Andalucia, one of Spain's 17 autonomous communities, was the last Moorish stronghold before the "reconquista," which culminated in Ferdinand and Isabella establishing Catholic rule in 1492. Fascinating examples of Moorish architecture abound in this coastal treasure.

Alhambra (Red Castle), sits on an expansive earthen terrace overlooking the city of Granada. Built between 1248 and 1354, its austere exterior belies an elegant interior graced by marble pillars, arches, fretted ceilings and stucco filigree.

Principal City: Seville
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Mezquita, a 10th century Moorish Islamic mosque, was subject to frequent invasions, and each successive conqueror contributed to its architecture. More than 1,000 jasper, onyx, marble and granite columns support its giant arches, and a Renaissance cathedral built by Christian conquerors lies within. Medina Azahara, built between 936 and 961 by Caliph Abdurrahman as a tribute to his favourite wife, az-Zahara, lies near Cordoba.

Santa Maria la Mayor
The city of Ronda, M├ílaga

Flamenco music, a flamboyant form of expression deeply rooted in Moorish and Jewish tradition, originated in Andalucia and quickly spread throughout Spanish culture. Andalucians rejoice in frequent feast day celebrations, and visitors join in the revelry of fairs and carnivals featuring traditional dances, colourful costumes and delectable local dishes.

Not surprisingly, Andalucian cuisine revolves around fresh Mediterranean seafood. Travellers on the go can stop at "freidurias" or "cocederos," offering take-away cooked fish. Mouth-watering cooked prawns or fried sole are served in paper cones, the Andalucian version of fast food. Once their appetites for food are satisfied, eager explorers set off again to satisfy their cultural hunger for this captivating historic land.

Provinces of Andalucia

Almeria | Cadiz | Cordoba | Granada | Huelva | Jaen | Malaga | Seville

The Costas of Andalucia

Costa Almeria (Almeria Province) | Costa de la Luz (Cadiz & Huelva Provinces) | Costa del Sol (Malaga Province) | Costa Tropical (Grenada Province)