Castle Hotels of Andalucía
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Andalucía has captivated travelers for hundreds of years. The romantic image we have of Spain is derived from its colors, fiestas, flamenco music, citrus-perfumed gardens, exotic history, and brilliant sunshine cast over rugged mountains and a sparkling sea.
Above all, Andalucía is a region of alegría, a zest and passion for life found nowhere else, and an influence reflected in the paintings and poetry of its—and Spain’s—greatest artists.
With a vast array of sights and flavors, at best you can sample its highlights—not unlike a presentation of delectable tapas—and return for more.
Some great reasons to visit
Noble cities Some of the grandest monuments of Spain are found in these three exquisite Andalucian cities:
Sevilla Bursting with art, history, and glorious traditions, the wealth from the New World passed through Sevilla first, and it shows. Sevilla’s cathedral is the third largest in the Christian world. A climb up the attached tower, the Giralda, which was a former minaret reveals views of the extraordinary Real Alcázar palace-fortress and the ancient Jewish quarter, the Barrio de Santa Cruz. For one of the most extraordinary spectacles of Spain, don’t miss the processions of Semana Santa or Holy Week. Prices go up and hotels are full, but it tops the list of great Spanish tradition.
Granada is home to the legendary palace the Alhambra, home to Spain’s last Muslim dynasty and an absolute must on any Andalucian itinerary. A stroll through the Albayzín, or old Muslim district presents a fascinating glimpse of the past.
Córdoba Here you’ll find the splendid Mezquita, one of the greatest Islamic structures in Spain, with origins dating back to 785. Córdoba can also boast of an utterly charming medieval Muslim and Jewish neighborhood (la Judería), where labyrinthine alleys pass whitewashed walls, balconies, and inner patios filled to capacity with flowers. Just outside of Córdoba you’ll find the fascinating ruins of Medina Azahara, a palace-city dating back to 936.
Ronda A 100 meter- (325 feet) drop of a limestone gorge slashes through this atmospheric, former Moorish town known for its Mudjéjar architecture, old mansions, and a Plaza de Toros, where bullfights have been held since 1785.
Jerez de la Frontera Nine sherry (jerez) bodegas open their doors to visitors; the Royal Andalucian School of Equestrian Art (Real Escuela Andaluza del Arte Ecuestre) is renowned for its equestrian shows. Jerez is also famous for the quality of its flamenco singers and dancers.
Carmona Extensive Roman ruins, Renaissance mansions, and winding streets make this special town an easy trip from Sevilla.
Enchanting villages One of the most popular drives you can take through Andalucía is through the “white towns” or pueblos blancos. Starting at Arcos de la Frontera and ending in Ronda, you wind through the mountains visiting small whitewashed villages. The best ones are Zahara with its own castle towering above and Grazalema. In the eastern part of Andalucian, the whitewashed Moorish town of Mojácar Pueblo is well worth a visit, as well.
Natural beauty In the far southwest corner of Andalucía is Spain’s largest national park, Europe’s greatest wetlands, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Parque Nacional de Doñana. Flat, scrubby, and covering 500 sq km (195 square miles), it holds the richest wildlife population in the country. Four-wheel drive vehicles will take you out. Farther east, near Granada in the Sierra Nevada, Las Alpujarras makes a terrific drive past spectacular vistas, masses of wildflowers, and quaint white villages.
Costa del Sol Stretching from Almería to Gibraltar, Spain’s most famous coastal area ranges from packed beach resorts such as Torremolinos to Marbella—the ritzy home of jet setters. July and August are packed to the gills.
Costa de la Luz A long stretch of windswept beach south of Cadiz is renowned for its windsurfing, with the World Windsurfing Championships held at Tarifa.
Castles Andalucía has a splendid assortment of castles open for exploration. The best ones are: the Alcazaba at Málaga, which was built between the 8-11th centuries on the site of a Roman fortress; the Baños de la Encina, which boasts of 15 towers and ramparts built in 967 by an Arab caliph; and the Castillo de la Calahorra, a formidable looking 15th-century castle built by the son of Cardinal Mendoza.