the tides. Still, as I said, it was a million times worth it. Plus we headed back to the hotel for our siesta afterwards, which is always a bonus.

On the way back we saw something a bit odd. A woman in a big wedding dress with clunky aquamarine shoes and a chap in a morning suit were heading down to the botanical gardens with a couple of other people armed with camera gear.

There appeared to be no wedding party and the poor woman in the wedding dress was forced to hoik her dress up herself. Mind you, no amount of hoiking could prevent the bottom of the dress from turning quickly black with dirt.

I suggested that it could possibly be for a photoshoot but it was pointed out that if this was so then they wouldn’t really want the dress being dirty. Maybe it was for a play. We’ll never know.

After the usual siesta (I’m seriously going to miss them when we go home…eventually) during which an insane Mirinda sat on the balcony in the freezing breezes working on her DBA, we met up downstairs for a lovely meal at the hotel restaurant. Denise even had a glass of the local sherry which she pronounced excellent. Naturally she also had a bucket of vodka.

Dinner was a delight but bed was an even greater one. It was a good but tiring day.

Crazy Mirinda
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One Response to Looking down on Cadiz

  1. Josephine Cook says:

    Don.t think much of your choice of a boyfriend for Denise not only is he dead but ugly. Mine you he might look better if was alive . you sound like you are enjoying your holiday. love mum xxxxx

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