History of Cadiz

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

Cadiz 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 9th century BC. 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 labour, the slaying of Geryon, a monstrous warrior-titan with three heads and three torsos joined to a single pair of legs. As early as the 3rd century, a tumulus (a large earthen mound) near Cádiz was associated with Geryon's final resting-place.

One of the city's notable features during antiquity was the temple dedicated to the Phoenician godMelqart. (Melqart was associated with Hercules by the Greeks.) According to the Life of Apollonius of Tyana, the temple was still standing during the 1st century. 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 BC, the city fell under the sway of Carthage. Cadiz became a base of operations for Hannibal's conquest of southern Iberia. However, in 206 BC, the city fell to Roman forces under Scipio Africanus. The people of Cadiz 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, Cadiz was home to more than five hundred equites (members of one of the two upper social classes), a concentration of