When many people think of Spain they picture Flamenco, sangria and bull fights, and although these have become the iconic images that stereotype the nation, Andalucía is where they actually originate. Andalucía, or Andalusia in English, is the autonomous community of southern Spain where the sun is almost always shining on the rocky, coastal landscape. Andalucía is made up of eight provinces: Almería, Cádiz, Córdoba, Granada, Huelva, Jaén, Málaga and Sevilla. The region is famous for its whitewashed houses and its historic Arabic influence, which can be seen in the architecture specifically in Granada and Córdoba. Andalucía can easily be explored from the heart of the country, as the high speed train from Madrid to Córdoba takes only one hour and forty minutes! From Andalucía there is easy access to Morocco and the islands of Spain, so a trip to the south can be combined with many other destinations!
At Bike Spain Tours one of our popular Andalucía trips is our guided tour from Córdoba to Granada, and rightfully so because the city of Córdoba is one of the largest World Heritage Sites in the world! Córdoba, historically claimed a Muslim city when it was conquered in 711, is most famous for its mosque-cathedral, The Great Mosque of Córdoba or “Mezquita de Córdoba” in Spanish. The Mosque is a spectacular structure because of its Muslim and Christian influences. From 711 to 784 the structure was divided into Muslim and Christian halves, until the Christian half was purchased and the entire structure demolished. The Great Mosque was built in its place and remained solely a Mosque until the Reconquista when it was converted into a Roman Catholic Church in the 16th century; it remains a church to this day. The Muslim and Christian struggle for power can be seen in architecture throughout the city, and throughout the region of Andalucía.
Granada, like Córdoba, is most famous for its Moorish influence. Granada is home to the Moorish palace, the Alhambra, one of Spain’s most famous tourist destinations. The Alhambra, also a World Heritage Site, was constructed in 889 and then largely ignored until its ruins were renovated and rebuilt in the mid-13th century by the Moorish emir Mohammed ben Al-Ahmar of the Emirate of Granada, who built its current palace and walls. It is a large palace with stunning architecture, filled with colored tiles and picturesque fountains. The Alhambra is truly a sight to be seen, Moorish poets described it as “a pearl set in emeralds,” an allusion to the color of its buildings and the gardens and woods around them.
Cádiz is the oldest continuously inhabited city in Spain. It is a port city in southwestern Spain, and has been the main port of the Spanish Navy since the 18th century. Jerez de la Frontera is a city in the province of Cádiz that is famous for its Jerez, or Sherry, production. In Europe any wine labeled as Sherry legally must come from the “Sherry triangle,” an area in the province of Cádiz. It is home to the González Byass bodega, which is famous for its production of Tío Pepe Sherry. Jerez de la Frontera also has some of the best traditional Flamenco shows in the country. Tarifa, a small town in the province of Cádiz, has whale watching trips that allow tourists to go out on a ferry and see Orcas in their natural habitat!
Another port city of Andalucía, Málaga, is most famous for being the birth place of Pablo Picasso, and is now home to the Picasso Museum of Málaga. The city of Málaga is surrounded by mountains to the north and coast to the south, and experiences some of the warmest winters of any European city of its size. Málaga has a significant old historic center, which features a Roman theater that dates back to the 1st century AD, the Castle of Gibralfaro that lies high above the city next to the Alcazaba Muslim fortress. Of course no Spanish city is complete without a famous cathedral, in Málaga the full name of the cathedral is Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación (Our Lady of Incarnation). The city also holds many famous museums, such as the Centre Pompidou Málaga, an extension of the famous Centre Pompidou in Paris.
Commonly known as Seville in English, Sevilla is the capital and largest city in Andalucía. Its Old Town, the third largest in Europe, contains three UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Alcázar palace complex, the Cathedral and the General Archive of the Indies. Another famous tourist destination is the Plaza de España, in Maria Luisa Park; it was built by the architect Aníbal González for the 1929 Exposición Ibero-Americana. It is an outstanding example of Regionalist Revival Architecture, sculpted with a mixture of diverse historic styles and lavishly decorated with glazed tiles. Sevilla is internationally renowned for the solemn but decorative processions during Easter Holy Week, and the colorful and lively fair held two weeks after. During the Feria, families, businesses and organizations set up stands in which they spend the week dancing, drinking, and socializing.
See it all and more!
Now you might be ready to explore all these wonderful cities of Southern Spain. At Bike Spain Tours we offer many trips that allow our clients to cycle to some of the top destinations in Andalucía. We offer two guided tours in Andalucía, one self-guided tour, and the opportunity for you to create your own customized tour! Our Andalucía and La Mancha tour starts in Madrid and gives cyclists the opportunity to explore two of Spain’s wine regions, including the Sherry producing region in Cádiz. Our guided tour from Córdoba to Granada is the perfect opportunity to see the Great Mosque and the Alhambra as well as some of the picturesque smaller towns in between. Our self-guided tour allows cyclists to explore the region at their own pace; our route is a loop around the region of Granada.
Our customized tours in Andalucía are among our most popular because they allow our clients to explore the region exactly as they like, and they also include accommodations in some of the finest four and five star hotels. This past year we organized two different customized Andalucía tours that combined other regions of Spain. One family traveled with us in early October, and they planned their tour to start in Málaga and end in Madrid. They spent their first few days cycling all around the region of Málaga, and then went to Granada where they visited the world famous Alhambra. They then stopped in Córdoba to take in all the wonders of the Mezquita. When they made it to the capital city they attended a Real Madrid football game, did a city tour by bike and visited some of the world-renowned art museums! The other customized tour we organized was a more intensive cycling adventure that started in Córdoba and ended in Málaga where they then flew to the island of Ibiza! This group saw the main sights of the Mezquita, the Alhambra and the old city center of Málaga, but they also stopped in picturesque, traditional Andalucía towns and vineyards along the way!
So whether you simply want to cycle with us in Andalucía, or you have a more extensive trip on your mind, contact Bike Spain Tours and let us start planning your dream cycling vacation!