Andalucia is an autonomous region of southern Spain, covering an area roughly the same size as Portugal. The capital of Andalucia is Seville, with a population of around 700,000. Other important cities in the region include Malaga, Granada, Cordoba and Cadiz. Andalucia benefits from a long coastline, which stretches from the province of Almeria in the east to the Portuguese border in the west. Roughly halfway along this coastline, centred on the towns of Marbella and Malaga, is the popular holiday destination of the Costa del Sol.
The region also has a varied landscape, ranging from the snow-capped peaks of the Sierra Nevada and the wetlands of the Donana National Park, to the desert-like Cabo de Gata and wooded slopes of the Parque de los Alcornocales.
Getting to Andalucia
Andalucia’s busiest international airport is at Malaga on the Costa del Sol. Many budget airlines and traditional carriers, such as easyJet, Ryanair, Transavia and British Airways, fly here from airports in the UK and other European countries. Iberia Airways, Clickair and Vueling currently operate internal flights to Malaga from destinations across Spain. In June 2008, Delta Airlines will begin a service from New York JFK to Malaga. This will be the first time there has been direct flights to Andalucia from the United States. The other international airports in Andalucia are in Almeria, Granada, Jerez and Seville.
From December 2007 there will be a new high speed rail link from Madrid to Malaga, which will cut the journey time between these two cities to around two-and-a-half hours.
The largest city in Andalucia is Seville, which rose to prominence in the 15th and 16th centuries when it became a major gateway to the New World. Seville’s biggest tourist attraction is its enormous cathedral, one of the largest in the world. The cathedral’s tower (Giralda) dates back to the 12th century.
The world-famous Alhambra dominates the city of Granada. This Moorish palace-fortress, now a world heritage site and probably Andalucia’s greatest treasure, was built between the 14th and 15th centuries. The Islamic influence is also very strong in Cordoba which, during the 10th century AD, was the largest and arguably most advanced city in Western Europe. Cordoba’s biggest draw is the Mezquita, a former mosque which was converted to a cathedral after the recapture of Cordoba by the Christians in 1236.
However, most visitors to Andalucia descend upon the Costa del Sol in search of sand and sunshine. The most important resorts along this stretch of coast include Marbella, Fuengirola, Nerja and Torremolinos. More secluded beaches may be found on the Costa de la Luz and Costa de Almeria.
[http://www.solsearch.eu] – a guide to the Costa del Sol resorts of Benalmadena, Fuengirola and Torremolinos.
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