Naturally, these car trips can be adjusted according to your own wishes. If you have, any questions do not hesitate to ask us.
Once you left Granada take road N 323 to Jaen. After about 12 Km, you will reach the small Cubillas Lake. It is usually not mentioned on the maps unless they are very detailed. It is worth your while to stop. Enjoy the mirror like waters and the Mountain View. On a good day, you can even see the snow on the Sierra Nevada.
The way to Jean takes you through an uninhabited area. Olive groves everywhere, as far as you can see. An unusual panorama.
From Jean take road N 321 toward Alcala La Real and enjoy this astonishing landscape.
Granada was first settled by native tribes in the prehistoric period, and was known as Ilbyr. When the Romans colonized southern Spain, they built their own city here and called it Illibris. The Arabs, invading the peninsula in the 8th century and gave it its current name of Granada.
It was the last Muslim city to fall to the Christians in 1492, during the reign of Queen Isabel of Castile and her husband Ferdinand of Aragon.
One of the most brilliant architectural wonders is the Alhambra of palaces and gardens built under the Nazari Dynasty in the 14th C.
This mighty compound of buildings - including the summer palace called Generalife, with its fountains and gardens - stands at the foot of Spain's highest mountain range, the Sierra Nevada.
At the centre of the Alhambra stands the massive Palace of Charles V, an outstanding example of Spanish Renaissance architecture. Close by you can find the Cathedral, including the Royal Chapel where Isabel and Ferdinand lie buried, Close by stands La Capilla Real - The Royal Chapel, the mausoleum of the Catholic Kings Isabel and Ferdinand, who chose to be buried in Granada because they saw its conquest as the crowning achievement of their reign (they had no way of knowing that this would soon prove to be their sponsorship of Columbus' journey). Isabel of Castille was at heart a woman of the Middle Ages, as illustrated by her precious collection of Flemish masters on view in the Sacristy. She wanted a small, humble mausoleum for her and all her descendants, befitting the follower of Saint Francis that she was. But she died before the chapel could be built, and spent some twenty years in a provisional tomb in the Franciscan convent that was built in the Alhambra in the shell of the palace mosque (and is now an elegant hotel, the Parador San Francisco, well worth visiting even if you can't afford to stay there). The architects, out of deference for her importance rather than her dying wishes, made the chapel larger and more luxurious than planned, with the result that it is neither humble nor truly grand; in any case, her successor and grandson Carlos V - the master of the new Empire which she had founded - judged it too unassuming for the masters of a reign on which the sun never set, and the Royal Mausoleum, for all of Spain's subsequent monarchs, was eventually moved to the blockbuster Escorial Monastery outside Madrid, built by his son, Felipe II.
The hill facing the Alhambra is the old Moorish casbah or "medina", called the Albaicin, a fascinating labyrinth of narrow streets and whitewashed houses with secluded inner gardens, known as "cármenes". The Plaza de San Nicolas, at the highest point of the Albaicin, is famous for its magnificent view of the Moorish palace.
The Sacromonte hill, which overlooks the city from the North, is famous for its cave dwellings, once the home of Granada's large gypsy community.
The name Granada is ancient and mysterious. It may mean "great castle", for the Roman fortress, which once stood on the Albaicin Hill. When the Moorish came here, the town was largely inhabited by Jews, for which they called it Garnat-al-Yahud - Granada of the Jews. The Jews are said to have been one of the first peoples to settle in Spain, even before the Romans.
History of the Alhambra
The name Alhambra comes from an Arabic root which means "red or crimson castle", perhaps due to the hue of the towers and walls that surround the entire hill of La Sabica which by starlight is silver but by sunlight is transformed into gold. However, there is another more poetic version, evoked by the Moslem analysts who speak of the construction of the Alhambra fortress "by the light of torches", the reflections of which gave the walls their particular coloration. Created originally for military purposes, the Alhambra was an alcazaba (fortress), an alcázar (palace) and a small medina (city), all in one. This triple character helps to explain many distinctive features of the monument.
There is no reference to the Alhambra as being a residence of kings until the 13th century, even though the fortress had existed since the 9th century. The Nasrites were probably the emirs who built the Alhambra, starting in 1238.
The Alhambra became a Christian court in 1492 when the Catholic Monarchs (Ferdinand and Isabel) conquered the city of Granada. Later, various structures were built for prominent civilians also military garrisons, a church and a Franciscan monastery.
Emperor Charles V, who spent several months in Granada, began the construction of the palace, which bears his name and altered the interior buildings. These measures were to cause interminable controversy often motivated by political agendas. The remaining Austrian kings did not forget the monument and have left their own more discreet impressions on it.
During the 18th century and part of the 19th, the Alhambra fell into neglect and was to see its salons converted into dung heaps and taverns, occupied by thieves and beggars. As the crowning blow, Napoleon's troops, masters of Granada from 1808 until 1812, were to convert the palaces into barracks. Therefore, the incredible neglect continued, until 1870 when the Alhambra was declared a national monument. Travellers and romantic artists of all countries had railed against those who scorned the most beautiful of their monuments. Since that date and up to now, the Alhambra, protected, restored, cared for and even improved, has been preserved for the pleasure and admiration of all.
Visiting the Alhambra
Upon entry to the Alhambra you will have been assigned a time slot for the Palace Nazaries. If you fail to enter during this half hour time slot, you will be denied entry to this stunning complex. It therefore makes sense to enter the Alhambra well before you assigned time. You can then visit other sections of the Alhambra beforehand. Logically it is best to visit first the Alcazaba then the Palace of Carlos V (with museums) before the Palace Nazaries. Then you can walk along the North wall towards the Generalife (gardens). To visit everything at a leisurely pace will require at least 3 hours.
Tickets for the Alhambra
The number of admissions per day is limited to protect the monument. Therefore, if you have not booked in advance it is imperative to turn up early in the day, especially during high season, to guarantee entry. Queues will start well before the 8.30 opening time.
There are two ways to book in advance - in a BBV bank, or online or by phone.
BBV (Banco Bilbao Vizcaya)
All branches of this large bank provide a reservation system. You can sometimes choose your time slot for the Palacio Nazaries (see above). This reservation system must be used at least one day in advance. Tel 902 22 44 60
The above service is available online at http://w3.grupobbva.com/ALHAMBRA/alhambra/home.html
Visit the Alhambra's website for more details www.alhambra-patronato.es
Tickets can be reserved by phoning 902 22 44 60
If you have reserved a ticket, you will have to collect your ticket from the Western entrance. This is a long uphill walk from the city centre so leave plenty of time to make sure you do not miss your time slot for the Palace Nazaries. Alternatively, jump on the No. 32 bus, which runs regularly from the centre and will drop you right in front of the ticket office.
The city of Jaen, in northern Andalusia, is rich in history, with great monuments such as the Cathedral, built between the 16th and 18th centuries, and the adjoining parish church or "El Sagrario". The city's Moorish castle, converted into a Parador, sits majestically on top of Mount Santa Catalina, and atop a nearby hill stands a monumental cross-engraved with a moving poem by Almendros Aguilar. It is worth climbing to the top just to see the spectacular view of the city and the rolling olive groves of Jaen!
Jaen has several fascinating churches, such as La Santa Capilla de San Andres, the Convent of Santo Domingo, the Church of La Magdalena with its charming courtyard, the Church of San Ildefonso, the Convent of Las Bernardas and the Churches of San Bartolomé and San Juan. The Museum of Jaen Province (Museo Provincial) possesses one of Spain's leading collections of Iberian art, from the pre-Roman period.
Each year huge bonfires celebrating the day of San Antonio Abad, the patron saint and protector of animals light up the plazas of Jaen. The town's neighbourhoods vie with one another to build the biggest, brightest and most spectacular bonfire, while the people perform the traditional dance called "los melenchones". Seasonal delicacies are eaten such as pumpkin, sweet potatoes and popcorn.
Alcalá la Real
This delightful small town has a population of approximately 21,000 and is located on the N432 between Cordoba (85km) and Granada (47km) although, technically, it falls within the province of Jaen.
The town has an impressive fortress and was a strategic stronghold during medieval times, and subsequently occupied by the Moors in 713. Thereafter, Alcalá was the scene of frequent battles between the Moors and the Christians. This tumultuous period lasted until 1341 when Alfonso XI gained control of the town. The crown established an abbey here, which was deemed the headquarters from where to launch a major offensive on Granada.
La Mota Castle
This magnificent castle dates back to 727 when the town was under Muslim rule. The castle was badly damaged in the 19th century when battles were fought with France and it was thereafter abandoned. The three rows of fortifications are still in evidence, however, and there is a small museum open to the public.
Located within the original city walls is another of the town's important buildings - the Abbey Church that was built on the site of the original Alcalá Abbey. It is an extremely imposing building with a 42-meter tower looming above the old part of the city, and said to date back to between 1530 and 1627. The church is a combination of various architectural styles, including Gothic and Renaissance, and the vaults are particularly impressive, being entirely constructed from hued stone.
St Juan Church
This church dates back to the late sixteenth century and is located on the hill leading up to the castle. It is one of Alcalá's most popular churches and houses the 'Cristo de la Salud', which is used during the annual Holy Week processions.
The town hall is housed in an impressive early eighteenth century building, fronted Alcalá is the birthplace of Andalusian Baroque architecture. Martones Montañes (1568-1649), the famous architect and principal exponent of the Seville architectural school was born here, as was Pablo de Rojas (1560-1607) who represented the school of Granada.
The traditional handicrafts of Alcalá, include embroidery, pottery and leather.
At the rugged south-eastern corner of Spain, the peninsula known as Cabo de Gata - officially known as the Cabo de Gata-Nijar Nature Park - is, with its 29,000 hectares, Andalusia's largest coastal Nature Park. Contrasting dramatically with the arid, volcanic inland mountains- the Sierra de Cabo de Gata - the shoreline is composed of sand dunes and saltpans, making it the leading wetland of Almeria Province. The coast is composed of jagged cliffs and small, hidden coves with white sand beaches, slashed everywhere with parched gullies. The pristine waters of the peninsula are ideal for underwater photography and all types of fishing, as well as sailing and windsurfing, while the inland areas are ideal for mountain biking and land vehicle excursions.
The city of Almeria is located at the foot of a mountain range that is crowned by the magnificent Alcazaba, an Arab fortress (built by the Calph of Cordoba, Abd-erRahman) with three huge walled enclosures (in the second of which are remains of a mosque, converted to a chapel by the Catholic kings).|
In times of war, the Alcazaba could hold an army of more than 20,000 men. From here, there is a good view of the city's famed cave quarter, 'Barrio de la Chanca' and of the strange fortified Cathedral with its gothic style construction and renaissance facade.
Dating from the 16th century, it was built during an era when the southern Mediterranean was terrorised by the raids of Barbarossa and other Turkish and North African pirate forces, its corner towers once held canons. Situated in the centre is the great altar with its wealth of priceless art work including a tabernacle dating from the 18th century, designed by Ventura Rodriguez, paintings by Alonso Canoñ; a typical Andalusian altar piece made by Araoz and the statue of St. Indaletius, the patron saint of Almeria, sculpted by Saizillo.
True historians will appreciate the Almeria Museum that contains numerous objects discovered by the well-known Belgian mining engineer, Louis Siret.
Gastronomic specialities include Gurullos (stew with pasta), Trigo (stew with grains of wheat, pork, beans and herbs), Gachas (hot and spicy clam stew) and Escabeche e Sardines (fresh sardines in hot sauce). As well as cultivating tourism over the past decade, Almeria has also cultivated innumerable plastic covered greenhouses and now produces the bulk of the province's fruit and vegetables, much of it for export.
The History of Almeria
A large Islamic fort, the Alcazaba, dominates the city and is the main reminder of Almeria's heyday when it was the major port of the Cordoba caliphate. It grew wealthy on trade and the textile industry with silk woven from the silkworms of the Alpujarras.
In 1489, the city was taken over by the Catholic Monarchs and its Muslim populace expelled soon thereafter. In 1522, Almeria was devastated by an earthquake and rebuilding and recovery did not really get underway until the 19th century.
Much of Andalusia's attractive and unusual glazed pottery is made in this small town north east of Almeria and it is worth making the detour as it is a very charming pueblo and there are several reasonable hostels and restaurants located in and around the town centre.
Sorbas & Tabernas
The site of many Western movies, northern Almeria is a virtual lunar landscape with canyons and rocky wastes. Clint Eastwood, Raquel Welch, Charles Bronson were all here before the big time movie industry moved on leaving behind their Wild West film set which is now open as a tourist attraction.
The town is on the edge of a deep abyss overlooking the Rio de Aguas. It has an interesting 16th century church & 17th century mansion said to have been a summer retreat of the Duke of Alba. Local pottery is also available here & nearby are the fascinating Yesos de Sorbas caves.
The site of many Western movies, northern Almeria is a virtual lunar landscape with canyons and rocky wastes. Clint Eastwood, Raquel Welch, Charles Bronson were all here before the big time movie industry moved on leaving behind their Wild West film set which is now open as a tourist attraction.
A town located not far south east of Huércal Overa towards Mojácar.
Vera is in the middle of the dessert. There is not one tree to be found here . The rigged landscape with its exquisite colours makes the whole place look a bit alien.
A village located west from Huércal Overa towards Baza, off the A 334 road.
When in Cantoria take the very narrow road C3325. This road is not in very good condition but the breathtaking view from the 2000-meter high Sierra de los Filabres makes it worth your while. You can try to go even further to Tahal but the road is very bad. A 4-wheel drive is necessary.
The great Rio Guadalquivir rises in the Sierra de Cazorla, amid some of the wildest landscape in Spain, in the Cañada de las Fuentes. For a while, the resulting stream flows confidently north and east, as if it were going to make its way to the Mediterranean. However, the mountains will not let it pass; it meets the Sierra de Segura head on and is forced to make a dramatic change of course, curving suddenly westward to begin its long run down to the Atlantic and the marismas of the Coto Doñana.
At the start of its long march to the sea, the Guadalquivir gives its name to a valley bounded by the sierras of Cazorla, Segura del Pozo and de la Cabrilla: it goes on widening its V-shape toward the south east, confined by a series of peaks that are over 2,000 metres in altitude. The highest peak in this immense area is Cerros de las Empanadas and virtually everything within the boundaries of the reserve is higher than 700 metres, except the land located on the shores of the artificial lake occupying its heartland, the Embalse del Tranco, which is fed by the infant Guadalquivir and its first tributaries.
Innumerable brooks and rivulets pour from the sides of this mountain enclave, and virtually all rush to join the Guadalquivir (except the waters of the nascent Río Guadalentin which eventually flows into the Guadiana Menor). The area has more than 20 rivers and brooks important enough to have names of their own. Beside the main valley of the Gudalquivir, the reserve comprises several adjacent valleys, such as that of Guadalentin and the canyons of Borosa and Aguamala; dramatic narrow cuts in the landscape with steep slopes covered in bushes and pine trees, and high mountain meadows full of succulent grasses and wild flowers - rich pasturelands for herds of sheep. Geologically, the sierra is composed of hard limestone, beneath which lies a softer layer of clays and red sands, they can be seen in section in some of the largest gorges. Its sheltered position between the Montes Universales and the Sierra Nevada means that it was ideally situated to provide a refuge for high altitude plants during the tremendous climatic changes in the Ice Ages. Consequently, these mountains contain a number of Tertiary relict species not found anywhere else in the world. Viola cazorlensis, a shrubby violet with unusual deep crimson or carmine flowers and very long slender spurs, is one of the most interesting. It flowers in May, for the depths of shady rock crevices; its nearest living relatives are found as far away as Mount Olympus in Greece and in Montenegro. Another of these relict species is the bitterroot Piguicula vallisneriifolia. This carnivorous plant is found in a highly specialised habitat under towering limestone cliffs drenched in continually dripping water and totally out of reach of the rays of the sun.
Two endemic species of daffodil also thrive in these mountains - Narcissus longispathus and N. hedaenthus. The latter is a tiny hoop petticoat daffodil found in early May in snow melt areas high in the mountains. A further endemic to this range is the columbine Aquilegia cazorlensis, which is known only from the shady limestone slopes around the summit of Pico de Cabañas and flowers in early June.
All told, the reserve contains over 1,100 species of plants, but you need not be a specialist to enjoy the forests of tall pines that reach 20 metres in height and the sweet profusion of thyme, rosemary, sweet marjoram and lavender. Along the banks of the streams are tunnels of flowers, grasses, ferns and shrubs. The minor rivers are lined with poplars, ash trees and willows. On the lower slopes, the pine forests are made up of Aleppo pine while above about 1,300 metres maritime pine dominates. Here, too, snowy mespilus and Montpellier maple flourish along with such bushes as Lavandula latifolia and Helianthemum croceum. Oaks are also frequent. The high valleys, called navas, are covered with grasses and wild flowers, ideal fodder for the red deer. Some of the mountaintops are treeless, sometimes this is due to natural causes, but more usually, it is because overgrazing has tipped the ecological balance in favour of low growing shrubs rather than trees.
This is a fine camping and hiking area, as well as one of Spain's great nature reserves. You can wake up in the middle of the night to the sound (and smell!) of boars snuffling around outside. This is the spot where you are most likely to discover a herd of red deer in the underbrush. They are not tame and will turn tail at your approach. but encounters are frequent.
Deer watching is easy. If you visit in September or early October you can observe the extraordinary spectacle of the berrea, when the stags stake out both their territorial claims and their harems. Tilting back their heads so that their antlers rest on their backs, they bay to the winds to attract any females within earshot. Sometimes their cry is answered by a challenge and there then follows fierce butting and crashing of antlers until the weaker male gives way.
The animals to be culled are picked very carefully and the effect is virtually that of an integral protected zone. The red deer and roe deer are not easily intimidated by the presence of human intruders. Their visibility varies, however, according tot he season. During the summer, when the days get very hot, especially in the rocky and treeless areas, the animals come out only at night, so you may catch a glimpse of them in the evening or early dawn. In winter, their habits change and with a reasonable amount of discretion, you can come close to them before they run off.
There is plenty of rainfall in this part of Andalusia, particularly during the summer thunderstorms that hurl banks of dark clouds against the perpendicular walls of the high Sierras. The mountains catch the moisture from the Atlantic and the Mediterranean and their effectiveness as a natural barrier is enforced by the thermal masses of warm air from the Levant which usually prevent the Atlantic clouds from moving further east, rain falls in sheets when warm air meets cold air above Cazorla. These periodic inundations are irregular and unpredictable. During the summer, the woods turn to tinder and there are frequent dramatic electrical storms that have often led to major forest fires.
Ubeda (pronounced OO-bay-da), with its wealth of Renaissance palaces and churches, has much in common with its counterpart Baeza.
The outstanding feature is the monumental square, the Plaza de Vázquez de Molina, surrounded with imposing buildings such as the Palacio de las Cadenas (so named for the decorative chains which once hung from the façade). The Capilla del Salvador also has a chapel screen by the ironworker Bartolomé de Jaen. The Hospital de Santiago, designed by Vandelvira in the late 16th century, with its square bell towers and graceful Renaissance courtyard, is now the home of the town's Conference Hall. Ubeda has a Parador, housed in a 16th century palace, which was the residence of a high-ranking churchman of the period.
Both towns, Ubeda and Baeza, have a distinctly Castillian severity, with their granite buildings and plazas, as opposed to the white walls and flower-fill courtyards of Andalusia proper, and in many ways they resemble Segovia and Avila more than Cordoba or Seville. Poetry lovers will be interested to know that the 16th century mystic Saint John of the Cross died in a monastery in Ubeda.
One of the main seasonal attractions of the town is the annual music and dance festival that is held in May and includes opera, jazz, flamenco, chamber music, symphony orchestra and dance.
The nature park of Sierras de Cazorla lays just south east of the town.
The town located not far south west of Cazorla.
Cazorlas origins stretch back six centuries before Christ, although the Romans, who named it Carcesa, officially founded it. Its splendour grew under Moorish and then Christian control. Today, the town has a Medieval look about it, and boasts numerous springs, steep, narrow streets and stone houses with balconies full of flowers. There are two well-preserved castles (the Moorish La Yedra and the Christian Cinco Esquinas), both of which are of great historical significance. Testament to the town's former religious importance, five convents can be found amongst the ruins of the Santa María Church.
Close by is the Herrerías bridge which, according to tradition, was built in one night with the aid of Divine Intervention, to enable Queen Isabel the Catholic to pass.
Despite some recent construction around the village, the view of Hornos del Segura from afar remains spectacular. The ancient wall of this former Arab fortress stands almost intact, and a castle with tower crowns the village.
Places of interest are the castle and the 16th Century Iglesia (Church) de la Asunción, the latter displaying a fascinating mixture of romantic, gothic and renaissance architecture. There are numerous fantastic viewpoints overlooking the surrounding Natural Park (Parque Natural de las sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas).
Villaneuva del Arzobispo
The town located not far north east of Villacarrillo towards Beas de Segura.
The whitewashed villages of Andalusia are impressive historical monuments in themselves, and their people still live according to age-old traditions, inherited from their Iberian, Roman and Moorish ancestors.
Many of the villages near the coast have become fashionable resorts, while still conserving their ancient charm, whereas others, lost in the highlands of Andalusia, remain rough and ready olive-farming towns, with a special appeal for the adventurous travellers.
Most Andalusian towns began as fortresses, which stood along the ever-fluctuating frontier between the Christian and Moorish realms, as is apparent in the names of such towns as "Jerez de la Frontera", "Arcos de la Frontera", "Morón de la Frontera"... Over the centuries, many have developed into thriving agricultural centres producing olive oil, fruit and vegetables and goat's milk.
Cadiz stands on a peninsula jutting out into a bay, and is surrounded by water. Named Gadir by the Phoenicians, who founded their trading post in 1100 BC, it was later controlled by the Carthaginians, until it became a thriving Roman port. It sank into oblivion under the Visigoths and Moors, but attained great splendour in the early 16th century as a launching point for the journey to the newly discovered lands of America. Cadiz was later raided by Sir Francis Drake, in the struggle to gain control of trade with the New World, and managed to withstand a siege by Napoleon's army. In the early 19th century, Cadiz became the bastion of Spain's anti-monarchist, liberal movement, because of which the country's first Constitution was declared here in 1812.
Some of the city's 18th century walls still stand, such as the Landward Gate. The old, central quarter of Cadiz is famous for its picturesque charm, and many of the buildings reflect the city's overseas links. Worth a visit are the city's Cathedral and churches of Santa Cruz and San Felipe Neri, which is famous throughout Spain as the place where, in defiance of Napoleon's siege, the provisional government was set up with its own liberal Constitution. Other points of interest are La Santa Cueva, home to several paintings by Goya, and stately mansions such as the Casa del Almirante and Casa de las Cadenas.
The old city looks quite Moorish in appearance and is intriguing with narrow cobbled streets opening onto small squares. The golden cupola of the cathedral looms high above long white houses and the whole place has a slightly dilapidated air. It just takes an hour to walk around the headlands where you can visit the entire old town and pass through some lovely parks with sweeping views of the bay.
Unlike most other ports of its size, it seems immediately relaxed and easy going, not at all threatening, even at night. Perhaps this is due to its reassuring shape and size, the presence of the sea making it impossible to get lost for more than a few blocks. It also owes much to the town's tradition of liberalism and tolerance which was maintained all through the years of Franco's dictatorship, despite this being one of the first cities to fall to his forces and was the port through which the Republican armies launched their invasion.
Chiclana & Sancti Petri
Adjacent to the salt marshes, Chiclana is not on the coast itself. Sancti Petri has become the town¹s summer resort extension.
The Sancti Petri Golf Course, reputed to have been designed by Seve Ballesteros, has stunning views of the sea. Opposite the town is the small island of Sancti Petri with a lighthouse and a magnificent 18th Century castle, which was built by the Phoenicians on the ruins of the temple of Zeus.
A small ferry can be taken to visit the island in the summer. On the island is the lighthouse and 18th century castle that was constructed on the ruins of the temple of Zeus built by the Phoenicians.
Another typical Andalusian town with charming narrow cobbled streets and balconies festooned with flowers.
Monuments in the town include:
La Barrosa is 8 km long
Vejer de la Frontera
If you are exploring the CN340 coast road, you would be wise to make time for a wander round Vejer. This classic white hilltop town is well worth a visit. 10 km inland, perched high above the steep gorge of the River Barbate, Vejer is virtually unknown by foreign tourists.
This stunning castellated town is a magical place to explore, its quiet cobbled streets meandering through a charming jumble of secret corners, hidden patios and delightful houses. Hidden behind ancient walls, it has a magnificent church. Great care has been taken to preserve this beautiful town. One is relieved to find barely a hint of plastic or a trace of the 20th Century. Even the litterbins appear to have been carefully designed to please the eye! The town square, shaded by vast palm trees, has a wonderful old fountain with traditional ceramic Andalusian frogs that spout water high into the air, thus forming a fountain.
The recently restored 17th Century Franciscan Convent OHospederia de Convento San Francisco, now a hotel restaurant, is also worth a visit. The town has been officially declared a Historical Monument of National importance.
Specific places of interest include:
Medina Sidonia is an unspoilt, little known ancient hilltop town despite its important history. The town was one of Spain's most important ducal seats in the 15th century; producing an admiral who led the Armada against England. The title of Duque de Medina Sidonia was bestowed upon the family of Guzmán El Bueno for his valiant role in taking the town, a line which continues and is currently led by the controversial socialist, Duchess of Medina Sidonia, The village has a slightly shabby grandeur with medieval walls and tidy narrow cobbled streets flanked by rows of reja-fronted houses.
Sights to See
For the best choice of restaurants and bars, head for the Plaza de España where Restaurant Cádiz and Mesón Machin offer good local cuisine and tapas. For something a little fancier, head to El Duque, Paseo Armada Española, this specialises in excellent meat dishes with spectacular views from the terrace.
Alcala de los Gazules
An ancient hilltop town with Moorish ruins located between Granada & Cordoba on the N432 road.
Arcos de la Frontera
Arcos de la Frontera is situated on cliffs high above a meander in the River Guadalete. A typical defensive hill village with cobbled streets leading up to a castle, which was built in the fifteenth century on Moorish foundations.
The view from the castle and village is staggering. There is a Parador here, which a good place to take a quiet drink and watch the view in a relaxed atmosphere.
Things to look out for in Arcos
Jerez de la Frontera became famous throughout the world for its sweet wines named after the town, which the British pronounced "sherry". It is called "de la Frontera " because it once stood on the frontier between the Moorish and the Christian realms.
The distinctive wine in Jerez has been exported for centuries; it was even praised by Shakespeare. It is distinctive because the strong sun gives the grapes high sugar content. British merchants have been involved in the wine trade here for centuries, producing and shipping a fortified wine known as sherry. Famous names of these dynasties can be seen here over the doors of the bodegas; Sandeman, John Harvey, Domecq, Gonzalez Byass.
The Spanish word bodega means, "cellar", but it has the generically meaning of "wine manufacturer". You can take a guided tour of the many Jerez bodegas. Some of the companies such as Gonzalez Byass, Pedro Domecq and Sandeman provided guided tours of the cellars on weekdays, followed by sampling of the various types of wine produced. Jerez is also world famous for its magnificent dancing horses, which you can see at the Real Escuela Andaluza de Arte Equestre - the Royal Andalucian School of Equestrian Art, at Avenida de Abrantes (Tel: +34 956 311111). On Thursday mornings, there is a spectacular display of dressage.
Jerez celebrates its famous Horse Fair at the beginning of May each year.
Jerez is also famous for its long-standing flamenco tradition, making it an excellent place to witness this extraordinary art. The Centro Andaluz de Flamenco (Tel: 956 349265) is housed in the Palacio de Penmartín, which stands on the Plaza de San Juan, No. 1.
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You could do something different and take the children on holiday near an organ rather than a beach. You'll never want to fly on holiday again having read Airline SCams and Scandals
If you are buying a holiday property for sale we choose interesting places! If you're escaping Brexit you might need plastic boxes to move things with . . .