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The new full-color Rough Guide to Andalucía is the essential guide to one of Europe's most vibrant destinations. The autonomous region of Andalucía is the part of the Iberian peninsula that is most quintessentially Spanish, a land of flamenco, sherry and ruined castles. Lavish photography brings to life the region's wealth of attractions from the breathtaking Alhambra palace in Granada and Córdoba's exquisite medieval Mezquita to the spectacular natural beauty of Andalucía's numerous national parks. The Rough ...
The new full-color Rough Guide to Andalucía is the essential guide to one of Europe's most vibrant destinations. The autonomous region of Andalucía is the part of the Iberian peninsula that is most quintessentially Spanish, a land of flamenco, sherry and ruined castles. Lavish photography brings to life the region's wealth of attractions from the breathtaking Alhambra palace in Granada and Córdoba's exquisite medieval Mezquita to the spectacular natural beauty of Andalucía's numerous national parks. The Rough Guide to Andalucía provides comprehensive coverage of all major sights and towns, with incisive reviews of the best places to eat, sleep and drink in every price range as well as insider tips on the best tapas bars, clubs and beaches. Expert background is provided on every destination, together with lively articles on the region's history and culture. There are detailed and easy-to-use color maps and plans for every major town, city and monument to help make finding that hotel, restaurant or museum easy.
Make the most of your visit to southern Spain with the Rough Guide to Andalucía.
Andalucia is the southernmost territory of Spain and the part of the Iberian peninsula that is most quintessentially Spanish. The popular image of Spain as a land of bullfights, flamenco, sherry and ruined castles derives from this spectacularly beautiful region. The influences that have washed over Andalucía since the first paintings were etched on cave walls here more than twenty-five thousand years ago are many Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Greeks, Romans, Visigoths and Vandals all came and left their mark. And the most influential invaders of all, the Moors, who ruled the region for seven centuries and named it al-Andalus, have left an enduring imprint on Andalucian culture and customs.
The sight and sound of flamenco, when the guitar laments and heels stamp the boards, or cante jondo, Andalucia¹s blues, as it mournfully pierces the smoke-laden gloom of a backstreet café, also tell you there¹s something unique about the people here. The Muslim influence on speech and vocabulary, a stoical fatalism in the face of adversity, and an obsession with the drama of death are all facets of the modern Andalucian character. Contrastingly, the andaluces also love nothing more than a party and the colour and sheer energy of the region¹s countless and legendary fiestas always in traditional flamenco costume worn with pride make them among the most exciting in the world. The romerías, wild and semi-religious pilgrimages to honour local saints at country shrines are yet another excuse for a jamboree. And in quieter moments there are few greater pleasures than to join the drinkers at a local bar winding down over a glass of traditional fino (dry sherry from Jerez), while nibbling tapas Andalucia¹s great titbit invention.
Few places in the world can boast such a wealth of natural wonders in so compact an area. The mighty Guadalquivir river which crosses and irrigates the region from its source in the Cazorla mountains of Jaén in the northeast, reaches the sea 400 kilometres away at the dune-fringed beaches and marismas of the Coto Doñana National Park, Europe¹s largest and most important wildlife sanctuary. To the east and towering above Granada, the peaks of the Sierra Nevada include the Spanish peninsula¹s highest mountain, snowcapped for most of the year, while thirty kilometres away and close to the sweltering beaches, sugar cane thrives. This crop was another contribution to Europe by the Moors, along with oranges, almonds, aubergines, saffron and most of the spices now used to flavour the region¹s cooking which features an astonishing variety of seafood. Nestling in the folds of the same mountains are the valleys of the Alpujarras, a wildly picturesque region dotted with dozens of mountain villages, many of them little changed since Moorish times. Further east again come the gulch-ridden badlands and lunar landscapes of Almería¹s deserts, sought out by film-makers and astronomers for the clearest skies in Europe. On the coast it¹s easy to despair. Extending to the west of Malaga is the Costa del Sol, Europe¹s most developed resort area, with its beaches hidden behind a remorseless density of concrete hotels and apartment complexes. But even here the real Andalucía is still to be found if you¹re prepared to seek it out: go merely a few kilometres inland and you¹ll encounter the timeless Spain of white villages and wholehearted country fiestas. Travel further, both east and west, along the coast and you¹ll find some of the best beaches in all Spain, along the Costa de la Luz, near Cadiz, or the Costa de Almeria.
Andalucia¹s sunshine image projected across the world in advertising campaigns belies the fact that this is also Spain¹s poorest region where an economy rooted in near-feudal land ownership (two per cent of the landowners possess fifty per cent of the land area) stifles investment and is the cause of desperate poverty. Rural life is bleak; you soon begin to notice the appalling economic structure of vast absentee-landlord estates, and landless peasants. The andaluz villages saw little economic aid or change during the Franco years, or indeed since, even though the former governing Socialist party has its principal power base here. Tourism in coastal areas has brought some respite to the alarmingly high levels of unemployment, and Spain¹s growing importance as a member of the European Union promises to speed up progress, but there is still a mighty long way to go.