Hola! If you are like me, constantly looking for a bit of sunshine, a bit of history, true exotic food and a wide selection of good wine then Spain may just be the right destination. Either you are looking for a romantic weekend or a week of pleasure and or adventure then Andalusia has got a lot to offer. If you haven’t been before then you are missing out on some of the most iconic places that combine all the criteria listed before, especially a great deal of history. Here are some of the most exotic and yet contemporary places to start with:
Stretched along the top of the hill known as La Sabika, the Alhambra (or ‘the red one’ in Arabic) is the stuff of fairy tales. Known as Spain’s Moorish jewel and Granada’s glittering architectural treasure. No amount of words can approximate the sensual charge of witnessing the Palacio Nazaries, the Alhambra’s true gem and the best preserved palace of the Nasrid dynasty. It is the most brilliant Islamic building in Europe, with its perfectly proportioned rooms and courtyards, intricately moulded stucco walls, beautiful tiling, fine carved wooden ceilings and elaborate stalactite-like muqarnas vaulting, all worked in mesmerising, symbolic, geometric patterns. Entering Granada’s Albacin neighbourhood is like walking through Alice’s looking glass. The Andalucian city’s ancient Moorish quarter, a small network of streets on the map, cascades down inside and, once you pass the 11th-centuary Arab Baths at the edge of the quarter , it seems to magically expand. Granada
La Mezquita in Cordoba
It’s hard to exaggerate the beauty of the Cordoba mosque, one of the great creations of Islamic architecture, with its shimmering golden mosaics and rows of red-and-white arches disappearing into infinity. The Mezquita hints at a refined age when Muslims, Jews and Christians live side by side and enriched their city with an interaction of diverse and vibrant cultures. It’s likely, however, that a less glamorous reality prevailed, with medieval Córdoba brimming with racial and class-based tension.
Celebrate Easter in Seville
Return to Spain’s medieval Christian roots and join Seville’s masses for the dramatic Easter celebration of Semana Santa. Religious fraternities parade elaborate
Toledo of Three Faiths
Toledo is a gorgeous place, like a city-sized version of a medieval Spanish hill-town with just the right combination of grand moments and twisting narrow lanes in which to get lost. It’s also like walking through a history book written in stone with churches, mosques and synagogues. Like Spain’s equivalent of a downsized Rome, Toledo’s labyrinth of lanes, plazas and inner patios is also reminiscent of the medinas (towns) of Damascus, Cairo or Morocco’s Fez, although the historic diversity of Romans, Jews and Muslims equals an intriguing combination of synagogues and churches, as well as mosques. Add to this a lofty setting, high above Rio Tajo, and it’s no surprise that Toledo is one of Spain’s most visited cities.
Sleep in luxurious paradores
Spain’s state-owned paradores are far more than a place to sleep. From former palaces to one-time castles and convents, paradores offer nights of grandeur and historical charm. Most are also magnificently sited, none more so than in Ronda and Granada. Ronda is perched on an inland plateau riven by the 100m fissure of El Tajo gorge and surrounded by the beautiful Serrania de Ronda, Ronda is the most dramatically sited of all the pueblos, blancos. Just an hour north of the Costa del Sol, it is nevertheless a world away from the coastal scene.
Tour La Rioja wine country
Get out the glasses for La Rioja and for some of the best red wines produced in the country. Wine goes well with the region’s ochre earth and vast blue skies, which seem far more Mediterranean than the Basque greens further north. The bulk of the vineyards line Rio Ebro around the town of Haro, but extend also into neighbouring Navarra and the Basque province of Alava. La Rioja wine rolls on and off the tongue with ease, by name as well as taste. All wine fanciers know the famous wines of La Rioja, where the vine has been cultivated since Roman times. The region is classic vine country and vineyards cover the hinterland of Rio Ebro.