The smell of orange blossom, the lilt of a flamenco guitar, the flash of the matador’s cape; memories of Andalucía stay with you like collected souvenirs, begging you to return
A Cultural Marinade
The fascination of Andalucía springs from its peculiar history, Christianity and Islam. For centuries the region stood on the porous frontier between two different faiths and ideologies. Left to slowly ferment like a barrel of the bone-dry local sherry, these sometimes peaceful, sometimes battling kingdoms threw up a slew of esoteric cultural colossi: ancient mosques masquerading as churches, vast palace complexes strafed with stucco, a passionate musical genre bizarrely called flamenco, and a chain of lofty white towns that still dominates the arid, craggy landscape. This visually and viscerally compelling legacy can be found all over the region in places such as Córdoba's Mezquita, Jerez' music venues and the hilltop settlements of Cádiz province.
Andalucía has multiple faces: a parched region fertile with culture, a conquered land that went on to conquer, a fiercely traditional place that has accepted rapid modernisation. Here, in the cradle of quintessential Spain, the questions are often as intriguing as the answers. Who first concocted flamenco? How did tapas become a national obsession? Could Cádiz be Europe’s oldest settlement? Are those really Christopher Columbus’ bones inside Seville's cathedral? And, where on earth did the audacious builders of the Alhambra get their divine inspiration from? Putting together the missing pieces of the puzzle is what makes travel in Andalucía the glorious adventure it is, a never-ending mystery trail that will deposit you in places where you can peel off the checkered history in dusty layers. There's edgy Granada, arty Málaga, vivacious Seville, sleepy Setenil de las Bodegas, rugged Ronda, brassy Marbella, and even a rocky rump of the British Empire named after an erstwhile Berber warlord called Tariq.
It´s Not All Resorts
It takes more than a few ugly Costa del Sol condo towers to steamroller 3000 years of illustrious history. Indeed, large tracts of Andalucía’s coast remain relatively unblemished, while inland, you’ll stumble into sun-bleached white villages where life doesn’t seem to have changed much since playwright Federico Lorca envisioned Bodas de Sangre (Blood Wedding). The local bar is where it all happens. The noisy farmers in flat caps playing dominoes, the faded photo of a long-dead flamenco singer taped clumsily to the wall, the ruined Moorish castle winking through the open doorway, and those ubiquitous Andalucian aromas – lemon trees, church incense, frying garlic – that work on your senses, making you wonder if just perhaps, in a previous life, you were Andalucian too.