Andalusia is Spain’s most southerly region, covering over 30,000 square miles on the Iberian Peninsula. Comprising eight provinces and with over 500 miles of coastline, Andalusia is so large, diverse and rich in heritage that it’s impossible to encapsulate in one paragraph.
The one consistent characteristic of Andalusia, however, is that it is undoubtedly the home to many of Spain's quintessential hallmarks.
Put simply, Andalusia is the real Spain, and a stay in one of the fine selection of Andalucia villas is sure to be a memorable one.
Internationally-recognised cornerstones of Spanish culture such as tapas, bullfighting, and flamenco guitar – indeed the guitar itself – all originated in Andalucía and remain an intrinsic part of everyday life. Totally unpretentious and full of earthy, authentic charm, holidays in Andalusia are all about enjoying the simple pleasures in life.
Andalusia is served by a good number of international and regional airports, with Malaga the major international terminal, followed by Seville and Almeria, while Jerez and Granada charter national schedule flights from other major cities such as Barcelona and Madrid.
Trad and Trendy
Andalucia is home to some of Spain’s most famous buildings, including majestic relics of Islamic architecture such as The Alhambra in Granada, and the imposing Seville Cathedral.
Modern Andalusia is increasingly cosmopolitan and chic, with towns and cities such as Seville, Cordoba, Málaga and Cadiz bursting with groovy boutiques, cool bars, exceptional restaurants and a vibrant nightlife. This contemporary vibe contrives to sit neatly alongside its historical and cultural charm to create a uniquely Andalusian atmosphere.
Andalucia is a region of anomalies and pleasant surprises. A short drive from one of the bustling tourist resorts can take you to some of the most secluded and immaculate beaches in the country. Inland from the coast are rare green hills, whitewashed villages, nature reserves, and the highest mountain range on the Spanish mainland, the incredulously snow-capped Sierra Nevada.
In fact there cannot be a more diverse set of landscapes in the whole of Spain. Where else can you veer from the aforementioned green hills and classic whitewashed villages, to golden expanses of sand and even the sort of rocky scenery and barren sub-desert plains seen in Spaghetti Westerns?
That’s right, Westerns. Classics westerns such as The Good, The Bad & The Ugly and A Fistful of Dollars were filmed in Almeria, due to its unerring likeness to the US ‘Wild West’, as well as scenes from Lawrence of Arabia and numerous other famous films. Some of the film sets have remained on location and can be seen at three theme parks in the area, including Oasys Theme Park in the desert of Tabernas.
Andalucia’s capital is the stylish Seville, also known as ‘The Frying Pan of Spain’. Enjoying arguably the strongest cultural identity in the country, Seville is the artistic, historic and cultural capital of southern Spain and is the closest you are likely to get to Andalusia in a (very large) nutshell.
Seville - said to be the hottest city in Europe - is positively teeming with culture, history and passion, and exudes an unparalleled joie-de-vivre. The charming, rickety maze of winding old cobbled streets and hidden squares are peppered with some of the best tapas bars in Spain, notably the outstanding Vineria San Telmo in the Barrio de Santa Cruz district of the city.
Rated by users of Trip Advisor as the very best restaurant in all of Seville, Vineria San Telmo serves highly inventive and intensely flavoursome tapas, in an atmosphere so laid back and convivial you’ll want to spend the entire night there. The coup de grace is the staggeringly good value – curiously it will almost certainly be your cheapest meal out in Seville as well being by a distance the best.
The architecture in Seville is considered by many the most impressive in Spain, and its centrepiece is the gargantuan and breathtaking Gothic Cathedral and Giralda – the largest Gothic cathedral (and third biggest church) in the world. It serves as the burial site of Christopher Columbus, whose remains rest in the mausoleum. The cathedral is open daily, costing around €8 to get in.
A kindred spirit of Seville is Málaga, the exuberant city on the Mediterranean coastline known to most as the Costa del Sol (Coast of the Sun). Enjoying an increasingly high profile, the city has been nominated as a candidate for European Capital of Culture 2016, while its football team was taken over in 2011 by a member of the Qatari Royal Family.
Armed with a bottomless pit of funds, the nouveau-riche Málaga CF aims to join the elite of European football and is already building an impressive squad. Their home is the Estadio La Rosaleda, sure to become more popular with tourists as the club adds to its ever-expanding cast of stellar names.
Whichever big names the football club signs in the months and years to come, they will have to go some to eclipse Málaga’s most famous son, Pablo Picasso. 2003 saw the long-overdue opening of the Picasso Museum, which is open 6 days a week and just €6 to get in. The admission price includes a guided tour (in Spanish or English), while entrance is entirely free on the last Sunday of every month.
Costa del Sol
The Costa del Sol has a reputation in the UK for being a cheap and cheerful magnet for lairy Brits on tour, thanks mainly to resorts such as Marbella and Torremolinos. Indeed, Andalusia’s main coastal tourist resorts are the most crowded in the whole country, but one never has to travel far to get away from it all.
This coastline at one time comprised a series of quaint fishing villages, and despite the huge changes on the Costa such places can still be found amid the pulsing rhythm of the Costa’s most populous areas. A great selection of Costa del Sol villas can be found off the beaten track, with places such as Nerja, Competa and Frigiliana having escaped the high-rise plague and retained their Spanish authenticity.
Fiestas and Ferias
Spanish fiestas symbolise best the essence of Spain and its people, and over 3000 fiestas are celebrated in Andalucia every year. The local fiesta gives every town and village the chance to put on the ultimate show, and Andalusian fiestas are renowned for being more colourful and boisterous than anywhere else in Spain.
Cordoba hosts no fewer than four festivals every May – Batalla de las Flores (Battle of the Flowers), Cruces de Mayo (Crosses of May), Concurso Popular de Patios (Patio Contest!), and the Feria (simply, the Spring Fair).
Two of the largest festival celebrations in the entire region and even all of Spain take place in Seville.
The first, the annual and week-long Semana Santa (Easter Week), is a typically colourful affair with dazzling processions attracting people from all over the country.
Generally taking place a couple of weeks later is the Feria de Abril de Sevilla (April Fair – which oddly enough occurs more often than not in May), probably the largest annual fiesta in Andalucia. It is impossible to imagine a more colourful, lively or vibrant fiesta anywhere, its plethora of activities such as live music, street dancing and delicious local culinary treats giving you the chance to immerse yourself in Spanish culture like never before.
Stay in Andalucia
Relentlessly traditional yet happily embracing the modern world, Andalusians have a reputation for living most days as though it’s their last. What better way to experience this magical part of the world by staying in one of the many charming Andalucia fincas and enjoying real Spain to its fullest.
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