Andalusia: A Spanish Oriental Tale
How many songs have been sung, poems and stories written about this beautiful oriental beauty! At all times, she has been infatuating anyone who has touched her, captured her soul… She enchants with her saffron fragrance, wins the heart with her passionate dance, and is able to burn at any moment… That’s what Andalusia is all about! Once you’ve been here, you’ll never be able to forget it and you’ll definitely come back!
Andalusia is the hottest and driest region of Spain. If the weather is more or less comfortable in the coastal areas, in the central part there is a hellish heat, in high summer the temperature reaches up to +40 ° C. Winters are more than mild here – from +10 to +20 ° C. The region is large and the microclimate is different everywhere, hence the difference. But one thing is the same – in summer Andalusia is like a red-hot frying pan! If you can’t handle those temperatures, the best time to explore the cities is when it’s cooler.
History of Andalusia
Andalusia is by far the most Arab province in Spain, having managed to carry the elements of Moorish culture to the present day. It has managed to be part of the Roman Empire, then survived the presence of the Vandals, Visigoths and other tribes, but only the Arab invaders managed to stay here for so long.
By the beginning of the 8th century, the Muslims had conquered almost the entire Iberian Peninsula. Often everything happened peacefully, through negotiations with the local rulers. They were offered fairly favorable terms if they agreed to come under Arab rule. The new state was called al-Andalus, with Cordoba as its capital. During the few centuries of Moorish rule it was able to reach unprecedented heights in various fields of life: science, economy, art. The state was greatly enriched and cultivated. The Arab period in the history of Spain has left an incredible cultural heritage.
Beginning in the 13th century, resistance grew, and Christian kings reclaimed one land after another from the Muslims. For a long time the Andalusian territory remained the last Muslim stronghold and was only liberated in 1492. By the way, that year was significant also because then Columbus set sail on an expedition that led to the discovery of America.
As the years went by, one century passed and Andalusia remained one of the richest and most prosperous regions of Spain, the center of culture and commerce. And many of the cultural riches that Andalusia has amassed over centuries of greatness have been preserved to this day. Everywhere in southern Spain you can find monuments of Arab architecture. Palaces and even Christian temples after the expulsion of the Arabs were built in the Mudejar style, which inherited much of the Moorish tradition. The architecture of the main Catholic sanctuaries, rebuilt from mosques, combines colonnades and Arabic arches in a bizarre way with elements of later styles.
Historical events have left their mark on national Spanish traditions. Everyone knows the two constant symbols of Spain, bullfighting and flamenco, but few realize that Andalusia is the home of both.
The origins of bullfighting go back to the Bronze Age, long before our era. It is no longer possible to say for sure, but it is believed that originally the killing of bulls had a ritual character. Toward the 16th century A.D. this “event” took on a more noble tone, became entertainment for the rich and noble class. Bullfighting became the star of all holidays. Over the centuries it has undergone some changes. For example, in the Middle Ages bullfighting was held on horseback, and then became walking, as in our time.
Now the popularity of bullfighting is gradually fading. Apparently people have become less bloodthirsty and more kind! Thanks to animal advocates, these “bullfighting” games are already banned in some regions of Spain. Of course, there are still “pockets of resistance”, including Madrid, Pamplona, Seville, where people go to bullfighting with their families, as a holiday, but most likely, after a few decades or even years, bullfighting will be banned there too.
Flamenco is the quintessence of Moorish culture and gypsy fervor. It all came together in the 15th century in southwestern Andalusia, when refugees, including Roma, arrived en masse from the Byzantine Empire. Their suffering, their worries were splashed out in a passionate dance, which was invariably accompanied by virtuoso guitar playing. At the end of the 18th century Roma are no longer persecuted as before, and their folk dance “broke free” to the general public. That’s when it began to spread across the country. Flamenco is a dance of fire, which burns inside the dancer. It is unforgivable to go to Spain and not see flamenco! Flamenco is Spain itself!
The cuisine of Andalusia is a separate topic of discussion! Some of its dishes and products are already known throughout the world! Just think cold gazpacho soup – balm for the soul on a hot day, or fortified wine sherry, first produced before Christ.
Our tourist probably knows such a name as Costa del Sol… Sunny Beach… But few people know that in addition to it, the coast of Andalusia is also Costa de la Luz, Costa Tropical and Costa de Almeria.
Costa de la Luz allows you to swim in the waters of the Atlantic among the natural azure lagoons, enjoy freshly caught ocean fish in the coastal cafes, taste the above mentioned sherry, which is produced just in the region of Cadiz, and also take a short day trip to Morocco or Portugal.
Costa del Sol – the most promoted and most expensive of all the “costas” of Andalusia. The most prestigious vacation spot of the coast is Marbella. Everything is fine here, except for one unpleasant minus: the water in the sea here is quite cool for the Mediterranean. Because of the cold Atlantic current water in these places even in the hottest summer is not heated above +22 ° C.
Costa Tropical is so called because it has a tropical microclimate and grows a lot of exotic fruit, particularly the fruit cherimoya – in Spain it is grown exclusively in the town of Almuñecar. Resorts on this coast are protected by a chain of mountain peaks. There are many secluded bays, which can only be approached from the water.
Costa de Almeria – another popular coastline, which is chosen for its greater accessibility (compared to the Costa del Sol) and warmer water. It is the warmest of the four “costas”.
Be sure to include a trip to Gibraltar in your Andalusian itinerary. In fact, Gibraltar is a tiny peninsula with a high pointed rock, and the most interesting thing is that while it is surrounded by Spanish land, it does not belong to Spain. This piece of land has long been a stumbling block between Spain and Britain, where it currently belongs. Because of that, Gibraltar has a permit regime, a different currency and even a different official language. It is, one might say, a British colony on the Iberian Peninsula and also an active NATO base.
Another useful point: Gibraltar – a duty-free zone, goods are sold here without VAT, so the prices of everything is much lower than elsewhere in the EU. For many Spaniards, it is common to go here for shopping. Russian tourists, according to a recent regulation, to visit this “country” is enough to have a Schengen visa.
Half of Gibraltar is a nature reserve. It allows you to climb high on a cliff and look across the peninsula, the sea and even the land of neighboring Africa. Monkeys are everywhere in the reserve. They are everywhere! They are in charge here! So do not try their patience. Although they are used to people, but they can still bite. The park also has an ancient Moorish castle, several caves, historical tunnels, and various exhibits.
Among the prominent attractions of Spanish Andalusia not the last place is the Royal path (Caminito del rey) in the gorge of El Chorro. This entertaining entertainment is not for the faint of heart. The trail is located near Málaga and is a narrow path made of wooden planks and laid out at a high altitude in the El Chorro Gorge so that tourists can really tickle their nerves. A bubbling river, sharp cliffs and cascading waterfalls accompany the traveler.
Originally, this path was built for the builders of the dam on the reservoirs, of which there are several in this area, and then became an “attraction” out of necessity. Until recently, the Royal Route was extremely dangerous and gained fame as the “road of death” among climbers. Too often people fell off it and died. But after the reconstruction in 2015, the danger has been greatly reduced due to fences and repaired stair reinforcements, although helmets are issued at the entrance just in case. Tickets here should be booked in advance at www.caminitodelrey.info . Among other things, it is best to arrive early in the morning, because in the gorge, as elsewhere, the weather is far from cool. The rocks make it unbearably hot.
Amazingly, but in the middle of all this hellish heat just outside Granada there are snow-covered peaks of Sierra Nevada Mountains and the ski resort of the same name attracting fans of winter sports from all over Europe. The snow is only 100 km away from the white sandy beaches. The skiing season here lasts from November to April. Since part of the mountain system is a park, in the summer it is very popular with lovers of ecotourism. It’s a great place to go hiking!
Cities of Andalusia
Andalusia is known for its tourist gems: Seville, Cordoba, Granada and Malaga . Click on the links to learn more about them. But Ronda and Cadiz are also worth mentioning.
Ronda lies in an unforgettable place, “as if a giant of stone had lifted a small white city on his shoulders,” as an Austrian poet wrote. Its spectacular location on a huge rock makes it popular with tourists. Puente Nuevo, an ancient bridge over a 100-meter gorge, is always packed with people. And no wonder, since the bridge is not only a symbol of the city, but also the best viewing platform you can find. Just a dizzying view! And in the back of the Old Town stands the Bullring, which is the oldest in Spain. This is where every matador dreams of performing!
Cadiz is a seaside port city with three thousand years of history on the Atlantic coast. It was the starting point for many expeditions to the Americas. It is the most important city on the Atlantic coast of Spain. Among its riches are the Roman theater, the Genoese Park, the fortress of San Sebastian, the cathedral of Cadiz and much more. And, of course, its wonderful beaches. Where to go without them!
Be sure to come on holiday in this wonderful hospitable region, discover it for yourself! And after visiting Andalusia, your heart will pulsate to the rhythm of flamenco for a long time to come!
Home of the flamenco – holidays in Andalusia
Spain, despite the great unity of its people, has a very special and unlike anything else autonomous southern province of Andalusia. This region is impossible to forget after visiting it at least once in a lifetime. It is filled with some special local color and it is not surprising, since Spanish and Arabic traditions are intertwined here. Being the home of flamenco – holidays in Andalusia in 2022 (Spain) will pleasantly surprise you with prices, entertainment for all tastes and attractions that will not leave anyone indifferent.
To date, only the southern part of the peninsula bears this name. The first information about the ancient settlers can be traced back to before our era. Originally this area was inhabited by Iberians who came from North Africa, and before them since the Bronze Age lived the Tartesses. On the coast was built the city of Gades, which is one of the oldest cities in Europe.
Later the lands of Andalusia belonged to Rome, and when, due to barbarian attacks, the empire fell apart, Islam invaded the Iberian peninsula in 711. The Arabs took over for a long time and held strong here (800 years). They turned the city into a prosperous and civilized region of the West.
Then the dominion passed into the hands of the Catholic kings, who expelled the Moorish monarch.
Andalusia on the map:
Andalusia is now considered one of the economically developed regions of the country.
Given the location of the resort, an area of subtropical Mediterranean climate, which features minimal rainfall and mild summers, tourists visit it all year round. But the climate varies from region to region. High atmospheric pressure affects the appearance of anticyclones, provoking droughts or sudden thunderstorm rains. But in general, at least 300 days a year, it’s sunny.
For beach lovers, the ideal option is summer, when high temperatures of up to +40 degrees are observed.
Those who want to see the local sights, suitable trip in May, when the orange trees begin to bloom, and there is no debilitating heat.
In late September you can catch the velvet season, when the heat goes down and the temperature is comfortable.
How to get there
There are four airports: Cordoba, Jerez de la Frontera, Grenada, and Almeria. There are also a couple of international counterparts in Seville and Malaga.
It is convenient to travel between villages by train. The cities are connected by high-speed trains.
From Russia to the resort is convenient to take a flight to Madrid or Malaga. If you fly to Madrid, the travel time is no more than 5 hours. Direct flights are only from Moscow. From the airport of Barjas in Madrid you can get to the city by metro or train to the railway station. You can also take an express shuttle or cab.
There are also direct flights from Moscow to Malaga, from where one can easily reach the city by bus, train or cab.
It is convenient to travel around the resort by bus. You can save a lot of money this way, and besides, the transport is always clean and comfortable.
- If you’re coming from Seville or Cordoba, take the train. It’s more comfortable that way.
- To travel better to buy a special card in the machine, it will save money. It costs about 6 euros.
- The price of a ticket to the villages is 1 euro.
- If you want you can get to any town by water transport or by renting a car.
The geographical location of Andalusia allows the region to actively develop tourism. According to the latest figures, each year it receives more than 30,000,000 tourists from all over the world. Most of them settle on the coast, but many go deep into the autonomy to get closer to the many historical and cultural monuments of Andalusia.
Tourists can vacation on the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts. Each area has its own resorts with approximately the same level of service and pricing. Prices for holidays in Andalusia are not too high, but still above the average level set for Spain. Vacationers are usually confused in their choice of resort, so here is a list of all the resort areas of Andalusia.
The Mediterranean coast
- The province of Almeria. There are a lot of beautiful sandy beaches, they stretch for miles, and only in some places interrupted by stony bays, buried in the greenery.
- The province of Granada. This place is also called the “Costa Tropical”, it is characterized by a particularly hot climate. All the coast is rugged with bays and cliffs, here it is very interesting to dive and observe the life of sea creatures.
- The province of Malaga. The coast here is poetically called “Costa del Sol” and it stands out for its diverse landscape. In some places the beach is like a strip of fine sand from the tropical islands, while in others the coast is rugged with cliffs and bays with a pebbly beach.
- Province of Cadiz. It is worth going here for lovers of diving or windsurfing. For these sports at the resort there is everything you need. And the beaches with amazing fine golden sand just call to bask in the sun, which, by the way, shines here 320-220 days a year.
- Province of Huelva. The bays of this coast are always windy, so yachtsmen from around the world love to gather here. They manage to combine active holidays with beach idleness on the white and coarse sand.
Where to stay
The region of Andalusia has more than 4,000 hotels of different levels, among which each visitor of the country will find an option. It is worth noting that most hotels in Andalusia have a class of four stars. Accommodation in a room will cost the tourist from 5000 rubles per night. Some hotels are all-inclusive, but it is not too popular at local resorts. Almost all holidaymakers prefer to spend a lot of time outside the hotel, so they take “half board” service, including breakfast.
A grand complex in the municipality of Marbella, which provides its guests with comfortable vacation conditions. Guests can relax in the sauna or steam room, swim in the outdoor pool. There is a gym on the territory. The rooms have air conditioning, TV, balcony and private bathroom. If you want you can order a room with a picturesque view of the sea. This is a great option for couples with children, as the hotel has a play area. If you want to grab a bite to eat, you can go to the restaurant or bar. As entertainment, the hotel staff offers to spend a pleasant time on the golf courses. At the same time, the price category of recreation is from 19000 rubles per person.
Hotel El Molino
Those who want to be away from the bustle of the city, you should pay attention to this hotel, which is located in an old farmhouse. Here you can plunge into the atmosphere of the last century, the rooms are equipped with beautiful wooden furniture and authentic works of art. Relax on the spacious terrace and stroll through the lush garden. Guests have the opportunity to book riding lessons or rent a bicycle to appreciate the local attractions. The price range is 5000 rubles per person.
Posada del Patio
This unique hotel in Málaga is historic because it is housed in a restored old building. During the construction work experts discovered the ruins of the ancient buildings, which were fragments of the fortification walls of the Arab city. Here guests can go to the exhibition hall, where they can get acquainted with historical findings. Those who wish may go to the library, swim in one of the beautiful pools, the price category of such recreation – from 20000 rubles per person.
The average check for a dinner at a restaurant is about 3500-4000 rubles. For this price you can enjoy local jamon and a lot of seafood dishes for which Andalusia is famous all over the world.
- If we talk about national dishes, it is worth mentioning the tapas. A lot of tapas bars are located here at every step. Here visitors can try the original treats laid out on a plate. Among them there are both fish, vegetable or meat snacks.
- For those who love fish, it is worth going to the coastal areas, where the most popular dishes are fish baked in salt. In the process of cooking it is laid on the salt and covered with it along with the burning coals. Thus, the dish turns out very juicy and delicious.
- Meat-eaters must try the Jamon, which is often made from the meat of black pigs. To the preparation of jamon in Andalusia are treated with special reverence, and every year competitions are held there, in which the producers show their art of cutting the meat. If desired, a piece of ham can be taken home as a souvenir.
The best restaurants
El Tintero II
In Malaga, on the outskirts of the city there is a cozy restaurant with a picturesque view of the beach. Here you can order seafood dishes. The eel, cuttlefish and sardine on bamboo sticks are especially in demand. Each plate of viands is 7,5 euros. As waiters occasionally bring trays of dishes into the room and name them in Spanish, guests must raise their hand to taste a particular dish. This place is very popular with both locals and tourists. On the day off you should book a table in advance.
El Tapeo de Cervantes
This cozy restaurant offers its guests a wide range of tapas snacks. The cuisine here is predominantly Mediterranean, but the guests have a right to order dishes from other cuisines.
For a taste of traditional Andalusian cuisine, head to the banks of the Guadalquivir River in Seville. Thanks to the panoramic windows, the restaurant offers a picturesque view. This is ideal for a romantic evening for two.
For those who appreciate good wines, you should discover a traditional tavern in Cordoba’s European Quarter. The establishment has its own history, which began in the sixties. The dishes are prepared according to the recipes of Cordoba, in which it is possible to trace the gastronomic traditions of the Arabs, Christians and Jews. Guests of the restaurant can taste the cod fillet with onions, various appetizers, perch with almonds and others. It is better to book the place in advance.
- For those who are partial to Eastern culture, you can visit the Moroccan quarter on Caldereria Nueva, which is a continuous market with restaurants, hookahs and tea houses. It sells oriental sweets and mint tea, beautiful sets and oriental cushions. It is a place where clothes, jewelry, Moroccan bags, souvenirs are sold. In the restaurants you can try traditional Moroccan dishes.
- Planning to buy jewelry, you should go to the Jewelry Park, it is located in Cordoba and is considered the best place to buy quality jewelry. On its territory true masterpieces of silver and gold are sold. More than fifteen hundred manufacturers offer their goods here. On the territory, which is an exhibition area, there are 202 stores.
- For those partial to antiques, the Seville El Hueves flea market is the oldest in Andalusia and is open on Thursdays. There is a wide range of pottery, hats, books, and various antiques.
- If you want to go to an outlet, you can visit Seville, where the Los Arcos shopping center is located. Here, on three floors in a spacious building, you can wander through numerous stores offering brand name clothing, shoes and accessories. After your shopping spree, grab a bite to eat in one of the cozy cafes or restaurants.
- Among the gastronomic gifts we should highlight the local tea blends and fruit infusions. They are better to buy in special tea stores.
- Especially popular is the Moroccan mint tea.
- You should pay attention to olive oil.
- Sweet eaters have the opportunity to buy chocolate products company “Abuela Ili”, which is very popular in Andalusia. Among the wide assortment are chocolates with blueberries, mangoes, raisins and almonds. At the same time, the production of the product is done by hand.
Andalusians are very fond of noisy festivals and carnivals, because it is not without reason that the searing flamenco appeared here, able to ignite the blood of anyone who sees this dance of passion and fire.
If you are planning a holiday in Andalusia, then try to choose a time when there will be another festival, fair or carnival. The pleasure of the event you get just inexpressible. The locals know how to create a holiday and they are always ready to plunge into it. The most famous are the fairs in Seville and Malaga, but there’s also a colorful carnival in Cadiz.
Andalusians are deeply respectful of religious festivals, too, and know how to turn them into a spectacle, complete with street singers and dancers. Once you’ve been to one, you’ll be a part of the festivities and you’ll feel like everyone has known you for a long time.
- If you come to Almeria in mid-June, you can go to the ceremonies dedicated to the celebration of the Holy Virgin of Carmen. As a result, you will be impressed by the vibrant music and dance culinary events.
- In November, there is an annual olive festival during the harvest in the town of Baen, locals call it the olive capital. The three-day festival program offers guests the opportunity to participate in master classes, hear tips for caring for olive trees and taste olive dishes.
Andalusia’s beaches are well equipped and provide everything you need for a comfortable holiday. You can rent diving equipment, snorkeling masks or get a couple of windsurfing lessons. There will always be jet skis and boats at your service.
Surfing in Andalusia:
Attractions in Andalusia
There is simply no point in listing all the sights of Andalusia. This is the place, which is simply overflowing with amazing monuments. And many of them were left by the Moors, which influenced their appearance and design of the interiors. Almost all of the historical monuments are perfectly preserved. We will mention only the most famous of them:
Every tourist dreams to visit this huge fortress complex. There is so much to see as the Alhambra consists of a whole gallery of gardens, palaces, and other structures. Don’t think you can see all the beauty of this place in a day. That is not the case. The Alhambra must be visited for at least three days to get a sense of this remarkable complex. It is best to buy a ticket for 20 euros through the Internet, it will allow you to visit the fortress day and night for two days without queuing.
Monastery of Santa Maria de las Cuevas
This place has value for historians and art lovers. Christopher Columbus himself worked within the walls of this convent; for more than forty years his body was buried in the grounds of Santa María de las Cuevas.
The architecture of the monastery is very typical of Spanish temples and is characterized by a certain simplicity of lines. But this has served as a great backdrop for the various exhibitions that are constantly held inside this structure. In the huge area belonging to the monastery, music festivals and performances of famous bands from all over the world are often held.
Andalusia is a wonderful place to relax and enjoy the natural beauty of the region. It is also the only place you can touch the rich cultural heritage of Spain, concentrated in the territory of the beautiful autonomy, which gave the world the gift of flamenco.
Andalusia is considered a relatively safe region of the country. But it is better to leave valuables in hotel safes. In general, you can walk here at night without fear.
Tips for the Tourist
- Those who can not stand the hot heat, it is better to go here to rest in the spring or fall.
- On the territory of historical sites tourists should move on a bicycle or on foot. The fact that the old streets are narrow and the car can not squeeze into them.
- Active tourists who plan to visit as many attractions, it is better to buy a welcome card, which is sold in hotels and tourist centers.
Andalusia, will conquer you from the first days of your stay. Incendiary festivals, performances of professional dancers, matadors, and much more, will be of interest to the tourist planning his vacation in Spain. It will be nice to spend time on the luxurious beaches, doing water sports, or just strolling through the sights, learning about the culture of the country. Or you can come to one of the many festivals, and become a direct participant.