SEE IT ALL AT ANDALUCIA


Tuesday December 1, 2020


GRAND ADVENTURE
By: ANNA MARIE MATEESCU

 

ANDALUCIA

Andalucia is the most southern region of Spain. It borders Portugal on the west side, with the Spanish regions of Castilla-La Mancha and Extremadura in the north, the region of Murcia to the east, and the English territory of Gibraltar and the Mediterranean Sea to its South. It is the most populous, and the second largest autonomous community in the country. The Andalusian autonomous community is officially recognized as a “historical nationality”. The territory is divided into eight provinces: Almería, Cádiz, Córdoba, Granada, Huelva, Jaen Malaga, and Seville. The capital of Andalucia is the city of Seville. Andalucia’s seat of the High Court of Justice is located in the city of Granada. Andalucia is the only European region with both Mediterranean and Atlantic coastlines.

The name “Andalucia” (Anglicized as Andalusia) is derived from the Arabic Andalusia. It has historically been an agricultural region, compared to the rest of Spain and Europe. Still, the growth of the community in its sectors of industry and services has been above average within Spain, and higher than many communities in the Eurozone. The region has a rich culture and a strong ethnic identity. Many cultural marvels that are seen internationally and thought to be distinctively Spanish are actually largely or entirely Andalusian in origin. These include Flamenco dancing, bullfighting (to a lesser extent), and Hispano-Moorish architectural styles.

GRANADA

Granada is very cheap to live in compared to other parts of Europe and even within Spain. An Airbnb or hotel room in Granada costs around 30 to 50 euros per night. It has a great quality of life & a slow, laid back attitude possessed by the people who live there. Surely there must be something about Granada that has had us captivated for so long and continuously coming back for more.

Having traveled to Europe many times in past – living in London, visiting Singapore, Miami, and LA – I can say that out of all of them, Granada has been the best place to visit. Granada is a place that’s comfortable, bursting with nature & history, and a place that we can truly call home. Of course it isn’t perfect; here I share the things we liked and disliked about living in Granada. What we love about Granada, for one, is that the city of Granada may be small, but the province has it all in terms of mountains, valleys, and the sea. For outdoor lovers like us, we love how diverse the surrounding landscapes are, so much so that it’s possible to ski in the mountains and go diving in the sea in one day. In just one hour, you can easily drive from the Sierra Nevada Ski Station to the Mediterranean Sea. I’ll be the first to admit that there isn’t a lot to do in Granada city itself — it’s a small city with a beautiful old town charm. But it’s also more of a place to wander, get lost in, and soak up its atmosphere. But because of its location at the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, it’s literally surrounded by nature. There are so many outdoor activities to do just a hop away from the city: from easy hiking through waterfalls at Los Cahorros, to canyoning in the Rio Verde system, climbing the highest mountain in continental Spain, and exploring sandstone caves in Guadix. For instance, my favorite hiking trail is an easy 8km walk near the Trevenque mountain peak, just a 20-minute drive from where we live.

LACK OF GLOBAL MINDSET

Granada is a great place, and I can understand why Granadinos are so proud of their city. But a lot of them are so rooted that they don’t ever leave their hometown. A few of our friends who grew up there don’t have passports and have only left Spain once or twice. It’s really shocking considering how easy and accessible travel is these days, especially in Europe. Most Granadinos don’t speak any other language besides Spanish, and they’re afraid to travel because of the language barrier. Because they don’t travel much, they tend to lack international perspectives. They may know a thing or two about the world, as most Europeans do, but they see things from very narrow perspectives that can really limit their potential.

SEVILLE

Seville is a big city in the South of Spain. A big river called the Guadalquivir River runs right through it. Seville is the capital of Spain’s Andalusia region, and of the province of Sevilla. A very old story suggests that the city was founded by the most famous hero of Greek mythology, Hercules. More realistically however, when the Romans came to Spain, they gave it the Latin name of Hispalis. Over time, this changed to the English spelling of Seville. The Arab Moors took over the city when they invaded the country, and to this day you can still see a lot of the buildings they had built during their 800-year stay in Spain (711-1492). In 1992, Seville was the location for EXPO ‘92. There is a beautiful bridge across the Guadalquivir River called Puente del Alamillo. It was thought up by Santiago Calatrava, a famous architect. Seville is famous for its hot summer weather, its culture, monuments, traditions, and artistic heritage. This is the birthplace of Flamenco and the city where the most amazing Easter processions take place. But Seville is also the neuralgic centre of the South of Spain, a city full of life and possibilities. Let’s start with the crème de la crème (and a warning that our gastronomic selections are a meat-heavy bunch): please see the following for our favorite eateries in Seville! Start with Jamon Iberico, Carrillada de Cerdo, Espinacas con Garbanzos, Serranito de Lomo, Cazón en adobo, and Torrijas to name a few.

Is Seville better than Barcelona? The two cities are very different in cultural attractions. If you’re into (more) modern (and gaudy) architecture & creative food choices, Barcelona ought to be your choice. If you’re into Flamenco, bullfighting, medieval architecture, and drinking, I’d pick Seville. If you are traveling over land, Seville would serve you better. This is because Seville is recognized for its wealth of not-to-be-missed sites. While several of these places are recognized for their historic significance, there are many contemporary sites that deserve the attention of affluent travelers as well. Among these worthwhile monuments is the Metropol Parasol – locally recognized as Las Setas de la Encarnación (“Incarnación’s Mushrooms”) due to the quirky shape.

CORDOBA

Córdoba is a city in the southern Spanish region of Andalucia, and the capital of the province bearing the same name. It was an important Roman city and a major Islamic center during the Middle Ages. It’s best known for La Mezquita, an immense mosque dating back to 784 A.D., featuring a columned prayer hall and older Byzantine mosaics. After it became a Catholic church in 1236, a Renaissance-style nave was added in the 17th century.

It is the largest city in the province, 3rd largest in Andalucia; after Sevilla & Málaga, and the 12th largest in Spain. It was a Roman settlement, taken over by the Visigoths, followed by the Muslim conquests in the eighth century, and later became the capital of the Caliphate of Córdoba. The city served as the capital of exile for the Umayyad Caliphate and various other emirates. During these Muslim periods, Córdoba was transformed into a world-leading center of education and learning, producing notable figures such as Averroes, Ibn Hazm, and Al-Zahrawi. By the 10th century it had grown to be the second-largest city in Europe. It was conquered by the Kingdom of Castile through the Christian Reconquista in 1236. Today, Córdoba is still home to many notable pieces of Moorish architecture such as The Mezquita-Cathedral, which was named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984 and is now a cathedral. The UNESCO status has since been expanded to encompass the whole historic centre of Córdoba, Medina-Azahara, and Festival de los Patios. Cordoba now has more World Heritage Sites than anywhere else in the world. Much of this architecture, such as the Alcazar and the Roman Bridge, has been reworked or reconstructed by the city’s successive inhabitants. Córdoba is world renowned for its leather manufacturing sites and silversmiths. It’s the birthplace of the grand Roman philosopher Seneca. In the summer, temperatures often reach more than 40 degrees Celsius (102 F). Out of Cordoba are the world’s largest olive plantations.



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