My Andalusia Top 5
I debated writing this post for a while, seeing as my Andalusia top 5 included the biggest and most visited tourist attractions in Andalusia. It felt too obvious and not very unique. In the end I figured it may prove useful to someone who is starting to plan a trip and doesn’t know where to begin. I certainly had no idea what Andalusia had to offer before I started researching. I also feel that it summarizes and concludes my Spain posts nicely.
As per my norm, these are my Andalusia top 5 experiences and/or sights, in no particular order.
1. Alcazar in Seville
The Royal Palace is a highlight for the senses. For the eyes, ornate carvings, arches, intricate ceilings and colourful tiles. The smell of orange trees, jasmine and other flowers throughout the 7 hectare gardens was a delight for the nose. Finally, for the ears, the gentle trickle of water from fountains and ponds. We took our time wandering the palace and the gardens. Even during the off-season, it was crowded with tour groups. In peak season, it is likely a good idea to purchase tickets online ahead of time to save waiting in long lines. I have also read that the afternoon is better to avoid the large tour groups. However do plan to spend a few hours here!
2. Alhambra in Granada
The Alhambra complex is brilliant – it is hard to find words to describe the beauty and the emotions one feels when standing in each of the buildings. Each area is different from the last, some displaying power through forts and towers, others more focused on the aesthetics and the arts – a tribute to the varied cultures and times of the occupants. The use of shapes and arches and different mediums in wood carvings to stucco to tile, as each room flows into the next. I loved the symmetry of the gardens and the use of water – the purest symbol of life to the Moors. Who knew water could be displayed in so many ways: standing still, cascading, bubbling and trickling.
3. La Mezquita in Cordoba
The Great Mosque of Cordoba, built on sacred land from previous Visigoth occupants, has been a worshiping place for Islamic and then Christian followers. The exterior courtyard is free to enter, a space filled with orange, palm and cypress trees, meant for public gatherings. The immediate interior is a forest of columns and red and white double arches; this colossal hall consists of 11 longitudinal naves and 110 columns. After wandering among the naves and arches, you come to the centre of the Mosque, which is now the Cathedral of Cordoba. Though absolutely beautiful, the Cathedral, in my opinion, is out of place and deters from the haunting beauty of the Mosque. I am always sad to see original spaces reformed by other peoples. Regardless, La Mezquita is certainly, as expected, the highlight of Cordoba!
4. Cathedrals in Seville & Granada
I have been in many churches throughout Europe; the Cathedrals in Seville and Granada are something else. These two Cathedrals present a fine example of the differences between Gothic and Renaissance styles. The Seville Cathedral is stunning, but I found it overwhelming. There so much to see inside the individual chapels alone. Then add the main altar piece of floor to ceiling gold, with sculptures of various saints, in relief, and other ornate, but symbolic, decorations. I definitely felt the oppressive power that the church imposed during this era. Alternatively, the Granada Cathedral is made of white marble and many windows, allowing natural light to brighten the space. The atmosphere is not oppressive or imposing, rather ethereal and welcoming. The Cathedral still boasts huge gold altar pieces but also has colourful frescos on the walls and stained glass. The Cathedral’s organ is also a sight – so ornate, stylized and heavenly.
5. Seville skyline
I suppose this is a somewhat unique top 5. Seville, much like Paris, has a beautiful skyline. The tops of churches poking above the rooftops of apartments and commercial buildings. You can see the history, the changes and the development. The city seems uniform in a quick glance, with light colours and similar styles, but as you focus closer at individual areas you notice the differences. My recommendations to check out the skyline in the day time: La Giralda tower, part of the Cathedral; and at dusk: Metropol Parasol.
What are your Andalusia top 5? Share in the comments below!
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