Andalusia, originally written as ‘Andalucia’ in Spanish, as a whole means ‘to walk easy’. It has been derived from sub-Spanish words Ande, which means ‘to walk’ and Lutier, meaning ‘easy’.
Andalusia is one of the largest autonomous regions among the 17 regions with diverse cultures and geography in Spain. It is the southern-most region of the mainland Spain, including 8 provinces with capital cities of the same names as the provinces themselves: Huelva, Sevilla, Córdoba, Jaén, Cádiz, Málaga, Granada and Almería.
Andalusia as a whole is a region of contrasts with hills, rivers and farmland which borders Spain’s southern coast line. It has ancient cities and deserts, some amazing beaches along the Costa del Sol and Costa de la Luz and the remarkable Sierra Nevada mountain range where the highest mountain in Spain is found, Mulhacén with an elevation of 3,479 m. Being the part of Sierra Nevada range in the Cordillera Penibética, it is the highest mountain in mainland Spain and the Iberian Peninsula. Andalusia also houses the most southerly ski-resort in the entire Europe.
Andalusia is separated from Morocco by the Strait of Gibraltar; to its south is the self-governing British oversees territory Gibraltar; to the east is the Mediterranean Sea; to the west is the Atlantic Ocean and to the north Sierra Morena constitutes the border with the Meseta Central.
Andalusia houses the hottest and driest summers in Spain. But on its west side, the weather systems which sweep in from the Atlantic side ensure wet winters, where some areas receive copious amounts of rainfall. As a whole, by comparison to the rest of Spain, the region enjoys an above average yearly rainfall.
Sports & AdventureIn Bolonia Beach, Tarifa there are some hidden coves for naturists, for kite surfers some strong easterly winds (Levante), and also some lined with excellent chiringuitos which are best for families with kids experience.Sierras de Cazorla (Natural Park) is the best place for walking or biking along its well-marked trails. It gives an exhilarating experience as the scenery changes dramatically, from deep, luxuriant river valleys to peaceful mountain meadows, magnificent waterfalls, and crumbling hilltop castles.Bullfighting is a traditional sport in Spain and one of the defining cultural characteristics of this Iberian nation. Its season lasts from spring through autumn.
Things to doThe most interesting and beautiful places to visit in Andalusia are:Frigiliana (The most beautiful village in Andalusia)Nestled in the foothills of the Sierras de Tejeda, just above Nerja, it is surrounded by scenic countryside and the glittering Mediterranean coast. Mudéjar historic center has carefully preserved whitewashed houses with cobblestone steps and sinuous lanes. The village’s romantic streets lead to enchanting plazas and hidden rooftop tapas barsThe Alhambra in Granada (Alhambra palace, Granada)One of the most breathtaking monuments of the world, Alhambra towers above the Granada historic Arabic quarter. Closely resembling the Garden Eden, it is a masterwork of the Moorish architecture which displays some splendid Islamic geometric patterns and ornamental features. Alhambra houses palaces, gardens and courtyards.Cabo de Gata, Almeria (Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park)Unlike anywhere else in Europe, Cabo de Gata-Nijar Natural Park with some of Spain’s most spectacular and pristine beaches scattered along the wild cliff- bound coastline. Having an otherworldly seaside desert with peculiar volcanic rock formations, arts and crafts Pueblos Blanco’s, and astounding flora and fauna.Plaza de España, Seville (Plaza de España, Seville)Seville’s monumental Plaza de España is on the edge of Maria Luisa Park. It is encircled by a 500-meter canal and plastered with vibrantly colored azulejos.Built for the 1929 Ibero-American Exposition, the city square complex is the size of 5 football pitches. The grand semi-circular brick building, the centerpiece, is designed in a stunning mix of Art Deco and Neo-Mudéjar styles. Representing the 48 provinces of Spain it is lined with evocative tiled alcoves.Ronda (El Tajo Gorge, Ronda)Málaga, Ronda being one of the most spectacular sights in Andalusia, dramatically perched above a 500-foot ravine. The stunning El Tajo gorge cuts the city is cut in two. Spain’s largest Pueblo’s Blanco’s in history, excellent restaurants, and some magnificent views are found here. El Mercadillo (the new town) and La Ciudad (the old one) are connected by an engineering wonder called the ‘Puenete Nuevo bridge’ that soars nearly 400 feet above the Guadalevín River below.Ronda is also the birthplace of modern bullfighting, homing Spain’s most illustrious bullring ‘Real Maestranza de la Caballería de Ronda’ which was built in 1785.Mezquita de Córdoba (The Great Mosque of Córdoba)The Mezquita is also known as the Great Mosque of Córdoba. It is one of the greatest works of Islamic architecture. With a Renaissance Christian cathedral at its heart, it was built on the site of an ancient Roman temple. The Mezquita, a monument stretching 24,000 square meters, is a symbol of coexistence and harmony between different cultures, religions, and civilizations that have left their mark during the history on the South of Spain. Its interior is remarkable with distinctive red-and-white striped arches and hundreds of onyx, jasper and marble columns.Marbella Old Town (Marbella Old Town)Marbella Old Town, locally known as ‘Casco Antiguo’, is a delight with its narrow and winding streets. A blissful atmospheric place to while away the time over the cortado, small flower-filled balconies, restaurants, white washes warren of shops or at the central Plaza de los Naranjos (Orange Square).Tabernas Desert, Almeria (The only desert in Europe)The only desert in Europe, Desierto de Tabernas, spans 280 square kilometers. It is sandwiched between the sierras of Filabres and Alhamilla. Its wild barren landscape has been the setting for many famous western movies which include Once Upon a Time in the West, Indiana Jones, and A Fistful of Dollars.The badlands of Almeria also home some film villages and theme parks, where fans of the regarding genre can walk in the footsteps of actors Clint Eastwood, Steve McQueen, or Charles Bronson.Nerja (Balcon de Europa)Nerja, along Spain’s bubbly Costa del Sol, is a seaside town with fairytale caves, glittering sandy coves, and some of the best sea views in the entire Europe.Nerja houses world’s largest stalagmite and the oldest work of art ever discovered – a collection of 6 Neanderthal paintings dating back at least 42,000 years ago. A few kilometers away, Balcón de Europa, a palm-shaded belvedere, offers some sprawling vistas over the rocky coastline and the cerulean Mediterranean Sea beyond which gives postcard-perfect setting.Puerto Banús (Puerto Banus Marina)Puerto Banús is the ultimate millionaires’ playground with some high-end designer boutiques, glamorous nightclubs, and shiny superyachts.Resembling a traditional Andalusian village, Puerto Banús with narrow and winding streets; whitewashed houses which shimmer against the splendid backdrop of Sierra Blanca.Seville Cathedral (The largest Gothic building in Europe)Seville’s majestic cathedral, the largest Gothic building in Europe, leaves its tourist in awe of its grandeur architecture and marvelous art-filled interior, which houses the tomb of Christopher Columbus, masterpieces by Goya and Murillo, as well as the world’s largest and most staggering altarpiece, decorated with gold from the New World.Bolonia Beach, Tarifa (Most beautiful beach in Andalusia)Some 20 km west of Tarifa, Playa de Bolonia sits quietly along Spain’s wild Atlantic coast (Costa de la Luz). It is one of the last virgin beaches in Andalusia with a dreamy 4-km stretch of white powdered sand and cristal clear turquoise water. On its back are pine forests and is surrounded by some of the tallest sand dunes in Europe.By the lovely Bolonia, the ancient ruins of Baelo Claudia are found. They are one of the best examples of Roman urban architecture on the Iberian Peninsula.White Villages of Las AlpujarrasLas Alpujarras, Andaslusia’s best kept secrets, is a beautiful and remote land of unspoiled mountain valleys with rolling olive groves and steep-sided canyons between Granada and the sunny Costa Tropical.Its 50 white Moorish villages are connected with a network of scenic hiking trails. Here the Arabic influence is everywhere and can be seen in the architecture here. The Barber style houses spill down the southern slopes of the Sierra Nevada. The traditional artisan crafts sold here are colorful hand-woven rugs, baskets, and pottery.Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas Natural ParkSierras de Cazorla is a natural park which spans 2,099 square kilometers. It is the largest protected area in Spain and also the diverse. It consists of some craggy limestone peaks, scenic countryside, and dense forests.Located in the province of Jaén, the park encompasses some of the richest and most exceptional flora in the Mediterranean, along with the nation’s largest continuous area of pine forest.Barrio de Santa Cruz, SevilleBarrio de Santa Cruz, Seville’s old Jewish quarter, has an atmospheric labyrinth primed with tiny winding alleys and elegant pastel houses, interwoven with leafy patios and beautiful synagogues-turned-churches.Barrio de Santa Cruz has the most extraordinary monuments which include the Cathedral, the Archive of the Indies, and the spellbinding Alcázar.Cádiz (Cadiz, Andalusia)Cádiz is Europe’s oldest inhabited city and yet it is underrated. It is bounded on three sides by the deep blue waters of the Atlantic. The ancient port has history on its every corner. Along with the intriguing monuments, the museums shelter some of the most splendid marble Phoenician sarcophagi. The ideal sandy beaches invite hours long of lounging and playing under the Andalusian sun.Patios of Córdoba (Courtyard with flowers in Cordoba)Andalusia’s fabulous city, Córdoba, is the most charming during the Fiesta de los Patios where private ornate courtyards to the public are opened by the locals. This tradition dates back to 1918.During the festival, the historic district bursts into a riot of color. The city’s patios are decorated with hundreds of hanging pots with roses and vibrant geraniums. The city’s architecture features a small water fountains with some brightly colored ceramic decorations that add more beauty to the spectacular fairytale-like atmosphere in this small town.
Culture and HistoryAndalusian emblem, the most important feature in its history, consists of the figure of the mythical Greek hero Hercales (Latin: Hercules), son of god Zeus and mortal Alcmena. Appearing between the columns Hercales is seen seizing and taming two lions, each representing the power of animal instinct, is a representation of the legend: "ANDALUCÍA POR SÍ, PARA ESPAÑA Y LA HUMANIDAD". The two columns are joined by an arc with the Latin inscription: "DOMINATOR HERCULES FUNDATOR".The emblem saw its origin in an agreement made by the pro-autonomist Assembly of Ronda in 1918, designed by Blas Infante, "Father of Andalusia". According to Blas Infante, the invention of the emblem cannot be seen as meaningless, but it is a series of modifications of the traditional elements of Andalusia: "We, Andalusian regionalists or nationalists, have not come to invent anything new. We had simply recognised, in our action, what the people created on its own, hence giving due value to its history ".Andalusia’s heritage dates back from the Roman Empire to the Moorish rule in 8th-15th centuries. Andalusia’s legacy and history can be seen in the light of its architecture, which includes some remarkable landmarks such as in its capital city and others as the Alcázar castle in Seville, Córdoba’s Mezquita Mosque-Cathedral and as well as the Granada’s Alhambra palace. Andalusia is also knows as the cradle of passionate gypsy form of art encompassing music and dance.Andalusia's trademark food is Gazpacho Andalusia; a cold soup or liquid salad made with fresh and raw vegetables. Probably derived from a Roman dish, in one form the dish dates back as far as the country itself.