The Goods that Passed Through Cádiz

What was traded in Spain's richest city? From wineskins smuggling tobacco to archaeological treasures

By Andalusian Archives

Archivo Histórico Provincial de Cádiz

Front of the Provincial Historical Archive of Cádiz (2017-01-01)Andalusian Archives

The golden age of Cádiz

The 18th century is considered the "Golden Age of Cádiz," as the city became the only port to secure a substantial monopoly over Spanish trade from 1717 onward.

Cádiz was transformed into the richest, most cosmopolitan, and most commercial city in Spain. It was a metropolis where people and goods hailing from all four corners of the world crossed paths on their way to new destinations, creating a bubble known as the "Global Emporium."

Wine boot's design, where tobacco's contraband is hidden (1764-10-22)Andalusian Archives


Goods were transported through the city of Cádiz and its bay via its prestigious port, which was famous for importing and exporting throughout the rest of Spain and to the overseas colonies. The objects, goods, and merchandise that entered, left, and passed through the port and Cádiz culturally enriched the city, as well as the whole of Spain.

Drawing of a wineskin used to smuggle tobacco

In a Royal Order issued to the Cádiz Customs office, this annexed drawing shows a device in Catalonian wineskins that was used to conceal contraband tobacco.

Velvets' samples in a “Real Orden de Aduanas” (1767-06-02)Andalusian Archives

Velvet swatches (samples)

A wave of merchandise and goods passed through the Customs Office of Cádiz; consignments arrived and were loaded onto the ships destined for overseas, and more goods came from the American colonies and other ports.

Fabric's sample in a “Real Orden de Aduanas” (1783-10-24)Andalusian Archives

Cloth swatch (textile sample)

The Cádiz customs office received royal orders from the court on a daily basis. Instructions were given on processing the goods that entered and left the peninsular borders of Spain.

Objects' delivery list coming from Marques de Ureña's trip across Europe (1788-11-26) by Sebastián Martínes.Andalusian Archives

List of books and goods belonging to the Marquis of Ureña

Gaspar de Molina, Marquis of Ureña, was an enlightened lover of science, architecture, and the arts. In 1787, he traveled through Europe, taking note of everything that aroused his curiosity.

Objects and papers' list from expedition“Descubierta” and “Atrevida” corvettes (1792-09-20) by Alejandro Malaspina and Jose de Bustamante y Guerra.Andalusian Archives

List of items and papers from the expedition of the "Descubierta" (discovery) and "Atrevida" (daring) corvettes

The Malaspina Expedition is considered a great demonstration of Spanish scientific exploration. Setting sail from Cádiz, the corvettes traveled through a large part of the overseas colonies, collecting animals and objects.

Throughout the voyage, observations of the discoveries made were recorded and depicted in a detailed diary and various drawings.

Design of the arqueological remains founded in “Primera Aguada”'s excavation in Cadiz (1838-10-19) by Jose María Armario.Andalusian Archives

Drawing of the archaeological remains found at the excavation of the First Aguada in Cádiz

The First Aguada was one of the places where ships were supplied with drinking water before they set sail.

This drawing was among the documents found when archaeological remains of the First Aguada in 1838 were discovered following a storm. Several sepulchers and objects were found. The documents contain information about the fate and fortune of the archaeological treasure.

Document relating to confiscated New Testaments and Saint Luke's Godspels, in gypsy language, from the english citizen Georges Borrow (1839-08-13) by Mr. Brackenbury.Andalusian Archives

Writings about the New Testament and the Gospels of Saint Luke in a romani language (also known as the gypsy gospel), confiscated from Englishman George Borrow

George Borrow disseminated the Protestant Bible across Spain, in cities such as Madrid and Seville, and was known as "Jorgito el Inglés" (Little George the Englishman).

After selling these Bibles at a low price, he was arrested in Seville, and the books were requisitioned and sent to London via Cádiz.

Products, groceries, wines and spirits' list from “Peredo Chico”'s store at Cadiz (1843-06-13) by Gonzalez de la Sierra Company.Andalusian Archives

List of goods, food, wine, and liquors from the "Peredo Puerto Chico" warehouse in Cádiz

Small grocery stores and corner shops were run by mountaineers from Cantabria, who had started settling in the city since the 18th century, receiving of all kinds of goods in the port city.

Advertisement poster of the serialized publication “España y Marruecos. Historia de la Guerra de África” (1859-01-01/1859-12-31) by Jesus Graciá.Andalusian Archives

Poster publicizing the book "España y Marruecos. Historia de la Guerra de África" (Spain and Morocco. A history of the African war)

According to the advertisement, the author accompanied the expeditionary army and has an in-depth knowledge of the locations and events of the war, offering a detailed history of the lives of the troops in the Moroccan Empire.

Francisco de la Viesca's request to the Civil Governor of Cadiz (1901-11-27)Andalusian Archives

Request sent by Francisco de la Viesca to the Civil Governor of Cádiz

At the beginning of the 20th century, there was only one registered vehicle in Cádiz: the CA-1. It belonged to Francisco de la Viesca. It had room for four passengers and was made by a Parisian car manufacturer, Darracq and Co. It had an external combustion, six-horsepower naphtha engine, and a maximum weight of 1,322 pounds.

Trajano Roman emperor's sculpture fund in “Baelo Claudia”'s site. -picture- (1980-07-01) by la Comisión de Patrimonio Histórico de la Provincia de Cádiz.Andalusian Archives

Photograph of the bust and body of Emperor Trajan of Rome

In 1980, this magnificent, decapitated sculpture was discovered at the archaeological site of Baelo Claudia, south of Cádiz, (the head was found at its feet).

According to the French archaeologists who led the excavation, the sculpture was given a prominent position between two columns in the Roman basilica, just in front of the magistrates' rostrum (podium), where public proceedings took place.

Credits: Story

What Was Traded in Spain's Richest City

Organized by
Ministry of Culture of the Regional Government of Andalusia

Curator: Santiago Saborido Piñero
Texts: Santiago Saborido Piñero. Historical Archive of the Province of Cádiz
Photographs: Historical Archive of the Province of Cádiz
Digital Exhibition: Charo Andreu Abrio.
Directorate General of Cultural Innovation and Museums.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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