Visiting the south of Spain you’ll hardly believe you’re in the same country as Madrid or Barcelona.
While Northern Spain feels unmistakably European with its gilded statues and bustling street culture, the South seems to be in a different time; rather a time blessed with nearly 300 days of sunshine, the friendliest locals, and a true “mezcla de culturas” mix of cultures.
The unique feel of Andalucia is attributed to its complex medieval history. In the 8th century, the North African Moors conquered the Iberian Peninsula, bringing their ornate architecture, sophisticated irrigation system and storytelling which is traced to modern-day Flamenco.
The Moorish period ended in the 15th century with the Reconquista. Luckily, Andalucia never strayed far from its Moorish roots.
A trip to the region’s oldest destination will make you feel like you are stepping back in time.
The former capital of Muslim Spain holds the most UNESCO heritage sites in the world. History buffs and adventurers alike will enjoy gazing at the Mudejar architecture and wandering through the city’s culturally diverse historic center.
Once you’ve crossed The Roman Bridge of Córdoba, you’re upon the gates of one of the largest Mosques in the world, the Mezquita-Catedral of Córdoba. With its rows of towering red and white arches and ornate detail reaching towards sky high ceilings, you’ll feel small in comparison. The Mezquita was built in the 8th century to serve as a Great Mosque for the capital of Muslim Spain but later fell in the hands of Christian forces. Pay attention to this syncretic masterpiece’ seamless mix of Christian and Islamic art styles.
Two minutes away, the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos was the royal residence of monarchs Ferdinand and Isabela and a key place in developing Christopher Columbus’s journey to the Americas. The Alcàzar is ripe with history. Climb up the world’s longest standing tower from the 13th century, “La Torre de los Leones” for the best panoramic view of the city. Take in the Alcázar’s timeless beauty while sitting in the blooming jardines.
A trip to Córdoba is incomplete without strolling through its iconic, vibrant patios. Wander through the city’s iconic white and blue homes adorned with hanging pots of flowers and plants. Remember to take pictures!
You’ll want to stay at least 24 hours in this charming, multicultural village tucked in the Sierra Nevada mountains. With bazaars stretching multiple streets and a host of Middle Eastern food options, Granada is the perfect place to experience a new culture without leaving Spain.
One of the most well-preserved palaces of the Islamic world, the Alhambra was built during the Nasrid Dynasty to serve as a palace and fortress. Upon strolling through the “red castle,” take note of the poetic inscriptions on the walls, incredibly detailed drawings, and calming cascades of water. The Alhambra is full of hidden references to religious scripture, so book a tour to unpack all of its mysteries.
A few blocks away, the bazaar of Alcaicería is one of a few Moorish traditions that survived the Reconquista. Here you’ll find breathtaking cobblestone streets lined with eclectic bakeries and artisan shops that will make you question whether you are walking through the streets of Marrakech.
Finish your time in Granada with a Flamenco show in a hillside cave in the Sacromonte barrio. Spanish Romani people, Moors, and escaped slaves took refuge in these cave houses to avoid persecution. Now, these rocky caves are said to be one of the cradles of Spanish Flamenco.
A trip through Còrdoba and Granada offers insight into Spain’s old world. Venturing through these cities’ most historic sites, you will fall in love with the intricate mosaic architecture and seamless blend of art styles.
The curious traveler will likely get lost wandering through the enchanting patios and multi-cultural bazaars that date back to the time of Ál Andalus.
To immerse yourself into the culture and history of Andalucia, start planning Spain with Bucketlist Travel Advisors