Andalusia: the beating heart of Spain
The country’s most populous region is also invariably the one to which people’s minds turn when they think of Spain. Andalusia has long represented to the outside world all that is seen as “most Spanish”: the sensuous grace and bravura of flamenco, the machismo and verve inherent in bull-fighting, a scorching summer climate inducing the delicious indolence of the siesta, and the visible roots of the Roman and Moorish contributions to the country’s quite spectacular historical treasure trove. Although firmly embedded in truth, this image is also only a partial vision of a richly complex and endlessly satisfying place to visit. Rural Andalusia abounds in natural blessings, from snow-topped mountains to fertile plains, vast dune beaches to delta marshes teeming with birdlife. The region has the highest proportion of its territory dedicated to protected national and natural parks of any in Spain, as well as the greatest biodiversity in fauna and flora and a climate that surprises in its variety but where sunshine is seldom lacking. Inspired by these surroundings man has built here some of the most pleasing villages and small towns that you will find on any journey, such as Ronda, Vejer de la Frontera, Aracena, Úbeda, Cazorla, Alhama de Granada – to name but a few.
Its cities are among the most distinctive and attractive in all Spain. There is majestic Seville, full of April Fair pomp and Easter Week ceremony, a sybarite’s paradise where time seemingly stands still over a Saturday lunchtime glass of fino and plate of jamón ibérico, and a lively talking shop where politics, sport and society are debated with passion and wit. Further up the Guadalquivir, the “mighty river” which forms the shoulders of the region, lies Córdoba, with close on three millennia of history and culture behind it, a fact which secured UNESCO recognition in 1984 with the declaration of the entire historic quarter as a World Heritage Site. At the feet of the mountains of the Sierra Nevada, the roof of the Iberian Peninsula, lies Granada, where the Alhambra palaces and maze-like streets of the Albaicín district stand as treasured reminders of a city which stood as a byword for beauty in the late medieval Muslim and Christian world, and where now a young, cosmopolitan university city has developed around its vestiges. Mention should also be made of Cádiz, reputedly the oldest city in Europe, going back beyond Phoenician times, and whose constant role in world events shapes its salty, pungent character of today. Its province is perhaps the most varied in landscapes of all Andalusia, ranging from the marshy delta of the Guadalquivir to cork-oak plantations, jagged limestone mountains, picturesque pueblos blancos and vast dune-fringed Atlantic beaches.
With such abundance of natural and man-made beauty, Andalusia can truly lay claim to being one of Europe’s most outstanding destinations for all types of travel. Our mission is to show you this rich diversity through a range of Sample Itineraries, introducing you to some of the wonderful sights, tastes and experiences that this extraordinary region has to offer.