Andalusia: white villages, red earth and blue sky! Land of welcome and passage, it has generated a homogeneous people despite its multiple origins (Moors, Jews, Catholics, gypsies). Its three main cities, Seville, Grenada et Cordoba, are among the most beautiful in Spain. Real open-air history books, but also festive cities with the warmest atmosphere. Let the Andalusian soul seduce you for a long weekend!
Seville, to an oriental tune and flamenco
Stroll through the Eastern Seville, witness of the Arab-Andalusian golden age. After admiring the Giralda, old minaret transformed into a bell tower, attached to the Cathedral, visit the alcazar palace. Built in the XNUMXth century by Caliph Abderraman III, the Alcázar fortress was transformed in the XNUMXth century into a residential palace by the Catholic King Peter I using Muslim artists: this is called the Mudejar style, from the name of the Muslims of Spain who became subjects of the Christian kingdoms after the XNUMXth century, during the period of tolerance. Not to be missed: the enchanting gardens of the palate, the result of a judicious combination of water and vegetation, offering tranquility and freshness.
Take a walk around the Casa de Pilatos, a magnificent XNUMXth century manor house, after having crossed the barrio de Santa Cruz and its narrow streets lined with orange trees and white houses with flower-filled patios: eternal Andalusia. And, if you have a little time left, go see the Seville bullring, made famous by Carmen de Bizet.
In the evening, head for the Barrio Triana, birthplace of flamenco: this free song was the pride, the expression of the poor who gathered in the neighborhood taverns. This old gypsy district extends on the right bank of the Guadalquivir and offers a stroll full of charm and colors. It is also the district of sevillana and salsa clubs (less typical!).
And, to end the day to the sound of flamenco, go to Santa Cruz where the Casa de la Memoria de Al-Andalus (c / Ximenes de Enciso, 28) welcomes you every evening at 21 p.m. (and sometimes 22:30 p.m.). Admission is 13 €. This old Andalusian palace has kept all its splendor and oriental elegance: the interior patio surrounded by arcades is the backdrop for the show, provided by the best students of the Seville flamenco school! Phone. : 954-56-06-70. Mandatory reservation.
Cordoba, crossroads of civilizations
There was a time when Muslims, Jews and Christians lived in harmony. Cordoba remembers it: it was in the XNUMXth century and this spirit of tolerance was so fruitful that the Andalusian city became at the time the largest city in Europe.
The most spectacular example of the success of this "melting pot": the Mezquita-catedral (cathedral mosque). Begun in 784, it was to become the largest religious building in the Islamic world at the time. After the reconquest of Cordoba, Charles V gave his agreement to destroy the central part of the mosque in order to build a cathedral in the pure Renaissance style. It is a unique monument in the world: at the heart of the cathedral is the forest of columns of the mosque (the Mezquita): it has more than 900!
In the evening, explore the alleys of the Juderia that surrounds the Mezquita. In the heart of the city, you will have the impression of being in a small village with white and flowered houses. Once deserted by tourists, the Juderia regains all its soul and you will expect to see Averroès appear at the bend of a street: back to the golden age!
Granada, jewel of Al-Andaluz
Al-Andaluz: this is the name that the Moors gave to the newly conquered Spanish lands, in Granada. This town, at the foot of the Sierra Nevada, is a pure gem. Granada has one of the wonders of Arab architecture: theAlhambra, huge fortress built on a promontory, is a real city with its palaces, its baths, a mosque, a fortress (Alcazaba), and above all, harmonious gardens! This monument is the most impressive in Andalusia.
Stroll through theAlbaicin, Arabian style, overlooking the town on the hillside. Go up to the viewpoint of the Plaza San Nicolás, we have the most photographed view of the Alhambra, Granada and the Sierra Nevada! Then from San Miguel Bajo, we can go down to the calderería nueva where all the teterías (Arab tea rooms) are located.
Unwind in the hammam, calle Santa Ana, 16. Tel. : 902-40-99-02. A magical place to discover the mysterious world of Arab baths. It is absolutely necessary to reserve and plan for 1 hour 30 minutes of bath and 15 minutes of massage (from 20 to 29 €). Take the opportunity to visit real XNUMXth century baths: El Bañuelo, carrera del Darro.
Spanish National Tourist Office: www.spain.info/en
Andalusia Tourist Office: www.andalucia.org
Seville Tourist Office: www.turismosevilla.org
Granada Tourist Office: www.turismodegranada.org
How to get there ?
From October 26, Transavia connects Seville to Paris-Orly daily from € 69 one way. Flights also between Orly and Grenada three times a week (seasonal service).
Also flights with Iberia from Paris and the province, with good prices if you book in advance. Finally, Clickair, a low-cost, serves Seville from Paris-Orly.
Seville to Cordoba
Every hour, between 9 a.m. and 22 p.m., from the Prado de San Sebastián bus station, (c / Manuel Vázquez Sagastizabal). The journey takes about 2 hours. Price: around 10 €.
The ticket costs around € 13. Allow 40 minutes for the journey. More than one train per hour, depending on the time of day. Santa Justa railway station, av. Kansas City, east of the city. Phone. : 902-24-02-02. Internet: www.renfe.es
Seville to Granada
3 hour journey. Ticket around € 20. 4 trains per day.
From Cordoba to Granada
Approximately 2 hours 40 minutes (much faster than trains, which do not have direct routes). Tickets at 12 €. Around 7 buses a day between 8 a.m. and 19 p.m. A little less frequencies on weekends. The bus station is located in Plaza de las Tres Culturas.
Where to sleep ?
- Hostal Puerta Carmona: plaza de San Agustín, 5. Tel. : 954-98-83-10. Close to the casa de Pilatos. Between 42 and 50 € for a double room depending on the season. Small, very recent hotel having recovered the facade of an old house. Simple, but tasteful details such as the tiling, the marble bedside tables…, make its charm. The bedrooms on the first floor have kept their bow windows!
- Hostal Alcazar: c / San Basilio, 2. Tel. : 957-20-25-61. From 29 to 46 € per double room. In a pedestrianized street, this modest little hotel is divided into two parts: the old pension, with its Andalusian patio and small, but clean rooms, and the newer part, less sound than the old one, which houses apartments. www.hostalalcazar.com
- Hostal Sevilla: Fabrica Vieja, 18. Tel. : 958-27-85-13. Double rooms from 29 to 36 €, depending on comfort. With the exception of two small bedrooms overlooking the patio, they all have a balcony. Excellent family address, a safe bet! Be careful to confirm your reservation and your arrival time.
Where to eat ?
- Bodega Extremeña: c / San Esteban, 17. Tel: (34) 954-41-70-60. An Extremadura bodega serving delicious pork and a good wine from the region. Raciones from € 7 to € 12, but some are billed by weight.
- Bodegas Mezquita - Vinos y Tapas: Corregidor de la Cerda, 73. Tel. : 957-49-81-17. Open from 12 noon to midnight continuously. Count around 15 € for an extraordinary choice of tapas accompanied by a good local wine!