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Slow Travel Google Map: Spain, Andalucia

Author: DavidX
Notes: October 2006: The Andalucia region in southern Spain. Because Andalucia is so large, many markers don't show at starting zoom level. Country areas need a higher zoom level, and Málaga and Cordoba, where some markers are very precise, need a very high zoom level.

Historical Buildings

Alcázar, Córdoba

This is not a Moorish alcázar but the Alcázar of the Christian Kings.

I have only seen it in winter, when it's no great shakes, but good things are said of it.

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Alcazaba and Gibralfaro

These 'Moorish' buildings are of a very high standard. There is a bus to the Gibralfaro, if you don't fancy the long steep walk up and the Alcazaba can be reached at a level near the top by a second [lift or, if you really have to, elevator] entrance behind the City Hall [ayuntamiento].

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La Alhambra (SV)

This is one of Andalucia's absolute must-sees and one of Europe's greatest remains, the palace and fort of the last Moorish dynasty in Spain

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Mezquita (SV)

Even with a cathedral inside it, and one displaying some fine workmanship, this remains the Mezquita. I am assured by Muslim friends that it is highly rated as an Islamic monument. I rate it only vey slightly behind Granada's Alhambra and on my fourth visit I felt the same awe and excitement as on my first.

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Large Towns

Córdoba

My very favourite Spanish city. See it at on a high zoom level to get an idea of the way round the various places I have marked.

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Cadiz

The centre of Cadiz is still pretty grand and provides a balmy atmosphere, even in December.

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Gibraltar (SV)

Gibraltar is claimed by Spain but remains a dependency of the UK, following a peace agreement way back in the War of Spanish Succession.

As a curiosity it's worth seeing once and it provides a recognisable sight from a long distance.

There is a lift [elevator] to the top and you can see the well known barbary apes on the way down.

One of the most interesting features is the storage of water where rain is cllected into huge tanks below the rock.

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Granada

Of the larger cities of Andalucia, with the sole exception of the Alhambra [q.v.] I like Granada least. However the Alhambra is worth innumerable visits so my advice is to go for a short time with your time for the Alhambra booked and spend a single night.

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Jaen

A provincial capital with an exceptionally well sited parador in an old castle high above the city. Good market.

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Málaga

Perhaps because people hurry from Málaga's airport to their ultimate destinations, this provincial capital is underrated.

There is much of interest; the enormous cathedral the Alcazaba and the Girafero being prime examples, as well as the Picasso museum.

If you have time, try to see the Jardines de la Concepción [bus 2 from the north side of the Alameda Principal [where the marker is if you zoom at a high level.]

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Sevilla

Capital of Andalucia [as well as of its own province] and one of Spain's grandest cities, Sevilla makes it easy to envisage ships laden with treasure returning from South America sailing up the Gualdaquivir.

The cathedral is one of the world's biggest Gothic buildings and the Giralda [bell tower] is a wonderful building.

The Alcázar, whereas it's no match for Granada's Alhambra, is a fine building and its gardens are a smashing lunch venue - as long as you don't mind feral cats!

Very expensive to stay during Holy Week, when the processions are said to be breath-taking.

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Gardens

Botanical Gardens

Córdoba has been known for its wonderful patios and it seems surprising that the botanical gardens only date from the 1980s.

Even so the gardens contain much of interest including two museums, one in an old mill building.

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Jardines de la Concepció

Approximately placed marker - access by bus 2 from north side of Alameda Principal in Malaga - to terminus and then 10 to 15 minutes walk. Name should read Concepción.

These are superb gardens and if you argue lack of time [plane to catch] they'll probably be kind and allow you in without joining a tour.

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Viana Palace - Córdoba

The Palace of the Marquises of Viana is noted for its many beautiful patio gardens. The palace itself is a museum but, unless you understand super-fast Spanish, I strongly advice a ticket for the gardens only - where you are free to wander at your own pace.

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Monuments

Medina Azahara

The archaeological site of a fabulously wealthy city constructed by the Sultan of Córdoba, Abdul Rahman III, to vaunt his wealth and power.

Now accessible daily by a tourist bus at 1100 from Córdoba, which can be booked at most hotels the day before.

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Museums

Archaeological Museum

It has to be lucky when an archaeology finds that it actually incorporates a Roman villa in its site and hence can display some objects in situ!

However the excellence of this museum is far more than luck.

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Picasso Museum

In a palatial building the museum has a very large number of Picasso's works, many as gifts or long loans from his family.

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Parks

Doñana National Park

One of Europe's greatest wetland areas where there is a profusion of resident and migrant birds.

Trips into the Park by 4 wheel drive minibus show wonderful sand dunes and a huge distance of completely unbuilt beach.

Unless you are unlucky, you will also see deer and wild boar.

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Sights

Cueva de la Pileta

How nice to be able to use a trip report on this site for the 'read more' section!

This is a wonderful cave with paintings well older than the more famous ones at Altamira.

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El Chorro

Beside the rail line from Málaga to the whole world. except part of the Costa del Sol, [sit on left facing forward from Málaga] there is a massive gorge, spectacular enough as a natural phenomenon but made infinitely more so by the sight of an ancient walkway above it.

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Garganta Verde

Splendid gorge with rough path down from Zahara to Grazalema road. Entrance barred at nesting time as the area is a sanctuary for vultures. You are virtually guaranteed seeing quite a number!

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Roman Bridge, Córdoba (SV)

This bridge, near the Mezquita [mosque/cathedral] should be seen both by night floodlit and by day. Just below it to the right [facing away from the Mezquita] are old Arab mills with an impressive water wheel.

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Torcal de Antequera

Wonderfully shaped limestone rocks on a mountain top. Way-marked trails. Very highly recommended.

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Torre del Vinagre

Tiny settlement. Marker very approximate.

There is an arboretum and info centre here [closed Mondays.] It's the start for the delightful Rio Borroso walk.

Ventas de Zafarrayas

The highest point reached in the immensely picturesque road journey between the Axarquía region of Málaga Ppovince and Alhama de Granada.

The view over the Axarquía is outstanding.

Towns

Úbrique

This is a town that has never abandoned its specialism, leather. Piel de Ubrique is on sale in London, Milano and Paris - though you can buy it more cheaply at its home - jackets, saddles, shoes, bags, purses and what have you.

Apart from the main street with its numerous leather shops, the main part of the town is not particularly interesting but turn left on leaving the bus station, left again and then right up to a fine square and you are on hte edge of the delightful old town, here all space is filled with flowers or, more sadly, with caged birds.

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Alhama de Granada

You may not like mixed metaphors but the Rough Guide's description as an unsung gem is both comprehensible and totally accurate.

This is a beautiful town with great monuments and a wonderful chasm below.

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Antequera

Very friendly town with three dolmens, castle remains in a park and some fine shops.

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Aracena

A Templar castle ruins and a Templar church are the most dramatic buildings in this town, which gives its name to the Sierra to the West.

There is also a spectacular cave.

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Arcos de la Frontera

A bit more than a village but sometimes counted among the 'pueblos blancos.'

Some very considerable monuments and remarkable views over a cliff to the plains.

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Baeza

A peaceful enough town with a good monumental quarter. It tends to be treated in guidebooks as a sort of 'poor relation' of Ubeda. I think I may have been unlucky with the latter but I liked Baeza at least as much.

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Carmona

This small town has its monumental quarter on the top of a hill with an excellent lookout point overlooking the plains.

Outside of this quarter is a fine Roman necropolis.

Carmona may be a cheaper source of accommodation than Sevilla and is only a local bus ride away.

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Cazorla

A delightful town on the edge of the beautiful Sierra de Cazorla. Great walks locally and an early morning bus into the heart of the Sierra.

Very highly recommended.

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Huelva

Not one of the most ineresting provincial capitals in Andalucía, Huelva does provide an important link in travel from Doñana to the Sierra de Aracena, both in Huelva Province.

Lanjarón

This town, on the way to the Alpujarras from Granada, supplies a vast amount of bottled mineral water.

There is a great walk up the valley towards the mountain. It's not waymarked and if you follow one of the contour leats, it can be a long time before you find a feasible descent!

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Ronda

Ohter than the real biggies, Ronda is probably the best known town in inland Andalucia.

It is situated on a very high hil ridge and visible for a long way. The main point of excitement, however, is not the highest but is the gorge that cuts it into old and new sections and the bridge over it called the Puente Nueva and dating from the 18th century.

There are numerous buildings worth seeing in the old town and in the new town is the oldest bull ring in Spain with a museum.

Numerous buses to various 'pueblos blancos' [white villages] start here and the railway line to Algeciras is a delight.

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Ubeda

A town with a much trumpeted monumental Baroque quarter. Too much was being repaired when I was there and I was ready to leave after about 40 minutes but I guess it could take a great deal longer.

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Velez Málaga

At first sight what was the fine old town of Velez [Málaga] seems to be little more than a suburb of Torre del Mar.

However there are still pleasant walks in the older and higher part of the town and there is a Cervantes house below.

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Transportation

Almonaster Station

The station is actually nearer to Cortegana than to the village of Almonaster La Real.

The line climbs consistently nearly all the way from Huelva.

Bobadilla Station

Rail junction of considerable importance where trains for Málaga, Córdoba, Granada, Sevilla and Algeciras all converge in the afternoon.

To be avoided as a place to stay. It was described to me as being like Clapham Junction without the charm. Perhaps that's a bit harsh but - - -.

Bus to Alhama de Granada

Note that buses do not start at Málaga for this route. It is easy to get by bus from Málaga to Tprre del Mar, which is the terminus for Alhama.

It is run by Alsina Graells and is a really delightful journey.

Málaga Airport

Major airport with a large number of cheap flights to UK and elsewhere in Europe.

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Málaga Bus Station

Links to any number of places in Andalucia and in Spain generally.

If only more cities had a website like the one raised by 'read more.'

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Villages

Almonaster La Real

A thoroughly delightful village with many way-marked walks.

Its crowning feature is what has sreved as a fortified mosque as well as a church and perhaps once the site of a Roman temple.

Very highly recommended, especially if you have a car. Otherwise compare Cortegana and choose.

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Alora

A village full of slopes and hill tops with castle ruins at the top.

Reasonable train service to Málaga and on a couple of bus routes from Málaga to Ronda. Can be a good stay for first or last night if using Málaga airport.

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Benamahoma

Very small village. End of outward section of the 'Pinsapar' walk - return to Grazalema by road.

Capileira

The highest of three villages built on the slopes of the Poqueira Gorge in the Alpujarras. It's spectacular with steep [yes, STEEP] roads and alleys to its lowest level. The gorge appears much foreshortened in the view. be warned!

Even so there are some fine walks accessible to mere mortals but forget about easy access to the peaks of the Sierra Nevada.

For local walking maps you will have to go to Bubion, the next village down.

If you intend to visit this area, I strongly recommend Chris Stewart's books. ["Driving over Lemons" and sequels.]

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Colmenar

A pleasant enough village opening up [too] rapidly to tourism after years ib which La Axarquía region was almost unknown.

The road from here south and through a back way to Málaga gives absolutely outstanding views over the Montes de Málaga. Sadly no bus runs over this route.

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Cortegana

A medium sized village in the Sierra de Aracena. Perhaps not quite as picturesque as nearby Almonaster La Real it has one advantage over it in that it is on two separate bus routes to Aracena, one of which pases through Almonaster.

Rare black storks are said to beseen here. I was out of season for this but an imperial eagle did its best to compensate!

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El Rocío (SV)

A most distinctive village. All the main part is covered in sand and hoof marks seem more in keeping than tyre tracks.

Except in high summer it's on the edge of wha looks like a lake, a Paradise for all sorts of birds, which is in the Doñana Park.

Once a year there's a major rosario or pilgrimage. Avoid staying there at this time unless you have a lot of cash to blow!

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Grazalema

Passed en route to Úbrique from Ronda, this is a village that demands a return visit and a stay - and it will delight any who accepts the invitation.

It may well provide a pleasant shock to those brought up on the notion that the south of Spain is arid.

It's a wonderful centre for walks. Try it!

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Jabugo

The 'Ham Capital' of Spain, ham being used in the sense of meat from the pig.

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Jimena de la Frontera

Lovely village near the train line [cheap accommodation near the station] from Algeciras to Ronda. There are terrific views from the big ruined castle which include Ronda and Gibraltar.

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Siles

If there is such a place as 'the back of Beyond' this must surely be near it. Why go there then? I had a night to spare in the area and it was as far as I could reasonably get by bus from Ubeda!

It was December and it was ----- cold. Places near braziers in pubs were clearly virtually owned by local Samsons. Dogs were enormous. Bulls roamed freely in the woods. Nothing to eat before 2100 and then several lamb chops and no veg.

INTERESTING!

Sorry I could find no suitable website in English but if you click on 'read more' you can look at some photos.

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Zahara de la Sierra (SV)

From a distance one of the most distinctive of the pueblos blancos [white villages] as it towers on a hill above the surrounding countryside.

Actually its sights are fairly quickly seen but it is well worth staying for a walk in the Grotto Verde.

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Walking Route 1

Pinsapar

The name is mine. From Grazalema the walk crosses a limestone ridge and goes along the other side with some specimens of the rare abies pinsapo [or Spanish fir] near you and a glorious view over the bigger of the two forests containing this tree. It is like a bluish tinged spruce with different bark.

The views become more open as you descend towards Benamahona, where you can have refreshment before returning by the peaceful road with views of the Sierra de Grazalema, particularly the Salto de Cabrero [Goatherd's Leap,with phink glow of the pre-sunset sky.

Markers on the outward journey are very approximate. You can get the whole walk at zoom level 13.

VERY highly recommended.

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Walking Route 2

Salto de Cabrero

A fine walk returning by approximately the same route. The Salto de Cabrero [Goatherd's Leap] is a great cleft in the limestone rocks of a ridge.

Unless the goatherd rode a magic goat, he must have been mad!

VERY approximate.

Walking Route 3

Cueva de Pilota walk

A walk mainly along quiet road between stations on the Ronda-Andalucia railway line. Read the marker for the Cueva for information.

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