The sun-kissed region of Andalusia is famous for its long beaches, beautiful cities, and rich culture that combines Arab and Spanish traditions.
Andalusia (Andalucía) is the second largest autonomous region in Spain after Castile and Leon in terms of area and the first in terms of population. It makes up 17% of the territory of the Kingdom of Spain spanning almost the entire south of the country; on its own, the region is larger than countries like Austria, Belgium, Denmark, or Switzerland.
Over 800 km (500 mi) of the coastline of Andalusia is washed by the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the Mediterranean Sea to the east. The entire coast is in good condition, which is confirmed by 80 blue flags, guaranteeing its quality and safety.
Andalusia is the second-most popular destination (after Catalonia) in Spain, with over 30 million international visitors every year. Seven sites of the region are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The most famous among them are the architectural complexes in Seville, Granada, and Cordoba – some of the most visited Spanish cities.
Granada is located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains. The highlight of any visit to this city is the Alhambra – a series of palaces and gardens built under the last Muslim dynasty in the 14th century.
The hill facing the Alhambra is the old Moorish quarter called the Albaicin. It is full of narrow cobbled streets, churches, tea shops, monuments, and many secrets. The Alhambra and the Albaicin have the UNESCO World Heritage designation.
The Sacromonte district, located on the hillside of Valparaiso, is famous for its cave dwellings, once the home of Granada‘s large gypsy community.
Seville is the capital of Andalusia and the fourth largest city in Spain. It is considered a birthplace of flamenco.
The main monuments in Seville – the Cathedral (the world’s largest Gothic church, home to the tomb of Christopher Columbus), the Reales Alcázares Palace, and the General Archive of the Indies – are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Numerous churches of the city were mosques in the Arab period, conserving wonderful elements of that style.
The Spain Square, or Plaza de España, is an outstanding example of Regionalist Revival Architecture. In more recent years it was used in the filming of the new Star Wars episodes.
Malaga is located at the mouth of the Guadalmedina River on the northern side of the Mediterranean Sea. The climate and scenery of the city and its surroundings are very similar to Los Angeles, Southern California.
The lower fortress and royal residence, the Alcazaba is one of the most visited monuments in Malaga. Built by the Moorish Hammudid dynasty in the 11th century, it is one of the largest Arab fortresses in Andalusia and the best-preserved of its kind in Spain.
Another remnant of Malaga’s Islamic past is the Castle of Gibralfaro located on a larger hill behind the Alcazaba and dates back to the 14th century. At the foot of the Gibralfaro stand the beautiful remains of an old Roman theater dating to the 1st century BC.
Malaga is a home of over 30 museums headlined by the Picasso Museum and the Carmen Thyssen Museum. An estimated 6 million tourists visit the city each year.
Cordoba is located on the banks of the Guadalquivir river. It was the capital of a Roman province (Hispania Ulterior), as well as and the capital of the Muslim world during the Umayyad Caliphate.
The historic center of the city has the UNESCO World Heritage designation. The most important monument in Cordoba is its Great Mosque-Cathedral (built between 784 and 786), which reflects the importance of the city in the Middle Ages.
Attractions in Cordoba include a synagogue (built-in 1315), the Alcazar fortress dating back to the Arab Times, and a dozen or so churches, mostly from the 13th and 14th centuries.
The Roman bridge with 16 arches connects Cordoba with its suburbs across the river. The Forum Adiectum, the Colonial Forum, and Mausoleum are other Roman remains in the city.
Cadiz stands on a long, narrow peninsula surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean‚ in southwestern Spain. Founded 3,000 years ago by the Phoenicians, it is generally considered to be the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in Europe.
The Playa de la Caleta, located between the Castles of Santa Catalina and San Sebastian, has been pictured in several films, such as Die Another Day (2002) and Alatriste (2006). To get to the Castle of San Sebastian, there is a lovely walk along the breakwater.
With an average of 300 days of sunshine per year, Cadiz enjoys pleasant temperatures all year round.
I lived in Spain for a year, 5 months of which I spent in Andalusia. It was my longest vacation and the most exciting time of my life. Although I have been to many different countries, my heart remained in Andalusia forever – I am addicted to the sun, sea, palm trees, historical sites, and mountains.
I hope you enjoyed my The 5 most beautiful cities in Andalusia post. If you like Andalusia with its unique atmosphere and historical heritage, here are a few more posts that I recommend you read next:
- Exploring Spain: Almunecar in Andalusia
- Exploring Spain: Nerja in Andalusia
- Exploring Spain: Salobrena in Andalusia
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