ANDALUSIA

Quintessential Spain
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WELCOME TO ANDALUSIA
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Welcome to Andalusia
Magnificent Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain
Metropol Parasol (aka Setas de Sevilla) – Seville, Spain
Ronda's imponent New Bridge – Ronda, Spain
Flamenco dancer in Seville's flamenco museum, Spain
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Andalusia is quintessential Spain. It is chowing down tapas on a sunny terrace, the matador staring into the bull’s eyes, gypsies singing sad songs, dazzling Moorish palaces and fiesta-loving people with welcoming smiles. While many of these stereotypes might be a little over-the-top, they definitely hold some truth and in many ways, Andalucia has become a synonym for Spain.

These stereotypes come from a long and peculiar history. Although both Phoenicians and Visigoths occupied the region, it wasn’t until the 8th century when the Moors from northern Africa arrived on the peninsula that things began to really develop. The Moors built cities and transformed Al-Andalus into a center for education and learning, producing numerous philosophers and scientists all while the rest of the continent was stuck in the Dark Ages. The city of Cordoba even surpassed Constantinople to become Europe’s largest city.

When the Christians, led by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella finally overtook Al-Andalus from the Moors in 1492, they found some of the greatest architectural masterpieces in the world. Granada’s Alhambra, Cordoba’s Great Mosque and Seville’s Royal Alcazar are all testaments to the splendors from the Moorish kingdom. But the golden age of Andalucia continued on under the Christian rule. Many of the expeditions to the New-World started and ended in Seville, making it one of the richest cities of the Spanish empire.

Today, thanks to the mixture of peoples and cultures that inhabited Andalusia, there is a lot to see and experience. Sevilla, Cordoba and Granada are the region’s main cities of interest and not to be missed. If you have more time to spend on your trip, then we also really recommend the small cliffside town of Ronda and the beachside city of Malaga. Check out or “top cities” section below for our ranking of the most important cities to visit.

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1/15  Granada's Alhambra Palace
Patio de los Leones in the Nasrid Palaces of the Alhambra – Granada, Spain
2/15  Generalife in the Alhambra, Granada
Gorgeous patio in the Generalife, Alhambra – Granada, Spain
3/15  Views of Granada's Alhambra at sunset from Albaicín
Views of the Alhambra at sunset from Albaicín – Granada, Spain
4/15  Archway in the Nasrid Palaces – Alhambra, Granada
Archway in the Nasrid Palaces of the Alhambra – Granada, Spain
5/15  Plaza de España in Seville
Horse carriage at the monumental Plaza de España in Seville, Spain
6/15  Casa de Pilatos in Seville
Intricate arches and Roman statue in Casa de Pilatos - Sevilla
7/15  Metropol Parasol (Setas de Sevilla)
Metropol Parasol (Setas de Sevilla) - Spain
8/15  Quaint patio in Seville's Santa Cruz Neighborhood
Quaint patio in the Santa Cruz Neighborhood - Seville, Spain
9/15  Seville's Alcazar Real (Royal Alcazar)
Spectacular patio with a fountain in Seville's Royal Alcazar, Spain
10/15  Great Mosque of Cordoba
Impressive arches in the interior of the Mosque of Cordoba, Spain
11/15  Mihrab in Cordoba's Mezquita (Mosque)
Impressive Mihrab inside of Córdoba's Mezquita (Mosque)', Spain
12/15  Flamenco show in Cordoba's streets
Flamenco show in Cordoba's streets, Spain
13/15  Flamenco dancer in Seville's Flamenco Museum
Female flamenco dancer in Seville's Flamenco Museum, Spain
14/15  Ronda's New Bridge seen from the Cuenca Garden
Ronda's New Bridge seen from the Cuenca Garden, Spain
15/15  New Bridge of Ronda
New Bridge of Ronda, Spain
TOP 5 THINGS TO DO
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Andalusia’s Top 5 Things to Do & See

1

GRANADA'S ALHAMBRA

Patio de los Leones in the Nasrid Palaces of the Alhambra – Granada

If you can only visit one place during your trip to Andalusia, it should be the Alhambra in Granada. The Alhambra is a massive complex of watchtowers, ornate palaces and lush gardens where sultans and kings lived and where European history was made. It is indeed one of the best examples of Moorish architecture in the world.

Some parts of the Alhambra date back to the 9th century, however, its golden era is exemplified in the Nasrid Palaces from the 13th century. When you wander through the numerous palaces, you will understand why they were considered to be the crown jewel of the Moorish world and why, after the reconquest, Ferdinand and Isabella made it their primary residence. The amount of detailed tile work, ornate geometric stuccos, and hand carved wood work will certainly leave you impressed. Inside, you will also find the Patio de los Leones (Patio of the Lions), which is the Alhambra’s crème de la crème and the most photographed area.

The Alhambra is much more than just the Nasrid palaces and it spans an enormous space. There is a lot to see and a lot of history to take in. For that reason, we definitely recommend to take part in a guided tour to make the most of your visit.

2

SEVILLE

Plaza de España (Spain Square) in Sevilla, Spain

Home to flamenco, bullfighting and the April Fair (Feria de Abril) Seville represents the pure essence of Andalucia. Today, Seville is also a cosmopolitan city that maintains its strong Andalusian roots while offering tons to do and see.

Visitors will be mesmerized by the splendid Royal Alcazar (royal palace) and the marvelous gardens that surround it. The monumental Plaza de España is also not to be missed, with its unique Renaissance and Neo-Moorish influences. However, that is just the beginning: make sure to plan enough time to get lost in the medieval Jewish Quarter of Santa Cruz, discover Sevilla’s massive Gothic cathedral and Giralda tower, enjoy a flamenco show and visit a few of its historical palaces such as Casa Pilatos and Palacio de las Dueñas.

Whether you are eating delicious tapas on a sunny terrace next to the Royal Alcazar, or taking a romantic stroll through the colossal Plaza de España, Seville will captivate you. As they say, “Sevilla tiene duende” (Seville has soul).

MORE PHOTOS
Enlarge Image of Casa de Pilatos in Seville, Spain Enlarge Image of Metropol Parasol (Setas de Sevilla), Spain Enlarge Image of Seville's Santa Cruz neighborhood, Spain Enlarge Image of Sevilla's Royal Alcazar, Spain
3

CORDOBA'S MOSQUE

Impressive row of arches in the interior of Cordoba's Mosque, Spain

Córdoba’s majestic mosque is one of the world’s greatest works of Islamic architecture as well as a symbol of the sophisticated Islamic culture that flourished in Cordoba while it was the capital of Al-Andalus.

The mosque, which commenced construction in 785 AD, is truly special because it was never destroyed by the conquering Christian forces, who took control of the city in 1236. Instead, it was repurposed as a church and added onto, leaving behind centuries of history in a single building. The best example of this is the massive cathedral that was built in the center of the mosque complex in the 16th century. In many ways, the building itself is a collaboration of all the one-time rulers on the Iberian Peninsula.

Apart from the impressive interior of the mosque, its courtyard, known as the Patio de los Naranjos (The Patio of the Orange trees), is always free to visit. Next to the patio is the 17th century Bell Tower which was built over the remains of the mosque’s minaret. With its height of 54m (177ft), it offers some of the best views of the city.

4

FLAMENCO

Young flamenco dancers in Cordoba, Spain

Flamenco is a passionate art form of music and dance that has developed over the centuries in Andalucia. This ancestral art is still very much alive today. Flamenco is at the core of Andalusian culture. It’s part of festivities, celebrations and also every day life. It’s in their blood.

You will see Flamenco’s influence just about everywhere in Andalucia. You may even see an impromptu show on the street. But to really experience it, you should definitely check out one of the many flamenco venue’s found throughout the area. Shows are performed by professionals who live the flamenco lifestyle to the fullest. There is a lot of improvisation as well as jaleo, which can be translated as “fuss” or “disturbance” and it is made up by a lot of hand clapping, foot stomping and shouting. Shouts like “¡Olé!” and “¡Guapa!” (pretty) are very common. A good flamenco show is highly entertaining.

In 2010, flamenco was declared one of the Masterpieces of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. If you are interested in seeing some flamenco while you are in Andalusia check out our flamenco page which has recommendations for every city.

5

RONDA

Ronda's impressive new bridge seen from the Cuenca Garden, Spain

The picturesque white town of Ronda is famous for its fascinating cliff-side setting along the Tajo gorge and the monumental New Bridge that spans across it. If it looks impressive in photos, wait until you see it in person – it will take your breath away.

Ronda’s old Moorish quarter is surreally perched on the side of a cliff, which surrounds the town in almost 360 degrees. This exceptional location made it perfect for a fortified enclave, even having its own water source from the Guadalevín river below. Besides the bridge and the gorge, Ronda is also the birthplace of modern bullfighting and home to one of the oldest bullrings in Spain. Its bullfighting museum tells the interesting story of how bullfighting grew from the need to train horses for war.

Beyond the New Bridge and bullfighting heritage, Ronda still retains its historic charm and is a pleasure to get lost in. Its extraordinary location, along the walls of the canyon, makes for a myriad of amazing views waiting to be discovered. Whether it’s by wandering the narrow cobblestone streets, enjoying a cold drink on a veranda next to the New Bridge, or just watching the birds glide through the canyon – Ronda is a town that begs visitors to slow down, take in its beauty and relax.

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ARRIVE IN ANDALUCIA
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Arrive in Andalucia

PLANE
  • ANDALUCIA’S LARGEST AIRPORTS ARE IN SEVILLA AND MALAGA
  • MALAGA’S AIRPORT IS THE THIRD BIGGEST IN SPAIN
  • THERE ARE ALSO AIRPORTS IN GRANADA, ALMERIA AND JEREZ DE LA FRONTERA
CAR
  • ROADS IN ANDALUCIA ARE EASY TO NAVIGATE AND IN GOOD CONDITION
  • RENTAL CARS ARE AFFORDABLE AND A GREAT OPTION FOR MAKING THE MOST OF YOUR TIME IN THE REGION
Car Rental – Search, Compare & Save
BUS
  • TRAVELING BY BUS IS USUALLY CHEAPER THAN BY TRAIN
  • EASY TO SEARCH AND BOOK TICKETS AT MOVELIA.ES
  • THERE ARE MANY DAILY CONNECTIONS BETWEEN SPAIN’S AND ANDALUCIA’S MAIN CITIES
  • GENERALLY IT IS ALSO EASIER TO GET TO SMALLER TOWNS BY BUS THAN BY TRAIN
TRAIN
  • HIGH-SPEED AVE TRAINS CONNECT MALAGA, CORDOBA AND SEVILLA TO MADRID
  • SLOWER TRAINS CONNECT OTHER MAIN CITIES AND TOWNS
  • GENERALLY EVEN SLOWER REGIONAL TRAINS COST MORE THAN BUSES
  • BOOK TRAIN TICKETS AT RENFE.COM
GET AROUND ANDALUCIA
  • EVEN THE CENTER OF THE BIGGEST CITY IN ANDALUCIA IS RATHER SMALL AND EASY TO VISIT ON FOOT
  • ANDALUSIAN CITIES ALSO HAVE GOOD PUBLIC TRANSPORT SYSTEMS (BUSES, ALSO TRAM AND METRO IN SEVILLA)
  • TAXIS ARE EASY TO FIND AND AFFORDABLE
  • AVOID GETTING BY CAR IN THE CENTER OF THE BIG CITIES (SPECIALLY SEVILLA AND GRANADA) SINCE TRAFFIC RESTRICTIONS APPLY AND PARKING IS NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE
  • IF YOU DO SO, MAKE SURE TO LOOK UP A PARKING GARAGE IN ADVANCE AND GO STRAIGHT THERE
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