There are places in this world that you may visit and be forever changed. Like the music rising out of a Spanish guitar, or a vibration that begins ever-so-slightly then fills your soul with music and magic and rhythm of Flamenco. This is the south of Spain.
Andalucía is one of the most magical places you’ll visit. A diverse region in the south of Spain, Andalucía is known for miles of sandy, sunny coastline, impressive and iconic architecture, beautiful natural park, a rich cultural heritage, food, wine and more than a few UNESCO World Heritage Sites. This radiant region boasts rich and varied local culture, preserved traditions that span generations and the magic that is the south of Spain.
The Spell of Seville
Romantic Seville casts a spell on those who visit this captivating city. The capital of Andalucía is quite simply enchanting. Seville has a fascinating history that invites you to travel back in time. Visit the Real Alcázar, a palace that was built by the Moors in 913. Although it's been redeveloped several times it remains the oldest existing palace still in use and one of the finest examples of Mudejar architecture and style in all of Spain. Fans of the hugely popular HBO series Game of Thrones will likely recognize the palace as the Water Gardens of Dorne.
After you visit the palace you’ll surely want to stroll the streets of sunny Seville and visit the weblike maze that comprises the Barrio de Santa Cruz. The Jewish quarter or Juderia. A historic part of Seville, the Juderia is very near the Alcázar palace. Wander the town and see the white houses with balconies full of flowers, restaurants, squares and plenty of shops.
Those familiar with the epic opera Carmen will no doubt be bewitched by the Antigua Fabrica de Tabacos. This is the factory where the fictional and ill-fated lead character worked as a cigar maker. The enormous factory ( roughly a football field and a half!) Resembles a grandiose Renaissance palace and is the second-largest building in Spain. The architecture is quite simply stunning.
The food in Seville? Delectable and diverse; you can enjoy Andalusian tapas with a glass of your favorite Spanish wine or, if you aren’t in a sharing mood, visit one of the local family-owned restaurants. Jamón Ibérico is the famous Andalusian ham made from black pigs who’ve been fed a steady diet of acorns.
The Sherry of Jerez
Like genie in a bottle once you uncork the sherry of Jerez you are in for a lifetime of magic. The city of Jerez de la Frontera is small, by comparison to the larger cities of Seville or neighboring Cadiz, but it is the quintessential city embodying the ineffable Andalusian vibe. The beauty of Jerez is known throughout the region and appreciated by locals and visitors alike.
Flamenco dance is said to come from here and is amply celebrated in Jerez . Jerez de la Frontera is the center of Spanish horse culture. Jerez is known for its architectural abundance of Moorish buildings and European palaces. But by far one of the most iconic reasons Jerez is so renowned is because this prolific city is the birthplace of fortified sherry wine.
The delicious cultural emblem of Jerez is produced in the area surrounding this city. In fact it is the only place on earth where the drink is made from palomino grapes. The grapes thrive in the chalky, loose soil of the immediate region surrounding Jerez. Touring the cellars, known as bodegas, is a wonderful opportunity in this multi-gifted city.
Cordoba is an architectural delight as it rises from a multitude of cultures. The Mezquita, a Mosque-cathedral is recognized throughout the world for its combined architectural design as well as the two religious histories.
The Jewish Quarter spills forth from the Mezquita providing a seemingly-enchanted stroll through time. As you approach the Roman Bridge, spanning the Guadalquivir River you’ll again feel as though you’ve been mysteriously carried into another time.
Cadiz, The Oldest City in Western Europe
Cadiz is believed to be the oldest continually-inhabited city in all of Western Europe. Archeological remains show this ancient metropolis was founded around the 8th century BC, presumably, by Phoenician sailors.
Along with a beautiful coastline, filled with sunbathers and seawalls to contain the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean, the port city of Cadiz is home to over 100 watchtowers. The most popular, the Torre Tavira, was traditionally used to spot approaching ships.
Cadiz is a prime surfing spot as well as home to the third biggest celebration of Carnival in the world. The seafood is especially fresh and the flamenco dancers quite entertaining.
There are several historical sites to visit in Cadiz. One of the more fascinating sites in Cadiz is the Catedral de Cadiz (Cadiz Cathedral) an 18th century church that features elements of the baroque and neoclassical design periods.
Mystical and Magnificent Granada
Spain’s Sierra Nevada Mountains rise up from the earth like a mystical wizard and tucked into the base of the mighty mountains is the city of Granada, founded by Celts and inhabited for over 2500 years. The location is absolutely enchanting and said to be one of the loveliest in Andalucía.
By far one of the most famous sites in Granada is the Alhambra. This Moorish palace and fortress was built for the emirs when Granada was under Islamic rule. Stroll through the adjacent Muslim neighborhoods and tour some of the other cathedrals and churches in Granada. As is present in most of Andalucía, you can find music and dancing and tasty tapas throughout Granada.
The magic of the south of Spain is found in its very diverse culture, fascinating history, traditional foods, enchanting sites and especially the warm and friendly people. You’re sure to be captivated by this bewitching region, and held in its spell forevermore.
Want to see how all of that is put together in an itinerary?
Check out The Splendor of Andalucia