Cádiz - El Balón

El Balón is a barrio in the historic centre of the city. There are administrative plans that define the exact extent of the barrio (not always the case for all the different barrios). So this one runs around the west sea front of the city. It touches on the barrio La Viña along C/Rosa, runs north along C/Torre, and runs west to the sea along C/Sacramento (and C/Benito Perez Galdós).   

The key attractions in this barrio include, part of the Playa de la Caleta, the Castillo de Santa Catalina, the local Parador hotel, and includes some university buildings.

Originally it was a open area where a military arsenal stood. It started to be urbanised in 1807, but even in 1855 a large part was still orchards. It is said that the barrio got its name from a kind of ball and ‘racket’ game that was played in the fields. There was also a bull ring where they would let bulls (novilladas y corridas de toros) run freely. It was said to be the most dangerous place in Spain. Later the barrio was home to an electricity ‘factory’, with Cádiz being the first major city in Spain to have electric lighting. Quickly a steam mill, cotton mill, car workshops, and leather working shops installed themselves nearby. Then came to hospital (1903) and the University (Faculta de Ciencias Económicas y Empresariales). 

I suppose the most important sight is the Castillo de Santa Catalina, a fortress looking over the Caleta beach. After an Anglo-Dutch attack on the city in 1596, Felipe II ordered the building of a defensive fortress. A small chapel was added in 1693, and in 1769 it became a military prison. Today it is used for cultural events. 


In the arial photograph (above) we can see not only the defensive fortress but also the Parque Genovés in the barrio El Mentidero. In that garden we can just see a large hotel-like building, this was the old Parador. In 2012 a completely new Parador “Hotel Atlantico” was opened in the same location. 

This barrio has little in addition to offer the tourist. The rest of this small barrio appears to be dominated by university buildings and a hospital (Centro de salud Olivillo). 

bernard.smith@mac.com  © Bernard Smith 2017-18