By Andy De Ronda
Andalucia, Spain is one of the sunniest and warmest places in Europe. With a vibrant culture and a colorful array of carnivals, foods, and history, Andalucia is one of the greatest places to visit in all of Europe.
Known for flamenco dancing, bullfighting, and architecture, Andalucia has much to offer the visiting admirer. For the art lovers, any number of museums will satisfy their curiosity of Andalusian fine art talents. The Museum of Fine Arts in Seville has hundreds of works from the Golden Age of Sevillian painting, created by famous artists such as Murillo and Valds Leal. It also houses the famous sculpture by Pedro Milln, Crying Over the Dead Christ.
Surround yourself with Islamic, Renaissance, and Baroque architecture. Some buildings are from thousands of years ago, which still stand today. Visit the Great Mosque of Cordoba, built by the Umayyad Caliphate, the second of the four Arab caliphates. Or visit Ronda, where the oldest bullring, the Plaza de toros, is still in use, built in 1784.
Come to Andalucia during Holy Week and watch the Procession of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Listen to saetas and take a pilgrimage to Santuario de Nuestra Senora de la Cabeza in Andjar. Visit the cathedrals and enjoy the beautiful history of Andalucia.
Another famous festival in Andalucia is the Carnival of Cadiz. The origin of this festival begins with the legend that the wittiest people in Spain reside in Andalucia. Chirigotas, groups of performers, practice wit and sarcasm all year long to sing at the carnival. Anyone can join in the festivities and dress in costumes that usually parody recent politics. The festival lasts about two weeks and has plenty of other performers as well. Choirs, comparasas, romanceros and quartets all perform during the carnival to show off their wit and cleverness.
The Seville Fair is another notorious festival held along the Guadalquivir River where you can find people dancing sevillanas and singing, drinking sherry and eating tapas, dressed in flamenco dresses and traje cortos.
If green scenery is what you prefer, Andalucia has no short supply. With everything from mountain ranges to a beautiful sea coast, Andalucia is a great place to see Mother Nature at her finest. The lands are filled with olive and almonds trees, pines, poplars, and elms. The more forested areas smell like Grandmother's kitchen with all the wild thyme and rosemary thriving. The beautiful warm weather and pristine coasts of the Tryrrenian Sea and the Atlantic Ocean are great places to relax and enjoy the open skies and cool waters.
Andalucian dining thrives on Mediterranean bounty. Dine on fried fish fresh from the sea and deepwater rose shrimp. If you stuff yourself on the seafood, try the famous plato alpujarreo, a combination of ham and sausage. For dessert, enjoy pastries with almonds and honey. Metcados and polvorones are made from Andalucian shortbread and are a sweet local treat. Andalucian wines are favored throughout the world and for good reason. The wines and sherries from this region are diverse and are sweetened with Pedro Ximnez, or white grapes.
A visit to Andalucia would not be complete without watching a flamenco performance Flamenco dancing is seductive, provocative, and mysterious. The women wear extravagant gypsy dresses of all different colors and the men wear bright vests with tight pants and usually pair them with a white undershirt. Flamenco music has changed over history, but usually sounds like jazz or classical guitar. You haven't seen Andalucia until you've seen flamenco.
A bright, cultural place filled with mystery, passion, and history, Andalucia is the perfect destination for any one visiting Europe.
The author is an expert travel writer based in Ronda, and owns Ronda Today, the largest English language website for the area, which includes listings of Ronda hotels.
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