Wonderful Andalusia

Andalusia is Wonderful

Andalusia is the most southern situated region of Spain. It has a rich Christian, Jewish but also Moorish heritage. This is where Spain’s heart is beating: flamenco, the ferias, the cathedrals, the hacienda’s,… it is all part of the land of bulls and tapas.

The region 87.000 square kilometre)contains no less than eight provinces. In the capital Sevilla all the charms of Andalusian culture can be found: there is the famous Giralda, a magnificent Moorish minaret of over 90 meters high, the ever busy tapasbars an the flamenco.

The citizens of Sevilla claim that they are responsible for the three major elements of Spain’s national pride: bullfighting, tapas and flamenco.

Playa Espanya Sevilla

Playa Espanya Sevilla

Sevilla

Sevilla is the result of a mix of three cultures: Islamic, Jewish and Christian. In this region, that used to be called ‘Serafad’ in Hebrew, ‘ Iberia’ in Latin and ‘ el- Andalus’ in Arabic, the three religions lived together in peace and in war. The history of its Alcazar ( built in 1354 by order of the King of Castillia) is a perfect example of the complexity of Andalusian history: although it appears to be an Arabic palace it was build by a Christian king.

The Alcazar

The Alcazar

The ‘ Barrio de Santa Cruz’ is the former Jewish quarter and the former gipsy quarter ‘Triana’ is now the centre of flamenco singing and dancing and guitars.In Sevilla there is also the famous ‘Feria de Abril’, the biggest feria in the country. Traditionally the feria started on April the 18th and lasts for three days. In the old days it was a big cattle market. Nowadays the date the feria starts depends on the holy week and the festivities last six days. Every morning there is the horse parade: an uncountable number of people in traditional clothing ride through the streets on their horses.

Barrio de Santa Cruz Andalusia Barrio de Santa Cruz Andalusia
Jerez de la Frontera

Situated about an hours driving south of Sevilla there is the town of Jerez de la Frontera, famous for its vast vineyards and the Andalusian nectar known to us as sherry.The name sherry is derived from the Greek town Xera, who was situated here about 3000 years ago.

The famous Gonzalez Byass organises train rides through its bodegas (cellars). There is a wall surrounding the entire domain, making it a village inside the town. Their bodegas are well worth a detour: one of them was designed by Gustave Eiffel, in another there are 30.000 barrels of sherry, yet another lies beneath four domes even bigger than those of Saint Peters in Rome!

The other attraction of the city is its famous equestrian school: Real Escuala Andaluza de Arte Ecuestre. Horses here move and dance on the rhythm of the flamenco. It is even said that the flamenco originated right here in this school.

Pueblos Blancos

To go to Granada, you can drive along the Costa del Sol towards the southern most point of Spain: La Punta Tarifa. This is a surfers paradise because of the eastern and western winds who create magnificent waves on this point where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Mediterranean Sea. The Costa del Sol attracts thousands of tourists every year.

You can however take an other route: parallel to the coastline and crossing the Sierra Pueblos Blancos. The name is derived from the many white villages that are scattered in the Serrania, a mountainous region stretching from Cadiz to Málaga. Every spring the houses are painted with a fresh coating of chalk in order to protect the habitants from the heat of the sun. The villages were constructed by the Moors on top of the hills in order to spot any oncoming enemies as soon as possible.

Granada

Granada must make you think of its most wonderful location: the Alhambra. In Granada too the Christian and Moorish influences go hand in hand. The end of the afternoon, after the siesta is an ideal moment to visit the fascinating Albayzin, the old Muslim quarter with its steep and narrow alleyways. It is located just in front of the Alhambra. It is told that the famous gardens of the Alhambra were left to the invading Christians without any battle, in order to preserver their immense beauty.

Alhambra Andalusia
The Alhambra in Granada

Córdoba

Another mythical Andalusian city is Córdoba, in the northwest of Granada. Mosque and cathedral are situated in one and the same building here. Church services are still being held here, in the centre of the Mezquita. The mosque itself is with its 22.400 square meters the second largest in the world ( after Mekka).

The synagogue is situated in the Calle de los Judios ( where else :-)) and was built in 1315. After the Jews were evicted in 1492, the synagogue was made into a hospital. The building, being one of the most venerated building in the Jewish world, was declared a national monument in 1885.

Andalusian delicacies

A visit to Andalusia is never complete without a tasting of its local delicacies: a most delicious one being gazpacho, really refreshing in the summertime. It is a cold soup, made of raw vegetables and served with little cubes of cucumber , tomato, onion and bread.The Andalusian cuisine is well known fore its culinary refinement and variety.Toppers like the world renowned hams (Serrano, Iberico, Jabug), the chorizo, the many delights of seafood are not to be missed.

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