Cadiz, a city full of legends…
To say that “The tiny silver cup” is full of all sorts of curiosities and legends surprises none nowadays.
Of all of them, in relation to the dates we are approaching towards, I want to write about this magnificent and extraordinary tower known as “La Bella Escondida” (The Hidden Beauty) , a singular tower not only for its typology, but also for the legend that surrounds it and the fact that it is the only one of them impossible to be seen from street level… I bet you’re already curious about it, aren’t you?
Its track is located at 13 José del Toro street , in one of the many palatial houses in the city. The construction dates from 1730, rised in Baroque style, with intense decoration as the style of the moment required. Later on, about 1860, the Baroque was oldfashioned, so the owners decided to undertake a transformation into a more classical and elegant decoration of the Elizabethan style, to adapt to the prevailing style of the moment.
The lucky people who have pass through the entrance pathway, (I encourage you to sneak into it) say that it has an impressive courtyard with checkerboard floor, fleuron with corals, double stairways presided by a beautiful marble statue of the goddess Venus, and inside balconies.
As a curiosity, there are written information that place on the landing, a console with an big angel with two glasses, all in marble. This console was apparently acquired by the Duchess of Alba herself, when the house was ruined and the new owners undertook the reform.
This element is one of the most characteristic of the city’s architecture. Its use became indispensable during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries due to the intense maritime commercial activity of which the city was protagonist.
Such importance is reflected in the splendid cyty model made in 1777 by mandate of King Charles III, visitable today in the Courts Museum. It reflects a total of 160 watch towers, 126 in total nowadays.
From the towers, the watchmen were looking attentive to the sea to witness the arrival of the merchant ships with the Indians. It should be noted that the trade was specially rich during the period from 1717 to 1765, when Cadiz owned the sea trade monopoly with America.
If we walk through the city, we will notice that the towers respond mainly to four models: sentry box, terrace, armchair and mixed, except for the one that concerns us, very different to any of these.
The main decoration of the “Hidden Beauty” is of Muslim tradition, with geometric motifs in almagra (brick powder) hence its reddish color. Although the base of the tower is square, upwards it takes octagonal shape, being the corners of the base softened by small attached pillars. The octagonal part is adorned with stained glass on the corners, and from the second floor upwards, there are green and golden ceramic pinnacles between two columns. This higher part also contains balconies.
As we commonly say: “It’s said, said, rumored”… that the gorgeous daughter of the palatial house owners, retired voluntarily to the cloistered convent located on Feduchy Street. The father refused to be apart from his daughter, so he came up with the idea of building the most beautiful tower in the city on top of his palace from where he could see her daughter every time she get to the convent courtyard. In that way, his heart found comfort and his daughter could feel the love of her loved ones.
Perhaps it is not one of the terrifying stories that many like to hear, so I encourage the reader to walk through the streets of Cadiz and get to that “Obscure Cadiz” that many talk about and even written some books…
Happy “Todos los Santos” festivity (or Halloween if you wish…)