Andalusia (Spanish: Andalucía) is a region in the south of Spain. It is a region of contrasts: ancient cities and deserts, amazing beaches along the Costa del Sol and Costa de la Luz and the Sierra Nevada mountain range where the highest mountain in Spain is found and also the most southerly ski resort in Europe.
Andalusia encompasses an area of 87,268 sq km with a population of just under 8 million people. It spans almost the entire south of Spain and is bordered to the west by Portugal. To the south in the Province of Cadiz at the very tip of Spain lies the British overseas territory of Gibraltar where it is separate from North Africa by just a few miles.
Andalusia has a rich Moorish heritage, including many fantastic examples of Moorish architecture which were built during the eight centuries when Andalusia was the centre of the Arab population in the Iberian peninsular. The Moorish rule effectively ended in 1492AD when the Christians recaptured Granada.
Nowaday, the region is a very popular tourist destination with a lot of British and German package holidayers coming to stay in the concrete resorts on the Costa del Sol. But if you stay away from the concrete resorts you will find lots of culture, amazing scenery and great food.
Like most of the rest of Spain, Andalusia's main language is Spanish, but with a local dialect. The local dialect is somewhat similar to the Spanish spoken in parts of Latin America such as Cuba and Colombia. A main feature of Andalusian Spanish is the tendency for speakers to cut of the final "s" sounds in words (for example gracias becomes something like gracia'), which can cause comprehension problems for people unfamiliar with it. However, when speaking with foreigners (and even people from other regions of Spain) many Andalusians will revert to a more standard, deliberate form of pronunciation for the sake of clarity.
Spain's railway network is not as developed as those of many other European countries, but Algeciras, Almeria, Cadiz, Granada, Huelva, Jaen, Malaga, Cordoba and Sevilla are all served by regular train services. Spain's highspeed AVE network connects Malaga, Cordoba and Sevilla to Madrid. Some of the other smaller towns are served by less frequent services, see individual city guides for further details. For more info, see the RENFE website.
Moorish architecture in Granada, including the Alhambra
Lake Negratin is situated at the foothills of Mount Jabalcón. As one of Europes largest lakes, it really is worth seeing not least for the most magnificent lunar-landscape that surrounds it. I would liken the rock formations and the colours it produces during different times of the day to those of the Grand Canyon. There is a manmade beach where you can laze the day away, a number of restaurants dotted round the lake and on a nice day you can swim or take out a pedalo boat, which might lead you to pink flamingos and various other wildlife.
Seron is nestled on the lower slopes of the Sierra de los Filabres and is a picturesque town that cascades down the hillside. Dominated by its Castle, which sits at the very top, Seron is famous for its ham and provides a more traditional experience of Andalusian life. It is a beautiful location to start your exploration of the Filabres, or visit at the right time of year and you might find yourself submerged in a vibrant fiesta.
Las Menas, an old mining village abandoned thirty years ago, makes an interesting stop in the Sierra de los Filabres. You can investigate old ruins crumbling amidst the most breathtaking countryside, stop for coffee and cake at the hotel and even camp for the night.
Rock Climbing Company, ☎ +34 952 742 962 / +44 1492 641430, . High quality rock climbing and scrambling courses in Andalusia. Courses based in Malaga province both on the coast and also inland near to the El Chorro gorge. edit
Windsurfing and Kiting in Tarifa Spain's southern tip
Horse riding and Spain go hand-in-hand and with such spectacular mountain ranges at your disposal as the Sierra Nevada and Alpujarra Hills; you have a feast of beautiful Andalusian trekking land to indulge in astride your faithful friend. There are several stables situated in these areas and all offer the option to ride for an hour, a day or even as long as 7 nights. Accommodation and food are included in prices and the whole experience offers a truly magical and unique way to see this amazing part of Spain. Prices vary from 25 to 1200 EUROS and there are so many options to choose from that you will undoubtedly find something to suit your level and requirements.
Walking and cycling holidays in rural Andalusia []
Flamenco is the all-Andlusian art with a history stretching back over 3,000 years. The Museo del Baile Flamenco (Flamenco Dance Museum) is the ideal place to learn more about this phenomenon. Shows are offered on Friday and Saturday nights at 19:30, too. www.museoflamenco.com
Casa Las Eras, Calle Principal 7, La Celada, Iznajar, ☎ 0034957534795, . Lovely traditional cottage in La Celada, Iznajar in the heart of Andalucia by lake and inland beach. Experience 'Real Spain'.edit
When in Granada, it is advisable to avoid women (often Romani Gypsies) who are offering plants (usually rosemary). They will offer you a plant for free, and then when you accept it will read your palm and then demand money. If you refuse to give it to them, they will start screaming at you and it is a situation that you will generally want to avoid having to occur. Aside from this, the area is generally very safe, but one should still take the usual precautions, especially in Malaga, Seville, etc.
Sunburn and dehidration caused by high temperatures are a problem in summer, as temperatures can reach 45º Celsius.