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Amazing Andalucía

Ashley Greenwood 2016-03-17 14:58

Andalusia is an autonomous community of the Kingdom of Spain, divided into eight provinces: Almería, Cádiz, Córdoba, Granada, Huelva, Jaén, Málaga, and its capital Seville. The name “Andalusia” is derived from the Arabic word Al-Andalus, from a word meaning the Vandals. Over the course of its history, the region has been conquered and repopulated by Muslim and Romani influences, Iberians, Carthaginians/Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Vandals, Visigoths, Byzantines, as well as the later Castilian and other Christian North Iberian nationalities. 


Traditionally an agricultural region, Andalusia has a rich culture as well as a strong cultural identity, giving rise to many things that are seen as distinctively Spanish including flamenco, bullfighting, and certain Moorish-influenced architectural styles. 


 Seville 


Seville, the capital of Andalusia, is full of history, flamenco, and the aroma of orange trees. As you walk around the city you’ll uncover layers of the past, from the Roman to Moorish and the colonial period. 


It’s best to come in the spring while the scent of orange blossoms linger in the air and before the uncomfortable heat of the summer sets in (Seville is the hottest city in Europe.) The cobbled streets of the old town in the Santa Cruz quarter have gorgeously charming streets, mouthwatering tapas bars, and boasts three UNESCO World Heritage Sites. 


Alcázar of Seville 


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Built in the 1300s, the Alcázar is an incredibly beautiful piece of mudéjar architecture. A World Heritage site, it was originally a fort before it was expanded with a palace in the 11th century, and then again with another palace in the 12th century. When Christian Fernando III captured Seville in 1248, he moved into the Alcázar and the upper levels are used, to this day, as the official Seville residence of the Spanish Royal family. 


Seville Cathedral


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The largest cathedral in the world, the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See as it is officially known, was built in the 16th century as a lavish demonstration of the city’s wealth. Built on the site of a former mosque, the members of the cathedral chapter allegedly said: “Let us build a church so beautiful and so grand that those who see it finished will think we are mad.” The cathedral was listed as a UNESCO site at the same time as the Alcazar and is the burial place of Christopher Columbus as well as home to a number of works by Spanish master painter Goya. 


Granada 


Located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and at the confluence of four rivers, Granada was the last stronghold of the Moors in Europe. The stunning Alhambra, a Moorish palace, is one of its most popular tourist destinations in Spain and a fine example of Almohad architecture, which is also visible in the narrow winding streets of the Albayzín district. Coexisting alongside this historic grandeur are Granada’s hipper and edgier aspects; a youthful counterculture and some impressive street art. 


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Alhambra


Built in stages over the centuries, from the original citadel to the Muslim palace and the palace of Charles V, the Alhambra sits on its plateau among defensive walls and thirteen towers. The decoration is unique- with the columns, arches, and calligraphy reflecting its isolation from the rest of Islam as well as its absorption of Christian influences. 


Albayzín


Granada’s Muslim Quarter is also its most beautiful; filled with cobbled streets that ooze charm and offer countless photo opportunities. Not to be missed is the Mirador de San Nicolas where you can get incredible views of the Alhambra and Sierra Nevada. 


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Málaga 


Málaga is often described as an ‘open museum’, with the archaeological remains of over 3,000 years of Phoenician, Roman, Arabic, and Christian rule on display. Tourism is a significant part of the economy here. Visitors are attracted not only by the historical sites but also by Picasso’s birthplace, as well as the sun-blessed beaches of the ‘Costa del Sol’. 


Marbella


Marbella sits on the Mediterranean Sea, in the foothills of the Sierra Blanca. Its 27kms of coastline is divided into 24 beaches, and in the summer they’re abuzz with activities. The Old Town of Marbella includes the city walls and the old town, which is laid out almost exactly as it was in the 16th century. 


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The Golden Mile is home to some of Marbella’s most luxurious villas and hotels, as well as golf courses and marinas, while the area is seeing considerable development and investment. 


Ronda


About 100 kilometres from Málaga city, Ronda is one of Spain’s oldest towns and arguably its most dramatic, perched as it is atop the mountains. The town is famous for its three bridges that span the canyons, and is also home to the oldest bullfighting ring in Spain. The town’s dramatic charm has at tracted and earned the love of many artists, including Ernest Hemingway and Orson Welles. 



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