A land of culture, history, nature areas and excellent food. You’ll be able to visit everything from outstanding monuments to a wide variety of different natural landscapes… and you’ll have the chance to take part in several unique popular events and sample a range of delicious gastronomic products. One way to discover the culture of Andalusia is by exploring the sites which have been awarded the UNESCO World Heritage designation.
In Granada, you’ll see the Alhambra Palaces, the Generalife gardens and the medieval Albaicín neighborhood; in Cordoba, its historic center with the great Mosque; in Seville, the cathedral, the Royal Alcazar and the Indies Archive; and in Jaén, the monumental sites of Úbeda and Baeza. You’ll also be able to experience festivals such as Easter Week, the Carnival in Cadiz, the Rocío pilgrimage in Huelva and the April Fair in Seville. You’ll find a variety of natural landscapes which range from the beaches of the Costa del Sol, Costa de la Luz and Almería to the extensive olive groves of Jaén. You can visit the Doñana National Park –also declared a World Heritage Site–, or go skiing in the Sierra Nevada ski resort.
Finally, remember that Andalusia has a thousand different flavors waiting to be tried. From the sherries of Jerez (Cadiz) and Montilla – Moriles (Cordoba), to the classic platters of fresh fried fish known as “pescaíto Frito” from Cadiz and Malaga, cured ham from Huelva and Cordoba, olive oil, and other such typical dishes: gazpacho, salmorejo, albondigas (meatballs) or desserts like arroz con leche (rice pudding). All dishes enjoyed by al-Andalus courts more than a thousand years ago.
The Route of the Caliphate of Al-Andalus>
Hillside castles and fortified towns invite you to travel back in time to al-Andalus. In the Middle Ages, Muslims followed a route that took them from Granada to Cordoba, which has now been classed as a Cultural Route of the Council of Europe. This is known as the Route of the Caliphate and you can follow it to explore the history of Andalusia.
Various battles between Muslims and Christians took place in this area of Spain, the site of ancient cultures and current traditions that date back 10 centuries. Over 200 kilometers long, it is one of the best locations to visit in Andalusia and a destination that is suitable for all ages.
These are some of the places and historical facts that can be discovered along this journey through Andalusia:
- Heritage buildings in the province of Granada you will find the Arab bridge in Pinos Puente and the Nasrid castle of Moclín.
- Córdoba is home to the Luque fortress, the Lucena and Priego castles in Córdoba, and the Muslim street pattern of Baena’s old town centre.
- In Jaen, you will discover La Mota Castle in Alcalá la Real.
The Route of the Caliphate can be completed with a hiking excursion. So if taking this route through Andalusia, it’s a good idea to bring sturdy footwear and walk through the Sierras Subbéticas. And as you do so, you will be following in the footsteps of history.
Some of the cities in Andalusia that are unmissable
The south of Spain is a land of picture-postcard landscapes, wide-open natural spaces and little whitewashed villages – however, you’ll also find lively cosmopolitan cities with a thousand interesting sites to discover and explore, as well as delicious cuisine, in which the famous tapas take centre stage. If you love big cities, always know your way about and have a good nose for sniffing out incredible places, take note and check out these great cities.
‘La tacita de plata’ (the little silver cup), ‘ancient Gadir’ or ‘the oldest city in the West’ … This lovely city, founded by the Phoenicians in 1100 BC, has many nicknames. It’s a place where you can enjoy incredible sunsets and beaches like that of La Caleta, as well as an impressive historic quarter and ancient buildings such as the Santa Catalina Fortress – dating from the 16th century and offering wonderful views of the sea, framed by its walls.
The Pópulo neighbourhood is an intricate warren of narrow streets that hides a good few secrets, such as the church of Santa Cruz, Cádiz Cathedral and the Roman ruins.
Well known for the citrus aroma of the more than 90 orange trees that adorn the patio of the Mosque-Cathedral, Córdoba offers up a historic quarter that has been enriched by the presence of many different cultures and which was awarded World Heritage status in 1994. Wandering through the old quarter you’ll find the Alcázar of the Christian Monarchs, the Synagogue and the Roman bridge. As well as a stroll through the city’s culture, you can also enjoy a few tapas in streets adorned with flowers and squares made up of ancient stone. And if you’re looking to relax, a visit to the Arab baths in the Jewish quarter – also known as the hammam – is a great experience.
This is another of Andalusia’s must-see cities, and one of the most beautiful in all of Spain, thanks, above all, to its most famous monument, the magical Alhambra. This palace is sure to enchant with each of its sections: the Generalife, the Palace of Carlos V and the Alcazaba. Later, head for the beautiful Albaicín Moorish quarter, and lose yourself in its ancient, winding streets. One of the major attractions of the city is its markets or zocos that sell all sorts of interesting items. When the sun goes down, its time to enjoy art in its purest form, and take in the thrill of a flamenco show. Here in Granada, you’ll find the real deal – particularly in the Sacromonte district with its famous caves.
The capital of the Costa del Sol has much more to offer than just beaches. In Malaga, you’ll find a cosmopolitan city with a great number of things to see and do.
First of all, you can visit key monuments such as the Alcazaba, the palatial Moorish fortress that represents Malaga’s most important tourist attraction. This site dates from the 11th century, and remains perfectly preserved today. We also recommend visiting the Gibralfaro Castle, a construction whose role was to defend the Alcazaba itself, and which offers a great spot to enjoy a magnificent sunset.
What’s more, you’ll need to make room for some of the city’s numerous museums on your itinerary: such as the Picasso Museum or the Carmen Thyssen, for example. Without a doubt, you simply must take a stroll down the famous Calle Larios and sample a few delicious tapas – you can’t possibly leave without trying the typical espetos de sardinas (sardine skewers) by the sea.
A city with a distinctive colour all of its own, the capital of Andalusia is not to be missed if you really want to understand the region’s culture and soul. Seville presents an impressive architectural heritage in a mixture of styles – Moorish, Mudejar, Gothic and Baroque – all proof of the city’s long history, and the diversity of cultures that have passed through it.
A visit to the Royal Alcázar of Seville is a must; while you’re there, be sure to stop off at its gardens too. Another of the city’s most famous sights is the monumental Plaza de España, where you’ll find benches that take their inspiration from 48 Spanish provinces. However, the most timeless symbol of Seville is without doubt la Giralda Tower, an old Moorish minaret from which you can discover the city from the heights.
But, if you really want to fully experience the culture of Andalusia and of Seville, you should visit during the Holy Week celebrations or the April Fair, when the city reveals its most magical and authentic side.