When you think of Spain, it may draw images in your mind of Flamenco dancers and Bull fighters with dark handsome features, sipping good wine, eating tasty marbleized Jamón and sitting in the sun...are we on the right track? You are actually picturing a specific part of Spain, the majestic southern region of Andalusia. The land of white villages, Moorish cities, flamenco and beautiful coastal towns. Scenery throughout the eight provinces in Andalucia features shallow rivers, donkey trails and stunning coastlines. This area is dramatic and beautiful and definitely worth a trip or two, hopping from province to province.
Here are a few of our favorite places and their focal points.
Seville is the heart of Andalucia.This sun-kissed Andalucian capital city spans over 3,000 years of deep history. It is one of the best cities in Spain for authentic and innovative tapas. Head to Barrio de San Lorenzo for the best selection. Some sights you can’t miss in Seville: Plaza de España, Alcazar Palace, and Seville’s Cathedral & Giralda, “The home of God: built by the hands of lunatics” to name a few. Also, be sure to visit the modern architectural Metropol Parasol for a surreal panoramic view of the town, a stunning highlight that must not be missed. Explore the festive and romantic town of Seville!
Córdoba was once the capital of the Al-Andalus kingdom, one of Europe's most prosperous cities. Today, it is still a gem, with a great deal of evidence of Moorish times. It features Andalusia's most spectacular structure and the world’s greatest Islamic building, The Mezquita. This building’s architectural uniqueness and importance lies within the fact that it was revolutionary building of its time. Exploring the winding lanes of the medieval city, you might also find yourself in the Barrio de la Judería, the old Jewish district. Cordoba is an important destination for Jewish heritage and history. Córdoba is a city that incorporates the cultures of Islam, Christianity and Judaism seamlessly.
Granada is heavily influenced by its Moorish roots and the scent of incense and hookah smoke is prominent while strolling through the city's streets. Be sure to visit the Alhambra, a fortress and palace constructed in 889 AD. It is intensely beautiful and unique. Try a little bit of everything during an evening tapas crawl here. Free tapas, that is. Granada is one of the few cities in Spain where the tapas are still complimentary, just order a drink and they’ll ask you what you’d like for your tapa!
Jerez de la Frontera
Not as well known as Seville and Granada, Jerez is pure Andalucia. Famous for its sherry wine production, tapas and annual Flamenco festival in February. To thoroughly experience Jerez’s sherry, visit one of the many fantastic wineries and learn about this incredible wine and how it is produced. Food is also a huge part of this city, so taking in a cooking class with one of the city’s top chef, Javier Muñoz could be another way to get in tune with local culture. Besides the wine, Jerez also has its own Alcazar, a building that consists of 11th century Moorish walls and a mosque revamped into a breath-taking chapel. There you can explore lush gardens and Arab baths.
These provinces of Andalucia feature everything you are looking for. From spectacular beaches to impressive mountains, alongside with some of the most charming cities. More Andalucian destinations including Malaga, los Pueblos Blancos and Ronda, to name a few...we'll cover those and more in Part II!