On the Sykes/CyclingEurope Luxembourg scale of local museum quality (where the Luxembourg City History Museum scores a straight 10 – more details here), the Museo de Cádiz that I’ve just visited comes out with a high 7. Today’s visit was the first of three that I’m going to try make this week (it’s free), each one being dedicated to one of the three floors. The top floor is ‘ethnography and contemporary art’, the first floor is ‘fine arts’ (so no crap!) and the ground floor, which was the focus of today’s slow wander, was the ‘archeology’ section. I suppose by the end of the week the museum’s score on the SCL (come on, keep up!) scale could drop but I have high hopes that it will, at the very least, be maintained. I’ll keep you posted.
Anyway, back to the archeology section. It embraced ‘prehistory’ (that’s a curious term, no? The stuff before history began??), the ‘colonisations’ (of Cádiz that is rather than what the likes of Columbus got up to much later so we are talking mainly about the Phoenicians who are generally consider to be the founders of Cádiz), ‘the Roman period’ and the ‘medieval, modern and contemporary periods’. That latter category was pretty brief and the assortment of jewellery and pots from the prehistoric period was equally short so my focus was trained upon the Phonecians and Romans. A couple of remarkable exhibits are shown below – there were many others that I could have photographed – but it’s a pity that most of the labelling in the museum was just in Spanish (although I did pick up a good overview guide at the entrance which was in English). One section was devoted to the Roman archeological site of Baelo Claudia. I checked on Google Maps and this is an extensive site on the coast just to the west of Tarifa and it will make for a thoroughly diverting break from cycling on the first ‘proper’ day of the trip (i.e. the first day of cycling from Tarifa rather than the two-day cycle from Estepona – where Reggie is currently being stored in my uncle’s underground garage – to Tarifa via Gibraltar).
Modern Cádiz covers the remnants of older versions of Cádiz almost entirely. During the two guided visits of the city that I have so far taken part in (the first in Spanish, the second in English), the Roman theatre was discussed. It was discovered relativity recently but both guides pointed out that other 20th/21st century buildings cover other parts of the theatre and it’s hard to imagine that during construction work it wasn’t obvious that an archeological site was being built upon. That, I dare say, is not an issue exclusive to this city, the profits of property developers taking precedence over the desires of archeologists (and probably most of the public if they were asked) to reveal a glimpse into the distant past…
So, I’ll be back later in the week for the first and second floors. It’s been a good start! It’s worth noting that I’ve been writing this while sitting on a low wall next to the entrance of the museum. As I type a group of ten or so boys – perhaps 8-12 years old – have been playing football in front of me. I have been in great peril as the ball frequently flies within centimetres of my head! They are taking the whole thing very seriously indeed and display all the mannerisms of Premier League football players back in the UK. Do you think that there’s a link between this devotion to the sport at such a young age and the success of the national team? Discuss! As for me, I seem to have survived being positioned on the touch-line.