Tuesday, 17 April 2012

I have been to ... the Castillo de Santa Catalina, Cadiz

During my recent cruise I visited the Castillo de Santa Catalina in Cadiz. The castle is situated at the northern end of the Playa de la Caleta, and is one of three fortifications built during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries to protect the habour of Cadiz from attack.

King Philip II ordered the construction of the fortifications in the aftermath of an Anglo-Dutch attack on Cadiz in 1596, and on 9th February 1598 he approved the 100,000 Ducats needed to pay for the fortifications.

The polygonal Castillo de Santa Catalina was designed by Cristobal de Rojas, a prominent military engineer. Work begun on its construction in 1598 and it was finally completed on 5th September 1621, although improvement to the original castle were made later in its career.

Amongst the improvements was the building of a chapel dedicated to Saint Catherine (Santa Catalina). The construction of the chapel was ordered by Charles II in 1693.

In 1769 the fortress was converted into a military prison for people of 'a higher position' and 'greater character'. It remained as such until at least 1816, when Marshal Jose Mariano de Abasolo – one of the leaders of the Mexican independence movement – was imprisoned there.

The castle was taken over some years ago by the local town council, and it has been restored and renovated for use as a multipurpose cultural centre. When I visited it was being used to house several art exhibits that were inspired by the art and culture of Central and South America.

The Castillo de Santa Catalina as seen from the Playa de la Caleta.
The entrance to the Castillo de Santa Catalina.
The entrance to the Castilla de Santa Catalina, showing the ditch or dry moat that formed part of the landward defences.
Another view of the entrance to the Castilla de Santa Catalina.
The chapel dedicated to Santa Catalina. Its construction was begun in 1693.
One of the barracks inside the Castilla de Santa Catalina. It is currently being used as an exhibition space for Central and South American art.
One of the small turrets situated at the corners of the battlements.
Another of the barracks.
The ground inside the Castilla de Santa Catalina is very uneven, and follows the natural shape of the rocks upon which it is built. There are numerous stairways and ramps inside the fortress.


  1. Great place to visit Bob.

    I have a friend who comes from Cadiz. She is always telling me that I pronounce it incorrectly.

    She says Cad-is as in Caddis Fly whereas I say CAD-iz. I think she may be more correct than I.

    Great pictures, now try building that in foamboard!!


  2. Jim Duncan,

    I am unsure of the pronunciation of half the places I visit! For example, until I went there I thought the Korcula was pronounced Core-cool-a. it isn't; it is pronounced Core-chew-la.

    The real fortress seems to have been built of sandstone. You can see tiny shells embedded in the stone, which is very soft in places ... and probably not much stronger that foamboard.

    All the best,



Thank you for leaving a comment. Please note that any comments that are spam or contain phishing messages or that come from Google Accounts that are 'Unknown' will be deleted.