The Atlantic Ports in Cadiz

The cities are endowed with many buildings connected with the route to the Indies (as the newly discovered lands were first called), resulting from its activities from the very first moments of the Discovery, and from the hegemony of Cadiz from the 17th Century onwards in exchanges with America. Sanlucar de Barrameda, at the mouth of Guadalquivir River, became the communication nucleus fundamental in controlling the shipping of the port of Seville. Cadiz and Puerto de Santa Maria trading emporiums in the 18th century when trade with America was centralized on the bay of Cadiz. Fruit and reflection of this activity are the trading houses, fortifications and religious foundations which remain to the present day.

Sanlucar de Barrameda is steeped in the characteristic Atlantic flavour. In the Barrio Alto stands the Castle of Santiago (15th C.), a military stronghold which protects the port, dominating the city with its presence and serving as a privileged vantage point. Nearby is the Palacio de Medina Sidonia (14th-19th C.), residence of the Dukes, the lords of the town during its greatest moments. In the Barrio Bajo, a trading, seafaring quarter, historic areas of the market can still be made out, such as the Calle Bretones, and several trading houses, such as the Casa Arizón (18th C.) a perfect example of the residence of a merchant involved in trade with America, a house with a patio, chapel, warehouse and look out tower to watch out for the arrival of the fleets. Among the religious foundations the most renowned are the Convents of Madre de Dios, La Victoria, San Francisco and Santo Domingo.

In Puerto de Santa Maria, there are early indications of the influence of the emigrants returning from America; in its Castle OF San Marcos (13th C. )a fortified church built upon a mosque, legend has it that Columbus lodged here when he came to the port to put his proposals to the Dukes of Medinaceli. The Monastery of La Victoria (16th C.), was founded by Bernard Boil, considered to be the firs apostle of the New World. In the 17th and the 18th Centuries, civic buildings abounded; such as the Fuente de las Galeras, the Real Aduana (The Royal Customs) and many trading houses dotted all over the town, as the Houses of Vizarron, Rivas, of Aranibar, the house of Valdivieso, Roque Aguado and the Palacio de Villareal.

Cadiz, the capital of the Atlantic ports in the 18th century acquires a landscape characterized by Castles and Bastions (17th 18th C.) which make for a singular horizon. Cadiz would come to posses 160 of these vantage points from which the ships could be seen arriving from America.

Istitutional buildings such as the Real Aduana, Casa de Contratacion (Chamber of Commerce in c/ San Francisco), the Consulate of Merchands of the Indias (in C/ Rubio Diaz) and the Casa de Los Cinco Gremios Mayores de Madrid (The House of the Five Mayor Guilds of Madrid in C/ Ancha), all dating back to the 18th century, stand in testimony of an age which galleons and sailing ships crowded the harbour.

Amongst the religious buildings, the most outstanding are the Convent of Santo Domingo and the Church of El Rosario (17th-18th C.) the virgin of which is the patron saint of the city and of the Route to the Indias (An image of her called La Galeona sailed the seas with the fleet to lend them her protection); The monumental Cathedral Church (18th C.) financed by the riches brought from overseas; the church of El Carmen, and San Felipe Neri, where the Liberal Constitution of 1812 was promulgated, a decisive event in the evolution of Latin American architecture of Cadiz, which in most cases, belonged to the traders or Officers of the fleet; Casa del Almirante, (17th C., Plaza San Juan de Dios), Casa de las Cadenas, Csa de las Cuatro Torres, a typical example of Cadiz buildings, the houses of El Gas (C/ Sopranis), the house of Tavira (C/ Marques del Real Tesoro) with the highest look out tower, and the house of Estopiñan.

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