Andalucia is probably one of the most archetypal or stereotypical of all of the semi autonomous regions that make up Spain.
Once described as where bull fighters meet beaches, flamenco, white villages meet cave houses and all intermingled within a whole plethora of gaudy festivals!
From religious processions to tapas and sherry, all forms of culture and life can be found in Andalucia.
Andalucia comprises of eight provinces which stretch across southern Spain from the deserts of Almeria to the Portuguese border in the west. Bisected roughly down the middle by Spains longest river, the Guadalquivir, Andalucia is connected to the rest of Spain via a pass called the Desfiladero de Despenaperros. Contrary to popular belief the highest mountains and peaks on the Spanish mainland are in Andalucia’s Sierra Nevada.
Andalucia more than possibly the rest of Spain has had its fair share of invaders though out history and the majority have left their mark on one shape or other. The Romans build cities in this most southern of Spain’s provinces which they called Baetica amongst which Cordoba, the regions provincial capital and Seville are perhaps the best known.
After the Romans, the Moors lingered longest in Andalucia and left examples of some of their finest architecture in the Mezquita in Cordoba and of course the amazing and elegant palace of the Alhambra in Granada. Arguably, Spains busiest beaches are to be found in Andalucia within the Costa del Sol and one of Europes greatest and most controversial oddities, Gibraltar is found at the western end of Andalucia.
At the top of the list of places to visit in Andalucia has got to be the Moorish Palace of Alhambra in Granada. 1,300 years worth of heritage and elegance encompassed in stone! Next up has possibly got to be the Cathedral and La Giralda in Seville. Where Christendom meets the Moors, where triumphalism and heroism meets mysticism, it is all here. Next on the list has to be the palace of Real Alcazar in Seville also.
Next on our whistle-stop tour of Andalucia has to be the provincial capital of Cordoba and La Mezquita. Once arguably the most important city in Europe, this fact is emphasised by the architectural splendour of La Mezquita, the Grand Mosque. Along the coast we find the historic port of Cadiz, said to be Europes oldest port and Cadiz still manages to retain some of its aura of mystery.
If we then take a look at some of the more regionally based attractions there is Ronda, one of the largest of the so called white villages of Andalucia scattered throughout the region. Ronda is built on a huge tablet of rock spectacularly split in two by the Tajo Gorge. It is alleged that Ronda is the birthplace of the modern approach and style of bull fighting. The coastal region is more commonly known as the Costa del Sol and here you will see everything from some of Spains most exclusive resorts where multi million pound yachts can be found in abundance and a short way up the coats you will find some of the more fun packed and lively of Spains more family orientated resorts. For the more culturally inquisitive amongst us, in Andalucia you find Baeza and Ubeda and some of the finest Renaissance architecture to be found in historic settings anywhere.
To the west of the province you find the vast wetlands and the delta of the Guadalquivir where one of the worlds most important wetland reserves for Wildlife and birds especially is to be found the Parque Nacional del Cote Donana.
Finally, as has been mentioned earlier on in Andalucia is to be found Spains highest mountain range, the Sierra Nevada. Europes second highest mountain range after the Alps, the Sierra Nevada has the distinction of providing the continents southern most skiing resorts!
Funnily enough, unless you havent managed to get the drift there is an enormous amount to do and places to see in Andalucia and it is well worth a visit!