Fodor's Spain (2015)

Andalusia

Main Table of Contents

Welcome to Andalusia

Seville

Around Seville

Huelva

Cádiz Province and Jerez de La Frontera

Córdoba

Side Trips from Córdoba

Jaén Province

Granada

Side Trips from Granada

Welcome to Andalusia

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Top Reasons to Go | Getting Oriented | What’s Where | Planning | Eating and Drinking Well in Andalusia | Andalusia’s White Villages

Updated by Joanna Styles

Gypsies, flamenco, horses, bulls—Andalusia is the Spain of story and song, simultaneously the least and most surprising part of the country: least surprising because it lives up to the hype and stereotype that long confused all of Spain with the Andalusian version, and most surprising because it is, at the same time, so much more.

To begin with, five of the eight Andalusian provinces are maritime, with colorful fishing fleets and a wealth of seafood usually associated with the north. Second, there are snowcapped mountains and ski resorts in Andalusia, the kind of high sierra resources normally associated with the Alps, or even the Pyrenees, yet the Sierra Nevada, with Granada at the foothills, is within sight of North Africa. Third, there are wildlife-filled wetlands and highland pine and oak forests rich with game and trout streams, not to mention free-range Iberian pigs. And last, there are cities like Seville that somehow manage to combine all of this with the creativity and cosmopolitanism of London or Barcelona.

Andalusia—for 781 years (711–1492) a Moorish empire and named for Al-Andalus (Arabic for “Land of the West”)—is where the authentic history and character of the Iberian Peninsula and Spanish culture are most palpably, visibly, audibly, and aromatically apparent.

An exploration of Andalusia must begin with the cities of Seville, Córdoba, and Granada as the fundamental triangle of interest and identity. All the romantic images of Andalusia, and Spain in general, spring vividly to life in Seville: Spain’s fourth-largest city is a cliché of matadors, flamenco, tapas bars, Gypsies, geraniums, and strolling guitarists, but there’s so much more than these urban treasures. A more thorough Andalusian experience includes such unforgettable natural settings as Huelva’s Sierra de Aracena and Doñana wetlands, Jaén’s Parque Natural de Cazorla, Cádiz’s pueblos blancos, and Granada’s Alpujarras mountains.

TOP REASONS TO GO

Appreciate exquisite architecture: Granada’s Alhambra and Córdoba’s Mezquita are two of Spain’s—if not the world’s—most impressive sites.

Dance the flamenco: ”Olé” deep into the night at a heel-clicking flamenco performance in Jerez de la Frontera, the “cradle of flamenco.”

Admire priceless paintings: Bask in the golden age of Spanish art at Seville’s Museo de Bellas Artes.

Explore ancient glory: Cádiz, believed to be the oldest port in Europe, is resplendent with its sumptuous architecture and a magnificent cathedral.

Visit the white villages: Enjoy the simple beauty of a bygone age by exploring the gleamingpueblos blancos.

GETTING ORIENTED

Andalusia is infinitely varied and diverse within its apparent unity. Seville and Granada are like feuding sisters, one vivaciously flirting, the other darkly brooding; Córdoba and Cádiz are estranged cousins, one landlocked, the other virtually under sail; Huelva is a verdant Atlantic Arcadia; and Jaén is an upland country bumpkin—albeit one with Renaissance palaces—compared with the steamy cosmopolitan seaport of Málaga which, along with the southern Andalusian cities and towns of Marbella and Tarifa, is covered in the Costas chapter.

WHAT’S WHERE

Seville. Long Spain’s chief riverine port, the captivating city of Seville sits astride the Guadalquivir River, which launched Christopher Columbus to the New World and Ferdinand Magellan around the globe. South of the capital is fertile farmland; in the north are highland villages. Don’t miss stunning, mountaintop Ronda (an hour’s drive away), which has plenty of atmosphere and memorable sights.

Huelva. Famed as live oak–forested grazing grounds for the treasured cerdo ibérico (Iberian pig), Huelva’s Sierra de Aracena is a fresh and leafy mountain getaway on the border of Portugal. The province’s Doñana National Park is one of Spain’s greatest national treasures.

Cádiz Province and Jerez de la Frontera. Almost completely surrounded by water, the city of Cádiz is Western Europe’s oldest continually inhabited city, a dazzling bastion at the edge of the Atlantic. Jerez de la Frontera is known for its sherry, flamenco, and equestrian culture.

Córdoba. A center of world science and philosophy in the 9th and 10th centuries, Córdoba is a living monument to its past glory. Its prized building is the Mezquita (mosque). In the countryside, acorns and olives thrive.

Jaén. Andalusia’s northeasternmost province is a striking contrast of olive groves, pristine wilderness, and Renaissance towns with elegant palaces and churches.

Granada. Christian and Moorish cultures are dramatically counterposed in Granada, especially in the graceful enclave of the Alhambra.

PLANNING

WHEN TO GO

The best months to go to Andalusia are October and November and April and May. It’s blisteringly hot in the summer, so, if that’s your only chance to come, plan time in the Pedroches of northern Córdoba province, Granada’s Sierra Nevada and Alpujarras highlands, or the Sierra de Cazorla in Jaén to beat the heat. Autumn catches the cities going about their business, the temperatures are moderate, and you will rarely see a line form.

December through March tends to be cool, uncrowded, and quiet, but come spring, it’s fiesta time, with Seville’s Semana Santa (Holy Week, between Palm Sunday and Easter) the most moving and multitudinous. April showcases whitewashed Andalusia at its floral best, every patio and facade covered with flowers from bougainvillea to honeysuckle.

PLANNING YOUR TIME

A week in Andalusia should include visits to Córdoba, Seville, and Granada to see, respectively, the Mezquita, the cathedral and its Giralda minaret, and the Alhambra. Two days in each city nearly fills the week, though the extra day would be best spent in Seville, Andalusia’s most vibrant concentration of art, architecture, culture, and excitement.

Indeed, a week or more in Seville alone would be ideal, especially during the Semana Santa celebration, when the city becomes a giant street party. With more time on your hands, Cádiz, Jerez de la Frontera, and Sanlúcar de Barrameda form a three- or four-day jaunt through flamenco, sherry, Andalusian equestrian culture, and tapas emporiums.

A three-day trip through the Sierra de Aracena will introduce you to a lovely Atlantic upland, filled with Mediterranean black pigs deliciously fattened on acorns, while the Alpujarras, the mountain range east of Granada, is famed for its pueblos blancos. In this region you can find anywhere from three days to a week of hiking and trekking opportunities in some of the highest and wildest reaches in Spain. For nature enthusiasts, the highland Cazorla National Park and the wetland Doñana National Park are Andalusia’s highest and lowest outdoor treasures.

Festivals

Andalusia has some of Spain’s most important and most colorful festivals, and highlights include Carnival, on the days leading up to Ash Wednesday, and Semana Santa (Holy Week, between Palm Sunday and Easter). Both are big celebrations, especially in Cádiz, Córdoba, and Seville. Other events range from international music festivals to more localized celebrations, such as the early August horse races on the beaches of Sanlúcar de Barrameda and the mid-October olive harvest in Jaén.

Concurso Nacional de Flamenco (National Flamenco Competition).
Devotees of Spain’s unique style of music and dance flock to the city for this event, held every third year—the next is in 2016—in November.|Córdoba.

Cruces de Mayo (Festival of Crosses).
Celebrated throughout the Spanish-speaking world, this ancient festival is a highlight of Córdoba’s calendar of events, with lots of flower-decked crosses and other floral displays, processions, and music.|Córdoba.

Encuentro Flamenco.
Some of the country’s best performers are featured in this early-December event in Granada. | Granada.

Feria de Abril (April Fair).
Held two weeks after Easter, this secular celebration focuses on horses and bullfights.|Seville.

Ferio de Mayo.
The city’s foremost street party is held during the last week of May. | Córdoba.

Feria del Caballo (Horse Fair).
In early May, carriages and riders fill the streets of Jerez and purebreds from the School of Equestrian Art compete in races and dressage displays.|Jerez de la Frontera.

Festival de los Patios (Patio Festival).
This celebration is held during the second week of May, a fun time to be in the city, when owners throw open their flower-decked patios to visitors (and to judges, who nominate the best), and the city celebrates with food, drink, and flamenco.|Córdoba.

Festival Internacional de Jazz de Granada.
Established in 1980, this November festival attracts big names from the world of jazz. Oscar Peterson, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, and Herbie Hancock, among many others, have delighted fans. | Granada | www.jazzgranada.net.

Festival Internacional de Música y Danza de Granada.
With some events in the Alhambra itself, this international music and dance festival runs from mid-June to mid-July. Tickets go on sale in mid-April. | Granada | www.granadafestival.org.

Fiesta de Otoño (Autumn Festival).
In September, this festival in Jerez celebrates the grape harvest and includes a procession, the blessing of the harvest on the steps of the cathedral, and traditional-style grape treading.|Jerez de la Frontera.

International Guitar Festival.
During the first two weeks of July, an array of major international artists perform at this celebration of guitar music, including classical, jazz, rock, folk, and—of course—flamenco. In addition to a full schedule of concerts, there are exhibitions, workshops, and conferences. | Córdoba | www.guitarracordoba.org.

La Bienal de Flamencol.
Celebrating flamenco, this festival is held in Seville every two years, the next being in 2016. | Seville | www.labienal.com.

Romería del Rocío.
Early June in Huelva means this gypsy favorite—a pilgrimage on horseback and by carriage to the hermitage of La Virgen del Rocío (Our Lady of the Dew). | Huelva.

GETTING HERE AND AROUND

Air Travel

Andalusia’s regional airports can be reached via Spain’s domestic flights or from major European hubs. Málaga Airport is one of Spain’s major hubs and a good access point for exploring this part of Andalusia.

The region’s second-largest airport, after Málaga, is in Seville. The smaller Aeropuerto de Jerez is 7 km (4 miles) northeast of Jerez on the road to Seville. Buses run from the airport to Jerez and Cádiz. Flying into Granada’s airport is also a good option if you want to start your trip in Andalusia. It’s easy to get into Granada from the airport.

Bus Travel

The best way to get around Andalusia, if you’re not driving, is by bus. Buses serve most small towns and villages and are faster and more frequent than trains. ALSA is the major bus company; tickets can be booked online.

Bus Line
ALSA. | 902/422242 | www.alsa.es.

Car Travel

If you’re planning to explore beyond Seville, Granada, and Córdoba, a car makes travel convenient.

The main road from Madrid is the A4 through Córdoba to Seville, a four-lane autovía (highway). From Granada or Málaga, head for Antequera, then take A92 autovía by way of Osuna to Seville. Road trips from Seville to the Costa del Sol (by way of Ronda) are slow but scenic. Driving in western Andalusia is easy—the terrain is mostly flat land or slightly hilly, and the roads are straight and in good condition. From Seville to Jerez and Cádiz, the A4 toll road gets you to Cádiz in under an hour. The only way to access Doñana National Park by road is to take the A49 Seville–Huelva highway, exit for Almonte/Bollullos Par del Condado, then follow the signs for El Rocío and Matalascañas. The A49 west of Seville will also lead you to the freeway to Portugal and the Algarve. There are some beautiful scenic drives here, about which the respective tourist offices can advise you. The A369, heading southwest from Ronda to Gaucín, passes through stunning whitewashed villages.

With the exception of parts of the Alpujarras, most roads in this region are smooth, and touring by car is one of the most enjoyable ways to see the countryside. Local tourist offices can advise about scenic drives. One good route heads northwest from Seville on the A66 passing through stunning scenery; turn northeast on the A461 to Santa Olalla de Cala to the village of Zufre, dramatically set at the edge of a gorge. Backtrack and continue on to Aracena. Return via the Minas de Riotinto (signposted from Aracena), which will bring you back to the A66 heading east to Seville.

Rental contact
Autopro. | Málaga | 952/176545 | www.autopro.es.

Ferry Travel

From Cádiz, Trasmediterránea operates ferry services to the Canary Islands with stops at Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (39 hours) and connecting ferries on to La Palma (19 hours) and Santa Cruz de Tenerife (4 hours). There are no direct ferries from Seville.

Contact
Acciona Trasmediterránea. | Estación Marítima, | Cádiz | 902/454645 | www.trasmediterranea.es.

Taxi Travel

Taxis are plentiful throughout Andalusia and may be hailed on the street or from specified taxi stands. Fares are reasonable, and meters are strictly used; the minimum fare is about €4. You are not required to tip taxi drivers, although rounding off the amount is appreciated.

In Seville or Granada, expect to pay around €20–€25 for cab fare from the airport to the city center.

Train Travel

From Madrid, the best approach to Andalusia is via the high-speed AVE. In just 2½ hours, the spectacular ride winds through olive groves and rolling fields of Castile to Córdoba and on to Seville.

Seville, Córdoba, Jerez, and Cádiz all lie on the main rail line from Madrid to southern Spain. Trains leave Madrid for Seville (via Córdoba); two of the non-AVE trains continue to Jerez and Cádiz. Travel time from Seville to Cádiz is 1¾ hours. Trains also depart regularly for Barcelona (3 daily, 5½ hours), and Huelva (3 daily, 1½ hours). From Granada, Málaga, Ronda, and Algeciras, trains go to Seville via Bobadilla.

RESTAURANTS

Eating out is an intrinsic part of the Andalusian lifestyle. Whether it’s sharing some tapas with friends over a prelunch drink or a three-course à la carte meal, many Andalusians eat out at some point during the day. Unsurprisingly, there are literally thousands of bars and restaurants throughout the region catering to all budgets and tastes.

At lunchtime, check out the daily menus (menús del día) offered by many restaurants, usually three courses and excellent value (expect to pay between €8 and €15, depending on the type of restaurant and location). Roadside restaurants, known as ventas, usually provide good food in generous portions and at reasonable prices. Be aware that many restaurants add a service charge (cubierto), which can be as much as €3 per person, and some restaurant prices don’t include value-added tax (impuesto sobre el valor añadido/I.V.A.) at 10%.

Andalusians tend to eat later than their fellow Spaniards—lunch is between 2 and 4 pm, and dinner starts at 9 pm (10 pm in the summer). In cities, many restaurants are closed Sunday night (fish restaurants tend to close on Monday) and in inland towns and cities, some close for all of August. Restaurant prices are the average cost of a main course or equivalent combination of smaller dishes at dinner.

HOTELS

Seville has grand old hotels, such as the Alfonso XIII, and a number of former palaces converted into sumptuous hostelries.

The Parador de Granada, next to the Alhambra, is a magnificent way to enjoy Granada. Hotels on the Alhambra hill, especially the parador, must be reserved far in advance. Lodging establishments in Granada’s city center, around the Puerta Real and Acera del Darro, can be unbelievably noisy, so if you’re staying there, ask for a room toward the back. Though Granada has plenty of hotels, it can be difficult to find lodging during peak tourist season (Easter to late October).

In Córdoba, several pleasant hotels occupy houses in the old quarter, close to the mosque. Other than during Holy Week and the May Patio Festival, it’s easy to find a room in Córdoba, even without a reservation.

Not all hotel prices include value-added tax (I.V.A.) and the 10% tax may be added to your final bill. Check when you book. Hotel prices are the lowest cost of a standard double room in high season.

TOURS

Alúa.
For help with planning and getting the equipment for hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking, caving, and other active sports throughout Andalusia, this is a good place to start. | Calle Concejal Francisco Ruiz Librero Bormujos, Seville | 955/984182 | www.alua.es | From €15.

Cabalgar Rutas Alternativas.
This is an established Alpujarras equestrian agency that organizes horseback riding in the Sierra Nevada. | C. Ermita Bubión | 958/763135 | www.ridingandalucia.com | From €25.

Dallas Love.
Trail rides in the Alpujarras, lasting up to a week, can be organized through this company. The price includes airport transfers, overnight stays, and most meals. | Ctra. de la Sierra Bubión | 608/453802 | www.spain-horse-riding.com | From €550.

Excursiones Bujarkay.
Guided hikes, horseback riding, and four-wheel-drive tours in the Sierra de Cazorla are offered. They can also help with rural accommodations. | Calle Martínez Falero 28 Cazorla | 953/721111 | www.bujarkay.com | From €30.

Faro del Sur.
Activities such as trekking, cycling, sailing, and kayaking in western Andalusia are available, and tours include kayaking along the Guadalquivir River and sailing along the Huelva coastline. | Puerto Deportivo L-1 Isla Cristina, Huelva | 959/344490 | www.farodelsur.com | From €500.

Glovento Sur.
Up to five people at a time are taken in balloon trips above Granada, Ronda, Sevilla, Córdoba, or other parts of the region. | Placeta Nevot 4, 1A Granada | 958/290316 | www.gloventosur.com | From €150 per person.

Nevadensis.
Based in the Alpujarras, Nevadensis leads guided hiking, climbing, and skiing tours of the Sierra Nevada. | Pl. de la Libertad Pampaneira | 958/763127 | www.nevadensis.com | From €150.

SierraeXtreme.
Choose from a wide range of adventure sports such as walking, climbing, caving, and canyoning in the Andalusian mountains with this company. | 637/727365 | www.sierraextreme.net | From €15.

EATING AND DRINKING WELL IN ANDALUSIA

Andalusian cuisine, as diverse as the geography of seacoast, farmland, and mountains, is held together by its Moorish aromas. Cumin seed and other Arabian spices, along with sweet-salty combinations, are ubiquitous.

The eight Andalusian provinces cover a wide geographical and culinary spectrum. Superb seafood is at center stage in Cádiz, Puerto de Santa María, and Sanlúcar de Barrameda. Jamon ibérico de bellota (Iberian acorn-fed ham) and other Iberico pork products rule from the Sierra de Aracena in Huelva to the Pedroches Mountains north of Córdoba. In Seville look for products from the Guadalquivir estuary, the Sierra, and the rich Campiña farmland all prepared with great creativity. In Córdoba try salmorejo cordobés (a thick gazpacho), rabo de toro (oxtail stew), or representatives of the salty-sweet legacy from Córdoba’s Moorish heritage such as cordero con miel (lamb with honey). Spicy crema de almendras (almond soup) is a Granada favorite along with habas con jamón (broad beans with ham) from the Alpujarran village of Trevélez.

Sherry

Dry sherry from Jerez de la Frontera (fino) and from Sanlúcar de Barrameda (manzanilla), share honors as favorite tapas accompaniments. Manzanilla, the more popular choice, is fresher and more delicate, with a slight marine tang. Both are the preferred drinks at Andalusian ferias (fairs), particularly in Seville in April and Jerez de la Frontera in May.

Cold vegetable soups

Spain’s most popular contribution to world gastronomy after paella may well be gazpacho, a simple peasant soup served cold and filled with scraps and garden ingredients. Tomatoes, cucumber, garlic, oil, bread, and chopped peppers are the ingredients, and side plates of chopped onion, peppers, garlic, tomatoes, and croutons accompany, to be added to taste. Salmorejo cordobés, a thicker cold vegetable soup with the same ingredients but a different consistency, is used to accompany tapas.

Moorish flavors

Andalusia’s 781-year sojourn at the heart of Al-Andalus, the Moorish empire on the Iberian Peninsula, left as many tastes and aromas as mosques and fortresses. Cumin-laced boquerones en adobo (marinated anchovies) or the salty-sweet cordero a la miel (lamb with honey) are two examples, along with coriander-spiked espinacas con garbanzos (spinach with garbanzo beans) and perdiz con dátiles y almendras (partridge stewed with dates and almonds). Desserts especially reflect the Moorish legacy in morsels such as pestiños, cylinders or twists of fried dough in anise-honey syrup.

Fried fish

Andalusia is famous for its fried fish, from pescaito frito (fried whitebait) to calamares fritos (fried squid rings). Andalusians are masters of deep-frying techniques using very hot olive and vegetable oils that produce peerlessly crisp, dry frituras (fried seafood); much of Andalusia’s finest tapas repertory is known for being served up piping hot and crunchy. Look for tortilla de camarones, a delicate lacework of tiny fried shrimp.

Stews

Guisos are combinations of vegetables, with or without meat, cooked slowly over low heat. Rabo de toro is a favorite throughout Andalusia, though Córdoba claims the origin of this dark and delicious stew made from the tail of a fighting bull. The segments of tail are cleaned, browned, and set aside before leeks, onions, carrots, garlic, and bay leaves are stewed in the same pan. Cloves, salt, pepper, a liter of wine, and a half liter of beef broth are added to the stew with the meat, and they’re all simmered for two to three hours until the meat is falling off the bone and thoroughly tenderized. Alboronía, also known as pisto andaluz, is a traditional stew of eggplant, bell peppers, and zucchini, a recipe traced back to 9th-century Baghdad and brought to Córdoba by the Umayyad dynasty.

ANDALUSIA’S WHITE VILLAGES

Looking a bit like sugar cubes spilled onto a green tablecloth, Andalusia’s pueblos blancos (white villages) are usually found nestled on densely wooded hills, clinging to the edges of deep gorges, or perched precariously on hilltops.

The picturesque locations of the pueblos blancos usually have more to do with defense than anything else, and many have crumbling walls and fortifications that show their use as defensive structures along the frontier between the Christian and Moorish realms. In a few, the remains of magnificent Moorish castles can be spied. The suffix de la frontera, literally meaning “on the frontier,” tacked onto a town’s name relates to this historical border position. A visit to the white villages gives a glimpse into a simpler time when the economy was based on agriculture, architecture was built to withstand the climate, and life moved at more of a donkey-plod pace. Little wonder that many foreign residents have moved to these rural communities in a bid to discover a more tranquil life, far from the crowds and clamor of the coast.

Picasso’s Cubes

It’s been suggested that Picasso, who was born in Málaga, was inspired to create Cubism by the pueblos blancos of his youth. The story may be apocryphal, but it’s nonetheless easy to imagine—there is something wondrous and inspiring about Andalusia’s whitewashed villages, with their houses that seem to tumble down the mountain slopes like giant dice.

Vejer de la Frontera

This dazzling white town is perched high on a hill, perfectly positioned to protect its citizens from the threat of marauding pirates. Today it is one of the most charming pueblos blancos on the Cádiz coast, known for its meandering cobbled lanes, narrow arches, and large number of atmospheric bars and restaurants. More recently, Vejer has been popular with an artsy crowd that has brought contemporary art galleries, crafts shops, and low-key music venues.

Frigiliana

This impossibly pretty whitewashed village is 7 km (4½ miles) north of the well-known resort of Nerja. Despite the encroachment of modern apartment buildings, the old center has remained relatively unchanged. Pots of crimson geraniums decorate the narrow streets, while the bars proudly serve the local sweet wine. Frigiliana is a good place for seeking out ceramics made by the town’s craftspeople. Hikers can enjoy the 3-km (2-mile) hike from the old town to the hilltop El Fuerte, site of a 1569 skirmish between the Moors and the Christians.

Gaucín

The countryside surrounding Ronda is stunning, especially in the spring when the ground is carpeted with wildflowers, including exquisite purple orchids. Not surprisingly, the Serranía de Ronda (as this area is known) is famous for its superb walking. Gaucín is a lovely village crowned by a ruined Moorish castle. It is popular with artists who open their studios to the public each year (see www.artgaucin.com for dates). The town also has several excellent restaurants and a couple of sophisticated boutique hotels.

Pitres and La Taha

Granada’s Alpujarras Mountains are home to some of Andalusia’s most unspoiled white villages. Two of the best known are Bubión and Capileira, while Pitres and La Taha villages of Mecina, Mecinilla, Fondales, Ferreirola, and Atalbéitar are lovely hamlets separated by rough tracks that wind through orchards and woodland, set in a valley that attracts few visitors.

Grazalema

About a half hour from Ronda, Grazalema is the prettiest—and the whitest—of the white towns. It’s a lovely, small town, worth some time wandering, and well situated for a visit to the mountains of the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park.

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Seville

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Exploring | Where to Eat | Where to Stay | Performing Arts | Shopping

550 km (340 miles) southwest of Madrid.

Seville’s whitewashed houses bright with bougainvillea, ocher-color palaces, and baroque facades have long enchanted both sevillanos and travelers. It’s a city for the senses—the fragrance of orange blossom (orange trees line many streets) intoxicates the air in spring, the sound of flamenco echoes through the alleyways in Triana and Santa Cruz, and views of the great Guadalquivir River accompany you at every turn. This is also a fine city in its architecture and people—stroll down the swankier pedestrian shopping streets and you can’t fail to notice just how good-looking everyone is. Aside from being blessed with even features and flashing dark eyes, sevillanos exude a cool sophistication that seems more Catalan than Andalusian.

This bustling city of more than 700,000 does have some downsides: traffic-choked streets, high unemployment, a notorious petty-crime rate, and at times the kind of impersonal treatment you won’t find in the smaller cities of Granada and Córdoba.

The layout of the historic center of Seville makes exploring easy. The central zone—Centro—around the cathedral, the Alcázar, Calle Sierpes, and Plaza Nueva is splendid and monumental, but it’s not where you’ll find Seville’s greatest charm. El Arenal, home of the Maestranza bullring, the Teatro de la Maestranza concert hall, and a concentration of picturesque taverns, still buzzes the way it must have when stevedores loaded and unloaded ships from the New World. Just southeast of Centro, the medieval Jewish quarter, Barrio de Santa Cruz, is a lovely, whitewashed tangle of alleys. The Barrio de la Macarena to the northeast is rich in sights and authentic Seville atmosphere. The fifth and final neighborhood to explore, on the far side of the Guadalquivir River, is in many ways, the best of all—Triana, the traditional habitat for sailors, bullfighters, and flamenco artists, as well as the main workshop for Seville’s renowned ceramicists.

GETTING HERE AND AROUND

Air Travel

Seville’s airport is about 7 km (4½ miles) east of the city. There’s a bus from the airport to the center of town every half hour daily (5:20 am–1:15 am; €4 one way). Taxi fare from the airport to the city center is around €22 during the day, and €25 at night and on Sunday. A number of private companies operate private airport-shuttle services.

Bike Travel

As an almost completely flat city, Seville is perfect for bike travel, and there are several bike rental companies within the city, including Bici4City.

Bus Travel

Seville has two intercity bus stations: Estación Plaza de Armas, the main one, with buses serving Córdoba, Granada, Huelva, and Málaga in Andalusia, plus Madrid and Portugal, and other international destinations; and the smaller Estación del Prado de San Sebastián, serving Cádiz and nearby towns and villages.

Seville’s urban bus service is efficient and covers the greater city area. Buses C1, C2, C3, and C4 run circular routes linking the main transportation terminals with the city center. The C1 goes east in a clockwise direction from the Santa Justa train station via Avenida de Carlos V, Avenida de María Luisa, Triana, the Isla de la Cartuja, and Calle de Resolana. The C2 follows the same route in reverse. The C3 runs from the Avenida Menéndez Pelayo to the Puerta de Jerez, Triana, Plaza de Armas, and Calle de Recaredo. The C4 does that route counterclockwise. The tram (called Metro Centro) runs between the San Bernardo station and Plaza Nueva. Buses do not run within the Barrio de Santa Cruz because the streets are too narrow, though they amply serve convenient access points around the periphery of this popular tourist area.

City buses operate limited night service between midnight and 2 am, with no service between 2 and 4 am. Single rides cost €1.40, but if you’re going to be busing a lot, it’s more economical to buy a rechargeable multitravel pass, which ends up being €0.69 per ride. Special tourist passes (Tarjeta Turística) valid for one or three days of unlimited bus travel cost (respectively) €5 and €10. Tickets are sold at newsstands and at the main bus station, Prado de San Sebastián.

Car Travel

Getting in and out of Seville by car isn’t difficult, thanks to the SE30 ring road, but getting around in the city by car is problematic. We advise leaving your car at your hotel or in a lot while you’re here.

Train Travel

Train connections include the high-speed AVE service from Madrid, with a journey time of less than 2½ hours.

Tours

In Seville, the Asociación Provincial de Informadores Turísticos, Guidetour, and ITA can hook you up with a qualified English-speaking guide. The tourist office has information on various organized tours.

History and Tapas Tour.
Glean local, historical, and culinary knowledge on a variety of tours around sights and tapas bars. | sevilleconcierge.com | From €50.

Sevilla Bike Tour.
Guided tours, leaving from the Makinline Shop on Calle Arjona at 10:30 am, take in the major sights of the city and offer interesting stories and insider information along the way. You’ll cover about 10 km (6 miles) in the three hours. Reservations are required on weekends and recommended on weekdays. | Calle Arjona 8, Centro | 954/562625 | www.sevillabiketour.com | €25.

Sevilla Walking Tours.
A choice of three walking tours are conducted in English: the Walking Tour, leaving Plaza Nueva from the statue of San Fernando; the Alcázar Tour, leaving Plaza del Triunfo from the central statue; and the Cathedral Tour, also leaving from the Plaza del Triunfo central statue. | 902/158226, 616/501100 | www.sevillawalkingtours.com | €7–€15 | Walking Tour Mon.–Sat. 10:30 (Mon., Wed., and Sat. only in Jan. and Aug.); Alcázar Tour Tues., Thurs., and Sat. at 1; Cathedral Tour Mon., Wed., and Fri. at 1.

SevillaTour.
Open-top buses leave every half hour (every 20 mins in summer) from the Torre del Oro, with stops at Parque María Luisa and Isla Mágica theme park. You can hop on and off at any stop. The complete tour lasts about an hour. | C. Jaén 2 | www.city-sightseeing.com | €15.50.

Seville Tapas Tours.
Local food and wine expert Shawn Hennessey leads guided tours round Seville’s best tapas bars (traditional and gourmet). Choose from several different tours, lunch or evening. | www.azahar-sevilla.com | From €60.

Essentials

Bike Contacts
Bici4City. | Calle Peral 6 | 954/389383 | www.bici4city.com.

Bus Stations
Estación del Prado de San Sebastián. | Calle Vázquez Sagastizábal, El Arenal | 954/417118
Estación Plaza de Armas. | Puente Cristo de la Expiración, Centro | 955/038665 | www.autobusesplazadearmas.es.

Taxi Contact
Radio Taxi Giralda. | 954/998070.

Train Station
Estación Santa Justa. | Av. Kansas City, El Arenal | 902/320320.

Visitor Information 
Ciy & Province of Seville. | Pl. de Triunfo 1, by cathedral, Barrio de Santa Cruz | 954/210005 | www.turismosevilla.org.

Seville: North

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EXPLORING

CENTRO

Top Attractions

Fodor’s Choice | Alcázar.
The Plaza del Triunfo forms the entrance to the Mudejar palace, the official residence of the king and queen when they’re in town, built by Pedro I (1350–69) on the site of Seville’s former Moorish alcázar (fortress). Don’t mistake the Alcázar for a genuine Moorish palace like Granada’s Alhambra. It may look like one, and it was designed and built by Moorish workers brought in from Granada, but it was commissioned and paid for by a Christian king more than 100 years after the reconquest of Seville.

Entering the Alcázar through the Puerta del León (Lion’s Gate) and the high, fortified walls, you’ll first find yourself in a garden courtyard, the Patio del León (Courtyard of the Lion). Off to the left are the oldest parts of the building, the 14th-century Sala de Justicia (Hall of Justice) and, next to it, the intimate Patio del Yeso (Courtyard of Plaster), the only part of the original 12th-century Almohad Alcázar. Cross the Patio de la Montería (Courtyard of the Hunt) to Pedro’s Mudejar palace, arranged around the beautiful Patio de las Doncellas (Court of the Damsels), resplendent with delicately carved stucco. Opening off this patio, the Salón de Embajadores (Hall of the Ambassadors), with its cedar cupola of green, red, and gold, is the most sumptuous hall in the palace.

Other royal rooms include the three baths of Pedro’s powerful and influential mistress, María de Padilla. María’s hold on her royal lover—and his courtiers—was so great that legend says they all lined up to drink her bathwater. The Patio de las Muñecas (Court of the Dolls) takes its name from two tiny faces carved on the inside of one of its arches, no doubt as a joke on the part of its Moorish creators. Here Pedro reputedly had his half brother, Don Fadrique, slain in 1358; and here, too, he murdered guest Abu Said of Granada for his jewels—one of which, a huge ruby, is now among England’s crown jewels. (Pedro gave it to the Black Prince, Edward, Prince of Wales [1330–76], for helping during the revolt of his illegitimate brother in 1367.)

The Renaissance Palacio de Carlos V (Palace of Carlos V) is endowed with a rich collection of Flemish tapestries depicting Carlos’s victories at Tunis. Look for the map of Spain: it shows the Iberian Peninsula upside down, as was the custom in Arab mapmaking. There are more goodies—rare clocks, antique furniture, paintings, and tapestries—on the upper floor, in the Estancias Reales (Royal Chambers).

In the gardens, inhale the fragrances of jasmine and myrtle, wander among terraces and baths, and peer into the well-stocked goldfish pond. From here, a passageway leads to the Patio de las Banderas (Court of the Flags), which has a classic view of the Giralda.

Allow at least two hours for your visit. TIP Buy tickets online to avoid waiting in line. | Pl. del Triunfo, Santa Cruz | 954/502323 | www.alcazarsevilla.org | €9.50 (free Apr.–Sept., Mon. 6–7; Oct.–Mar., Mon. 5–6) Apr.–Sept., daily 9:30–7; Oct.–Mar., daily 9:30–5.

Fodor’s Choice | Cathedral.
Seville’s cathedral can be described only in superlatives: it’s the largest and highest cathedral in Spain, the largest Gothic building in the world, and the world’s third-largest church, after St. Peter’s in Rome and St. Paul’s in London. After Ferdinand III captured Seville from the Moors in 1248, the great mosque begun by Yusuf II in 1171 was reconsecrated to the Virgin Mary and used as a Christian cathedral. In 1401 the people of Seville decided to erect a new cathedral, one that would equal the glory of their great city. They pulled down the old mosque, leaving only its minaret and outer courtyard, and built the existing building in just over a century—a remarkable feat for the time.

The cathedral’s dimly illuminated interior, aside from the well-lighted high altar, can be disappointing: Gothic purity has been largely submerged in ornate baroque decoration. In the central nave rises the Capilla Mayor (Main Chapel). Its magnificent retablo (altarpiece) is the largest in Christendom (65 feet by 43 feet). It depicts some 36 scenes from the life of Christ, with pillars carved with more than 200 figures. Restoration of the altarpiece was completed in 2014.

On the south side of the cathedral is the monument to Christopher Columbus: his coffin is borne aloft by the four kings representing the medieval kingdoms of Spain: Castile, León, Aragón, and Navarra. Columbus’s son Fernando Colón (1488–1539) is also interred here; his tombstone is inscribed with the words “A Castilla y a León, mundo nuevo dio Colón” (“To Castile and León, Columbus gave a new world”).

On the opposite north side, don’t miss the Altar de Plata (Silver Altar), an 18th century masterpiece of intricate silversmithery.

In the Sacristía de los Cálices (Sacristy of the Chalices) look for Juan Martínez Montañés’s wood carving Crucifixion, Merciful Christ; Juan de Valdés Leal’s St. Peter Freed by an Angel; Francisco de Zurbarán’s Virgin and Child; and Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes’s St. Justa and St. Rufina. The Sacristía Mayor (Main Sacristy) holds the keys to the city, which Seville’s Moors and Jews presented to their conqueror, Ferdinand III. Finally, in the dome of the Sala Capitular (Chapter House), in the cathedral’s southeastern corner, is Bartolomé Estéban Murillo’s Immaculate Conception, painted in 1668.

One of the cathedral’s highlights, the Capilla Real (Royal Chapel), is concealed behind a ponderous curtain, but you can duck in if you’re quick, quiet, and properly dressed (no shorts or sleeveless tops): enter from the Puerta de los Palos, on Plaza Virgen de los Reyes (signposted “Entrada para Culto”—entrance for worship). Along the sides of the chapel are the tombs of the Beatrix of Swabia, wife of the 13th century’s Ferdinand III, and their son Alfonso X (“the Wise”); in a silver urn before the high altar rest the relics of Ferdinand III himself, Seville’s liberator. Canonized in 1671, he was said to have died from excessive fasting.

Don’t forget the Patio de los Naranjos (Courtyard of Orange Trees), on the church’s northern side, where the fountain in the center was used for ablutions before people entered the original mosque. Near the Puerta del Lagarto (Lizard’s Gate), in the corner near the Giralda, try to find the wooden crocodile—thought to have been a gift from the emir of Egypt in 1260 as he sought the hand of the daughter of Alfonso the Wise—and the elephant tusk, found in the ruins of Itálica.

The Christians could not bring themselves to destroy the tower when they tore down the mosque, so they incorporated it into their new cathedral. In 1565–68 they added a lantern and belfry to the old minaret and installed 24 bells, one for each of Seville’s 24 parishes and the 24 Christian knights who fought with Ferdinand III in the reconquest. They also added the bronze statue of Faith, which turned as a weather vane—el giraldillo, or “something that turns,” thus the whole tower became known as the Giralda. With its baroque additions, the slender Giralda rises 322 feet. Inside, instead of steps, 35 sloping ramps—wide enough for two horsemen to pass abreast—climb to a viewing platform 230 feet up. It is said that Ferdinand III rode his horse to the top to admire the city he had conquered. Admission also includes the visit to the Iglesia del Salvador. | Pl. Virgen de los Reyes, Centro | 954/214971 | €8 (free Mon. from 4:30 if you prebook) | Sept.–June, Mon. 11–3:30, Tues.–Sat. 11–5, Sun. 2:30–6; July and Aug., Mon. 9:30–2:30, Tues.–Sat. 9:30–4, Sun. 2:30–6.

Fodor’s Choice | Palacio de la Condesa de Lebrija.
This lovely palace has three ornate patios, including a spectacular courtyard graced by a Roman mosaic taken from the ruins in Itálica, surrounded by Moorish arches and fine azulejos. The side rooms house a collection of archaeological items. The second floor contains the family apartments and visits are by guided tour only. TIP It’s well worth paying the extra for the second floor tour, which gives an interesting insight into the collections and the family. | Calle Cuna 8, Centro | 954/227802 | €5 1st fl. only; €8 with 2nd-fl. tour (free Mon. 6–7) | Weekdays 10:30–7:30, Sat. 10–2 and 4–6, Sun. 10–2.

Worth Noting

Ayuntamiento (City Hall).
This Diego de Riaño original, built between 1527 and 1564, is in the heart of Seville’s commercial center. A 19th-century plateresque facade overlooks the Plaza Nueva. The other side, on the Plaza de San Francisco, is Riaño’s work. Visits must be pre-booked via|www.visitasevilla.es. | Pl. Nueva 1, Centro | 954/470243 | €4 (free Sat.) | Tours Sept.–June, Mon.–Thurs. at 4:30 and 7:30, Sat. at 10.

Iglesia del Salvador.
Built between 1671 and 1712, the Church of the Savior stands on the site of Seville’s first great mosque, of which remains can be seen in its Courtyard of the Orange Trees. Also of note are the sculptures Jesús de la Pasión and St. Christopher by Martínez Montañés. In 2003 archeologists discovered an 18th-century burial site here; walkways have been installed to facilitate visits. | Pl. del Salvador, Centro | 954/211679 | €3 with guide, €8 combined ticket with Cathedral | Mon.–Sat. 11–5:30, Sun. 3–7.

Metropol Parasol.
This huge square, at the west end of Calle Cuna, is home to the world’s largest wooden structure, 492 feet long by 230 feet wide. The design represents giant trees, reminiscent of Gaudí, and walkways run through the “tree tops” affording great views of the city, especially at sunset. At ground level, there are interesting archaeological remains (mostly Roman) and a large indoor food market. | Pl. de la Encarnación, Centro | €3 | 10:30 am–midnight (until 1 am Fri. and Sat.).

Seville: South

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BARRIO DE SANTA CRUZ

Top Attractions

Fodor’s Choice | Casa de Pilatos.
With its fine patio and superb azulejo decorations, this palace is a beautiful blend of Spanish Mudejar and Renaissance architecture, and is considered a prototype of an Andalusian mansion. It was built in the first half of the 16th century by the dukes of Tarifa, ancestors of the present owner, the Duke of Medinaceli. It’s known as Pilate’s House because Don Fadrique, first marquis of Tarifa, allegedly modeled it on Pontius Pilate’s house in Jerusalem, where he had gone on a pilgrimage in 1518. The upstairs apartments, which you can see on a guided tour, have frescoes, paintings, and antique furniture. Admission prices include an audio guide in English. | Pl. de Pilatos 1, Barrio de Santa Cruz | 954/225298 | €6 1st fl. only, €8 with 2nd-fl. tour Daily 9–6 (until 7 Apr.–Oct.).

Fodor’s Choice | Jewish Quarter.
The twisting alleyways and traditional whitewashed houses add to the tourist charm of this barrio. On some streets, bars alternate with antiques and souvenir shops, but most of the quarter is quiet and residential. On the Plaza Alianza, pause to enjoy the antiques shops and outdoor cafés. In the Plaza de Doña Elvira, with its fountain and azulejo benches, young sevillanos gather to play guitars. Just around the corner from the hospital, at Callejón del Agua and Jope de Rueda, Gioacchino Rossini’s Figaro serenaded Rosina on her Plaza Alfaro balcony. Adjoining the Plaza Alfaro, in the Plaza Santa Cruz, flowers and orange trees surround a 17th-century filigree iron cross, which marks the site of the erstwhile church of Santa Cruz, destroyed by Napoléon’s General Jean-de-Dieu Soult. | Barrio de Santa Cruz.

Fodor’s Choice | Museo del Baile Flamenco.
This private museum in the heart of Santa Cruz (follow the signs) was opened in 2007 by the legendary flamenco dancer Cristina Hoyos and includes audiovisual and multimedia displays explaining the history, culture, and soul of Spanish flamenco. There are also regular classes and shows. | Calle Manuel Rojas Marcos 3, Barrio de Santa Cruz | 954/340311 | www.museoflamenco.com | €10 | Daily 10–7.

Worth Noting

Archivo General de Indias (Archives of the Indies).
Opened in 1785 in the former Lonja (Merchants’ Exchange), this dignified Renaissance building stores a valuable archive of more than 40,000 documents, including drawings, trade documents, plans of South American towns, and even the autographs of Columbus, Magellan, and Cortés. Temporary exhibitions showcase different archives. | Av. de la Constitución 3, Barrio de Santa Cruz | 954/500528 | Free | Mon.–Sat. 9:30–4:45, Sun. 10–2.

Hospital de los Venerables.
Once a retirement home for priests, this baroque building has a splendid azulejo patio with an interesting sunken fountain (designed to cope with low water pressure) and an upstairs gallery, but the highlight is the chapel, featuring frescoes by Valdés Leal and sculptures by Pedro Roldán. The building now houses a cultural foundation that organizes on-site art exhibitions. | Pl. de los Venerables 8, Barrio de Santa Cruz | 954/562696 | €5.50, includes audio guide (free Sun. 4–8) | Daily 10–1:30 and 4–8.

Jardines de Murillo (Murillo Gardens).
From the Plaza Santa Cruz you can stroll through these shady gardens, where you’ll find a statue of Christopher Columbus and some welcome shade in the summer. | Pl. Santa Cruz, Barrio de Santa Cruz.

Plaza de los Refinadores.
This shady square filled with palms and orange trees is separated from the Murillo Gardens by an iron grillwork and ringed with stately glass balconies. At its center is a monument to Don Juan Tenorio, the famous Don Juan known for his amorous conquests. | Barrio de Santa Cruz.

EL ARENAL AND PARQUE MARÍA LUISA

Parque María Luisa is part shady, midcity forestland and part monumental esplanade. El Arenal, named for its sandy riverbank soil, was originally a neighborhood of shipbuilders, stevedores, and warehouses. The heart of El Arenal lies between the Puente de San Telmo, just upstream from the Torre de Oro, and the Puente de Isabel II (Puente de Triana). El Arenal extends as far north as Avenida Alfonso XII to include the Museo de Bellas Artes. Between the park and El Arenal is the university.

Top Attractions

Fodor’s Choice | Museo de Bellas Artes (Museum of Fine Arts).
This museum—one of Spain’s finest for Spanish art—is in the former convent of La Merced Calzada, most of which dates from the 17th century. The collection includes works by Murillo and the 17th-century Seville school, as well as by Zurbarán, Diego Velázquez, Alonso Cano, Valdés Leal, and El Greco. You will also see outstanding examples of Sevillian Gothic art and baroque religious sculptures in wood (a quintessentially Andalusian art form). In the rooms dedicated to Sevillian art of the 19th and 20th centuries, look for Gonzalo Bilbao’s Las Cigarreras, a group portrait of Seville’s famous cigar makers. | Pl. del Museo 9, El Arenal | 954/786491 | www.museosdeandalucia.es | €1.50 | Sept. 16–May 31, Tues.–Sat. 10–8:30, Sun. 10–5:30; June 1–Sept. 15 Tues.–Sat. 9:15–3:30, Sun. 10–5.

Fodor’s Choice | Parque de María Luisa.
Formerly the garden of the Palacio de San Telmo, this park blends formal design and wild vegetation. In the burst of development that gripped Seville in the 1920s, it was redesigned for the 1929 World’s Fair, and the impressive villas you see now are the fair’s remaining pavilions, many of them consulates or schools; the old Casino holds the Teatro Lope de Vega, which puts on mainly musicals. Note the Anna Huntington statue of El Cid (Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, 1043–99), who fought both for and against the Muslim rulers during the Reconquest. The statue was presented to Seville by the Massachusetts-born sculptor for the 1929 World’s Fair. | Main entrance: Glorieta San Diego, Parque Maria Luisa.

FAMILY | Plaza de España.
This grandiose half-moon of buildings on the eastern edge of the Parque de María Luisa was Spain’s centerpiece pavilion at the 1929 World’s Fair. The brightly colored azulejo pictures represent the provinces of Spain, while the four bridges symbolize the medieval kingdoms of the Iberian Peninsula. In summer you can rent small boats to row along the arc-shaped canal. | Parque Maria Luisa.

Plaza de Toros Real Maestranza (Royal Maestranza Bullring).
Sevillanos have spent many a thrilling evening in this bullring, one of the oldest and loveliest plazas de toros in Spain, built between 1760 and 1763. The 20-minute tour (in English) takes in the empty arena, a museum with elaborate costumes and prints, and the chapel where matadors pray before the fight. Bullfights take place in the evening Thursday through Sunday, April through July and in September. Tickets can be booked online or by phone. | Paseo de Colón 12, El Arenal | 954/210315 for visits, 954/501382 for bullfights | www.realmaestranza.es | Tours €7 (free Mon. 3–7) | Tours daily 9:30–7; on bullfight days call to check.

Worth Noting

Hospital de la Caridad.
Behind the Maestranza Theater is this almshouse for the sick and elderly, where six paintings by Murillo (1617–82) and two gruesome works by Valdés Leal (1622–90), depicting the Triumph of Death, are displayed. The baroque hospital was founded in 1674 by Seville’s original Don Juan, Miguel de Mañara (1626–79). A nobleman of licentious character, Mañara was returning one night from a riotous orgy when he had a vision of a funeral procession in which the partly decomposed corpse in the coffin was his own. Accepting the apparition as a sign from God, Mañara devoted his fortune to building this hospital and is buried before the high altar in the chapel. Admission includes an audio guide (available in English). | Calle Temprado 3, El Arenal | 954/223232 | €5 | Mon.–Sat. 9:30–1 and 3:30–7, Sun. 9–12:30.

Hotel Alfonso XIII.
Seville’s most emblematic hotel, this grand, Mudejar-style building next to the university was built and named for the king when he visited for the 1929 World’s Fair. Extensive renovations were completed in 2012. Even if you are not staying here you can admire the gracious Moorish-style courtyard, best appreciated while sipping an ice-cold fino from the adjacent bar. | Calle San Fernando 2, El Arenal | 954/917000 | www.hotel-alfonsoxiii.es.

Museo Arqueológico (Museum of Archaeology).
This fine Renaissance-style building has artifacts from Phoenician, Tartessian, Greek, Carthaginian, Iberian, Roman, and medieval times. Displays include marble statues and mosaics from the Roman excavations at Itálica and a faithful replica of the fabulous Carambolo treasure found on a hillside outside Seville in 1958: 21 pieces of jewelry, all 24-karat gold, dating from the 7th and 6th centuries BC. | Pl. de América, El Arenal | 954/120632 | €1.50 | Sept. 16–May 31, Tues.–Sat. 10–8:30, Sun. 10–5; June 1–Sept. 15, Tues.–Sat. 9–3:30, Sun. 10–5.

FAMILY | Museo de Artes y Costumbres Populares (Museum of Arts and Traditions).
Among the fascinating items of mainly 19th- and 20th-century Spanish folklore in this museum, in the Mudejar pavilion opposite the Museum of Archaeology, is an impressive Díaz Velázquez collection of lace and embroidery—one of the finest in Europe. There’s a reconstruction of a typical late-19th-century Sevillian house on the first floor, while upstairs, exhibits include 18th- and 19th-century court dress, stunning regional folk costumes, religious objects, and musical instruments. In the basement, you can see ceramics, pottery, furniture, and household items from bygone ages. | Pl. de América 3, El Arenal | 954/712391 | www.museosdeandalucia.es | €1.50 | Sept. 16–June 15, Tues.–Sat. 10–8:30, Sun. 10–5; June 16–Sept. 15, Tues.–Sun 10–5.

Don Juan: Lover of Legends

Originally brought to literary life by the Spanish Golden Age playwright Fray Gabriel Téllez (better known as Tirso de Molina) in 1630, the figure of Don Juan has been portrayed in countless variations through the years, usually changing to reflect the moral climate of the times. As interpreted by such notables as Molière, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Carlo Goldoni, George Gordon (Lord Byron), and George Bernard Shaw, Don Juan has ranged from voluptuous hedonist to helpless victim, from fiery lover to coldhearted snake.

The plaques around his effigy in Plaza de los Refinadores translate as: “Here is Don Juan Tenorio, and no man is his equal. From haughty princess to a humble fisherwoman, there is no female he doesn’t desire, nor affair of gold or riches he will not pursue. Seek him ye rivals; surround him players all; may whoever values himself attempt to stop him or be his better at gambling, combat, or love.”

FAMILY | Plaza de América.
Walk to the south end of the Parque de María Luisa, past the Isla de los Patos (Island of Ducks), to find this plaza designed by Aníbal González and typically carpeted with a congregation of white doves (children can buy grain from a kiosk here to feed them). It’s a blaze of color, with flowers, shrubs, ornamental stairways, and fountains tiled in yellow, blue, and ocher. The three impressive buildings surrounding the square—in neo-Mudejar, Gothic, and Renaissance styles—were built by González for the 1929 World’s Fair. Two of them now house Seville’s museums of archaeology and arts and traditions. | Parque Maria Luisa.

Torre del Oro (Tower of Gold).
Built by the Moors in 1220 to complete the city’s ramparts, this 12-sided tower on the banks of the Guadalquivir served to close off the harbor when a chain was stretched across the river from its base to a tower on the opposite bank. In 1248, Admiral Ramón de Bonifaz broke through the barrier, and Ferdinand III captured Seville. The tower houses a small naval museum. | Paseo Alcalde Marqués de Contadero s/n, El Arenal | 954/222419 | €3 (free Mon.) | Weekdays 9:30–6:45, weekends 10:30–6:45.

University of Seville.
Fans of Bizet’s opera Carmen will want to come here, to see where the famous heroine reputedly rolled cigars on her thighs. At the far end of the Jardines de Murillo, opposite Calle San Fernando, stands what used to be the Real Fábrica de Tabacos (Royal Tobacco Factory). Built in the mid-1700s, the factory employed some 3,000 cigarreras (female cigar makers) less than a century later. Free, guided tours in English are available Monday to Thursday at 11. | Calle San Fernando 4, Parque Maria Luisa | 954/551052 | Free | Weekdays 9 am–9:30 pm.

BARRIO DE LA MACARENA

This immense neighborhood covers the entire northern half of historic Seville and deserves to be walked many times. Most of the best churches, convents, markets, and squares are concentrated around the center in an area delimited by the Arab ramparts to the north, the Alameda de Hercules to the west, the Santa Catalina church to the south, and the Convento de Santa Paula to the east. The area between the Alameda de Hercules and the Guadalquivir is known to locals as the Barrio de San Lorenzo, a section that’s ideal for an evening of tapas grazing.

Basílica de la Macarena.
This church holds Seville’s most revered image, the Virgin of Hope—better known as La Macarena. Bedecked with candles and carnations, her cheeks streaming with glass tears, the Macarena steals the show at the procession on Holy Thursday, the highlight of Seville’s Holy Week pageant. The patron of gypsies and the protector of the matador, her charms are so great that young Sevillian bullfighter Joselito spent half his personal fortune buying her emeralds. When he was killed in the ring in 1920, the Macarena was dressed in widow’s weeds for a month. The adjacent museum tells the history of Holy Week traditions through processional and liturgical artifacts amassed by the Brotherhood of La Macarena over four centuries. | Calle Bécquer 1, La Macarena | 954/901800 | Basilica free, museum €5 | Daily 9–2 and 5–9.

Seville’s Long and Noble History

Conquered in 205 BC by the Romans, Seville gave the world two great emperors, Trajan and Hadrian. The Moors held Seville for more than 500 years and left it one of their greatest works of architecture—the iconic Giralda tower that served as the minaret over the main city mosque. St. Ferdinand III (King Fernando III) lies enshrined in the glorious cathedral, and his rather less saintly descendant, Pedro the Cruel, builder of the Alcázar, is buried here as well.

Seville is justly proud of its literary and artistic associations. The painters Diego Rodríguez de Silva Velázquez (1599–1660) and Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617–82) were sons of Seville, as were the poets Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer (1836–70), Antonio Machado (1875–1939), and Nobel Prize–winner Vicente Aleixandre (1898–1984). The tale of the ingenious knight of La Mancha was begun in a Seville debtors’ prison, where Don Quixote’s creator, Miguel de Cervantes, once languished. Tirso de Molina’s Don Juan seduced his lovers in Seville’s mansions; Rossini’s barber, Figaro, was married in the Barrio de Santa Cruz; and Bizet’s sultry Carmen first met Don José in the former tobacco factory that now houses the university.

Fodor’s Choice | Convento de Santa Paula.
This 15th-century Gothic convent has a fine facade and portico, with ceramic decoration by Nicolaso Pisano. The chapel has some beautiful azulejos and sculptures by Martínez Montañés. It also contains a small museum and a shop selling delicious cakes and jams made by the nuns. | Calle Santa Paula 11, La Macarena | 954/536330 | €3 | Tues.–Sun. 10–1.

San Lorenzo y Jesús del Gran Poder.
This 17th-century church has many fine works by such artists as Martínez Montañés and Francisco Pacheco, but its outstanding piece is Juan de Mesa y Velasco’s Jesús del Gran Poder (Christ Omnipotent). | Pl. San Lorenzo 13, La Macarena | 954/915672 | Free | Sept. 16–June 19, Mon.–Thurs. 9–1:30 and 6–9, Fri. 7:30 am–10 pm, weekends 8–1:30 and 6–9; June 20–Sept. 15, Mon.–Thurs. 8–1:30 and 6–9, Fri. 7:30–2 and 5–10, weekends 8–2 and 6–9.

TRIANA

Triana used to be Seville’s Gypsy quarter. Today, it has a tranquil, neighborly feel by day and a distinctly flamenco feel at night. Cross over to Triana via the Puente de Isabel II, an iron bridge built in 1852 and the first to connect the city’s two sections. Start your walk in the Plaza del Altozano, the center of the Triana district and traditionally the meeting point for travelers from the south crossing the river to Seville. Admire the facade of the Murillo pharmacy here before walking up Calle Jacinto. Look out for the fine Casa de los Mensaque (now the district’s administrative office and usually open on weekday mornings), home to some of Triana’s finest potters and housing some stunning examples of Seville ceramics. Turn right into Calle Alfarería (Pottery Street) and visit some of the ceramic shops. Return via Calle Betis along the riverside. To reach attractions in La Cartuja, take the C1 bus.

Capilla de los Marineros.
This seamen’s chapel is one of Triana’s most important monuments and home to the Brotherhood of Triana, whose Holy Week processions are among the most revered in the city. | Calle Pureza 2,Triana | 954/332645 | Free | Mon.–Sat. 10–1:30 and 5:30–9, Sun. 10–2 and 5:30–8:30.

Isla de La Cartuja.
Named after its 14th-century Carthusian monastery, this island in the Guadalquivir River across from northern Seville was the site of the decennial Universal Exposition (Expo) in 1992. The island has the Teatro Central, used for concerts and plays; Parque del Alamillo, Seville’s largest, least known park; and the Estadio Olímpico, a 60,000-seat covered stadium. The best way to get to La Cartuja is by walking across one or both (one each way) of the superb Santiago Calatrava bridges spanning the river. The Puente de la Barqueta crosses to La Cartuja, and downstream the Puente del Alamillo connects the island with Seville. Buses C1 and C2 also serve La Cartuja. | Triana.

Monasterio de Santa María de las Cuevas (Monasterio de La Cartuja).
The 14th-century monastery was regularly visited by Christopher Columbus, who was also buried here for a few years. Part of the building houses the Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo, which has an absorbing collection of contemporary art. | Av. Américo Vespucio, La Cartuja | 955/037070 | €3 (free Tues.–Fri. 7–9) | Tues.–Sat. 11–9, Sun. 11–3.

Isla Mágica.
The eastern shore of Isla de la Cartuja holds this theme park with more than 20 attractions, including the hair-raising Jaguar roller coaster. | Isla de la Cartuja, Av. de los Descubrimiento, s/n,Triana | 902/161716 | www.islamagica.es | €30 | Apr.–June, weekends 11–10; July–Sept. 7, daily 11–11; Sept. 7–Nov. 2, weekends 11–9.

WHERE TO EAT

CENTRO

Casa Morales.
TAPAS | Down a side street off the Avenida de la Constitución, this atmospheric bar takes you back to 19th-century Seville with its wooden shelving stacked with wine bottles, beamed ceiling, and tiled walls. It was established in 1850 as a wine store and is still run by the same family. There are two bar areas—the largest fronts the store and looks out onto the street, and the other is home to huge ceramic wine barrels. Locals pack the place at lunchtime, when popular dishes include menudo con garbanzos (tripe with chickpeas) and albóndigas de choco (cuttlefish croquettes). The wine list is, as you would expect, extensive. | Average main: €8 | Calle García de Vinuesa 11, Centro | 954/221242 | Closed Sun. July–Sept. 15. No dinner Sun. Sept. 16–June|.

Fodor’s Choice | Espacio Eslava.
TAPAS | The crowds gathered outside this local favorite off the Alameda de Hercules may be off-putting at first, but the creative, inexpensive tapas (from €2.50) are well worth the wait. Try delicacies like the cigarro para Bécquer (seaweed mousse with squid and cuttlefish, and garlic sauce) or solomillo al eneldo or con cabrales (sirloin with dill or Cabrales cheese) or huevo sobre bizcocho boletus y vino dulce caramelizado (egg on mushroom pie with caramelized sweet wine). The house specialty, however, is the Basque dessert sokoa, so be sure to leave some room. Tables at the tapas bar can’t be booked (a call will get you a reservation at the next-door Eslava restaurant), so arrive early to avoid a wait. | Average main: €10 | Calle Eslava 3, Centro | 954/906568 | Reservations not accepted | Closed Mon. No dinner Sun. |

La Azotea.
SPANISH | With a young vibe and a vast and inventive menu, this tiny restaurant offers a welcome change from Seville’s typical fried fare. The owners’ haute-cuisine ambitions are reflected in excellent service and lovingly prepared food, but not in the prices. The menu changes according to the season, but typical dishes include salmon tartare, baby squid with cream of goat’s cheese and orange, and Iberian pork in red wine au gratin. Reservations are available for weekday lunches only; at any other time, put your name on the waiting list and pop round to the Azotea bar just round the corner for a drink and generous tapa (€4) while you wait. | Average main: €14 | Calle Jesus del Gran Poder 31, Centro | 955/116748 | Closed Sun., Mon., and 2 wks in Aug. (phone to check) |.

La Pepona.
TAPAS | Establishing itself as a serious contender on the Seville tapas scene, this bar, opposite Calle Cuna and just around the corner from Metropol Parasol, has a sleek modern interior that’s welcoming and cozy. Tapas focus on innovative recipes, all made with fresh, locally produced ingredients. Highlights on the 20-tapa menu include sardinas marinadas sobre pan de sésamo (marinated sardines on sesame bread) and gambones a la plancha sobre trigo negro (grilled king prawns on black buckwheat). Wash your tapas (€3–€5) down with wine from the lengthy list, all available by the glass. | Average main: €12 | Calle Orfila 2, Centro | 954/215026 | Closed Sun. |

BARRIO DE SANTA CRUZ

Fodor’s Choice | Becerrita.
SPANISH | The affable Jesús Becerra runs this cozy establishment, where several small dining rooms are decorated with traditional columns, tiles, and colorful paintings of Seville by local artists. Diligent service and tasty modern treatments of such classic Spanish dishes as bacalao gratinado con Idiazábal sobre una salsa de piquillos (Basque-cheese grilled cod with pepper sauce) and brazuelo de cordero lechal asado al tomillo (roast suckling lamb with thyme) have won the favor of sevillanos, as have the signature oxtail croquettes. Smaller appetites can try such tasty tapas as stuffed calamari and garlic-spiked prawns. The restaurant has parking for customers. | Average main: €22 | Calle Recaredo 9, Santa Cruz | 954/412057 | www.becerrita.com | Reservations essential | No dinner Sun. |

Oriza.
SPANISH | Basque chef Eneko Galarraga took over from José Mari Egaña in early 2014 and has maintained the high culinary standards. On the edge of the Murillo Gardens opposite the university, Oriza has an atrium-style dining room with high ceilings and wall-to-wall stained-glass windows. In warm weather, you can eat on the terrace under the orange trees. The menu emphasizes the chef’s Basque origins and includes merluza en salsa verde con ajetes tiernos (cod in green sauce with tender garlic shoots) and solomillo de ternera con foie a la plancha (grilled filet steak with foie gras). The adjoining Bar España serves tapas (€3.50), including mushroom tart and mustard pork chop. Private dining rooms are also available. | Average main: €30 | Calle San Fernando 41, Santa Cruz | 954/227211 | Closed Sun. |

San Marco.
ITALIAN | In the heart of Santa Cruz is one of Seville’s surprises—an Italian restaurant in a 12th-century Arab bath house where original features blend with modern design. At this venue, you might be dining under authentic bath vaults studded with star shapes or sitting surrounded by starkly modern oil paintings in the area where bathers once received massages. Fountains provide a soothing backdrop, blending with live classical guitar music every evening. Specialties include creamy cheese ravioli al pesto and leg of lamb with honey and prunes, and there’s an extensive choice of homemade desserts. Service, led by owner Angelo Ramacciotti, is excellent and many clients are regulars. It’s wise to reserve for the evening. | Average main: €12 | Calle Mesón del Moro 6, Santa Cruz | 954/214390 |.

Fodor’s Choice | Vineria San Telmo.
SPANISH | Whether you eat in the dimly lit dining room or on the street-level terrace, prepare to spend some time perusing a menu that is full of surprises. All dishes are superb and sophisticated, especially the eggplant stew with tomato, goat’s cheese and smoked salmon, the Iberian pork with curried pumpkin and rocket, and the oxtail in filo pastry. Dishes come as tapas, half portions, or full portions—ideal for sharing—and the Argentine-owned restaurant’s vast glass-front wine cellar includes an extensive choice of Spanish vino. It’s near the touristy Alcazar and its popularity sometimes works to its detriment—it can get very crowded and noisy at times, when it would not be the ideal place for a romantic meal for two. | Average main: €12 | Paseo Catalina de Ribera 4,Santa Cruz | 954/410600 |.

EL ARENAL AND PARQUE MARÍA LUISA

Fodor’s Choice | Enrique Becerra.
SPANISH | Excellent tapas (€3.50—try the lamb kebab with dates and couscous), a lively bar, and an extensive wine list await at this restaurant run by the fifth generation of a family of celebrated restaurateurs (Enrique’s brother Jesús owns Becerrita). The menu focuses on traditional, home-cooked Andalusian dishes, such as pez espada al amontillado (swordfish cooked in dark sherry) and albóndigas de cordero a la hierbabuena (lamb meatballs with mint). Don’t miss the fried eggplant stuffed with prawns. If you want a quiet meal, call to reserve a table in one of the small upstairs rooms. | Average main: €21 | Calle Gamazo 2, El Arenal | 954/213049 | Closed Aug. (call for dates). No dinner Sun. |

Taberna de Alabardero.
SPANISH | In a magnificent manor house with a stunning patio, this restaurant’s upstairs dining rooms are set around a central arcade, with tables arranged under the tinkling crystal of chandeliers. Exquisite paintings and a pale green and yellow color scheme add to the charm. The cuisine is innovative and sophisticated, with dishes like sole with baby eel, squid and macadamia nuts, and steak in bloody mary sauce with salmon tartare. The ground-level bistro offers a good-value lunchtime menú del día (daily specials are €12.90 weekdays, €17.50 weekends). | Average main: €24 | Calle Zaragoza 20, El Arenal | 954/502721 | Closed Aug. |

BARRIO DE LA MACARENA

El Rinconcillo.
SPANISH | Founded in 1670, this lovely spot serves a classic selection of dishes, such as the pavía de bacalao (fried breaded cod), a superb salmorejo, and espinacas con garbanzos, all in generous portions. Tapas are keenly priced at from €2. The views of the Iglesia de Santa Catalina out the front window upstairs are unbeatable, and your bill is chalked up on the wooden counters as you go. This is a big favorite with locals so be prepared for crowds. | Average main: €10 | Calle Gerona 40, La Macarena | 954/223183 |.

TRIANA

Bar Las Golondrinas.
SPANISH | Run by the same family for more than 50 years and lavishly decorated in the colorful tiles that pay tribute to the neighborhood’s potters, Las Golondrinas is a fixture of Triana life. The staff never changes, and neither does the menu: the recipes for the punta de solomillo (sliced sirloin), chipirones (fried baby squid) and caballito de jamón (ham on bread) have been honed to perfection, and they’re served in tapas (€2) or large portions that keep everyone happy. | Average main: €12 | Calle Antillano Campos 26, Triana | 954/331626 |.

WHERE TO STAY

CENTRO

Posada del Lucero.
HOTEL | The country’s only 16th-century building being used as a posada has architecture that combines Mudejar-style flourishes with cutting-edge modern design. Original columns and three interior patios (including the former carriage house) add to the period charm, and rooms are decorated in a minimalist style with ocher-, brown-, and cream-color textiles and sleek walnut furniture; bathrooms are of dramatic black slate. A tastefully tiled fountain provides a soothing backdrop of running water reminiscent of the traditional Moorish gardens. Pros: lots of historic atmosphere; excellent central position. Cons: no soundproofing; rooms lack storage space. | Rooms from: €120 | Calle Almirante Apodaca 7, Centro | 954/502480 | www.hotelposadadellucero.com | 37 rooms, 1 suite | No meals |.

BARRIO DE SANTA CRUZ

Casa del Poeta.
HOTEL | Up a narrow alleyway, behind an ordinary facade, a 17th-century palace has become one of Seville’s newest boutique hotels—a cool oasis of calm just a heartbeat from some bustling Santa Cruz streets. The palace, the haunt of Seville’s poets at the end of the 19th century, has been totally restored to its formal glory, preserving all its original elements. Centered around a marble-arched patio with walls in the city’s hallmark red and ocher, all rooms are light and airy, and some have intimate views of roofs and gardens. Dark wood features heavily, in keeping with the hotel’s past, and the rooftop terrace takes in the lovely dome of Santa Cruz church as well as a good view of the Giralda tower. Pros: peaceful, central location; authentic palatial atmosphere. Cons: difficult to reach by car (call shortly before arrival for staff to meet you); no restaurant on site. | Rooms from: €167 | Calle Don Carlos Alonso Chaparro 3, Santa Cruz | 954/213868 | www.casadelpoeta.es | 14 rooms, 4 suites | No meals|.

Fodor’s Choice | Casa Número 7.
B&B/INN | Dating from 1850, this converted townhouse retains an elegant but lived-in feel, with family photographs, original oil paintings, and plush furnishings throughout. The owner is a director of González Byass, a major sherry producer, who apparently spent three years restoring the house, the result being that each room is individually decorated with tasteful artwork and antiques; the salon has a fireplace and comfy chairs, the roof terrace has views of the Giralda, and breakfast in the private dining rooms is an interesting and somewhat regal experience complete with butler in white gloves. The yellow room is the best one in the house. Pros: the personal touch of a B&B; delightfully different; great location. Cons: uninteresting breakfast. | Rooms from: €200 | Calle Virgenes 7, Santa Cruz | 954/221581 | www.casanumero7.com | 6 rooms | Breakfast |.

Fodor’s Choice | Hotel Amadeus La Música de Sevilla.
HOTEL | With pianos in some of the soundproof rooms, other instruments for guests to use, a music room off the central patio, and regular classical concerts, this acoustic oasis is ideal for touring professional musicians and music fans in general. Each room is named for a different composer, the furnishings include family antiques, and the 18th-century manor house has been equipped with such modern amenities as an in-house App about Seville and a small glass-wall elevator in a corner of the central patio. You can enjoy breakfast—served until 2 pm for night owls—on the roof terrace overlooking the Judería and Giralda. The terrace also has a small Jacuzzi and a cocktail bar. Pros: small but charming rooms; roof terrace. Cons: certain rooms are noisy and lack privacy; ground-floor rooms can be dark. | Rooms from: €112 | Calle Farnesio 6, Santa Cruz | 954/501443 | www.hotelamadeussevilla.com | 30 rooms | No meals |.

Fodor’s Choice | Hotel Casa 1800.
B&B/INN | This classy boutique hotel, in a refurbished 19th-century mansion, is an oasis in bustling Santa Cruz. Rooms have high ceilings, exposed wooden beams, wood floors, and antique furniture, and are tastefully decorated in subdued colors and bathrooms are large and modern—some of the superior rooms have their own patio and private Jacuzzi. The staff is lovely, and the hotel offers complimentary afternoon tea and snacks, which can be taken on the rooftop terrace with views of the Giralda. The buffet breakfast is generous. Pros: top-notch amenities; great service. Cons: the rooms facing the patio can be noisy; no restaurant; prices rocket for a three-week period around Easter. | Rooms from: €150 | C. Rodrigo Caro 6, Santa Cruz | 954/561800 | www.hotelcasa1800sevilla.com | 23 rooms, 1 suite | No meals |.

Las Casas de la Judería.
HOTEL | This labyrinthine hotel occupies 24 houses and three of Santa Cruz’s old palaces, each arranged around an inner courtyard with fountains, traditional tile work, and plenty of greenery, giving the impression of a self-contained village in the city center. The spacious guest rooms are painted in subdued pastels and decorated with prints of Seville; most have four-poster beds and wood beams. Breakfast is generous and includes cava (sparkling wine); the staff will also pack you a picnic if you have to depart early in the morning. The adjoining restaurant serves Mediterranean style food. Pros: lovely buildings; unique experience. Cons: communal areas and some rooms look very tired; difficult to find your way round the hotel. | Rooms from: €240 | Calle Santa María la Blanca 5, Santa Cruz | 954/415150 | www.casasypalacios.com | 166 rooms, 12 suites | No meals |.

Pensión Córdoba.
HOTEL | Just a few blocks from the cathedral, nestled in the heart of Santa Cruz, this small, family-run inn is an excellent value. Rooms are simple but clean and air-conditioned, and arranged around a pretty interior patio decorated with painted tiles and ferns. The owners’ daughters speak English and are eager to give recommendations and help with bookings. Pros: quiet, central location; friendly staff. Cons: no entry after 3 am; no breakfast. | Rooms from: €65 | Calle Farnesio 12, Santa Cruz | 954/227498 | www.pensioncordoba.com | 12 rooms | No meals |.

EL ARENAL AND PARQUE MARÍA LUISA

Gran Meliá Colón.
HOTEL | Originally opened for 1929’s Ibero-American Exposition and renovated in 2009, this classic hotel retains many original features, including a marble staircase leading up to a central lobby crowned by a magnificent stained-glass dome and crystal chandelier. Each floor celebrates a different Spanish artist, with reproduction paintings set against an artful combination of period and contemporary design. Downstairs is the toreador-themed El Burladero tapas bar and restaurant, which is packed midday with local business executives. The luxurious spa on the seventh floor offers a range of treatments. Pros: good central location; excellent restaurant; some great views. Cons: some rooms overlook airshaft; on a busy and noisy street. | Rooms from: €310 | Calle Canalejas 1,El Arenal | 954/505599 | www.granmeliacolon.com | 159 rooms, 30 suites | Breakfast |.

Fodor’s Choice | Hotel Alfonso XIII.
HOTEL | Inaugurated by King Alfonso XIII in 1929 and restored in 2011, this grand hotel is a splendid, historic, Mudejar-style palace, built around a central patio and surrounded by ornate brick arches. Classic meets modern throughout the hotel and public rooms have marble floors, wood-panel ceilings, heavy Moorish lamps, stained glass, and ceramic tiles in typical Seville colors. The hotel has three restaurants and the elegant Bar Alfonso. If you can’t afford a room, you can still enjoy the sumptuous surroundings: sip a glass of fino (sherry) while overlooking the fabulous central courtyard and appearing appropriately superior (and rich). Pros: both stately and hip; impeccable service. Cons: a tourist colony; expensive. | Rooms from: €390 | Calle San Fernando 2, El Arenal | 954/917000 | www.luxurycollection.com/alfonsoxiii | 132 rooms, 19 suites | Breakfast |.

PERFORMING ARTS

Seville has a lively nightlife and plenty of cultural activity. The free monthly magazine El Giraldillo (www.elgiraldillo.es) lists classical and jazz concerts, plays, dance performances, art exhibits, and films in Seville and all major Andalusian cities. (For American films in English, look for the designation v.o., or versión original.)

FLAMENCO CLUBS

Seville has a handful of commercial tablaos (flamenco clubs), patronized more by tourists than locals. They generally offer somewhat mechanical flamenco at high prices, with mediocre cuisine. Check local listings and ask at your hotel for performances by top artists. Spontaneous flamenco is often found for free in peñas flamencas (flamenco clubs) and flamenco bars in Triana.

Barrio de Santa Cruz

Fodor’s Choice | Casa de la Memoria de Al-Andalus.
Set in an 18th-century palace, this flamenco club has a nightly show plus dance classes for the intrepid. It’s a small venue so book to be sure of a seat. | Calle Cuna 6, Santa Cruz | 954/560670 | www.casadelamemoria.es | €16 | Shows nightly at 7:30 and 9.

La Carbonería.
This rambling former coal yard is now a bar, open most evenings when you can watch spontaneous flamenco. | Calle Levíes 18, Santa Cruz | 954/229945 | Free, but you have to buy a drink.

Los Gallos.
This intimate club in the heart of Santa Cruz attracts mainly tourists. Performances are entertaining and reasonably authentic. | Pl. Santa Cruz 11, Santa Cruz | 954/216981 | www.tablaolosgallos.com | €35, includes one drink | Shows nightly at 8:15 and 10:30.

El Arenal and Parque María Luisa

Teatro de la Maestranza.
Long prominent in the opera world, Seville is proud of its opera house. Tickets go quickly, so book well in advance (online is best). | Paseo de Colón 22, El Arenal | 954/223344 for info, 954/226573 for tickets | www.teatrodelamaestranza.es.

Teatro Lope de Vega.
Classical music, ballet, and musicals are performed here. | Av. María Luisa s/n, Parque Maria Luisa | 954/472828 for info, 955/472822 for tickets | www.teatrolopedevega.org.

Triana

Casa Anselma.
In the heart of Triana, this is an unmarked bar on the corner of Antillano Campos where Anselma and her friends sing and dance for the pure joy and catharsis that are at the heart of flamenco. Admission is free, but you have to buy a drink. | Calle Pagés del Corro 49, Triana | Free | Shows Mon.–Sat. at midnight.

Teatro Central.
This modern venue on the Isla de la Cartuja stages theater, dance, and classical and contemporary music. Tickets can be bought via www.ticketmaster.es or at Caixa ATMs. | Calle José de Gálvez 6,Triana | 955/037200 for info, 902/150025 for tickets.

BULLFIGHTING

Bullfighting season is Easter through Columbus Day (no bullfights in August); most corridas (bullfights) are held on Sunday. The highlight is the April Fair, with Spain’s leading toreros; other key dates are Corpus Christi (about seven weeks after Easter), Assumption (August 15), and the last weekend in September.

Despacho de Entradas.
Tickets are expensive; buy them in advance alongside the bullring from this official ticket office. Unofficial despachos sell tickets on Calle Sierpes but charge a 20% commission. | Calle Adriano 37,El Arenal | 954/501382.

Maestranza Bullring.
This is the site for Seville’s bullfights. | Paseo de Colón 12, El Arenal | 954/224577 | www.realmaestranza.es.

SHOPPING

Seville is the region’s main shopping area and the place for archetypal Andalusian souvenirs, most of which are sold in the Barrio de Santa Cruz and around the cathedral and Giralda, especially on Calle Alemanes. The shopping street for locals is Calle Sierpes, along with neighboring Cuna, Tetuan, Velázquez, Plaza Magdalena, and Plaza Duque—boutiques abound here. For antiques, try Mateos Gago, opposite the Giralda, and in the Barrio de Santa Cruz on Jamerdana and Rodrigo Caro, off Plaza Alianza. For ceramics in the Barrio de Santa Cruz, browse along Mateos Gago; on Romero Murube, between Plaza Triunfo and Plaza Alianza, on the edge of the barrio; and between Plaza Doña Elvira and Plaza de los Venerables. Flamenco wear can be expensive; local women will gladly spend the equivalent of a month’s grocery money, or more, on their frills, with dresses ranging from €100 to €400 and up.

CENTRO

Calle Sierpes.
This is Seville’s classy main shopping street. Near the southern end, at No. 85, a plaque marks the spot where the Cárcel Real (Royal Prison) once stood. Miguel de Cervantes began writing Don Quixote in one of its cells. | Centro.

El Corte Inglés.
The main branch of this pan-Spanish department store chain has everything from high fashion to local wine. It does not close for siesta. | Pl. Duque de la Victoria 8, Centro | 954/597000.

La Campana.
Under the gilt-edged ceiling at Seville’s most celebrated pastry outlet (founded in 1885), you can enjoy the flanlike tocino de cielo, or “heavenly bacon.” | Calle Sierpes 1, Centro | 954/223570.

Lola Azahares.
For flamenco wear, this is one of Seville’s most highly regarded stores. | Calle Cuna 31, Centro | 954/222912.

Martian Ceramics.
In central Seville, Martian has high-quality dishes, especially the finely painted flowers-on-white patterns native to Seville. | Calle Sierpes 74, Centro | 954/213413.

Molina.
Flamenco dresses and traditional foot-tapping shoes are sold here. | Calle Sierpes 11, Centro | 954/229254.

Plaza del Duque.
A few blocks north of Plaza Nueva, Plaza del Duque has a crafts market on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. | Centro.

Taller de Diseño.
Come here for privately fitted and custom-made flamenco dresses. | Calle Luchana 6, Centro | 954/227186.

BARRIO DE SANTA CRUZ

Artesanía Textil.
You can find blankets, shawls, and embroidered tablecloths woven by local artisans at the two shops of Artesanía Textil. | Calle García de Vinuesa 33, El Arenal | 954/215088 | Calle Sierpes 70,Santa Cruz | 954/220125.

El Torno.
Andalusia’s convents are known for their homemade pastries, and you can sample sweets from several convents at El Torno, named after the revolving tray the nuns use to display their wares. | Pl. del Cabildo, Santa Cruz | 954/219190.

Extraverde.
Taste a selection of olive oils at this restaurant-shop in the heart of Santa Cruz. | Pl. Doña Elvira 8, Santa Cruz | 954/218417 | www.extraverde.es.

Librería Vértice.
A large assortment of books in English, Spanish, French, and Italian can be found at this American-owned store near the cathedral. | Calle San Fernando 33–35, Santa Cruz | 954/211654.

EL ARENAL AND PARQUE MARÍA LUISA

Centro Comercial Plaza de Armas.
Near the Puente del Cachorro bridge, the old Estación de Córdoba train station has been converted into this stylish shopping center, with boutiques, bars, fast-food joints, a nightclub, and a movie theater complex. | Enter on Pl. de la Legión, El Arenal.

El Postigo.
This permanent arts-and-crafts market opposite El Corte Inglés is open every day except Sunday. | Pl. de la Concordia, El Arenal.

BARRIO DE LA MACARENA

El Jueves.
This antiques and flea market is held in the Barrio de la Macarena on Thursday morning. | Calle Feria, La Macarena.

TRIANA

Mercado de Triana.
Since 2005, the Triana market, which began as an improvised fish market on the banks of the Guadalquivir in the 1830s, has been housed in a shiny new building and given the stamp “Traditional Shopping Center.” The vendors, however, continue to sell the same colorful mix of food, flowers, cheap fashion, and costume jewelry as before. It closes at 3 pm and is not open on Sunday. | Pl. del Alzotano, Triana | No credit cards.

Potters’ district.
Look for traditional azulejo tiles and other ceramics in the Triana potters’ district, on Calle Alfarería and Calle Antillano Campos. | Triana.

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Around Seville

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Carmona | Itálica | Ronda | Around Ronda: Caves, Romans, and Pueblos Blancos | Grazalema and the Sierra de Grazalema

CARMONA

32 km (20 miles) east of Seville off A4.

Wander the ancient, narrow streets here and you’ll feel as if you’ve been transported back in time. Claiming to be one of the oldest inhabited places in Spain (both Phoenicians and Carthaginians had settlements here), Carmona, on a steep, fortified hill, became an important town under the Romans and the Moors. There are many Mudejar and Renaissance churches and convents (several open weekend mornings only), medieval gateways, and simple whitewashed houses of clear Moorish influence, punctuated here and there by a baroque palace. Local fiestas are held in mid-September.

Essentials

Visitor Information
Carmona. | Alcázar de la Puerta de Sevilla | 954/190955 | www.turismo.carmona.org.

EXPLORING

Top Attractions

Alcázar del Rey Don Pedro (King Pedro’s Fortress).
The Moorish Alcázar was built on Roman foundations and converted by King Pedro the Cruel into a Mudejar palace. Pedro’s summer residence was destroyed by a 1504 earthquake, and all that remains are ruins that can be viewed but not visited. However, the parador within the complex has a breathtaking view, and the café and restaurant are lovely spots to have a refreshment or meal. | Calle Los Alcázares s/n.

FAMILY | Museo de la Ciudad.
Reopened in 2014 following restoration work, this museum behind Santa María has exhibits on Carmona’s history. There’s plenty for children, and the interactive exhibits are labeled in English and Spanish. | Calle San Ildefonso 1 | 954/140128 | €3 | Sept. 16–June 16, Mon. 11–2, Tues.–Sun. 11–7; June 16–Sept. 15, Mon. 10–2, Tues.–Fri. 10–2 and 6:30–8:30, weekends 9:30–2.

Roman Necropolis.
At the western edge of town 900 tombs were placed in underground chambers between the 2nd and 4th centuries BC. The necropolis walls, decorated with leaf and bird motifs, have niches for burial urns and tombs such as the Elephant Vault and the Servilia Tomb, a complete Roman villa with colonnaded arches and vaulted side galleries. | Calle Enmedio | 600/143632 | €1.50 | Tues.–Sat. 10–6:30, Sun. 10–5.

Santa María.
This Gothic church was built between 1424 and 1518 on the site of Carmona’s former Great Mosque and retains its beautiful Moorish courtyard, studded with orange trees. | Calle Martín | €3 | Weekdays 9–2 and 5–7, Sat. 9–2, Sun. 9–11:30.

Worth Noting

Alcázar de la Puerta de Sevilla.
Park your car near the Puerta de Sevilla in the imposing Alcázar, a Moorish fortification built on Roman foundations. Maps are available at the tourist office, in the tower beside the gate. | Pl. de Blas Infante | €2 (free Mon.) | Sept.–June, Mon.–Sat. 10–6, Sun. 10–3; July and Aug., weekdays 10:30–3 and 4:30–6, weekends 10–3.

Plaza San Fernando.
Up Calle Prim, this plaza in the heart of the old town is bordered by 17th-century houses with Moorish overtones.

Puerta de Córdoba (Córdoba Gate).
Stroll down to this old gateway on the eastern edge of town. It was first built by the Romans around AD 175, then altered by Moorish and Renaissance additions. Viewing of the interior is on weekends (12:30–1:30) by appointment only. You can book by phone or at the tourist office. | Calle Dolores Quintanilla | 615/540505 | €2.

San Bartolomé.
Just up the street from the Puerta de Sevilla is the church of San Bartolomé, a 15th-century building with a baroque interior, including a fine 18th-century altarpiece. | Calle Prim 29 | Free | Fri.–Wed. 11–1:45.

WHERE TO STAY

Parador Alcázar del Rey Don Pedro.
HOTEL | This parador has superb views from its hilltop position among the ruins of Pedro the Cruel’s summer palace. The public rooms surround a central, Moorish-style patio and include the vaulted dining hall and adjacent bar that open onto an outdoor terrace overlooking the sloping garden. Of the spacious guest rooms—decorated in light grey tones—all but six, which face onto the front courtyard, look south over the valley (the best rooms are on the top floor). The restaurant claims to be one of the best in the parador group and serves local specialties such as partridge and spicy spinach. Pros: unbeatable views over the fields; great sense of history. Cons: feels slightly lifeless after Seville. | Rooms from: €135 | Calle del Alcázar | 954/141010 | www.parador.es | 63 rooms | No meals.

ITÁLICA

12 km (7 miles) north of Seville, 1 km (½ mile) beyond Santiponce.

Neighboring the small town of Santiponce, Itálica is Spain’s oldest Roman site and one of its greatest, and is well worth a visit when you’re in Seville. If you’re here during June or July, try to get tickets for the International Dance Festival held in the ruins (www.festivalitalica.es).

Getting Here and Around

The C1 bus route runs frequently (daily from 7 am to 11 pm) between the Plaza de Armas bus station in Seville and Itálica. Journey time is 30 minutes. If you have a rental car, you could include a visit to the ruins on your way to Huelva. Allow at least three hours for your visit.

EXPLORING

Fodor’s Choice | Itálica.
One of Roman Iberia’s most important cities in the 2nd century, with a population of more than 10,000, Itálica today is a monument of Roman ruins. Founded by Scipio Africanus in 205 BC as a home for veteran soldiers, Itálica gave the Roman world two great emperors: Trajan (AD 52–117) and Hadrian (AD 76–138). You can find traces of city streets, cisterns, and the floor plans of several villas, some with mosaic floors, though all the best mosaics and statues have been removed to Seville’s Museum of Archaeology. Itálica was abandoned and plundered as a quarry by the Visigoths, who preferred Seville. It fell into decay around AD 700. The remains include the huge, elliptical amphitheater, which held 40,000 spectators, a Roman theater, and Roman baths. The small visitor center offers information on daily life in the city. | Av. Extremadura 2 Santiponce | 955/123847 | www.juntadeandalucia.es/cultura/italica | €1.50 | Sept. 16–Mar. 31, Tues.–Sat. 10–6:30, Sun. 10–5; Apr.–June 15, Tues.–Sat. 10–8:30, Sun. 10–5; June 16–Sept. 15, Tues.–Sun. 10–5.

RONDA

147 km (91 miles) southeast of Seville, 61 km (38 miles) northwest of Marbella.

Ronda, one of the oldest towns in Spain, is known for its spectacular position and views. Secure in its mountain fastness on a rock high over the Río Guadalevín, the town was a stronghold for the legendary Andalusian bandits who held court here from the 18th to the early 20th century. Ronda’s most dramatic element is its ravine (360 feet deep and 210 feet across)—known as El Tajo—which divides La Ciudad, the old Moorish town, from El Mercadillo, the “new town,” which sprang up after the Christian Reconquest of 1485. Tour buses roll in daily with sightseers from the coast 49 km (30 miles) away, and on weekends affluent sevillanos flock to their second homes here. Stay overnight midweek to see this noble town’s true colors.

In the lowest part of town, known as El Barrio, you can see parts of the old walls, including the 13th-century Puerta de Almocobar and the 16th-century Puerta de Carlos V gates. From here, the main road climbs past the Iglesia del Espíritu Santo (Church of the Holy Spirit) and up into the heart of town.

Getting Here and Around

By road, the most attractive approach is from the south. The winding but well-maintained A376 from San Pedro de Alcántara travels north up through the mountains of the Serranía de Ronda. At least four daily buses run here from Marbella, nine from Málaga, and three from Seville. The Ronda tourist office publishes an updated list (available online).

EXPLORING

Top Attractions

Juan Peña El Lebrijano.
Immediately south of the Plaza de España, this is Ronda’s most famous bridge (also known as the Puente Nuevo, or New Bridge), an architectural marvel built between 1755 and 1793. The bridge’s lantern-lit parapet offers dizzying views of the awesome gorge. Just how many people have met their ends here nobody knows, but the architect of the Puente Nuevo fell to his death while inspecting work on the bridge. During the civil war, hundreds of victims were hurled from it.

La Ciudad.
Cross the Puente Nuevo to enter the old Moorish town, with twisting streets and white houses with birdcage balconies.

Palacio de Mondragón (Palace of Mondragón).
This stone palace with twin Mudejar towers was probably the residence of Ronda’s Moorish kings. Ferdinand and Isabella appropriated it after their victory in 1485. Today, it’s the museum of Ronda and you can wander through the patios, with their brick arches and delicate Mudejar-stucco tracery, and admire the mosaics and artesonado (coffered) ceiling. The second floor holds a small museum with archaeological items found near Ronda, plus the reproduction of a dolmen, a prehistoric stone monument. | Pl. Mondragón | 952/870818 | €3 (free Wed.) | Weekdays 10–6 (until 7 in summer), weekends 10–3.

Plaza de Toros.
The main sight in Ronda’s commercial center, El Mercadillo, is the bullring. Pedro Romero (1754–1839), the father of modern bullfighting and Ronda’s most famous native son, is said to have killed 5,600 bulls here during his long career. In the museum beneath the plaza you can see posters for Ronda’s very first bullfights, held here in 1785. The plaza was once owned by the late bullfighter Antonio Ordóñez, on whose nearby ranch Orson Welles’s ashes were scattered (as directed in his will)—indeed, the ring has become a favorite of filmmakers. Every September, the bullring is the scene of Ronda’s corridas goyescas, named after Francisco Goya, whose bullfight sketches (tauromaquias) were inspired by Romero’s skill and art. The participants and the dignitaries in the audience don the costumes of Goya’s time for the occasion. Seats for these fights cost a small fortune and are booked far in advance. Other than that, the plaza is rarely used for fights except during Ronda’s May festival. | Calle Virgen de la Paz | 952/874132 | www.rmcr.org | €6.50 | Daily 10–6 (until 7 May–Sept.).

Worth Noting

Baños Arabes (Arab Baths).
The excavated remains of the Arab Baths date from Ronda’s tenure as capital of a Moorish taifa (kingdom). The star-shape vents in the roof are an inferior imitation of the ceiling of the beautiful bathhouse in Granada’s Alhambra. The baths are beneath the Puente Árabe (Arab Bridge) in a ravine below the Palacio del Marqués de Salvatierra. | Calle San Miguel | €3 (free Mon.) | Weekdays 10–6 (until 7 Apr.–Oct.), weekends 10–3.

Santa María la Mayor.
This collegiate church, which serves as Ronda’s cathedral, has roots in Moorish times: originally the Great Mosque of Ronda, the tower and adjacent galleries, built for viewing festivities in the square, retain their Islamic design. After the mosque was destroyed (when the Moors were overthrown), it was rebuilt as a church and dedicated to the Virgen de la Encarnación after the Reconquest. The naves are late Gothic, and the main altar is heavy with baroque gold leaf. The church is around the corner from the remains of a mosque, Minarete Arabe (Moorish Minaret) at the end of the Marqués de Salvatierra. | Pl. Duquesa de Parcent | €4 | Mon.–Sat. 10–6, Sun. 10–12:30 and 2–6.

OFF THE BEATEN PATH: Alameda del Tajo.
Beyond the bullring in El Mercadillo, you can relax in these shady gardens, one of the loveliest spots in Ronda. At the end of the gardens, a balcony protrudes from the face of the cliff, offering a vertigo-inducing view of the valley below. Stroll along the clifftop walk to the Reina Victoria hotel, built by British settlers from Gibraltar at the turn of the 20th century as a fashionable rest stop on the Algeciras–Bobadilla rail line. | Paseo Hemingway.

WHERE TO EAT

Almocábar.
SPANISH | Tucked agreeably away from the main tourist hub on the south side of town, this unpretentious tapas bar and restaurant on a lovely plaza offers a refined and inventive cuisine. Dishes include unusual and tasty starters, like goat-cheese salad with mango sauce, and mains based on local fare such as roast suckling lamb flavored with mountain herbs. Get here early if you want to sample the tapas (€1.50–€4), as the narrow bar gets packed with the local crowd on their tapear (bar crawl). The delicious patatas alioli (cooked potatoes in a creamily pungent garlic sauce) are great for sharing. | Average main: €15 | Calle Ruedo Alameda 5 | 952/875977 | Closed Tues. and Sept. 1–20.

Entre Vinos.
TAPAS | Just off the main road opposite the Hotel Colón, this small and cozy bar has established itself as one of Ronda’s best for tapas and wine. Inside, the wood-paneled barrel ceiling and wine bottles lining the walls add to the bodega (wine cellar) atmosphere. Local Ronda wines are a specialty here—in fact, they’re the only ones available, although with over 60 on the wine list, you’ll be spoiled for choice; ask the waiter for recommendations. Tapas (from €1) include fideos negros con chipirones y alioli (black noodles with baby squid and garlic sauce) and a mini–beef burger with foie gras. This place is popular and fills up quickly so arrive early (1:30 pm or 8 pm) to be sure of a place. Service is excellent. | Average main: €5 | Calle Pozo 2 | Closed during the Ronda Fair. No dinner Sun.; no lunch Mon.

Pedro Romero.
SPANISH | Named for the father of modern bullfighting, this restaurant opposite the bullring is packed with bullfight paraphernalia. Mounted bulls’ heads peer down at you as you tuck into choricitos al vino blanco de Ronda (small sausages in Ronda white wine) or rabo de toro Pedro Romero (slow-cooked oxtail stew with herbs) and, for dessert, tarat de queso con frutillos rojos (cheesecake with red berries). Previous diners include Ernest Hemingway and Orson Welles, whose photos are displayed. | Average main: €18 | Calle Virgen de la Paz 18 | 952/871110.

WHERE TO STAY

Acinipo.
HOTEL | The artistic legacy of its former owners, Ronda artist Téllez Loriguillo and acclaimed Japanese watercolor painter Miki Haruta, is evidenced throughout this modern boutique hotel. The interior has exposed stone panels, steel-and-glass fittings, mosaic-tile bathrooms, and many murals and paintings. The more expensive rooms have small sitting areas and bathrooms with hydromassage tubs. Most rooms have dramatic mountain views. The Atrium restaurant dishes up such traditional favorites as migas (fried bread crumbs with sausage and spices) and oxtail stew, followed by chestnuts with brandy and cream. Pros: very central location; cutting-edge design. Cons: a few rooms lack panoramic view; can be noisy at night. | Rooms from: €100 | Paseo de Blas Infante | 952/161002 | www.hotelaciniporonda.com | 16 rooms | No meals.

Alavera de los Baños.
B&B/INN | Fittingly, given its location next to the Moorish baths, there’s an Arab-influenced theme throughout this small, German-run hotel (which was used as a backdrop for the film classic Carmen). Terra-cotta tiles, graceful arches, and pastel-color washes on the walls set the scene, and the two rooms on the first floor, which have their own terraces and open onto the split-level garden, are well worth the extra €10. Breakfast (included in room price) comes with homemade jams and breads, plus local cheeses. Pros: very atmospheric and historic; owners speak several languages. Cons: rooms vary in size; steep climb into town. | Rooms from: €97 | Calle San Miguel s/n | 952/879143 | www.alaveradelosbanos.com | 9 rooms, 2 suites | Closed Jan. | Breakfast.

FAMILY | El Molino del Santo.
B&B/INN | In a converted olive mill next to a rushing stream near Benaoján, 16 km (10 miles) west of Ronda, this British-run establishment appeals for its “green” credentials and proximity to great mountain walks. One of Andalusia’s first country hotels, its guest rooms are arranged around a pleasant patio and come in different sizes, some with a terrace. The hotel uses solar panels for hot water and to heat the pool. The restaurant serves excellent meals. Pros: superb for hikers; friendly owners. Cons: you won’t hear much Spanish spoken (most guests are British); a car is essential if you want to explore farther afield. | Rooms from: €119 | Estación de Benaoján Benaoján | 952/167151 | www.molinodelsanto.com | 15 rooms, 3 suites | Closed Nov.–end Feb. | Breakfast.

Finca la Guzmana.
B&B/INN | This traditional Andalusian cortijo (farmhouse), 4 km (2½ miles) east of Ronda, has been lovingly restored with bright, fresh color schemes to complement the original beams, wood-burning stoves, and sublime setting. The cottage is surrounded by olive trees and grapevines and walkers, bird-watchers, and painters are frequent guests. The English-speaking owners also organize trips (guided or unguided) through the surrounding villages, and you can borrow bicycles. Breakfast is more generous here than many other places, with homemade bread, preserves, and local cheeses, and there are tea- and coffee-making supplies in the rooms. It’s advisable to call for directions. Pros: surrounded by beautiful countryside; very peaceful. Cons: it’s a hike to Ronda and the stores; no restaurant. | Rooms from: €75 | Off A366, on El Burgo road | 600/006305 | www.laguzmana.com | 6 rooms | Breakfast.

Montelirio.
B&B/INN | The 18th-century mansion of the Count of Montelirio, perched over the deep plunge to the Tajo, has been carefully refurbished, maintaining some original features, but the highlight is the breathtaking view over the valley. Inside, notable points of interest include the empire staircase, a precious stained-glass window, and the handcrafted wood ceiling in the common room. Guest rooms are individually styled, with dark wooden furniture and heavy fabrics, and it’s well worth paying extra for a balcony with views over the ravine. The terrace also looks out over the bridge and ravine—perfect for watching the sunset—and the Turkish bath and open fireplace make this an attractive choice for winter. The restaurant serves Mediterranean cuisine. If you need a parking space, reserve one when you reserve your room. Pros: great views; friendly staff. Cons: some rooms have windows to the street. | Rooms from: €120 | Calle Tenorio 8 | 952/873855 | www.hotelmontelirio.com | 12 rooms, 3 suites | No meals.

Fodor’s Choice | San Gabriel.
B&B/INN | In the oldest part of Ronda, this hotel is run by a family who converted their 18th-century home into an enchanting, informal hotel. The common areas, furnished with antiques, are warm and cozy and include a DVD screening room with autographed photos of actors (John Lithgow, Isabella Rossellini, and Bob Hoskins, in town to film the 2000 television movie version of Don Quixote, were among the hotel’s first guests). There’s also a wine cellar where guests can taste and purchase wine (including local vintages) and sherry. Some guest rooms have small sitting areas and Jacuzzi bathtubs; most are sumptuously furnished with four-poster beds and antiques. Breakfast includes organic pâtés, cheese, and preserves. When you book, enquire about availability of the low-cost tariff (€66 for a smaller double room). Pros: traditional Andalusian house; excellent service. Cons: some rooms are rather dark; no panoramic views. | Rooms from: €88 | Calle Marqués de Moctezuma 19 | 952/190392 | www.hotelsangabriel.com | 21 rooms, 1 suite | No meals.

AROUND RONDA: CAVES, ROMANS, AND PUEBLOS BLANCOS

This area of spectacular gorges, remote mountain villages, and ancient caves is fascinating to explore and a dramatic contrast to the clamor and crowds of the coast.

Acinipo.
Old Ronda, 20 km (12 miles) north of Ronda, is the site of this old Roman settlement, a thriving town in the 1st century AD that was abandoned for reasons that still baffle historians. Today it’s a windswept hillside with piles of stones, the foundations of a few Roman houses, and what remains of a theater. Views across the Ronda plains and to the surrounding mountains are spectacular. The site is often closed because excavations are under way. Call to check before visiting. | Ronda la Vieja | Take A376 toward Algodonales; turnoff for the ruins is 9 km (5 miles) from Ronda on MA449 | 951/041452 1 | Free | Hrs vary depending on staff availability; call to check.

Cueva de la Pileta (Pileta Cave).
At this prehistoric site, 20 km (12 miles) west of Ronda, a Spanish guide (who speaks some English) will hand you a paraffin lamp and lead you on a roughly 60-minute walk that reveals prehistoric wall paintings of bison, deer, and horses outlined in black, red, and ocher. One highlight is the Cámara del Pescado (Chamber of the Fish), whose drawing of a huge fish is thought to be 15,000 years old. Tours take place whenever 25 people have accumulated.|Benaoján | Drive west from Ronda on A374 and take the left exit for the village of Benaoján from where the caves are well signposted | 952/167343 | €8 | Daily 10–1 and 4–5 (until 6 May–Oct.).

Olvera.
Here, 13 km (8 miles) north of Setenil, two imposing silhouettes dominate the crest of the hill: the 11th-century castle Vallehermoso, a legacy of the Moors, and the neoclassical church of La Encarnación, reconstructed in the 19th century on the foundations of the old mosque.

Setenil de las Bodegas.
This small city, in a cleft in the rock cut by the Guadalporcín River, is 8 km (5 miles) north of Acinipois. The streets resemble long, narrow caves, and on many houses the roof is formed by a projecting ledge of heavy rock.

Zahara de la Sierra.
A solitary watchtower dominates a crag above this village, its outline visible for miles around. The tower is all that remains of a Moorish castle where King Alfonso X once fought the emir of Morocco; the building remained a Moorish stronghold until it fell to the Christians in 1470. Along the streets you can see doorknockers fashioned like the hand of Fatima: the fingers represent the five laws of the Koran and are meant to ward off evil. | From Olvera, drive 21 km (13 miles) southwest to the village of Algodonales then south on A376 for 5 km (3 miles).

GRAZALEMA AND THE SIERRA DE GRAZALEMA

Grazalema: 28 km (17 miles) northwest of Ronda.

The village of Grazalema is the prettiest of the pueblos blancos. Its cobblestone streets of houses with pink-and-ocher roofs wind up the hillside, red geraniums splash white walls, and black wrought-iron lanterns and grilles cling to the housefronts.

The Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park encompasses a series of mountain ranges known as the Sierra de Grazalema, which straddle the provinces of Málaga and Cádiz. These mountains trap the rain clouds that roll in from the Atlantic, and the area has the distinction of being the wettest place in Spain, with an average annual rainfall of 88 inches. Because of the park’s altitude and prevailing humidity, it’s one of the last habitats for the rare fir tree Abies pinsapo; it’s also home to ibex, vultures, and birds of prey. Parts of the park are restricted, accessible only on foot and when accompanied by an official guide.

Getting Here and Around

The village of Grazalema itself is quite small and is best reached by private car as there’s little public transport.

Essentials

Visitor Information
Grazalema. At the time of writing, the visitor center was about to relocate and the new location was unknown. Call first, or inquire locally. | 956/132225.

EXPLORING

El Bosque.
Another excursion from Grazalema takes you through the heart of this protected reserve, home to a trout stream and information center. Follow the A344 west through dramatic mountain scenery, past Benamahoma.

Ubrique.
From Grazalema, the A374 takes you to this town on the slopes of the Saltadero Mountains, known for its leather tanning and embossing industry. Look for the Convento de los Capuchinos (Capuchin Convent), the church of San Pedro, and, 4 km (2½ miles) away, the ruins of the Moorish castle El Castillo de Fátima.

WHERE TO STAY

Fodor’s Choice | La Mejorana.
B&B/INN | An ideal base for exploring the area, this is the spot to find rural simplicity and stunning mountain views. Though a mere 20 years old, the house has been cleverly designed and built to resemble an old-fashioned village home, complete with beams, tiled floors, and thick whitewashed walls, and the rooms are essentially small suites, each with a sitting area; all but one have small terraces from which to enjoy the views. The tranquil flower-filled garden is idyllic on sunny days, and when temperatures drop, there’s a cozy fireplace in the communal sitting room. Hosts can advise on hikes and car trips in the area. Pros: in the center of the village; tastefully furnished; excellent service. Cons: no TV in rooms. | Rooms from: €58 | Calle Santa Clara 6 | 956/132327 | www.lamejorana.net | 6 rooms | Breakfast.

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Huelva

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Doñana National Park | Mazagón | La Rábida | Aracena

When you’ve had enough of Seville’s urban bustle, nature awaits in Huelva. From the Parque Nacional de Doñana to the oak forests of the Sierra de Aracena, nothing is much more than an hour’s drive from Seville. If you prefer history, hop on the miners’ train at Riotinto or visit Aracena’s spectacular caves. Columbus’s voyage to the New World was sparked near here, at the monastery of La Rábida and in Palos de la Frontera. The visitor center at La Rocina has Doñana information.

Once a thriving Roman port, the city of Huelva, an hour east of Faro, Portugal, was largely destroyed by the 1755 Lisbon earthquake. As a result, it claims the dubious honor of being the least distinguished city in Andalusia. If you do end up here, Taberna el Condado or El Chiringuito de Antonio are the places to go for shellfish tapas and rice.

Getting Here and Around

Huelva has good bus connections from Seville, but traveling to the main sights in the province is difficult by public transportation so you’re better off renting a car.

Essentials

Bus Station
Huelva. | Av. Alemania s/n, | Huelva | 959/256900.

Taxi Contact
Tele Taxi. | 959/250022.

Train Station
Huelva. | Av. de Italia, | Huelva | 902/320320.

Huelva Province

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DOÑANA NATIONAL PARK

100 km (62 miles) southwest of Seville.

The jewel in Spain’s crown when it comes to national parks, and one of Europe’s most important wetlands, Doñana is a paradise for wildlife in their natural habitat. Most of the park is heavily protected and closed to visitors, although you can visit with one of the authorized tour companies who organize visits by jeep, foot, or horseback.

Getting Here and Around

To explore Doñana and its surroundings you need your own transportation, particularly to get to the different visitor centers, all some distance apart.

Essentials

In addition to the centers listed here, there is a visitor center for the park at Sanlúcar de Barrameda.

Visitor Information
El Acebuche. Two kilometers (1 mile) before Matalascañas, this is Doñana National Park’s main interpretation center and the departure point for jeep tours. | Matalascañas | 959/439569 | Daily 8–3 and 4–7 (until 9 June–Sept.)
La Rocina Visitor Center.At this visitor center, less than 2 km (1 mile) from the center of El Rocío, you can peer at the park’s many bird species from a 3½-km (2-mile) footpath. | 959/439569 | Daily 9–3 and 4–7
Palacio de Acebrón 
Five kilometers (3 miles) away from La Rocina Visitor Center, an exhibit at the Palacio de Acebrón explains the park’s ecosystems. | Ctra. de la Rocina | 959/506162 | Daily 9–3 and 4–7; last admission 1 hr before closing.

EXPLORING

FAMILY | Fodor’s Choice | Doñana National Park.
One of Europe’s most important swaths of unspoiled wilderness, these wetlands spread out along the west side of the Guadalquivir estuary. The site was named for Doña Ana, wife of a 16th-century duke, who, prone to bouts of depression, one day crossed the river and wandered into the wetlands, never to be seen alive again. The 188,000-acre park sits on the migratory route from Africa to Europe and is the winter home and breeding ground for as many as 150 rare species of birds. Habitats range from beaches and shifting sand dunes to marshes, dense brushwood, and sandy hillsides of pine and cork oak. Two of Europe’s most endangered species, the imperial eagle and the lynx, make their homes here, and kestrels, kites, buzzards, egrets, storks, and spoonbills breed among the cork oaks.

WHERE TO STAY

Toruño.
HOTEL | Despite its location behind the famous Rocío shrine, the theme at this simple, friendly hotel is nature—it’s run by the same cooperative that leads official park tours, and has become a favorite of birders. Each room is named after a local bird species and those on the first floor have balconies and priceless views over the marshes. The hotel also runs the eponymous restaurant across the plaza, serving reasonably priced traditional fare. Be warned: this small town gets extremely busy during pilgrimage week (the week before Pentecost). Pros: views over the wetlands; bird-watching opportunities. Cons: floors and hallways resonant; beds only moderately comfortable; best for a brief stay. | Rooms from: €74 | Pl. del Acebuchal 22 El Rocío-Huelva | 959/442323 | www.toruno.es | 30 rooms | Breakfast.

MAZAGÓN

19 km (12 miles) south of Huelva.

There isn’t much to see or do in this coastal town, but the parador makes a good base for touring La Rábida, Palos de la Frontera, and Moguer. Mazagón’s sweeping sandy beach, sheltered by steep cliffs, is among the region’s nicest.

Essentials

Visitor Information
Mazagón. | Av. de los Conquistadores | 959/376246.

BEACHES

Playa de Mazagón.
The 5-km (3-mile) stretch of fine golden sand running from Mazagón to the frontier of the Doñana National Park forms one of the last unspoiled beaches in Andalusia. Dunes flank most of the beach, along with attractive sandstone cliffs; the Parador de Mazagón perches here. At the western end, the beach is popular with locals and visitors, beach bars are plentiful, and towel space at a premium in August. Walk in an easterly direction, however, and the beach becomes a much quieter affair. Bathing is generally safe, but watch for rip currents when it’s windy. Amenities: (June 15–September 15 only) food and drink; lifeguards; showers, toilets; water sports. Best for: sunset; swimming; walking.

WHERE TO STAY

Parador de Mazagón.
HOTEL | This peaceful modern parador stands on a cliff surrounded by pine groves, overlooking a sandy beach 3 km (2 miles) southeast of Mazagón. Most of the spacious and comfortable rooms have balconies overlooking the garden, and the restaurant serves Andalusian dishes and local seafood specialties, such as fried cuttlefish and white shrimps. Pros: nice views; good base for birding and biking through the wetlands. Cons: mediocre breakfast; long flight of steps to get to (and back up from) the beach. | Rooms from: €195 | Pl. de Mazagón | 959/536300 | www.parador.es | 63 rooms | No meals.

LA RÁBIDA

8 km (5 miles) northwest of Mazagón.

La Rábida’s monastery is worth a stop if you’re a history buff: it’s nicknamed “the birthplace of America” because in 1485 Columbus came from Portugal with his son Diego to stay in the Mudejar-style Franciscan monastery, where he discussed his theories with friars Antonio de Marchena and Juan Pérez. They interceded on his behalf with Queen Isabella, who had originally rejected his planned expedition.

EXPLORING

Muelle de las Carabelas (Caravel’s Wharf).
Two kilometers (1 mile) from La Rábida’s monastery, on the seashore, this is a reproduction of a 15th-century port. The star exhibits here are the full-size models of Columbus’s flotilla, the Niña, Pinta, and Santa María, built using the same techniques as in Columbus’s day. You can go aboard each and learn more about the discovery of the New World in the adjoining museum. | Paraje de la Rábida | 959/530597 | €3.55 | Sept. 16–June 14, Tues.–Sun. 9:30–8; June 15–Sept. 15, Tues.–Sun. 10:30–10.

Santa María de La Rábida.
The Mudejar-style Franciscan monastery of this church has a much-venerated 14th-century statue of the Virgen de los Milagros (Virgin of Miracles). There are relics from the discovery of America displayed in the museum and the frescoes in the gatehouse were painted by Daniel Vázquez Díaz in 1930. | Camino del Monasterio, Ctra. de Huelva | 959/350411 | www.monasteriodelarabida.com | €3 | Apr.–July and Sept.–Oct., Tues.–Sat. 10–1 and 4–7, Sun. 10:45–1 and 4–7; Nov.–Mar., Tues.–Sat. 10–1 and 4–6:15, Sun. 10:45–1 and 4–6:15; Aug., Mon.–Sat. 10–1 and 4:45–8, Sun. 10:45–1 and 4:45–8.

ARACENA

105 km (65 miles) northeast of Huelva, 100 km (62 miles) northwest of Seville.

Stretching north of the provinces of Huelva and Seville is the 460,000-acre Sierra de Aracena nature park, an expanse of hills cloaked in cork and holm oak. This region is known for its cured ibérico hams, which come from the prized free-ranging Iberian pigs that gorge on acorns in the autumn months before slaughter; the hams are buried in salt and then hung in cellars to dry-cure for at least two years. The best ibérico hams have traditionally come from the village of Jabugo.

Essentials

Visitor Information
Aracena. | Calle Pozo de la Nieve, at cave entrance | 663/937877.

EXPLORING

FAMILY | Gruta de las Maravillas (Cave of Marvels).
In the town of Aracena, the capital of the region, the main attraction is this spectacular cave. Its 12 caverns contain long corridors, stalactites and stalagmites arranged in wonderful patterns, and stunning underground lagoons. Visitor numbers are limited to 1000 per day, so go early if visiting in high season. | Calle Pozo de la Nieve Pedraza de la Sierra | 663/937876 | €8.50 | Hourly guided tours, if sufficient numbers, daily 10–1:30 and 3:30–6.

WHERE TO EAT AND STAY

Montecruz.
SPANISH | The downstairs bar here serves simple tapas, but it’s the upstairs restaurant that makes it worth a visit. The rustic dining room is decorated with wall paintings and hunting trophies, and the kitchen serves only regional produce and dishes. Try the gurumelos salteados con jamón y gambas (a type of mushroom stir-fried with ham and prawns), lomo de jabalí (boar tenderloin), or the outstanding ham; chestnut stew is the standout for dessert. Vegetarian and organic menus are available. | Average main: €15 | Pl. de San Pedro | 959/126013 | Closed Wed.

Fodor’s Choice | Finca Buenvino.
B&B/INN | This lovely country house, 6 km (4 miles) from Aracena, is nestled in 150 acres of woods and is run by a charming British couple, Sam and Jeannie Chesterton, who include big breakfasts in the room price and offer dinner for a small fee. You’ll enjoy vegetables and herbs from the garden and eggs from their own chickens, and Jeannie also conducts Spanish cookery courses for groups of up to eight people. Three woodland vacation cottages are available, converted from former stables and workers’ cottages. Views from the infinity pool (heated) are spectacular. Pros: intimate and personal; friendly hosts. Cons: somewhat removed from village life. | Rooms from: €140 | N433, Km 95 Los Marines | 959/124034 | www.fincabuenvino.com | 4 rooms, 3 cottages | Breakfast.

La Casa Noble.
B&B/INN | In this lovingly restored town house, built in 1914 as one of the town’s finest buildings, you’ll find luxury, relaxation, and friendly service from an engaging owner. All rooms are spacious and those in the older part of the house retain original tiles, beamed ceilings, and frescoed walls (those in the dining room are particularly fine); those in the newer annex come with striking modern touches. Deep tubs with scented candles and cozy sofas provide perfect relaxation after a day’s exploring. The owner can offer plenty of tips and advice on the area and organizes themed stays for foodies, walkers, and those who simply want to see the sights. Pros: luxury surroundings and amenities; central location. Cons: breakfast is delicious but has limited choices; no children under 16. | Rooms from: €195 | Calle Campito 35 | 959/127778 | www.lacasanoble.net | 6 suites | Closed Dec. 15–Jan. 15 | Breakfast.

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Cádiz Province and Jerez de La Frontera

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Jerez de la Frontera | Arcos de la Frontera | Sanlúcar de Barrameda | Puerto de Santa María | Cádiz

A trip through this province is a journey into the past. Winding roads take you through scenes ranging from flat and barren plains to seemingly endless vineyards, and the rolling countryside is carpeted with blindingly white soil known as albariza—unique to this area and the secret to the grapes used in sherry. In Jerez de La Frontera, you can savor the town’s internationally known sherry and delight in the skills and forms of purebred Carthusian horses.

Throughout the province, the pueblos blancos provide striking contrasts with the terrain, especially at Arcos de la Frontera, where the village sits dramatically on a crag overlooking the gorge of the Guadalete River. In the city of Cádiz you can absorb about 3,000 years of history in what is generally considered the oldest continuously inhabited city in the Western world.

Cádiz Province

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JEREZ DE LA FRONTERA

97 km (60 miles) south of Seville.

Jerez, world headquarters for sherry—the city was European Wine City in 2014—is surrounded by vineyards of chalky soil, producing Palomino grapes that have funded a host of churches and noble mansions. Names such as González Byass, Domecq, Harvey, and Sandeman are inextricably linked with Jerez. The word “sherry,” first used in Great Britain in 1608, is an English corruption of the town’s old Moorish name, Xeres. Both sherry and horses are the domain of Jerez’s Anglo-Spanish aristocracy, whose Catholic ancestors came here from England centuries ago. At any given time, more than half a million barrels of sherry are maturing in Jerez’s vast aboveground cellars.

Getting Here and Around

Jerez is a short way from Seville with frequent daily trains (journey time is around an hour) and buses (1 hour 15 minutes), fewer on weekends. If you’re traveling to the city by car, park in one of the city-center lots or at your hotel as street parking is difficult.

Essentials

Bus Station
Jerez de la Frontera. | Pl. de la Estación | 956/149990.

Taxi Contact
Tele Taxi. | 956/344860.

Train Station
Jerez de la Frontera. | Pl. de la Estación s/n, off Calle Diego Fernández Herrera | 902/320320.

Visitor Information
Jerez de la Frontera. | Edificio Los Arcos, Pl. del Arenal | 956/338874 | www.turismojerez.com.

EXPLORING

Top Attractions

Alcázar.
Once the residence of the caliph of Seville, the 12th-century Alcázar and its small, octagonal mosque and baths were built for the Moorish governor’s private use. The baths have three sections: the sala fria (cold room), the larger sala templada (warm room), and the sala caliente (hot room) for steam baths. In the midst of it all is the 17th-century Palacio de Villavicencio, built on the site of the original Moorish palace. A camera obscura, a lens-and-mirrors device that projects the outdoors onto a large indoor screen, offers a 360-degree view of Jerez. | Calle Alameda Vieja | 956/149955 | €5, €7 including camera obscura | Mar.–Oct., weekdays 9:30–6 (until 8 July–mid-Sept.), weekends 9:30–3; Nov.–Feb., daily 9:30–3.

Catedral de Jerez.
Across from the Alcázar and around the corner from the González Byass winery, the cathedral has an octagonal cupola and a separate bell tower, as well as Zurbarán’s canvas La Virgen Niña (The Virgin as a Young Girl). | Pl. de la Encarnación | 956/169059 | €5 | Mon.–Sat. 10–6:30.

Fodor’s Choice | Plaza de la Asunción.
Here on one of Jerez’s most intimate squares you can find the Mudejar church of San Dionisio and the ornate cabildo municipal (city hall), with a lovely plateresque facade dating from 1575. | Jerez de la Frontera, Cádiz.

FAMILY | Fodor’s Choice | Real Escuela Andaluza del Arte Ecuestre (Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art).
This prestigious school operates on the grounds of the Recreo de las Cadenas, a 19th-century palace. The school was masterminded by Alvaro Domecq in the 1970s, and every Thursday (and at various other times throughout the year) the Cartujana horses—a cross between the native Andalusian workhorse and the Arabian—and skilled riders in 18th-century riding costume demonstrate intricate dressage techniques and jumping in the spectacular show “Cómo Bailan los Caballos Andaluces” (roughly, “The Dancing Horses of Andalusia”). Reservations are essential. Admission price depends on how close to the arena you sit; the first two rows are the priciest. At certain other times you can visit the stables and tack room, and watch the horses being schooled. | Av. Duque de Abrantes | 956/319635 for info | www.realescuela.org | Shows €21–€27, stables tour and training sessions €11 | Times for shows, tours, and training sessions vary throughout the year; check website for up-to-date details.

Worth Noting

Domecq.
This is Jerez’s oldest bodega, founded in 1730. Aside from sherry, Domecq makes the world’s best-selling brandy, Fundador. Harveys Bristol Cream is also part of the Domecq group. | Calle San Ildefonso 3 | 956/151552 | www.bodegasfundadorpedrodomecq.com | Tours Mar.–Oct., weekdays at 10, noon, 1, 2, 3 and 4, Sat. at noon, 1 and 2; Jan., Feb., Nov., and Dec., Mon.–Sat. at noon, 1, and 2.

González Byass.
If you have time for only one bodega, make it this one—home of the famous Tío Pepe. The tour is well organized and includes La Concha, an open-air aging cellar designed by Gustave Eiffel. Tours in English daily at noon, 1, 2 and 5 (no afternoon tour on Sunday). | Calle Manuel María González | 956/357016 | www.bodegastiopepe.com | Tours Mon.–Sat. at noon, 1, 2, and 5, Sun. at noon.

Jerez Plaza de Toros.
Jerez’s bullring is northeast of the city center. Tickets are sold at the official ticket office on Calle Porvera, but only about five bullfights are held each year, in May and October. | Calle Circo.

Museo Arqueológico.
Diving into the maze of streets that form the scruffy San Mateo neighborhood east of the town center, you come to one of Andalusia’s best archaeological museums, which were extensively restored prior to 2012. The collection is strongest on the pre-Roman period and the star item, found near Jerez, is a Greek helmet dating from the 7th century BC. | Pl. del Mercado s/n | 956/149561 | €5 | Tues.–Fri. 10–2 and 4–7, weekends 10–2.

Museo Taurino.
Six blocks from the bullring is this bullfighting museum, where admission includes a drink. | Calle Pozo del Olivar 6 | 956/319000 | €2.50 | Mon.–Sat. 10–2.

FAMILY | Parque Zoológico.
Just west of the town center, the Jerez zoo is set in lush botanical gardens where you can usually spy up to 33 storks’ nests. Primarily a place for the rehabilitation of injured or endangered animals native to the region, the zoo also houses white tigers, elephants, a giant red panda, and the endangered Iberian lynx (the only place where you can see the lynx in captivity). | Calle Madreselva | 956/149785 | www.zoobotanicojerez.com | €9.30 | May–mid-June., Tues.–Sun. 10–7; mid-June–mid-Sept., daily 10–7; Oct.–Apr., Tues.–Sun. 10–6.

San Miguel.
One block from the Plaza del Arenal, near the Alcázar, stands the church of San Miguel. Built over the 15th and 16th centuries, it’s interior illustrates the evolution of Gothic architecture, with various styles mixed into the design. | Pl. de San Miguel | 956/343347 | Free | Weekdays 9:30–1:30 and 4:30–6:30, by appointment.

Sandeman.
This brand of sherry is known for its dashing man-in-a-cape logo. | Calle Pizarro 10 | 675/647177 | www.sandeman.eu.

Winery Tours in Jerez

On a bodega (winery) visit, you’ll learn about the solera method of blending old wine with new, and the importance of the flor (yeast that forms on the wine as it ages) in determining the kind of sherry.

Phone ahead for an appointment to make sure you join a group that speaks your language. Admission fees start at €7 (more for extra wine tasting or tapas) and tours, which last between 60 and 90 minutes, go through the aging cellars, with their endless rows of casks. (You won’t see the actual fermenting and bottling, which take place in more modern, less romantic plants outside town.) Finally, you’ll be invited to sample generous amounts of pale, dry fino, nutty amontillado, or rich, deep oloroso, and, of course, to purchase a few robustly priced bottles in the winery shop.

Yeguada de la Cartuja.
This farm just outside Jerez de la Frontera specializes in Carthusian horses. In the 15th century, a Carthusian monastery on this site started the breed for which Jerez and the rest of Spain are now famous. Visits include a full tour of the stables and training areas, and a show. Book ahead. | Finca Fuente El Suero, Ctra. Medina–El Portal, Km 6.5 | 956/162809 | www.yeguadacartuja.com | €15.50–€21.50 | Tour and show Sat. at 11 am.

WHERE TO EAT

Albores.
SPANISH | Opposite the city hall, this restaurant, with pleasant outdoor seating under orange trees and a sleek interior with low lighting, serves modern dishes with a traditional base. The menu is extensive and changes often, although must-try staples include barriga de atún con salsa cremosa de soja y mermelada de tomate (tuna belly with cream of soy sauce and tomato jam) and lomo de ciervo con boniato y salsa de mostaza (venison filet with sweet potato and mustard sauce). Portions are generous and sharing is encouraged, but half portions are also available if you want something for yourself. This is a busy venue (book on weekends), but service is always efficient and reasonably swift. | Average main: €13 | Calle Consistorio 12 | 956/320266.

El Bosque.
SPANISH | In an early-20th-century villa with contemporary paintings of bullfights, this is one of the most stylish dining spots in town, and the smaller of the two dining rooms has picture windows overlooking a park. The food is contemporary Spanish: Sopa de galeras (shrimp soup) is a rich appetizer; follow up with the local favorite arroz con langostinos (rice with jumbo shrimps) or rabo de toro al estilo El Bosque (oxtail in sherry). Desserts are less exciting but include a delicious tocino de cielo (egg-yolk pudding). Service is excellent. | Average main: €22 | Av. Alcalde Alvaro Domecq 26 | 956/307030 | Closed Sun. and Mon.

Fodor’s Choice | La Carboná.
SPANISH | In a former bodega, this eatery has a rustic atmosphere with arches, beams, and a fireplace for winter nights, and in summer you can often enjoy live music and sometimes flamenco dancing while you dine. The chef has worked at several top restaurants, and his menu includes traditional grilled meats as well as innovative twists on classic dishes, such as foie gras terrine with strawberry coulis, and cod with artichoke and fino cream. Try the sherry menú de degustación (€32)—five courses, each accompanied by a different type of sherry. Both the tapas menu and the wine list are excellent. | Average main: €14 | Calle San Francisco de Paula 2 | 956/347475 | Closed Tues.

Mesón del Asador.
SPANISH | Just off the Plaza del Arenal, this rustic meat restaurant is always packed with young locals who crowd around the bar for cheap and generous tapas (from €2.50). Oxtail stew, fried chorizo, black pudding, and pig’s-cheek stew come in huge portions, resulting in an incredibly inexpensive meal. Choose table service to try the excellent oxtail sirloin or other type of meat, barbecued or grilled on hot stones. | Average main: €12 | Calle Remedios 2–4 | 952/322658 | Reservations not accepted.

Fodor’s Choice | Sabores.
SPANISH | The walled garden at this eatery, widely regarded as the best restaurant in town, is a cool spot on a warm night. The staff’s enthusiasm and culinary knowledge will help guide your choice. Consider kickstarting your meal with the creative tapas, such as roast pork, tomato and Manchego cheese on toast, and fried hake with lemon sauce. Innovative main dishes include fish of the day with sauteed eggplant and asparagus, and slow-cooked oxtail in sherry, carrot and ginger. | Average main: €16 | Chancilleria Hotel, Calle Chancilleria 21 | 956/329835 | Reservations essential | No lunch Mon.

Venta Antonio.
SEAFOOD | Crowds come to this roadside inn for superb, fresh seafood cooked in top-quality olive oil. You enter through the busy bar, where lobsters await their fate in a tank. Try the specialties of the Bay of Cádiz, such as sopa de mariscos (shellfish soup) followed by succulent bogavantes de Sanlúcar (local lobster). Be prepared for large, noisy Spanish families dining here on the weekends, particularly during the winter months. | Average main: €12 | Ctra. de Jerez–Sanlúcar, Km 5 | 956/140535 | Closed Mon.

WHERE TO STAY

Fodor’s Choice | Hotel Palacio Garvey.
B&B/INN | Dating from 1850, this luxurious boutique hotel was once the home of the prestigious Garvey family, and the original neoclassical architecture and interior decoration has been exquisitely restored. Tastefully minimalist rooms have shiny parquet floors and sleek furniture, and the artwork throughout the hotel is edgy and modern. The restaurant’s red lacquered chairs provide a suitably innovative impact to match the modern Mediterranean cuisine. Parts of the ancient city wall are visible from the gardens. Pros: in the center of town; fashionable and contemporary feel. Cons: breakfast offers few choices; inadequate parking. | Rooms from: €85 | Calle Tornería 24 | 956/326700 | www.hotelpalaciogarvey.com | 7 rooms, 9 suites | Breakfast.

Hotel San Andrés.
HOTEL | This low-rise hotel on a quiet side street off the center has an inviting traditional entrance patio and rooms set around a courtyard filled with plants, local tile work, and graceful arches. The rooms are modestly decorated with pine furniture set against dazzling white walls. There is also a less expensive pensión within the same building, with 18 similar quality rooms but shared bathrooms. Pros: friendly owners; easy on-street parking. Cons: small rooms; accommodation only. | Rooms from: €40 | Calle Morenos 12 | 956/340983 | www.hotel-sanandres.com | 30 rooms | No meals.

Hotel Villa Jerez.
B&B/INN | Tastefully furnished, this hacienda-style hotel offers luxury on the outskirts of town. The traditional courtyard is surrounded by lush landscaped gardens featuring palm trees and a dazzling array of colorful plants. It has an elegant Italian restaurant with terrace and a saltwater swimming pool. The bedrooms are individually decorated, plush, and well equipped, and the staff is friendly and efficient. Pros: elegant surroundings; noble architecture. Cons: outside of town center; small pool. | Rooms from: €100 | Av. de la Cruz Roja 7 | 956/153100 | www.hace.es/hotelvillajerez | 14 rooms, 4 suites | No meals.

La Fonda Barranco.
HOTEL | A block away from the cathedral and behind the police station, this typical Jerez townhouse has been restored to its full bourgeois glory, preserving original tiled floors, beamed ceilings, and a light central patio. Rooms are small, dressed in white with Moroccan touches and blissfully cool in the warmer months. Two apartments on the top floor provide great accommodations for four or five people. The rooftop terrace has lovely views over to the cathedral, and you can enjoy breakfast or a drink up here. Pros: personalized attention; central location; good value. Cons: some rooms are dark; no elevator. | Rooms from: €75 | Calle Barranco 12 | 956/332141 | www.lafondabarranco.com | 8 rooms, 2 apartments | No meals.

Las Palomas.
HOTEL | This inexpensive hotel also happens to be one of the oldest in town, and the restored rooftop terrace, with its sweeping views, is the perfect spot to relax with a drink. Thanks to the enthusiasm of the owners, its interior is cheery and bright, with sunny yellow paint, wrought-iron beds, wood shutters, and ocher floor tiles. The rooms are set around a charming tiled patio where a buffet breakfast is available. The owners speak English and can advise on local restaurants, sights, and activities. Pros: simple and homey rooms; friendly English-speaking owners. Cons: rooms facing the patio are noisy. | Rooms from: €36 | Calle Higueras 17 | 956/343773 | www.pension-las-palomas.es | 35 rooms | No meals.

SPORTS AND THE OUTDOORS

Circuito Permanente de Velocidad.
Formula One Grand Prix races—including the Spanish motorcycle Grand Prix on the first weekend in May—are held at Jerez’s racetrack. | Ctra. Arcos, Km 10 | 956/151100 | www.circuitodejerez.com.

SHOPPING

Calle Corredera and Calle Bodegas are the places to go if you want to browse for wicker and ceramics.

ARCOS DE LA FRONTERA

31 km (19 miles) east of Jerez.

Its narrow and steep cobblestone streets, whitewashed houses, and finely crafted wrought-iron window grilles make Arcos the quintessential Andalusian pueblo blanco. Make your way to the main square, the Plaza de España, the highest point in the village; one side of the square is open, and a balcony at the edge of the cliff offers views of the Guadalete Valley. On the opposite end is the church of Santa María de la Asunción, a fascinating blend of architectural styles—Romanesque, Gothic, and Mudejar—with a plateresque doorway, a Renaissance retablo (altarpiece), and a 17th-century baroque choir. The Ayuntamiento stands at the foot of the old castle walls on the northern side of the square; across is the Casa del Corregidor, onetime residence of the governor and now a parador. Arcos is the westernmost of the 19 pueblos blancos dotted around the Sierra de Cádiz.

Getting Here and Around

Arcos is best reached by private car, but there are frequent bus services here from Cádiz, Jerez, and Seville on weekdays. Weekend services are less frequent.

Essentials

Visitor Information
Arcos de la Frontera. | Cuesta de Belén 5 | 956/702264 | www.turismoarcos.es.

WHERE TO EAT

El Paquetito.
TAPAS | At the bottom of the climb up to the old town, this small restaurant serves—according to many—the best tapas (from €2.50) in Arcos. Signature tapas are paquetitos (little parcels) of filo pastry with seven different fillings; the most requested are the goat cheese with spinach and pine nuts, and the salmon with herbed cheese. Tapas change on the weekend. Berenjenas con miel (fried eggplant with honey) and the filet steak with Pedro Ximénez sherry are other house specialties. The interior is cheap and cheerful, with plastic tables on the pleasant outside terrace and wooden ones inside. | Average main: €8 | Av. Miguel Mancheño 1 | 956/704937 | Closed Wed. mid-Sept.–June. No lunch weekends July–mid-Sept.

Mesón del Corregidor.
SPANISH | The old town has only one real restaurant—this one within the parador hotel—and it boasts perhaps the best views ever from a table. Wherever you choose to sit (bar, terrace, or restaurant), you’ll dine looking over the clifftop to the miles of green countryside beyond. Parador fare is justly famed in Spain and the food on offer here is no exception. Try the corvina a la roteña (sea bass Rota style, steamed with vegetables) or the carrillera de cerdo en salsa de almendra (pig’s cheek in almond sauce). Finish with delicias del cielo (“heavenly delights”—cream of coconut). | Average main: €12 | Parador Casa del Corregidor, Pl. del Cabildo | 956/700500.

WHERE TO STAY

Fodor’s Choice | El Convento.
B&B/INN | Perched atop the cliff behind the town parador, this tiny hotel in a former 17th-century convent shares the amazing view of another hotel in town, its swish neighbor (La Casa Grande). Though the rooms here are smaller and very slightly cheaper, most have private terraces, and all are furnished tastefully with period artwork and sculptures. In addition guests have the use of a large rooftop terrace on the edge of the cliff. There is no restaurant, but breakfast is available. Pros: location; intimacy. Cons: small spaces; lots of stairs. | Rooms from: €82 | Calle Maldonado 2 | 956/702333 | www.hotelelconvento.es | 13 rooms | Closed Nov.–Feb. | No meals.

Fodor’s Choice | La Casa Grande.
B&B/INN | Built in 1729, this extraordinary 18th-century mansion encircles a central patio with lush vegetation and is perched on the edge of the 400-foot cliff to which Arcos de la Frontera clings. Inside, Catalan owner Elena Posa has restored each room, and the artwork, the casually elegant style, and the inventive bathrooms are all a delight. The breakfast terrace allows you to look down on hundreds of swallows circling over the riverbed below. The rooftop rooms, El Palomar (the Pigeon Roost) and El Soberao (the Attic), are the best, but the Cuarto Bajo and Cuarto y Mitad rooms have large terraces. Pros: attentive owner; impeccable aesthetics. Cons: inconvenient parking; long climb to the top floor. | Rooms from: €90 | Calle Maldonado 10 | 956/703930 | www.lacasagrande.net | 7 rooms | No meals.

Parador Casa del Corregidor.
HOTEL | Expect a spectacular view from the terrace, as this parador clings to the cliffside, overlooking the rolling valley of the Guadalete River. Public rooms include a popular bar and restaurant, Mesón del Corregidor (FSee Where to Eat), which opens onto the terrace and an enclosed patio, and the best rooms are 6–9 and 15–18, which overlook the valley (well worth the €35 extra). Spacious guest rooms are furnished with dark Castilian furniture, reed rugs, and abundant tiles. Pros: gorgeous views from certain rooms; elegant interiors. Cons: public areas a little tired; expensive bar and cafeteria. | Rooms from: €171 | Pl. del Cabildo | 956/700500 | www.parador.es | 24 rooms | No meals.

SANLÚCAR DE BARRAMEDA

24 km (15 miles) northwest of Jerez.

This fishing town has a crumbling charm and is best known for its langostinos (jumbo shrimp) and manzanilla, an exceptionally dry sherry, though it’s also known because Columbus sailed from this harbor on his third voyage to the Americas, in 1498, and 20 years later Ferdinand Magellan began his circumnavigation of the globe from here. The most popular restaurants are in the Bajo de Guía neighborhood, on the banks of the Guadalquivir. Here, too, is a visitor center for Doñana National Park (open daily 9–6:45 in winter and 9–8 in summer).

EXPLORING

Real Fernando.
Boat trips can take you up the river, stopping at various points in the park; the Real Fernando, with bar and café, does a 3½-hour cruise up the Guadalquivir to the Coto de Doñana and a combined 2½-hour boat trip with a Jeep tour in Doñana. Book ahead. | Edificio Fábrica de Hielo, Bajo de Guía Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Cádiz | 956/363813 | www.visitasdonana.com | €17.27 cruise, €35boat/jeep tour Cruises: June–mid-Sept., daily at 10 and 5; Mar.–May and mid-Sept.–Oct., daily at 10 and 4; Nov.–Feb., daily 10. Boat/Jeep tour: Oct.–May, daily at 9:30, 11 and 3 (also at 4:30 Apr.–May); June–Sept., daily at 9:30, 11, 4, and 5:30.

WHERE TO EAT AND STAY

Casa Bigote.
SEAFOOD | Colorful and informal, this spot near the beach is known for its fried acedias (a type of small sole) and langostinos, which come from these very waters. The seafood paella is also catch-of-the-day fresh. To get here head down the Bajo de Guía; the restaurant is toward the end. Reservations, which can be made through their website (three days in advance), are advisable in summer as the place gets packed with vacationers and locals. | Average main: €17 | Bajo de Guía 10 Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Cádiz | 956/362696 | www.restaurantecasabigote.com | Closed Sun. and Nov.

Mirador de Doñana.
SEAFOOD | This Bajo de Guía landmark, with a large terrace overlooking the water, serves delicious sea bass tartare, chocos (cuttlefish), and exquisite locally caught langostinos de Sanlúcar (jumbo shrimp), which is particularly recommended when washed down with a glass of locally produced manzanilla. The dining area overlooks the large, busy tapas bar. | Average main: €14 | Bajo de Guía Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Cádiz | 956/364205.

Los Helechos.
HOTEL | Named for the ferns (los helechos) that dominate the public spaces, this former private mansion has rooms set around two delightful courtyards, with traditional stone fountains and leafy plants and palms. The spacious rooms are painted in cool pastels and have cozy drapes and wooden floors. A lovely rooftop terrace with pool has the distinct advantage of being out of earshot but within stumbling distance of the Plaza del Cabildo. Pros: ideal location; top value. Cons: not easy to find; some rooms are plain. | Rooms from: €85 | Pl. Madre de Dios 9 Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Cádiz | 956/361349 | www.hotelloshelechos.com | 56 rooms | No meals.

Posada de Palacio.
B&B/INN | On a narrow street in the historic center, this romantic 18th-century palace with Moorish influences is an architectural delight. Three patios (one communal) and several private terraces provide ample space for rest, and the interiors are a colorful mix of period artwork, plants, and antique furniture. Rooms vary greatly in style: some are cavernous with stone floors, others have high ceilings with wood beams. All have been individually decorated and are equipped with large and comfortable beds, but rooms on the upper floor tend to have more natural light. Pros: beautiful setting; historic charm. Cons: some rooms in need of refurbishment; parking difficult. | Rooms from: €120 | Calle Caballeros 9–11 Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Cádiz | 956/364840 | www.posadadepalacio.com | 27 rooms, 6 suites | No meals.

PUERTO DE SANTA MARÍA

12 km (7 miles) southwest of Jerez, 17 km (11 miles) north of Cαdiz.

This attractive if somewhat dilapidated little fishing port on the northern shores of the Bay of Cádiz, with lovely beaches nearby, has white houses with peeling facades and vast green grilles covering the doors and windows. The town is dominated by the Terry and Osborne sherry and brandy bodegas. Columbus once lived in a house on the square that bears his name (Cristobal Colón), and Washington Irving spent the autumn of 1828 at Calle Palacios 57. The marisco bars along the Ribera del Marisco (Seafood Way) are Puerto de Santa María’s main claim to fame. La Dorada, Romerijo La Guachi, and Casa Paco Ceballos are among the most popular, along with El Betis, at Misericordia 7. The tourist office organizes several tours round the port and some include visits to the more than 70 tapas bars in the town!

Essentials

Visitor Information
Puerto de Santa María. | Pl. del Castillo | 956/483715 | www.turismoelpuerto.com.

EXPLORING

Castillo de San Marcos.
This castle was built in the 13th century on the site of a mosque. Created by Alfonso X, it was later home to the Duke of Medinaceli. Among the guests were Christopher Columbus—who tried unsuccessfully to persuade the duke to finance his voyage west—and Juan de la Cosa, who, within these walls, drew up the first map ever to include the Americas. The red lettering on the walls is a 19th-century addition. Visits are by tour only (in English at 1) and include the bodega next door. | Pl. de Alfonso X | 956/851751 | €6 | Tues. 11:30–1:30, Wed. and Sat. 10–2.

Plaza de Toros.
The stunning neo-Mudejar bullring was built in 1880 thanks to a donation from the winemaker Thomas Osborne. It originally had seating for exactly 12,816 people, the entire population of Puerto at that time. | Los Moros | Free | Tues.–Fri., 11–1. Closed to visitors on bullfight days plus days before and after.

WHERE TO EAT AND STAY

Fodor’s Choice | Aponiente.
SPANISH | Deemed one of the world’s top ten chefs by the New York Times in 2014 and worthy of a Michelin star in 2013, Ángel León showcases his creative seafood dishes in this elegant restaurant where edgy interior design combines lime green with crisp white lighting and table linen. Aponiente serves two menús de degustación (€80 for 14 dishes or €115 for 22), or you can mix and match food and wine for €45. Expect plenty of gastronomic inventions such as marine cheese, cuttlefish with potatoes, and rice with plankton and sea cucumber. León avoids species of fish that have become scarce, championing more abundant species such as sardines, shrimp, and cuttlefish. | Average main: €75 | Calle Puerto Escondido 6 | 856/151186 | www.aponiente.com | Reservations essential | Closed Sun. and Mon. Nov.–mid-Mar. (phone for exact dates).

El Faro del Puerto.
SPANISH | In a villa outside town, the “Lighthouse in the Port” is run by the same family that established the classic El Faro in Cádiz. Like its predecessor, it serves excellent seafood, most of which is freshly caught locally. The chef places the emphasis on seasonal fare, which is reflected in the daily specials, and the restaurant has its own vegetable garden. The impressive wine list runs to over 400 choices. Dining alfresco on the outside terrace is particularly pleasant. Cheaper but just as tasty dishes are available at the bar. | Average main: €20 | Ctra. Fuentebravia–Rota, Km 0.5 | 956/870952 | www.elfarodelpuerto.com | No dinner Sun., except in Aug.

Fodor’s Choice | Monasterio San Miguel.
HOTEL | Dating from 1733, this former monastery is a few blocks from the harbor; there’s nothing spartan about the former cells, which are now plush suites with all the trappings. The restaurant is in a large, vaulted hall (formerly the nuns’ laundry), the baroque church is now a concert hall, and the cloister’s gardens provide a peaceful refuge. Beam ceilings, polished marble floors, and huge brass lamps enhance the 18th-century feel. Pros: supremely elegant; efficient service. Cons: some furnishings worn out; breakfast has little variety. | Rooms from: €90 | Calle Virgen de los Milagros 27 | 956/540440 | www.sanmiguelhotelmonasterio.com | 141 rooms, 24 suites | Breakfast.

CÁDIZ

32 km (20 miles) southwest of Jerez, 149 km (93 miles) southwest of Seville.

With the Atlantic Ocean on three sides, Cádiz is a bustling town that’s been shaped by a variety of cultures, and has the varied architecture to prove it. Founded as Gadir by Phoenician traders in 1100 BC, Cádiz claims to be the oldest continuously inhabited city in the Western world. Hannibal lived in Cádiz for a time, Julius Caesar first held public office here, and Columbus set out from here on his second voyage, after which the city became the home base of the Spanish fleet. In the 18th century, when the Guadalquivir silted up, Cádiz monopolized New World trade and became the wealthiest port in Western Europe. Most of its buildings—including the cathedral, built in part with wealth generated by gold and silver from the New World—date from this period. The old city is African in appearance and immensely intriguing—a cluster of narrow streets opening onto charming small squares. The golden cupola of the cathedral looms above low white houses, and the whole place has a slightly dilapidated air. Spaniards flock here in February to revel in the carnival celebrations, but in general it’s not very touristy.

Getting Here and Around

Every day, around 15 local trains connect Cádiz with Seville, Puerto de Santa María, and Jerez. The city has two bus stations. The main one, run by Comes, serves most destinations in Andalusia and farther afield; the other, run by Socibus, serves Córdoba and Madrid. There are buses to and from Sanlúcar de Barrameda (12 on weekdays), Arcos de la Frontera (4 daily), and the Costa del Sol (4 daily). Cádiz is easy to get to and navigate by car. Once there, the old city is easily explored by foot.

Essentials

Bus Station
Cádiz–Estación de Autobuses Comes. | Pl. de Sevilla | 902/199208
Cádiz-Estación de Autobuses Socibus. | Av. León de Carranza 20 | 902/229292.

Taxi Contact
Radiotaxi. | 956/212121.

Train Station
Cádiz. | Pl. de Sevilla s/n | 902/320320.

Visitor Information
Local Tourist Office. | Paseo de Canalejas | 956/241001 | www.turismo.cadiz.es | Av. Caballerizas Reales s/n, Judería, | Córdoba | 902/201774
Provincial Tourist Office. | Pl. de San Antonio 3, 2nd fl. | 956/807061
Regional Tourist Office. | Av. Ramón de Carranza s/n | 956/203191 | www.cadizturismo.com.

EXPLORING

Begin your explorations in the Plaza de Mina, a large, leafy square with palm trees and plenty of benches.

Top Attractions

Cádiz Cathedral.
Five blocks southeast of the Torre Tavira are the gold dome and baroque facade of Cádiz’s cathedral, begun in 1722, when the city was at the height of its power. The Cádiz-born composer Manuel de Falla, who died in 1946 at the age of 70, is buried in the crypt. The cathedral museum, on Calle Acero, displays gold, silver, and jewels from the New World, as well as Enrique de Arfe’s processional cross, which is carried in the annual Corpus Christi parades. The cathedral is known as the New Cathedral because it supplanted the original 13th-century structure next door, which was destroyed by the British in 1592, rebuilt, and rechristened the church of Santa Cruz when the New Cathedral came along. | Pl. Catedral | 956/286154 | €5, includes crypt, museum, and church of Santa Cruz | Museum, crypt, and Santa Cruz: Mon.–Sat. 10–6:30, Sun. 1:30–6:30; Cathedral: Mass Sun. at noon.

Museo de Cádiz (Provincial Museum).
On the east side of the Plaza de Mina is Cadiz’s provincial museum. Notable pieces include works by Murillo and Alonso Cano as well as the Four Evangelists and a set of saints by Zurbarán. The archaeological section contains Phoenician sarcophagi from the time of this ancient city’s birth. | Pl. de Mina | 956/203368 | €1.50 | June–Sept., Tues.–Sat. 9–3, Sun. 10–5; Oct.–May, Tues.–Sat. 10–8:30, Sun. 10–5.

Oratorio de San Felipe Neri.
A walk up Calle San José from the Plaza de la Mina will bring you to this church, where Spain’s first liberal constitution (known affectionately as La Pepa) was declared in 1812. It was here, too, that the Cortes (Parliament) of Cádiz met when the rest of Spain was subjected to the rule of Napoléon’s brother, Joseph Bonaparte (more popularly known as Pepe Botella, for his love of the bottle). On the main altar is an Immaculate Conception by Murillo, the great Sevillian artist who in 1682 fell to his death from a scaffold while working on his Mystic Marriage of St. Catherine in Cádiz’s Chapel of Santa Catalina. | Calle Santa Inés 38 | 956/229120 | €3 (free Sun.) | Tues.–Fri. 10–1:45 and 5–7:45, Sat. 10–1:45, Sun. 11–1:45.

FAMILY | Fodor’s Choice | Torre Tavira.
At 150 feet, this is the highest point in the old city. More than a hundred such watchtowers were used by Cádiz ship owners to spot their arriving fleets. A camera obscura gives a good overview of the city and its monuments; the last show is a half hour before closing time. | Calle Marqués del Real Tesoro 10 | 956/212910 | €5 | Daily 10–6 (until 8 May–Sept.).

Worth Noting

Ayuntamiento (City hall).
This impressive building overlooks the Plaza San Juan de Diós, one of Cádiz’s liveliest hubs. It’s attractively illuminated at night and open to visits on Saturday mornings. Just ring the bell next to the door. | Pl. de San Juan de Dios | Sat. 11–12:45.

Gran Teatro Manuel de Falla.
Four blocks west of Santa Inés is the Plaza Manuel de Falla, overlooked by this amazing neo-Mudejar redbrick building. The classic interior is impressive as well; try to attend a performance. | Pl. Manuel de Falla | 956/220828.

Museo de las Cortes.
Next door to the Oratorio de San Felipe Neri, this small but pleasant museum has a 19th-century mural depicting the establishment of the Constitution of 1812. Its real showpiece, however, is a 1779 ivory-and-mahogany model of Cádiz, with all of the city’s streets and buildings in minute detail, looking much as they do now. | Calle Santa Inés 9 | 956/221788 | Free | Tues.–Fri. 9–6, weekends 9–2.

Oratorio de la Santa Cueva.
A few blocks east of the Plaza de Mina, next door to the Iglesia del Rosario, this oval 18th-century chapel has three frescoes by Goya. | Calle Rosario 10 | 956/222262 | €3 | Apr.–Oct., Tues.–Fri. 11–2 and 5:30–8:30, weekends 11–2; Nov.–Mar., Tues.–Fri. 10–1 and 4:30–7:30, weekends 10–1.

Plaza San Francisco.
Near the Ayuntamiento is this pretty square surrounded by white-and-yellow houses and filled with orange trees and elegant streetlamps. It’s especially lively during the evening paseo (promenade). | Cádiz, Cádiz.

WHERE TO EAT AND STAY

Fodor’s Choice | Casa Manteca.
SPANISH | Cádiz’s most quintessentially Andalusian tavern is in the neighborhood of La Viña, named for the vineyard that once grew here. Chacina (Iberian ham or sausage) and chicharrones de Cádiz (cold pork) served on waxed paper and washed down with manzanilla are standard fare at the low wooden counter that has served bullfighters and flamenco singers, as well as dignitaries from around the world, since 1953. The walls are covered with colorful posters and other memorabilia from the annual carnival, flamenco shows, and ferias. No hot dishes are available. | Average main: €8 | Corralón de los Carros 66 | 956/213603 | No dinner Sun. and Mon.

Fodor’s Choice | El Faro.
SPANISH | This famous fishing-quarter restaurant near Playa de la Caleta is deservedly known as one of the best in the province. From the outside, it’s one of many whitewashed houses with ocher details and shiny black lanterns; inside it’s warm and inviting, with half-tile walls, glass lanterns, oil paintings, and photos of old Cádiz. Fish dishes dominate the menu, of course, but meat and vegetarian options are always available. If you don’t want to go for the full splurge (either gastronomically or financially), there’s an excellent tapas bar. | Average main: €20 | Calle San Felix 15 | 956/211068.

El Ventorrillo del Chato.
SPANISH | Standing on its own on the sandy isthmus between the Atlantic and the Bay of Cádiz, this former inn was founded in 1780 by a man ironically nicknamed “El Chato” (“the small-nosed”) for his prominent proboscis. Run by a scion of El Faro’s Gonzalo Córdoba, the restaurant serves tasty regional specialties in charming Andalusian surroundings. Seafood is a favorite, but meat, stews, and rice dishes are also well represented on the menu, and the wine list is very good. | Average main: €18 | Vía Augusta Julia | 956/250025 | www.ventorrillodelchato.com | No dinner Sun. except in Aug.

Argantonia.
B&B/INN | This small, family-run hotel in the historic center of town combines traditional style and modern amenities with impressive results. Each of the three floors in the 19th-century mansion has been decorated in a different style: Andalusian (first), French colonial (second), and simple rustic colonial (third). All rooms have generous mosaic-tiled bathrooms and balconies, some facing the patio rather than the street. Breakfast is abundant, with hot options available on request. Pros: friendly and helpful staff; great location. Cons: some rooms on the small side. | Rooms from: €119 | Calle Argantonio 3 | 956/211640 | www.hotelargantonio.com | 16 rooms, 1 suite | Breakfast.

Las Cortes de Cádiz.
HOTEL | This colonial-style lodging, clustered around a delightful light-filled atrium, has an attractive and stylish appeal and a rooftop terrace with sweeping views. There’s a glossy marble-and-tile reception area and four floors of rooms washed in pale pastel shades. The restaurant provides Spanish fare in intimate surroundings. Modern comforts include a small spa and well-equipped gym. Pros: tastefully renovated building; excellent service. Cons: few staffers speak English; interior rooms rather dark, with no external windows. | Rooms from: €135 | Calle San Francisco 9 | 956/220489 | www.hotellascortes.com | 36 rooms | No meals.

Parador de Cádiz.
HOTEL | Totally reformed in 2013, this parador has a privileged position overlooking the bay. The spacious public areas combine wood, steel, and marble, with black and white furniture to introduce a modern edgy look. Rooms are also large and are mostly decorated in beige and white tones; most have balconies facing the sea. The pool, surrounded by decking and with panoramic ocean views, is one of the highlights. Pros: great views of the bay; central location; bright and cheerful. Cons: could be too modern for some. | Rooms from: €185 | Av. Duque de Nájera 9 | 956/226905 | www.parador.es | 106 rooms, 18 suites | No meals.

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Córdoba

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Exploring | Where to Eat | Where to Stay | Nightlife | Performing Arts | Shopping

166 km (103 miles) northwest of Granada, 407 km (250 miles) southwest of Madrid, 239 km (143 miles) northeast of Cádiz, 143 km (86 miles) northeast of Seville.

Strategically located on the north bank of the Guadalquivir River, Córdoba was the Roman and Moorish capital of Spain, and its old quarter, clustered around its famous Mezquita, remains one of the country’s grandest and yet most intimate examples of its Moorish heritage. Once a medieval city famed for the peaceful and prosperous coexistence of its three religious cultures—Islamic, Jewish, and Christian—Córdoba is also a perfect analogue for the cultural history of the Iberian Peninsula.

Córdoba today, with its modest population of a little more than 300,000, offers a cultural depth and intensity—a direct legacy from the great emirs, caliphs, philosophers, physicians, poets, and engineers of the days of the caliphate—that far outstrips the city’s current commercial and political power. Its artistic and historical treasures begin with the Mezquita-Catedral (mosque-cathedral), as it is ever-more-frequently called, and continue through the winding, whitewashed streets of the Judería (the medieval Jewish quarter); the jasmine-, geranium-, and orange blossom–filled patios; the Renaissance palaces; and the two dozen churches, convents, and hermitages, built by Moorish artisans directly over former mosques.

Córdoba’s History

The Romans invaded Córdoba in 206 BC, later making it the capital of Rome’s section of Spain. Nearly 800 years later, the Visigoth king Leovigildus took control, but the tribe was soon supplanted by the Moors, whose emirs and caliphs held court here from the 8th to the early 11th century. At that point Córdoba was one of the greatest centers of art, culture, and learning in the Western world; one of its libraries had a staggering 400,000 volumes. Moors, Christians, and Jews lived together in harmony within Córdoba’s walls. In that era, it was considered second in importance only to Constantinople; but in 1009, Prince Muhammad II and Omeyan led a rebellion that broke up the caliphate, leading to power flowing to separate Moorish kingdoms.

Córdoba remained in Moorish hands until it was conquered by King Ferdinand in 1236 and repopulated from the north of Spain. Later, the Catholic Monarchs used the city as a base from which to plan the conquest of Granada. In Columbus’s time, the Guadalquivir was navigable as far upstream as Córdoba, and great galleons sailed its waters. Today, the river’s muddy water and marshy banks evoke little of Córdoba’s glorious past, but an old Arab waterfall and the city’s bridge—of Roman origin, though much restored by the Arabs and successive generations, the most recent in 2012—recall a far grander era.

GETTING HERE AND AROUND

Bus Travel

Córdoba is easily reached by bus from Granada, Málaga and Seville. The city has an extensive public bus network with frequent service. Buses usually start running at 6:30 or 7 am and stop around midnight. You can buy 10-trip passes at newsstands and the bus office in Plaza de Colón. A single-trip fare is €1.20.

Córdoba has organized open-top bus tours of the city that can be booked via the tourist office.

Car Travel

The city’s one-way system can be something of a nightmare to navigate, and it’s best to park in one of the signposted lots outside the old quarter.

Train Travel

The city’s modern train station is the hub for a comprehensive network of regional trains, with regular service to Seville, Málaga, Madrid, and Barcelona. Trains for Granada change at Bobadilla.

Essentials

Bike Travel 
Never designed to support cars, Córdoba’s medieval layout is ideal for bicycles, and there’s a good network of designated bicycle tracks.
Solo Bici. You can rent bikes here at reasonable rates here: €6 for 3 hours or €15 for the day. | Calle Maria Cristina 5, behind Ayuntamiento | 957/485766 | www.solobici.net.

Bus Station
Córdoba. | Glorieta de las Tres Culturas | 957/404040 | www.estacionautobusescordoba.es.

Taxi Contact
Radio Taxi. | 957/764444.

Train Contacts
Train Station. | Glorieta de las Tres Culturas | 902/320320.

Visitor Information
Tourist Office. | Pl. de las Tendillas 5, 3A, Centro | 902/201774 | www.cordobaturismo.org.

Córdoba

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EXPLORING

Córdoba is an easily navigable city, with twisting alleyways that hold surprises around every corner. The main city subdivisions used in this book are the Judería (which includes the Mezquita); Sector Sur, around the Torre de la Calahorra across the river; the area around the Plaza de la Corredera, a historic gathering place for everything from horse races to bullfights; and the Centro Comercial, from the area around Plaza de las Tendillas to the Iglesia de Santa Marina and the Torre de la Malmuerta. Incidentally, the last neighborhood is much more than a succession of shops and stores. The town’s real life, the everyday hustle and bustle, takes place here, and the general atmosphere is very different from that of the tourist center around the Mezquita, with its plethora of souvenir shops. Some of the city’s finest Mudejar churches and best taverns, as well as the Palacio de los Marqueses de Viana, are in this pivotal part of town well back from the Guadalquivir waterfront.

Some of the most characteristic and rewarding places to explore in Córdoba are the parish churches and the taverns that inevitably accompany them, where you can taste finos de Moriles, a dry, sherrylike wine from the Montilla-Moriles district, and tentempiés (tapas; literally, “keep you on your feet”). The iglesias fernandinas (so called for their construction after Fernando III’s conquest of Córdoba) are nearly always built over mosques with stunning horseshoe-arch doorways and Mudejar towers, and taverns tended to spring up around these populous hubs of city life. Examples are the Taberna de San Miguel (aka Casa el Pisto) next to the church of the same name, and the Bar Santa Marina (aka Casa Obispo) next to the Santa Marina Church.

TIP Córdoba’s officials frequently change the hours of the city’s sights; before visiting an attraction, confirm hours with the tourist office or the sight itself.

TOP ATTRACTIONS

Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos (Fortress of the Christian Monarchs).
Built by Alfonso XI in 1328, the Alcázar is a Mudejar-style palace with splendid gardens. (The original Moorish Alcázar stood beside the Mezquita, on the site of the present Bishop’s Palace.) This is where, in the 15th century, the Catholic Monarchs held court and launched their conquest of Granada. Boabdil was imprisoned here in 1483, and for nearly 300 years the Alcázar served as the Inquisition’s base. The most important sights here are the Hall of the Mosaics and a Roman stone sarcophagus from the 2nd or 3rd century. | Pl. Campo Santo de los Mártires, Judería | 957/420151 | €4.50 | June 15–Sept. 15, Tues.–Sun. 8:30–3:30; Sept. 16–June 14, Tues.–Fri. 8:30 am–8:45 pm, weekends 8:30–4:30.

Calleja de las Flores.
You’d be hard pressed to find prettier patios than those along this tiny street, a few yards off the northeastern corner of the Mezquita. Patios, many with ceramics, foliage, and iron grilles, are key to Córdoba’s architecture, at least in the old quarter, where life is lived behind sturdy white walls—a legacy of the Moors, who honored both the sanctity of the home and the need to shut out the fierce summer sun. Between the first and second week of May—right after the Cruces de Mayo (Crosses of May) competition, when neighborhoods compete at setting up elaborate crosses decorated with flowers and plants—Córdoba throws a Patio Festival, during which private patios are filled with flowers, opened to the public, and judged in a municipal competition. Córdoba’s tourist office publishes an itinerary of the best patios in town (downloadable from www.turismodecordoba.org)—note that most are open only in the late afternoon on weekdays, but all day on weekends. | Córdoba.

Fodor’s Choice | Madinat Al-Zahra (Medina Azahara).
Built in the foothills of the Sierra Morena by Abd ar-Rahman III for his favorite concubine, az-Zahra (the Flower), this once-splendid summer pleasure palace was begun in 936. Historians say it took 10,000 men, 2,600 mules, and 400 camels 25 years to erect this fantasy of 4,300 columns in dazzling pink, green, and white marble and jasper brought from Carthage. A palace, a mosque, luxurious baths, fragrant gardens, fish ponds, an aviary, and a zoo stood on three terraces here, and for around 70 years the Madinat was the de facto capital of al-Andalus, until, in 1013, it was sacked and destroyed by Berber mercenaries. In 1944 the Royal Apartments were rediscovered, and the throne room carefully reconstructed. The outline of the mosque has also been excavated. The only covered part of the site is the Salon de Abd ar-Rahman III (currently being restored); the rest is a sprawl of foundations and arches that hint at the splendor of the original city-palace. Visits begin at the nearby museum, which provides background information and a 3-D reconstruction of the city, and continue with a walk among the ruins, where you can only imagine the bustle and splendor of days gone by. There’s no public transportation, but a tourist bus runs twice daily (three times on Saturday); the tourist office can provide details of stops and schedule. | Ctra. de Palma del Río, Km 5.5, 8 km (5 miles) west of Córdoba on C431 | 957/352860 | www.museosdeandalucia.es | €1.50 | Tues.–Sat. 9–6:30 (until 8:30 Apr.–mid-Sept.), Sun. 10–5.

Fodor’s Choice | Mezquita (Mosque).
Built between the 8th and 10th centuries, Córdoba’s mosque is one of the earliest and most transportingly beautiful examples of Spanish Islamic architecture. The plain, crenellated exterior walls do little to prepare you for the sublime beauty of the interior. As you enter through the Puerta de las Palmas (Door of the Palms), some 850 columns rise before you in a forest of jasper, marble, granite, and onyx. The pillars are topped by ornate capitals taken from the Visigothic church that was razed to make way for the mosque. Crowning these, red-and-white-stripe arches curve away into the dimness, and the ceiling is of delicately carved tinted cedar. The Mezquita has served as a cathedral since 1236, but its origins as a mosque are clear. Built in four stages, it was founded in 785 by Abd ar-Rahman I (756–88) on a site he bought from the Visigoth Christians. He pulled down their church and replaced it with a mosque, one-third the size of the present one, into which he incorporated marble pillars from earlier Roman and Visigothic shrines. Under Abd ar-Rahman II (822–52), the Mezquita held an original copy of the Koran and a bone from the arm of the prophet Mohammed and became a Muslim pilgrimage site second only in importance to Mecca.

Al Hakam II (961–76) built the beautiful mihrab (prayer niche), the Mezquita’s greatest jewel. Make your way over to the qiblah, the south-facing wall in which this sacred prayer niche was hollowed out. (Muslim law decrees that a mihrab face east, toward Mecca, and that worshippers do likewise when they pray. Because of an error in calculation, this one faces more south than east. Al Hakam II spent hours agonizing over a means of correcting such a serious mistake, but he was persuaded to let it be.) In front of the mihrab is the maksoureh, a kind of anteroom for the caliph and his court; its mosaics and plasterwork make it a masterpiece of Islamic art. A last addition to the mosque as such, the maksoureh was completed around 987 by Al Mansur, who more than doubled its size.

After the Reconquest, the Christians left the Mezquita largely undisturbed, dedicating it to the Virgin Mary and using it as a place of Christian worship. The clerics did erect a wall closing off the mosque from its courtyard, which helped dim the interior and thus separate the house of worship from the world outside. In the 13th century, Christians had the Capilla de Villaviciosa built by Moorish craftsmen, its Mudejar architecture blending with the lines of the mosque. Not so the heavy, incongruous baroque structure of the cathedral, sanctioned in the very heart of the mosque by Carlos V in the 1520s. To the emperor’s credit, he was supposedly horrified when he came to inspect the new construction, exclaiming to the architects, “To build something ordinary, you have destroyed something that was unique in the world.” (Not that this sentiment stopped him from tampering with the Alhambra to build his Palacio Carlos V). Rest up and reflect in the Patio de los Naranjos (Orange Court), perfumed in springtime by orange blossoms. The Puerta del Perdón (Gate of Forgiveness), so named because debtors were forgiven here on feast days, is on the north wall of the Orange Court and is the formal entrance to the mosque. The Virgen de los Faroles (Virgin of the Lanterns), a small statue in a niche on the outside wall of the mosque along the north side on Cardenal Herrero, is behind a lantern-hung grille, rather like a lady awaiting a serenade. The Torre del Alminar, the minaret once used to summon the Muslim faithful to prayer, has a baroque belfry. Allow a good hour for your visit. | Calle de Torrijos, Judería | 957/470512 | €8 | Mon.–Sat. 10–6, Sun. 8:30–11:30 and 3–6 (Mass at 11 and 1).

QUICK BITES: La Casa Andalusí.
A few blocks from the Mezquita, this place is a beautiful spot for tea, with a courtyard, side rooms filled with cushions, and a shop selling Moroccan clothing. It’s open daily from 10 am to 7 pm. | Calle del Buen Pastor 13, Judería | 957/487984 | €2.50.

Fodor’s Choice | Museo de Bellas Artes.
Hard to miss because of its deep-pink facade, Córdoba’s Museum of Fine Arts, in a courtyard just off the Plaza del Potro, belongs to a former Hospital de la Caridad (Charity Hospital). It was founded by Ferdinand and Isabella, who twice received Columbus here. The collection, which includes paintings by Murillo, Valdés Leal, Zurbarán, Goya, and Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida, concentrates on local artists. Highlights are altarpieces from the 14th and 15th centuries, and the large collection of prints and drawings including some by Fortuny, Goya, and Sorolla. | Pl. del Potro 1, San Francisco | 957/103639 | www.juntadeandalucia.es/cultura/museos/MBACO | €1.50 | Tues.–Sun. 10–8:30.

Palacio de Viana.
This 17th-century palace is one of Córdoba’s most splendid aristocratic homes. Also known as the Museo de los Patios, it contains 12 interior patios, each one different; the patios and gardens are planted with cypresses, orange trees, and myrtles. Inside the building are a carriage museum, a library, embossed leather wall hangings, filigree silver, and grand galleries and staircases. As you enter, note that the corner column of the first patio has been removed to allow the entrance of horse-drawn carriages. | Pl. Don Gomé 2, Centro | 957/496741 | Patios €5, patios and interior €8 | Tues.–Fri. 10–7, weekends 10–3.

Plaza de San Miguel.
The square and café terraces around it, and its excellent tavern, Taberna San Miguel–Casa El Pisto, form one of the city’s finest combinations of art, history, and gastronomy. The San Miguel church has an interesting facade with Romanesque doors built around Mudejar horseshoe arches. | Centro.

Torre de la Calahorra.
The tower on the far side of the Puente Romano (Roman Bridge), which was restored in 2008, was built in 1369 to guard the entrance to Córdoba. It now houses the Museo Vivo de Al-Andalus (Al-Andalus is Arabic for “Land of the West”), with films and audiovisual guides (in English) on Córdoba’s history. Climb the narrow staircase to the top of the tower for the view of the Roman bridge and city on the other side of the Guadalquivir. | Av. de la Confederación, Sector Sur | 957/293929 | www.torrecalahorra.com | €4.50, includes audio guide; slide show €1.20 extra | Daily 10–6.

WORTH NOTING

Casa de Sefarad.
This private museum opposite the synagogue is dedicated to the culture of Sephardic Jews in the Mediterranean. Providing a very personal insight, the museum’s director leads visitors through the five rooms of the 14th-century house, where displays cover Sephardic domestic life, music, festivities, the history of Córdoba’s Jewish district, and finally a collection of contemporary paintings of the women of al-Andalus. | Calle Judíos 17, Judería | 957/421404 | www.casadesefarad.es | €4 | Mon.–Sat. 10–6, Sun. 11–2.

QUICK BITES: Gaudí Juda Levi.
The lively Juda Levi plaza, surrounded by a maze of narrow streets and squares, lies at the heart of the Judería and makes a great spot for indulging in a little people-watching and a well-earned break. Sit outside here with a drink or, better still, an ice cream, sandwich, or snack. | Pl. Juda Levi.

Museo Arqueológico.
In the heart of the old quarter, this museum has finds from Córdoba’s varied cultural past. The ground floor has ancient Iberian statues and Roman statues, mosaics, and artifacts; the upper floor is devoted to Moorish art. By chance, the ruins of a Roman theater were discovered right next to the museum in 2000—have a look from the window just inside the entrance. The alleys and steps along Altos de Santa Ana make for great wandering. | Pl. Jerónimo Paez, Judería | 957/355517 | www.museosdeandalucia.es/culturayedeporte/museos | €1.50 | Tues.–Sat. 10–8:30, Sun. 10–5.

Museo Julio Romero de Torres.
Across the courtyard from the Museum of Fine Arts, this museum is devoted to the early-20th-century Córdoban artist Julio Romero de Torres (1874–1930), who specialized in mildly erotic portraits of demure, partially dressed Andalusian temptresses. Romero de Torres, who was also a flamenco cantador (singer), died at the age of 56 and is one of Córdoba’s greatest folk heroes. Restoration of the 19th-century palace that houses the museum was completed in early 2012. | Pl. del Potro 1–4, San Francisco | 957/470356 | www.museojulioromero.cordoba.es | €4.50 | Tues.–Fri. 8:30 am–8:45 pm, Sat. 8:30–4:30, Sun. 8:30–2:30.

Plaza de los Dolores.
The 17th-century Convento de Capuchinos surrounds this small square north of Plaza San Miguel. The square is where you feel most deeply the city’s languid pace. In its center, a statue of Cristo de los Faroles (Christ of the Lanterns) stands amid eight lanterns hanging from twisted wrought-iron brackets. | Centro.

Plaza Santa Marina.
At the edge of the Barrio de los Toreros, a quarter where many of Córdoba’s famous bullfighters were born and raised, stands a statue of the famous bullfighter Manolete (1917–47) opposite the lovely fernandina church of Santa Marina de Aguas Santas (St. Marina of Holy Waters). Not far from here, on the Plaza de la Lagunilla, is a bust of Manolete. | Centro.

Puerta de Almodóvar.
Outside this old Moorish gate at the northern entrance of the Judería is a statue of Seneca, the Córdoba-born philosopher who rose to prominence in Nero’s court in Rome and was forced to commit suicide at his emperor’s command. The gate stands at the top of the narrow and colorful Calle San Felipe. | Judería.

San Nicolás de Villa.
This classically dark Spanish church displays the Mudejar style of Islamic decoration and art forms. Córdoba’s well-kept city park, the pleasant Jardines de la Victoria, with tile benches and manicured bushes, is a block west. | Calle San Felipe, Centro.

Synagogue.
The only Jewish temple in Andalusia to survive the expulsion and inquisition of the Jews in 1492, Córdoba’s synagogue is also one of only three ancient synagogues left in all of Spain (the other two are in Toledo). Though it no longer functions as a place of worship, it’s a treasured symbol for Spain’s modern Jewish communities. The outside is plain, but the inside, measuring 23 feet by 21 feet, contains some exquisite Mudejar stucco tracery. Look for the fine plant motifs and the Hebrew inscription saying that the synagogue was built in 1315. The women’s gallery, not open for visits, still stands, and in the east wall is the ark where the sacred scrolls of the Torah were kept. | Calle Judíos, Judería | 957/202928 | Free | Tues.–Sun. 9:30–2:45.

Zoco.
The Spanish word for the Arab souk (zoco) recalls the onetime function of this courtyard near the synagogue. It’s now the site of a daily crafts market, where you can see artisans at work, and evening flamenco in summer. | Calle Judíos 5, Judería | 957/204033 | Free | Craft stalls daily 10–8; workshops weekdays 10–2 and 5–8, weekends 11–2.

QUICK BITES: Plaza de las Tendillas.
Wander over to this plaza, which is halfway between the Mezquita and Plaza Colón, for a visit to the terraces of Café Boston or Café Siena, both enjoyable places to relax with a coffee when the weather is warm. | Centro.

WHERE TO EAT

Amaltea.
INTERNATIONAL | Satisfying both vegetarians and their meat-eating friends, this organic restaurant includes some meat and fish dishes on the menu. There’s a healthy mix of Mexican, Asian, Spanish, and Italian-influenced dishes, including pasta with artichokes, chicken curry with mango and apricots, and several inventive dishes with bacalao (cod). The interior is warm and inviting, and diners are treated to a soothing musical backdrop of jazz, blues, and chill-out music. Tap water is served free in attractive bottles. | Average main: €10 | Ronda de Isasa 10, Centro | 957/491968 | No dinner Sun.; no lunch Aug.

Bar Santos.
TAPAS | This very small, quintessentially Spanish bar, with no seats and numerous photos of matadors and flamenco dancers, seems out of place surrounded by the tourist shops and overshadowed by the Mezquita, but its appearance—and its prices—are part of its charm. Tapas (from €2) such as morcilla ibérica (black pudding) and bocadillos (sandwiches that are literally “little mouthfuls”) are excellent in quality and value, while the tortilla de patata (potato omelet) is renowned and celebrated both for its taste and its heroic thickness—so much so that on weekends, they sell up to 60 a day. When it’s busy, drinks and food are served on plastic and you often have to eat outside on the street. | Average main: €6 | Calle Magistral González Francés 3, Judería | 957/479360.

Fodor’s Choice | Bodegas Campos.
SPANISH | A block east of the Plaza del Potro, this traditional old wine cellar is the epitome of all that’s great about Andalusian cuisine and high-quality service. The dining rooms are in barrel-heavy rustic rooms and leafy traditional patios (take a look at some of the signed barrels—you may recognize a name or two, such as the former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair. Magnificent vintage flamenco posters decorate the walls. Regional dishes include solomillo del Valle de los Pedroches dos salsas y patatas a lo pobre (local pork with two sauces—green and sherry—and creamy potatoes) and dados de bacalao frito con ali-oli (fried dices of cod with garlic mayonnaise). Vegetables come from the restaurant’s own market garden. There’s also an excellent tapas bar (from €3). | Average main: €16 | Calle Los Lineros 32, San Pedro | 957/497500 | No dinner Sun.

Casa Mazal.
ECLECTIC | In the heart of the Judería, this pretty little restaurant serves a modern interpretation of Sephardic cuisine, with organic dishes that are more exotic than the usual Andalusian fare. The many vegetarian options include berenjena timbal (eggplant and tomato “pie”), and the cordero especiado (spiced lamb) and pollo a la miel (chicken with honey, dates, and raisins) are delicious. Try a bottle of kosher wine, and for dessert consider the rose mousse or ginger ice cream. The romantic atmosphere is compounded by two violinists playing Sephardic music on the patio. | Average main: €17 | Calle Tomás Conde 3, Judería | 957/941888.

Casa Pepe de la Judería.
SPANISH | Geared toward a tourist clientele, this place is always packed, noisy, and fun. Antiques and some wonderful old oil paintings fill this three-floor labyrinth of rooms just around the corner from the mosque, near the Judería. There is live Spanish guitar music most summer nights. A full selection of tapas and house specialties includes tostón de cochinillo con palmentier de patata (crispy suckling pig with herby roast potatoes) and the solidly traditional rabo de toro. The cured-ham croquettes are reputedly the best in town. | Average main: €19 | Calle Romero 1, off Deanes,Judería | 957/200744 | Reservations essential.

El Blasón.
SPANISH | One block west of Avenida Gran Capitán and down an unpromising side street, El Blasón has a Moorish-style entrance bar leading onto a patio enclosed by ivy-covered walls where tapas are served. Downstairs is a lounge with a red-tile ceiling and old polished clay plates on the walls. Upstairs are two elegant dining rooms where blue walls, white silk curtains, and candelabras evoke early-19th-century luxury. The menu includes lomos de merluza con ciruelas (hake steaks with prunes) and magret de pato al perfume de vinagre de frambuesa (duck breast with aroma of raspberry wine vinegar). Innovative tapas (€4) are also available such as the crujiente de trigueros con queso de rulo (asparagus in filo pastry with goat’s cheese). | Average main: €18 | Calle José Zorrilla 11, Centro | 957/480625 | No dinner Sun.

Fodor’s Choice | El Caballo Rojo.
SPANISH | This is one of the most famous traditional restaurants in Andalusia, frequented by royalty and society folk. The interior resembles a cool, leafy Andalusian patio, and the dining room is furnished with stained glass and dark wood; the upstairs terrace overlooks the Mezquita. The menu combines traditional specialties, such as rabo de toro and salmorejo, with more modern versions, such as alcachofas a la Montillana (artichoke in sweet Montilla wine) and pez espada a la cordobesa con gambas (swordfish Cordoba-style with prawns). A delicious selection of homemade tarts and flans are served from a trolley. | Average main: €18 | Calle Cardenal Herrero 28, Judería | 957/475375 | www.elcaballorojo.com | Reservations essential.

Fodor’s Choice | El Choco.
SPANISH | The city’s most exciting restaurant, which renewed its Michelin star in 2013, El Choco has renowned chef Kisko Garcia at the helm whipping up innovative dishes with a twist of traditional favorites such as cochinillo crujiente con crema de ajos y naranjas (crispy suckling pig with cream of garlic and oranges) and atún fresco de Almadraba que quiso ser cerdo ibérico (traditionally caught fresh tuna “that wished it were an Iberian pig”—cooked in pork stock and roasted on an oak log fire). The caldo blanco de Sierra Morena (creamy stock with potatoes and ham) is a highly acclaimed starter. The restaurant has a minimalist interior, with charcoal-color walls and glossy parquet floors. El Choco is outside the city center to the east and not easy to find, so take a taxi. | Average main: €17 | Compositor Serrano Lucena 14, Centro | 957/264863 | Closed Mon. and Aug. No dinner Sun.

El Churrasco.
SPANISH | The name suggests grilled meat, but this restaurant in the heart of the Judería serves much more than that. In the colorful bar try tapas (from €3) such as the berenjenas crujientes con salmorejo (crispy fried eggplant slices with thick gazpacho). In the restaurant, the grilled fish is supremely fresh, and the steak is the best in town, particularly the namesake churrasco (grilled meat, served here in a spicy tomato-based sauce). On the inner patio, there’s alfresco dining when it’s warm outside, also the season to try another specialty: gazpacho blanco de piñones con manzanas y pasas (a white gazpacho made with pine nuts, apple and raisins). Save some room for the creamy fried ice cream. | Average main: €20 | Calle Romero 16, Judería | 957/290819 | www.elchurrasco.com | Closed Aug.

Mesón San Basilio.
SPANISH | This unpretentious local eatery just outside the tourist center serves excellent simple, hearty meat and fish dishes, all prepared in a large kitchen visible from the patio terrace and bar. The menu is dominated by revueltos (scrambled eggs with varying ingredients) and roast meat dishes like leg of lamb and suckling pig. Try the mollejas (grilled sweetbreads) accompanied by a mixed salad and a bottle of decent house red. At weekday lunchtime, a set menu offers great value. This is a busy and noisy venue so not somewhere for a quiet meal. | Average main: €9 | Calle San Basilio 19, Judería | 957/297007 | No dinner Sun.

Taberna de San Miguel.
TAPAS | Just a few minutes’ walk from the Plaza de las Tendillas and opposite the lovely San Miguel Church, this popular tapas spot—also known as the Casa el Pisto (House of Ratatouille)—was established in 1880. You can choose to squeeze in at the bar and dine on tapas (€2.10) or spread out a little more on the patio decked with ceramics and bullfighting memorabilia, where half and full portions are served. Legenadary toreador Manolete is particularly revered here. The menu is one long list of typical local dishes so expect to find oxtail, salmorejo and flamenquín (breaded pork filet with cheese). | Average main: €11 | Pl. San Miguel 1, Centro | 957/470166 | Closed Sun.

Taberna Sociedad de Plateros.
TAPAS | On a narrow side street just steps away from the Plaza del Potro, this delightful spot dates from the 17th century. One of the city’s most historic inns, it has a large patio that adjoins a traditional marble bar where locals meet. Photographs of iconic local bullfighter Manolete line the walls, and the patio is decorated with giddily patterned tiles and bricks plus a giant flat-screen television. The food is solid home-style cooking, with choices including fried green peppers, Spanish potato omelet, and hearty oxtail stew. Choose from tapas (€2) or full portions. | Average main: €7 | Calle San Francisco 6, Pl. de la Corredera | 957/470042 | Closed Mon. Sept.–mid-May; closed Sun. mid-May–Aug.

WHERE TO STAY

Casa de los Azulejos.
B&B/INN | This 17th-century house still has original details like the majestic vaulted ceilings and, with the use of stunning azulejos—hence the name—it mixes Andalusian and Latin American influences. All rooms are painted in warm pastels, filled with antiques, and open onto the tropical central patio with banana trees, lofty palms, and frilly ferns. The breakfast buffet is generous. Live music concerts are held on Friday evenings. Pros: interesting architecture; friendly staff. Cons: hyper-busy interior design; limited privacy. | Rooms from: €83 | Calle Fernando Colón 5, Centro | 957/470000 | www.casadelosazulejos.com | 7 rooms, 2 suites | Breakfast.

Gonzalez.
HOTEL | A few minutes from the Mezquita, the Gonzalez was originally built in the 16th-century as a palace for ancestors of the famous local artist Julio Romero de Torres. Now a small hotel, it has an elegant marble entrance, an overall antique style, and a typical geranium-filled patio. The rooms are small and plainly decorated but have comparatively large bathrooms with tubs. Breakfast is taken in the bright patio with walls covered by geraniums. Pros: central location. Cons: public areas rather jaded; exterior rooms noisy. | Rooms from: €79 | Calle Manrique 3, Judería | 957/479819 | www.hotel-gonzalez.com | 29 rooms | No meals.

Fodor’s Choice | Hospederia de El Churrasco.
B&B/INN | This small hotel, occupying a collection of houses just a stone’s throw from the Mezquita, combines enchanting antique furnishings with modern amenities, but its greatest asset is its exceptionally helpful staff. The spacious rooms come with computers and unlimited internet usage. Breakfast is generous and is served either in the room or on one of the small patios. Pros: beautiful interiors; rooms are equipped with computers. Cons: rooms facing street can be noisy. | Rooms from: €178 | Calle Romero 38, Judería | 957/294808 | 9 rooms | Breakfast.

Fodor’s Choice | Hospes Palacio del Bailío.
HOTEL | One of the city’s top lodging options, this tastefully renovated 17th-century mansion is built over the ruins of a Roman house (visible beneath glass floors) in the historic center of town. Archaeological remains combine with contemporary features, with glimpses of Roman ruins below one of the patios and under the dining room floor, and clever lighting and a relaxing spa completing the mélange of old and new. The spacious rooms have parquet floors, exposed brick walls, and many original architectural features. Splash out on the blue Gran Capitán or the pink Don Quijote suite. The restaurant offers a fusion of modern and traditional Córdoba cuisine and there’s a tapas bar. Pros: dazzling interiors; impeccable comforts. Cons: not easy to access by car. | Rooms from: €235 | Calle Ramírez de las Casas Deza 10–12, Plaza de la Corredera | 957/498993 | www.hospes.es | 49 rooms, 4 suites | No meals.

Hotel Maestre.
HOTEL | Around the corner from the Plaza del Potro, this is an affordable hotel in which Castilian-style furniture, gleaming marble, and high-quality oil paintings add elegance to excellent value. Rooms overlook a gracious inner courtyard framed by arches. The management also runs an even cheaper lodging, the Hostal Maestre, a few doors away, and two types of apartments down the street; the best are large and clean and represent a great deal. Pros: good location; great value. Cons: no elevator and lots of steps; ancient plumbing. | Rooms from: €56 | Calle Romero Barros 4–6, San Pedro | 957/472410 | www.hotelmaestre.com | 26 rooms | No meals.

Lola.
B&B/INN | The eponymous owner of this former 19th-century palace has decorated the rooms—each named after an Arab princess—with flair and attention to detail. There are original beams, woven rugs, antique wardrobes and telephones, and Art Deco accents throughout. The bathrooms are airy, modern, and marbled. Tucked down a side street, Lola is far enough away from the tour groups but within walking distance of all the big-city sights. Breakfast is served on the roof terrace, which has views of the Mezquita tower. There’s parking on nearby Plaza Vallinas. Pros: good value for the money; lively interior design. Cons: cramped shower; style may be too twee for some. | Rooms from: €120 | Calle Romero 3, Judería | 957/200305 | www.hotelconencantolola.com | 8 rooms | Breakfast.

NH Amistad Córdoba.
HOTEL | Two 18th-century mansions overlooking Plaza de Maimónides in the heart of the Judería have been melded into a modern business hotel with a cobblestone Mudejar courtyard, carved-wood ceilings, and a plush lounge. The newer wing (opened in 2012, with more rooms added in 2013) across the street is done in blues and grays and Norwegian wood. Guest rooms are large and comfortable. You can also enter the hotel through the old Moorish walls on Calle Cairuán. Pros: pleasant and efficient service; great value. Cons: parking is difficult; access via steep steps with no ramp. | Rooms from: €155 | Pl. de Maimónides 3, Judería | 957/420335 | www.nh-hoteles.com | 108 rooms | No meals.

Parador de Córdoba.
HOTEL | On the slopes of the Sierra de Córdoba, on the site of Abd ar-Rahman I’s 8th-century summer palace, this modern parador has sunny rooms and nice views. Rooms have wood or wicker furnishings, and the pricier ones have balconies overlooking the lush, peaceful garden or facing Córdoba. The restaurant serves typical local dishes including the chef’s specialty, samorejo (thick tomato soup, served cold). Pros: wonderful views from south-facing rooms; sleek interiors; quality traditional cuisine. Cons: characterless modern building; far from main sights. | Rooms from: €165 | Av. de la Arruzafa 39, El Brillante, 5 km (3 miles) north of | Córdoba | 957/275900 | www.parador.es | 88 rooms, 6 suites | No meals.

Viento 10.
HOTEL | Tucked away to the east of the old quarter, but within just 10 minutes’ walk of the Mezquita is a quiet, romantic haven, once part of the 17th-century Sacred Martyrs Hospital. One of the six rooms has a view of the quiet pedestrian street, while the others all look onto the interior patio with its original marble columns. The interior style is low-key designer with warm splashes of color in the fabrics, reflecting the simplicity of the hotel. Luxury touches include a pillow menu, Jacuzzi and sauna (book your private session), and a breakfast with surprise daily special. Pros: quiet but central location; personalized service. Cons: no car access to hotel entrance. | Rooms from: €115 | Calle Ronquillo Briceño 10 | www.hotelviento10.es | 6 rooms | Closed Jan. and 2 wks in Aug. (phone for dates) | No meals.

NIGHTLIFE

Córdoba locals hang out mostly in the areas of Ciudad Jardín (the old university area), Plaza de las Tendillas, and the Avenida Gran Capitán.

Bodega Guzman.
For some traditional tipple, check out this atmospheric bodega, near the old synagogue. Its sherries are served straight from the barrel in a room that doubles as a bullfighting museum. | Calle de los Judios 6, Judería.

Café Málaga.
A block from Plaza de las Tendillas, this is a laid-back hangout for jazz and blues aficionados. | Calle Málaga 3, Centro.

La Casa de los Azulejos.
Live music (jazz, flamenco, and pop) is performed Friday from 9 pm in the patio area of this hotel. | Calle Fernando Colón 5, Centro | 957/470000.

PERFORMING ARTS

FLAMENCO

Tablao Cardenal.
Córdoba’s most popular flamenco club is worth the trip just to see the courtyard of the 16th-century building, which was Córdoba’s first hospital. Admission is €23 (including drink) and the 90-minute shows take place Monday to Saturday at 10:30 pm. | Calle Torrijos 10, Judería | 957/483320.

SHOPPING

Córdoba’s main shopping district is around Avenida Gran Capitán, Ronda de los Tejares, and the streets leading away from Plaza Tendillas.

Meryan.
This is one of Córdoba’s best workshops for embossed leather. | Calleja de las Flores 9 | 957/475902 | www.meryancor.com.

Fodor’s Choice | Zoco.
Córdoba’s artisans have workshops and sell their crafts in the Zoco, open daily 10–8 (workshops closed weekdays 2–5, weekends 11–2). | Calle Judíos, opposite Synagogue, Judería | 957/290575.

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Side Trips from Córdoba

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Montilla | Baena | Zuheros | Priego de Córdoba

If you have time to go beyond Córdoba and have already seen the Medina Azahara palace ruins, head south to the wine country around Montilla, olive oil–rich Baena, and the Subbética mountain range, a cluster of small towns virtually unknown to travelers.

The entire Subbética region is protected as a natural park, and the mountains, canyons, and wooded valleys are stunning. You’ll need a car to explore, though, and in some parts, the roads are rather rough. To reach these enticing towns in la campiña (the countryside), take the low road (A318) through Montilla, cutting north to Baena via Zuheros, or take the high road (A307) through Espejo and Baena, cutting south through Cabra.

For park information or hiking advice, contact the Mancomunidad de la Subbética (Ctra. Carcabuey–Zagrilla, Km 5.75, Carcabuey | 957/704106 www.turismodelasubbetica.es).

You can also pick up information, including a pack of maps titled Rutas Senderistas de la Subbética, from any local tourist office. The handy cards detail 15 walks with sketched maps.

Southern Córdoba is also the province’s main olive-producing region, with the town of Lucena at its center. If you follow the Ruta del Aceite (olive-oil route), you’ll pass some of the province’s most picturesque villages. In Lucena is the Torre del Moral, where Granada’s last Nasrid ruler, Boabdil, was imprisoned in 1483 after launching an unsuccessful attack on the Christians; and the Parroquia de San Mateo, a small but remarkable Renaissance–Gothic cathedral. Furniture and brass and copper pots are made in the town. Southeast of Lucena, C334 crosses the Embalse de Iznájar (Iznájar Reservoir) amid spectacular scenery. On C334, halfway between Lucena and the reservoir, in Rute, you can sample the potent anís (anise) liqueur for which this small, whitewashed town is famous.

Side Trips from Córdoba

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MONTILLA

46 km (28 miles) south of Córdoba.

Heading south from Córdoba toward Málaga, you’ll pass through hills ablaze with sunflowers in early summer before you reach the vineyards of the Montilla–Moriles. Every fall, 47,000 acres’ worth of Pedro Ximénez grapes are crushed here to produce the region’s rich Montilla wines, which are similar to sherry. Montilla-Moriles has developed a young white wine similar to Portugal’s Vinho Verde.

Essentials

Visitor Information
Montilla. | Calle Capitán Alonso de Vargas 3 | 957/652462.

EXPLORING

Bodegas Alvear.
Founded in 1729, this bodega in the center of town is Montilla’s oldest. Besides being informative, the fun tour and wine tasting gives you the chance to buy a bottle or two of Alvear’s tasty version of the sweet Pedro Ximenez aged sherry. Sunday tours are available by appointment only. | Calle María Auxiliadora 1 | 957/652939 | www.alvear.es | €6 | Mon.–Sat. 12:30.

WHERE TO EAT AND STAY

Las Camachas.
SPANISH | The best-known restaurant in southern Córdoba Province is in an Andalusian-style hacienda outside Montilla—near the main road toward Málaga. Start with tapas in the attractive bar, then move on to one of the six dining rooms, where regional specialties include alcachofas al Montilla (artichokes braised in Montilla wine), salmorejo (a thick, garlicky gazpacho), perdiz a la campiña (country-style partridge), and pierna de cordero lechal (leg of suckling lamb). You can also try local wines here; the fino is particularly good. | Average main: €12 | Av. Europa 3 | 957/650004.

Don Gonzalo.
HOTEL | Just south of town is one of Andalusia’s better roadside hotels, with a highly regarded and elegant restaurant. The wood-beamed common areas have a mixture of decorative elements—note the elephant tusks flanking the TV in the lounge—and the clay-tile guest rooms are large and comfortable; some look onto the road, others onto the garden and pool. Ask to see the wine cellar; it’s a beauty. Pros: easy to get to; refreshing pool. Cons: some rooms in need of refurbishment; outside of town. | Rooms from: €65 | Ctra. Córdoba–Málaga (N331), Km 47, 3 km (2 miles) south | 957/650658 | www.hoteldongonzalo.com | 32 rooms, 2 suites | Breakfast.

SHOPPING

On the outskirts of town, coopers’ shops produce barrels of various sizes, some small enough to serve as creative souvenirs.

Tonelería J. L. Rodríguez.
On Montilla’s main road, it is worth stopping here not just to buy barrels and local wines, but also to pop in the back and see the barrels being made. | Ctra. Córdoba–Málaga, Km 43.3 | 957/650563 | www.toneleriajlrodriguez.com.

BAENA

66 km (43 miles) southeast of Cσrdoba, 42 km (26 miles) east of Montilla.

Outside the boundaries of Subbética and surrounded by chalk fields producing top-quality olives, Baena is an old town of narrow streets, whitewashed houses, ancient mansions, and churches clustered beneath Moorish battlements.

Museo del Olivar y el Aceite.
This museum is housed in the old olive mill owned and operated by Don José Alcalá Santaella until 1959. The machinery on display dates from the middle of the 19th century, when the mill was capable of processing up to 3 tons of olives a day. The museum aims to demonstrate the way of life of workers in this important industry. You can taste and buy olive oil at the shop. | Calle Cañada 7 | 957/691641 | www.museoaceite.com | €2 | May–Sept., Tues.–Sat. 11–2 and 6–8, Sun. 11–2; Oct.–Apr., Tues.–Fri. 11–2 and 5–7, Sun. 11–2.

WHERE TO STAY

Fuente las Piedras.
HOTEL | The rooms in this stylish hotel, on the edge of the Parque Natural Sierra Subbética 25 km (15 miles) southeast of Baena, are elegantly modern and generous in size, and a large pool is surrounded by exquisitely landscaped gardens. The hotel restaurant serves traditional local fare and has a good value menú del díaPros: good stop midway between Córdoba and Granada; park access. Cons: pool is open to the public on weekends. | Rooms from: €90 | Av. Fuente de las Piedras s/n, on A316 toward Jaén Cabra | 957/529740 | www.mshoteles.com | 61 rooms | Breakfast.

La Casa Grande.
HOTEL | In the center of town, just a few steps from the famous Nuñez de Prado olive oil mill, this is the top hotel in Baena and for miles around. Public rooms are sumptuous to an almost over-the-top degree—antiques, chandeliers, suits of armor, old-fashioned paintings—and rooms are only slightly more muted. If you like modern minimalism, this hotel is probably not for you. The reception hall has elegant high ceilings, the restaurant is a good reason to stop in for a meal, and the professional and friendly staff is always helpful. Pros: classical elegance; walking distance from everything. Cons: rather dark; formal rather than relaxed. | Rooms from: €50 | Av. De Cervantes 35 | 957/671905 | www.lacasagrandebaena.com | 35 rooms, 4 suites | Breakfast.

ZUHEROS

80 km (50 miles) southeast of Cσrdoba.

Zuheros, at the northern edge of the Subbética mountain range and at an altitude of 2,040 feet, is one of the most attractive villages in the province of Córdoba. From the road up, it’s hidden behind a dominating rock face topped off by the dramatic ruins of a castle built by the Moors over a Roman castle. There’s an expansive view back over the valley from here. Next to the castle is the Iglesia de Santa María, built over a mosque. The base of the minaret is the foundation for the bell tower.

EXPLORING

Cueva de los Murciélagos (Cave of the Bats).
Some 4 km (2½ miles) above Zuheros along a winding road, the Cueva de los Murciélagos runs for about 2 km (1 mile), although only about half of that expanse is open to the public. The main attractions are the wall paintings dating from the Neolithic Age (6000–3000 BC) and Chalcolithic Age (3000–2000 BC), but excavations have indicated that the cave was inhabited as far back as 35,000 years ago. Items from the Copper and Bronze ages as well as from the Roman period and the Middle Ages have also been found here. Visits are by guided tour only and must be booked in advance, by phone or email (turismo@zuheros.es) or at Calle Nueva 1 in the village. | CV-247, off Calle Santo | 957/694545 Tues.–Fri. 10–1:30 | €6 | Guided tours Tues.–Fri. at 12:30 and 4:30 (last tour at 5:30 in summer), weekends at 11, 12:30, 2, 4, and 5:30 (last two tours at 5 and 6:30 in summer).

Museo de Costumbres y Artes Populares Juan Fernandez Cruz.
Housed in an impressive square mansion from 1912, this museum is at the edge of the village. Exhibits detail local customs and traditions. | Calle Santo 29 | 957/694690 | €3 | May–Sept., Tues.–Fri. noon–2 and 5:30–8:30, weekends 10:30–2:30 and 5:30–8:30; Oct.–Apr., Tues.–Fri. noon–2 and 4–7, weekends 10:30–2:30 and 4–7.

Museo Histórico-Arqueológico Municipal.
This museum displays archaeological remains found in local caves and elsewhere; some date back to the Middle Paleolithic period some 35,000 years ago. You can also visit the remains of the Renaissance rooms in the castle, across the road. Visits are by guided tour only. | Pl. de la Paz 2 | 957/694545 | €2 | Guided tours on the hour 10–2 and 4–6 (also at 7 Apr.–Sept.).

WHERE TO STAY

Fodor’s Choice | Hacienda Minerva.
B&B/INN | This stylish hotel was created out of a country estate dating from the late 19th century, and its original features, including the historic oil mill, have been preserved. The rooms are typical farmhouse style, and the parlor has a large fireplace flanked by panoramic windows framing a gorgeous landscape. Additions include some Arab baths with massage included. The restaurant serves dishes such as pastela mozárabe (savory tart with meat and cinnamon) and organic lamb with cream of almonds. Pros: tranquil surroundings; superb restaurant. Cons: outside of town. | Rooms from: €80 | Crta. Zuheros, Doña Mencia | 957/090951 | www.haciendaminerva.com | 25 rooms | Breakfast.

Zuhayra.
B&B/INN | This small hotel on a narrow street has comfortable rooms painted a sunny yellow with views over the village rooftops to the valley below. There’s also a cozy bar and dining room with original beams and an open fireplace—the restaurant serves local fare and the downstairs bar offers pizzas and tapas; both venues are among the best dining options in the village. During the summer months diners can sit outside on the attractive cobbled patio. Pros: cozy public spaces; stunning vistas; good service. Cons: plain decoration. | Rooms from: €70 | Calle Mirador 10 | 957/694693 | www.zercahoteles.com | 18 rooms | Breakfast.

PRIEGO DE CÓRDOBA

103 km (64 miles) southeast of Córdoba, 25 km (15 miles) southeast of Zuheros.

The jewel of Córdoba’s countryside is Priego de Córdoba, a town of 23,500 inhabitants at the foot of Mt. Tinosa. Wander down Calle del Río, opposite the town hall, to see 18th-century mansions, once the homes of silk merchants. At the end of the street is the Fuente del Rey (King’s Fountain), with some 130 water jets, built in 1803. Don’t miss the lavish baroque churches of La Asunción and La Aurora or the Barrio de la Villa, an old Moorish quarter with a maze of narrow streets of white-walled buildings.

Getting Here and Around

Priego has a reasonable bus service from Córdoba (2½ hours) and Granada (1½ hours), although your best bet is to visit by car en route to either of these cities. Once there, it’s perfect for pedestrian exploration.

Essentials

Visitor Information
Priego de Córdoba. | Pl. de la Constitución 3 | 957/700625 | www.turismodepriego.com.

WHERE TO EAT AND STAY

La Paloma.
MEDITERRANEAN | About 30 km (18 miles) south of Priego de Córdoba, this restaurant overlooks the rolling hills of the Subbética. It’s run by an Italian-Spanish couple; wife Elena hails from Tuscany and honed her culinary skills in one of Marbella’s more exclusive restaurants before opting for the Córdoba countryside. The menu has plenty of Italian influence, including dishes like roast lamb filets with herbs and mustard and jumbo shrimp in creamy garlic sauce. Most of the vegetables are from the couple’s organic garden. | Average main: €13 | Crta. Salinas-Iznajar, Km 63 Villanueva de Tapia | 952/750409 | Closed Mon., 1st wk in Feb., and 2 wks in Nov. (dates vary; call to check).

FAMILY | Barceló La Bobadilla.
HOTEL | On its own 1,000-acre estate amid olive and oak trees, 42 km (24 miles) west of Priego de Córdoba, this complex resembles a Moorish village of white-wall buildings with tile roofs and patios, and there are fountains and an artificial lake on the property. Guest buildings center on a 16th-century-style chapel that houses a 1,595-pipe organ, and each room has a balcony, a terrace, or a garden. One of the three restaurants, El Mirador (open in summer only), concentrates on dishes prepared from locally grown ingredients while El Cortijo offers Mediterranean dishes and La Finca a four-course menú de degustación. A spa rounds out the list of nice extras. The hotel is just south of La Subbética region, technically in Granada Province. Pros: spacious, comfortable rooms; lovely setting; many activities. Cons: pricey; limited covered parking; rather isolated. | Rooms from: €405 | Finca La Bobadilla, Apdo 144 E Loja | 958/321861 | www.barcelolabobadilla.com | 60 rooms, 10 suites | Closed Nov.–Feb. | Breakfast.

Villa Turística de Priego.
RESORT | In the heart of the Subbética nature park, 6 km (4 miles) north of town, this complex of semidetached units is clustered to form a gleaming white Andalusian pueblo. Each unit sleeps from two to six people and is surrounded by colorful gardens and a patio—some have a terrace or balcony. The restaurant provides a three-course menú del día at lunch and dinner. The hotel management can arrange activities in the nature park, including horseback riding and guided walks. Pros: family-friendly vibe; quiet retreat. Cons: far from town; some areas could do with refurbishment. | Rooms from: €81 | Aldea de Zagrilla | 957/703503 | www.villasdeandalucia.com | 52 apartments/villas | Closed for a month in winter (check website for dates) | No meals.

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Jaén Province

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Jaén | Alcalá la Real | Baeza | Úbeda | Cazorla

Jaén is dominated by its Alcázar. To the northeast are the olive-producing towns of Baeza and Úbeda. Cazorla, the gateway to the Parque Natural Sierra de Cazorla Segura y Las Villas, lies beyond.

Jaén Province

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JAÉN

107 km (64 miles) southeast of Córdoba, 93 km (58 miles) north of Granada.

Nestled in the foothills of the Sierra de Jabalcuz, Jaén is surrounded by towering peaks and olive-clad hills. The modern part of town holds little interest for travelers these days, but the old town is an atmospheric jumble of narrow cobblestone streets hugging the mountainside. Jaén’s grand parador, in the city’s hilltop castle, is a great reason to stop here.

The Arabs called this land Geen (Route of the Caravans) because it formed a crossroad between Castile and Andalusia. Captured from the Moors by Ferdinand III in 1246, Jaén became a frontier province, the site of many a skirmish and battle over the following 200 years between the Moors of Granada and Christians from the north and west.

Getting Here and Around

You can reach Jaén by bus from Granada, Madrid, and Málaga (ALSA | 902/422242 | www.alsa.es), and also by train from Granada. Jaén is compact and all sights are easy to visit on foot, with the exception of the castle, 3 km (2 miles) from the center and a steep climb—if you can’t face the ascent, take a taxi.

Essentials

Visitor Information
Jaén. | Calle Maestra 8 | 953/190455 | www.turjaen.org.

EXPLORING

Baños Árabes.
Explore the narrow alleys of old Jaén as you walk from the cathedral to the Baños Árabes (Arab Baths), which once belonged to Ali, a Moorish king of Jaén, and probably date from the 11th century. In 1592, Fernando de Torres y Portugal, a viceroy of Peru, built himself a mansion, the Palacio de Villardompardo, right over the baths, so it took years of painstaking excavation to restore them to their original form. The palace contains a fascinating, albeit small, museum of folk crafts and a larger museum devoted to native art. The baths and museums were restored to great acclaim in 2012. | Palacio de Villardompardo, Pl. Luisa de Marillac | 953/248068 | Free | Tues.–Sat. 9–2:30 and 4–8:30, Sun. 9–2:30.

Basílica Menor de San Ildefonso (Smaller Basilica of Saint Ildefonso).
Set on the square and in the district of the same name, this large church is one of Jaén’s treasures. Built mainly in the Gothic style with baroque details, the magnificent gilded altar is the highlight. | Pl. de San Ildefonso | 953/190346 | Free | Mon.–Thurs. 8:30–12:30 and 5–8, Fri. 8:30–10:30 and 5–8, weekends 9–1:30 and 5–8.

Fodor’s Choice | Castillo de Santa Catalina.
This castle, perched on a rocky crag 400 yards above the center of town, is Jaén’s star monument. It may have originated as a tower built by Hannibal, but whatever its start, the site was fortified continuously over the centuries. The Nasrid king Alhamar, builder of Granada’s Alhambra, constructed an alcázar here, but Ferdinand III captured it from him in 1246 on the feast day of Santa Catalina (St. Catherine). Catalina consequently became Jaén’s patron saint, so when the Christians built a castle and chapel here, they dedicated both to her. The castle is currently undergoing renovations, and is due to reopen in mid-2014. | Ctra. del Castillo de Santa Catalina | 953/120733 | Free | June–Sept., Tues.–Fri. 10–2, weekends 10–2 and 5–9; Oct.–May, Tues.–Fri. 10–2, weekends 10–2 and 3:30–7:30 (hrs are approximate; call to check).

Jaén Cathedral.
Looming above the modest buildings around it, the cathedral was begun in 1492 on the site of a former mosque and took almost 300 years to build. Its chief architect was Andrés de Vandelvira (1509–75)—many more of his buildings can be seen in Úbeda and Baeza. The ornate facade was sculpted by Pedro Roldán, and the figures on top of the columns include San Fernando (Ferdinand III) and the four evangelists. The cathedral’s most treasured relic is the Santo Rostro (Holy Face), the cloth with which, according to tradition, St. Veronica cleansed Christ’s face on the way to Calvary, leaving his image imprinted on the fabric. The rostro is displayed every Friday. In the underground museum, look for the paintings San Lorenzo, by Martínez Montañés; the Immaculate Conception, by Alonso Cano; and a Calvary scene by Jácobo Florentino. | Pl. Santa María | 953/241448 | €5 | July–Sept., weekdays 10–2 and 5–8, weekends 10–noon and 5–7; Oct.–June, weekdays 10–2 and 4–7, weekends 10–noon and 4–6.

Museo de Jaén.
This museum has one of the best collections of Iberian (pre-Roman) artifacts in Spain—the newest wing has 20 life-size Iberian sculptures discovered by chance near the village of Porcuna in 1975. The museum proper is in a 1547 mansion and has a patio with the facade of the erstwhile Church of San Miguel. The fine-arts section has a room full of Goya lithographs. | Paseo de la Estación 29 | 953/313339 | €1.50 | Tues.–Sat. 10–8:30, Sun. 10–5.

WHERE TO EAT AND STAY

Casa Antonio.
SPANISH | Exquisite Andalusian food with a contemporary twist is served at this somber yet elegant restaurant with three small dining rooms, all with cherry-paneled walls and dramatic contemporary artwork. Try the alcachofas de la tierra con salsa de almendras (locally-grown artichokes in almond sauce) or cochinillo lechal con cebolleta a la naranja y cardamomo (suckling pig with orange- and cardamom-flavored spring onion). | Average main: €19 | Calle Fermín Palma 3 | 953/270262 | Closed Mon. and Aug. No dinner Sun.

Taberna El Zurito.
SPANISH | Locals and visitors rave about this tiny bar less than 10 minutes’ walk north of the cathedral. It’s one of the oldest bars in the city (established in 1912), has just two tables plus bar space, and is crammed with Jaén memorabilia, but the homemade dishes more than make up for the lack of elbow room. The free tapas that come with every drink are tasty and generous, and menu highlights include rabo de toro dehuesado con jamón (deboned oxtail with ham) and ventresca de atún rojo (red tuna belly). | Average main: €15 | Calle Correa Weglison 6 | 605/988016 | Closed Sun.

Fodor’s Choice | Parador de Jaén.
HOTEL | Built amid the mountaintop towers of the Castillo de Santa Catalina, this 13th-century castle is one of the showpieces of the parador chain and a good reason to visit Jaén. Its grandiose exterior echoes the Santa Catalina fortress next door, as do the massive vaulted halls, tapestries, baronial shields, and suits of armor inside. The comfortable bedrooms, with lofty ceilings, Islamic tilework, and canopy beds, have balconies overlooking fields stretching toward a dramatic mountain backdrop. Specialties served in the restaurant include spinach Jaén-style (with egg) and ajo blanco (cold garlic soup). Pros: architectural grandeur; panoramic views. Cons: outside Jaén. | Rooms from: €125 | Calle Castillo de Santa Catalina | 953/230000 | www.parador.es | 45 rooms | No meals.

ALCALÁ LA REAL

75 km (46½ miles) south of Jaén on N432 and A316.

Alcalá la Real’s hilltop fortress, the Fortaleza de la Mota, was installed by the Moors in 727 and sits imperiously at an elevation of 3,389 feet, dominating not only the town but the whole area for miles around. Spectacular views of the peaks of the Sierra Nevada are visible on the southern horizon.

This ancient city, known to the Iberians and Romans, grew to prominence under the Moors who ruled here for more than 600 years. It was they who gave it the first part of its name, Alcalá, which originated from a word meaning “fortified settlement.”

During the 12th century the city changed hands frequently as the Moors fought to maintain control of the area. Finally, in 1341, Alfonso XI conquered the town for good, adding Real (Royal) to its name. It remained of strategic importance until the Catholic Monarchs took Granada in 1492—indeed, it was from here that they rode out to accept the keys of the city and the surrender. Hundreds of years later, French forces left the town in ruins after their retreat in the early 19th century.

Getting Here and Around

Alcalá La Real can be reached by bus from Córdoba, Granada, and Jaén (Autocares Contreras |953/583000 | www.autocarescontreras.es), although it’s easiest and quickest to visit by car. You can easily explore the town on foot, including the fortress, which is about 15 minutes’ walk from the center.

EXPLORING

Fortaleza de la Mota (Hilltop Fortress).
The town of Alcalá la Real itself was gradually rebuilt, but the hilltop fortress, consisting of the alcazaba (citadel) and the abbey church that Alfonso XI built, was more or less ignored. Up until the late 1990s, exposed skeletons were visible in some open tombs on the floor of the church. Today visitors can wander around the ruins and visit the small archaeological museum. | Calle Castillo de la Mota, s/n | €6 | Apr.–Oct. 14, daily 10:30–7:30; Oct. 15–Mar., Mon–Sat. 10–5:30, Sun. 10–6.

WHERE TO STAY

Hospedería Zacatín.
B&B/INN | This smallish hideaway in the center of town is an inexpensive and cozy waystation for visitors to Alcalá la Real. Rooms are simple, with pine furniture, but are equipped with modern touches, including Wi-Fi; the more expensive rooms (known as ‘special rooms’ and around €25 extra) are slightly larger, with wrought-iron beds, warm peach colored walls, and Jacuzzi baths. The restaurant is rustic and comfortable with a good value menú del díaPros: roof terrace for barbecues; Andalusian cuisine. Cons: no frills; street-side rooms can be noisy on weekends. | Rooms from: €51 | Calle Pradillo 2 | 953/580568 | www.hospederiazacatin.com | 15 rooms | No meals.

BAEZA

48 km (30 miles) northeast of Jaén on N321.

The historic town of Baeza, nestled between hills and olive groves, is one of the best-preserved old towns in Spain. Founded by the Romans, it later housed the Visigoths and became the capital of a Moorish taifa, one of some two dozen mini-kingdoms formed after the Ummayad Caliphate was subdivided in 1031. Ferdinand III captured Baeza in 1227, and for the next 200 years it stood on the frontier of the Moorish kingdom of Granada. In the 16th and 17th centuries, local nobles gave the city a wealth of Renaissance palaces.

Getting Here and Around

Frequent buses (15 weekdays, 10 weekends; ALSA | 902/422242 | www.alsa.es) connect Baeza with Jaén and Úbeda, although a private car is the best option given the remoteness of the town and that you may want to explore nearby Úbeda on the same day. Baeza is small and flat, and with its sights clustered round the very center it’s very easy to explore on foot.

Essentials

Visitor Information
Baeza. | Pl. del Pópulo | 953/779982 | www.ubedaybaezaturismo.com.

Tours
Semer Guided Tours. Two-hour guided tours around Baeza (in English, minimum two people) recount the history, culture, and traditions of the town. Tours of Úbeda are also available, with a discount for combined tours of both towns. | Portales Carbonería 15 | 953/757916 | www.semerturismo.com | €12 | Mon.–Thurs. at 11, Fri. and Sat. at 11 and 5 (6 June–Sept.).

EXPLORING

Top Attractions

Ayuntamiento (Town hall).
Baeza’s town hall was designed by cathedral master Andrés de Vandelvira. The facade is ornately decorated with a mix of religious and pagan imagery; look between the balconies for the coats of arms of Felipe II, the city of Baeza, and the magistrate Juan de Borja. Ask at the tourist office about visits to the salón de plenos, a meeting hall with painted, carved woodwork. | Pl. Cardenal Benavides.

Baeza Cathedral.
Originally begun by Ferdinand III on the site of a former mosque, the cathedral was largely rebuilt by Andrés de Vandelvira, architect of Jaén’s cathedral, between 1570 and 1593, though the west front has architectural influences from an earlier period. A fine 14th-century rose window crowns the 13th-century Puerta de la Luna (Moon Door). Don’t miss the baroque silver monstrance (a vessel in which the consecrated Host is exposed for the adoration of the faithful), which is carried in Baeza’s Corpus Christi processions—the piece is kept in a concealed niche behind a painting, but you can see it in all its splendor by putting a coin in a slot to reveal the hiding place. Next to the monstrance is the entrance to the clock tower, where a small donation and a narrow spiral staircase take you to one of the best views of Baeza. The remains of the original mosque are in the cathedral’s Gothic cloisters. | Pl. de Santa María | 953/742188 | Cathedral free, cloister and museum €4 | Weekdays 10–2 and 4–6, Sat. 10–6 (until 7 Apr.–Sept.), Sun. 10–5.

Museo de Baeza.
Tucked away behind the tourist office, the Baeza Museum is in itself a museum piece. Housed in a 15th-century noble palace, the facade and interiors are home to an interesting display of Baeza’s history, from Roman remains to more recent religious paintings. | Calle Casas Nuevas | 953/741582 | €2 | Tues.–Fri. 10–2 and 4:30–7:30, weekends 10–2.

Worth Noting

Casa del Pópulo.
In the central paseo—where the Plaza del Pópulo (or Plaza de los Leones) and Plaza de la Constitución (or Plaza del Mercado Viejo) merge to form a cobblestone square—this is a graceful town house built around 1530. The first Mass of the Reconquest was supposedly celebrated on its curved balcony; it now houses Baeza’s tourist office. | Pl. del Pópulo.

Convento de San Francisco.
This 16th-century convent is one of Vandelvira’s religious architectural masterpieces. The building was spoiled by the French army and partially destroyed by a light earthquake in the early 1800s, but you can see its restored remains. | Calle de San Francisco.

Fuente de los Leones (Fountain of the Lions).
In the center of the town square is an ancient Iberian-Roman statue thought to depict Imilce, wife of Hannibal; at the foot of her column is the Fuente de los Leones. | Pl. del Pópulo.

Iglesia de Santa Cruz.
This rather plain church dates from the early 13th century. One of the first built here after the Reconquest, it’s also one of the earliest Christian churches in all of Andalusia. It has two Romanesque portals and a curved stone altar. Volunteers man admissions to the church so opening hours can be erratic—you’re most likely to find it open in the morning (11–1). | Pl. de Santa Cruz s/n | Free.

Palacio de Jabalquinto.
Built between the 15th and 16th centuries as a palatial home by Juan Alfonso de Benavides, a cousin of Ferdinand the Catholic, this palace has a flamboyant Gothic facade and a charming marble colonnaded Renaissance patio. It is now part of the International University of Andalucía, and you can wander in and view the patio for free. | Pl. de Santa Cruz s/n | Weekdays 9–2.

Plaza de Santa María.
The main square of the medieval city is surrounded by palaces as well as the cathedral. The highlight is the fountain, built in 1564 and resembling a triumphal arch.

San Felipe Neri.
The ancient student custom of inscribing names and graduation dates in bull’s blood (as in Salamanca) is still evident on the walls of the seminary of San Felipe Neri, opposite the cathedral and built in 1660. | Cuesta de San Felipe | Free | Weekdays 9–2.

WHERE TO EAT AND STAY

La Góndola.
SPANISH | Service comes with a smile at this rustic restaurant on Baeza’s Plaza de la Constitución, and it’s popularity with locals is a good endorsement. The interior is typically Andalusian, with agricultural implements adding a rustic touch, and there’s a pleasant and shady outside terrace. Specialties include snails as well as hearty fare such as homemade partridge pâté, and suckling pig and lamb, and there are some local dishes to choose from—patatas baezanas (roast potatoes served with mushrooms), for instance. The daily three-course menú del día and the dish of the day (usually a stew) are a good value. | Average main: €15 | Portales Carbonería 13 | 953/742984.

La Casona del Arco.
HOTEL | Housed in an old stone building just inside the walls of the historic center, this comfortable hotel is an excellent base for excursions to the surrounding towns. The large rooms are furnished in traditional style and have modern bathrooms that come with great showers. The generous common areas include a pool and sun deck. Pros: central yet quiet; modern fixtures. Cons: unimaginative breakfast; no parking. | Rooms from: €56 | Calle Sacramento 3 | 953/747208 | www.lacasonadelarco.com | 18 rooms | No meals.

ÚBEDA

9 km (5½ miles) northeast of Baeza on N321.

Úbeda’s casco antiguo (old town) is one of the most outstanding enclaves of 16th-century architecture in Spain. It’s a stunning surprise in the heart of Jaén’s olive groves, set in the shadow of the wild Sierra de Cazorla mountain range. For crafts enthusiasts, this is Andalusia’s capital for many kinds of artisan goods. Follow signs to the Zona Monumental, where there are countless Renaissance palaces and stately mansions, though most are closed to the public.

Getting Here and Around

Frequent buses (15 weekdays, 10 weekends; ALSA | 902/422242 | www.alsa.es) connect Úbeda with Jaén and Baeza, although a private car is the best option given the remoteness of the town and that you may want to explore nearby Baeza in the same day. Úbeda’s sights are all within easy reach of the center so exploring on foot is easy.

Essentials

Visitor Information
Úbeda. | Palacio Marqués del Contadero, Calle Baja del Marqués 4 | 953/779204 | www.ubeda.com.

Tours
Semer Guided Tours. Two-hour guided tours around Úbeda (in English, minimum two people) recount the history, culture, and traditions of the town. Tours of Baeza are also available, with a discount on combined tours of both towns. | Calle Juan Montilla 3 | 953/757916 | www.semerturismo.com | €14, includes all entry fees | Tours Mon.–Thurs. at 11, Fri.–Sat. at 11 and 5 (6 June–Sept.).

EXPLORING

Top Attractions

Ayuntamiento Antiguo (Old Town Hall).
Begun in the early 16th century but restored as a beautiful arcaded baroque palace in 1680, the former town hall is now a conservatory of music. From the hall’s upper balcony, the town council watched celebrations and autos-da-fé (“acts of faith”—executions of heretics sentenced by the Inquisition) in the square below. You can’t enter the town hall, but on the north side you can visit the 13th-century church of San Pablo, with an Isabelline south portal. | Pl. Primero de Mayo, off Calle María de Molina | 953/750637 | Church free | Church only: Tues. and Wed. 11–noon and 5–7:30, Thurs. and Fri. 11–1 and 5–7:30, Sat. 11–1, Sun. 12:15–1:30.

Hospital de Santiago.
Sometimes jokingly called the Escorial of Andalusia (in allusion to Felipe II’s monolithic palace and monastery outside Madrid), this is a huge, angular building in the modern section of town, and yet another one of Vandelvira’s masterpieces in Úbeda. The plain facade is adorned with ceramic medallions, and over the main entrance is a carving of Santiago Matamoros (St. James the Moorslayer) in his traditional horseback pose. Inside are an arcaded patio and a grand staircase. Now a cultural center, it holds some of the events at the International Spring Dance and Music Festival. | Av. Cristo Rey | 953/750842 | Free | Daily 10–2:30 and 5–9:30.

Sacra Capilla de El Salvador.
The Plaza Vázquez de Molina, in the heart of the old town, is the site of this building, which is photographed so often that it’s become the city’s unofficial symbol. It was built by Vandelvira, but he based his design on some 1536 plans by Diego de Siloé, architect of Granada’s cathedral. Considered one of the masterpieces of Spanish Renaissance religious art, the chapel was sacked in the frenzy of church burnings at the outbreak of the civil war, but it retains its ornate western facade and altarpiece, which has a rare Berruguete sculpture. | Pl. Vázquez de Molina | 609/279905 | €5 (free Mon.–Sat. 9:30–10, Sun. 6–7) | Mon.–Sat. 9:30–2 and 4–6, Sun. 11:30–2 and 4–7.

Worth Noting

Casa Museo Arte Andalusi.
This interesting museum is in an attractive building with a traditional patio and displays a former private collection of period antiques, including Moorish, Mudejar, and Mozarabic pieces. | Calle Narvaez 11 | 619/076132 | €2 | Daily 11–2 and 5–8.

Palacio de las Cadenas (House of Chains).
Vandelvira’s 16th-century Palacio Juan Vázquez de Molina is better known as the Palacio de las Cadenas because decorative iron chains (cadenas) were once affixed to the columns of its main doorway. It’s now the town hall and has entrances on both Plaza Vázquez de Molina and Plaza Ayuntamiento. Molina was a nephew of Francisco de los Cobos, and both served as secretaries to Emperor Carlos V and King Felipe II. | Pl. Vázquez de Molina and Pl. Ayuntamiento | Free | Weekdays 7:30–3.

Palacio de Vela de los Cobos.
The Plaza del Ayuntamiento is crowned by this privately owned palace, designed by the architect Andrés de Vandelvira (1505–75), a key figure in the Spanish Renaissance era, for Úbeda’s magistrate, Francisco de Vela de los Cobos. The corner balcony has a central white marble column that’s echoed in the gallery above. Guided tours of the interior are led by the owner. | Pl. del Ayuntamiento Úbeda, Jaén | 953/750034 | €4 | Tours Tues.–Fri. at 1:15 and 7:15, Sat. at noon, 1:15, 6, and 7:15, Sun at noon and 1:15.

WHERE TO EAT

Asador de Santiago.
SPANISH | At this adventurous restaurant just off the main street, the chef prepares both Spanish classics like white shrimp from Huelva or suckling pig from Segovia and innovative dishes like ajoblanco de piñones con granizado de mango (cream of garlic and almond soup with pine nuts and mango sorbet). There’s a delicious menú de degustación. Vegetarian choices such as risotto can be prepared on request. The candle-filled interior is more traditional than the menu and has terra-cotta tiles, dark-wood furnishings, and crisp white linens. | Average main: €18 | Av. Cristo Rey 4 | 953/750463 | Reservations essential | No dinner Sun.

La Imprenta.
SPANISH | Housed in a former printer’s workshop in the historic center of town, this cozy restaurant and tapas bar offers a refreshing alternative to more traditional establishments. The short but well-balanced menu includes inventions like scorpion fish in a sea urchin cream and sea bass pastry with prawns in Barbadillo wine sauce, along with an excellent solomillo con foie (sirloin with foie gras) and unusual rice dishes. Portions are generous, the staff attentive, and the wine list will surprise even connoisseurs. | Average main: €16 | Pl. Doctor Quesada 1 | 953/755500.

Mesón Gabino.
SPANISH | A stalwart defender of Úbeda’s culinary traditions, this cavelike restaurant serves such standards as andrajos de Úbeda (fish, pasta, and vegetable stew) and the beef, lamb, and fish cooked over coals are always delicious. The wine list offers an ample range of Rioja and Ribera del Duero selections. You can have tapas at the bar and, for a more substantial repast, the good-value lunchtime menú del día offers appetizers, three courses including dessert, and one drink. It’s on the edge of town near the Puerta del Losal, but it’s well worth the walk from Plaza 1 de Mayo. | Average main: €15 | Calle Fuente Seca s/n | 953/757553 | No dinner Mon.

WHERE TO STAY

Hotel Sercotel Rosaleda de Don Pedro.
HOTEL | This beautiful 16th-century mansion, in the city’s Zona Monumental, blends the best of the old with many of the comforts a modern traveler would want, including king-size beds. The pool—a rarity in this town—offers relief from the summer heat. Bought by the Spanish Sercotel chain in 2012, its rooms and public areas are tastefully furnished and spacious. The restaurant serves good traditional cuisine in its three-course menú del díaPros: easy parking; good value; has a pool. Cons: hard to find; basement reception and restaurant areas a little dingy. | Rooms from: €119 | Calle Obispo Toral 2 | 953/796111 | www.hotelrosaledadonpedro.com | 60 rooms | No meals.

Fodor’s Choice | Palacio de la Rambla.
B&B/INN | In old Úbeda, this stunning 16th-century mansion has been in the same family since it was built—it still hosts the Marquesa de la Rambla when she’s in town—and eight of the rooms are available for overnighters. Each room is unique, but all are large and furnished with original antiques, tapestries, and works of art, and some have chandeliers, four-poster beds, and access to the garden. The palace is arranged on two levels, around a cool, ivy-covered patio, and there are several salons open to guests. Pros: central location; elegant style. Cons: little parking. | Rooms from: €132 | Pl. del Marqués 1 | 953/750196 | www.palaciodelarambla.com | 6 rooms, 2 suites | Closed 3 wks in Jan. | Breakfast.

Fodor’s Choice | Parador de Úbeda.
HOTEL | Designed by Andrés de Vandelvira, this splendid parador is in a 16th-century ducal palace in a prime location on the Plaza Vázquez de Molina, next to the Capilla del Salvador. Guests are led to their rooms—which have tile floors, lofty ceilings, Castilian-style furniture, four-poster beds, and modern bathrooms—up a grand stairway decked with tapestries and suits of armor. The dining room, specializing in regional dishes, serves some of the best food in Úbeda—try the typical andrajos soup with noodles, cod, and prawns. A three-course menú del día is available, or you can dine à la carte. There’s a bar in the vaulted basement. Reservations are essential on weekends and in Spring. Pros: elegant surroundings; perfect location. Cons: parking is difficult; church bells in the morning. | Rooms from: €165 | Pl. Vázquez de Molina s/n | 953/750345 | www.parador.es | 35 rooms, 1 suite | No meals.

SHOPPING

Little Úbeda is the crafts capital of Andalusia, with workshops devoted to carpentry, basket weaving, stone carving, wrought iron, stained glass, and, above all, the city’s distinctive green-glaze pottery. Calle Valencia is the traditional potters’ row, running from the bottom of town to Úbeda’s general crafts center, northwest of the old quarter (follow signs to Calle Valencia or Barrio de Alfareros).

Úbeda’s most famous potter was Pablo Tito, whose craft is carried on at three different workshops run by two of his sons, Paco and Juan, and a son-in-law, Melchor, each of whom claims to be the sole true heir to the art.

Alfarería Góngora.
All kinds of ceramics are sold here. | Calle Cuesta de la Merced 32 | 953/754605.

Juan Tito.
The extrovert Juan Tito can often be found at the potter’s wheel in his rambling shop, which is packed with ceramics of every size and shape. You can also shop online. | Pl. del Ayuntamiento 12 | 953/751302 | www.alfareriatito.com.

Melchor Tito.
You can see classic green-glazed items—the focus of Melchor Tito’s work—being made in his workshops in Calle Valencia and Calle Fuenteseca 17, which are both also shops. | Calle Valencia 44 | 953/753692.

Paco Tito.
Clay sculptures of characters from Don Quixote, fired by Paco Tito in an old Moorish-style kiln, are the specialty of this studio and shop. There is also a museum (Monday–Saturday 8–2 and 4–8, Sunday 10–2) on the premises. | Calle Valencia 22 | 953/751496.

CAZORLA

48 km (35 miles) southeast of Úbeda.

Unspoiled and remote, the village of Cazorla is at the east end of Jaén province. The pine-clad slopes and towering peaks of the Cazorla and Segura sierras rise above the village, and below it stretch endless miles of olive groves. In spring, purple jacaranda trees blossom in the plazas.

Getting Here and Around

The remoteness and size of Cazorla Nature Park plus the lack of frequent public transportation make this somewhere to explore by car.

Essentials

Visitor Information
Cazorla Tourist Office. | Paseo Santo Cristo 19 | 953/710102 | www.cazorla.es.

EXPLORING

FAMILY | Parque Natural Sierra de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas (Cazorla, Segura and Las Villas Nature Park).
For a break from man-made sights, drink in the scenery or watch for wildlife in this park, a carefully protected patch of mountain wilderness 80 km (50 miles) long and 30 km (19 miles) wide. Deer, wild boar, and mountain goats roam its slopes and hawks, eagles, and vultures soar over the 6,000-foot peaks. Within the park, at Cañada de las Fuentes (Fountains’ Ravine), is the source of Andalusia’s great river, the Guadalquivir. The road through the park follows the river to the shores of Lago Tranco de Beas. Alpine meadows, pine forests, springs, waterfalls, and gorges make Cazorla a perfect place to hike. Past Lago Tranco and the village of Hornos, a road goes to the Sierra de Segura mountain range, the park’s least crowded area. At 3,600 feet, the spectacular village of Segura de la Sierra, on top of the mountain, is crowned by an almost perfect castle with impressive defense walls, a Moorish bath, and a nearly rectangular bullring. There’s also a hunting museum, with random attractions such as the interlocked antlers of bucks who clashed in autumn rutting season, became helplessly trapped, and died of starvation. Nearby are a botanical garden and a game reserve.

Early spring is the ideal time to visit; try to avoid the summer and late-spring months, when the park teems with tourists and locals. It’s often difficult, though by no means impossible, to find accommodations in fall, especially on weekends during hunting season (between September and February). Between June and October, the park maintains seven well-equipped campgrounds. For information on hiking, camping, canoeing, horseback riding, or guided excursions, contact the Agencia de Medio Ambiente (Tejares Altos | 953/711534), or the park visitor center. For hunting or fishing permits, apply to the Jaén office well in advance.

Centro de Interpretación Torre del Vinagre.
A short film shown in the interpretive center introduces the park’s main sights. Displays explain the plants and geology, and the staff can advise about camping, fishing, and hiking trails. | Ctra. del Tranco (A319), Km 48, Torre del Vinagre | 953/713017 | www.sierrasdecazorlaseguraylasvillas.es | Sept.–June, daily 10–2 and 4–7; July and Aug., daily 10–2 and 5–8.

Turisnat.
Four-wheel-drive trips can be taken into restricted areas of the park to observe the flora and fauna and photograph the larger animals. | Paseo del Santo Cristo 19 | 953/721351 | www.turisnat.es.

EN ROUTE: Guadalquivir River Gorge.
Leave Cazorla Nature Park by an alternative route—drive along the spectacular gorge carved by the Guadalquivir River, a rushing torrent beloved by kayaking enthusiasts. At the El Tranco Dam, follow signs to Villanueva del Arzobispo, where N322 takes you back to Úbeda, Baeza, and Jaén.

WHERE TO EAT AND STAY

Gastro Bar La Sarga.
SPANISH | Combining a cheerfully kitschy interior with spectacular views over the valley below, this gastro bar combines attentive service with good local food. Expect to find traditional cooked meat alongside more elaborate dishes like setas en salsa de almendras (oyster mushrooms in an almond sauce) and alcachofas en salsa de romero (artichokes with rosemary). There’s a daily plato del día and a tapas tasting menu (each tapa costs €2), all in generous portions. The kitchen opens at lunchtime and again at 8:30 for dinner (9 in summer). | Average main: €10 | Pl. del Mercado | 953/721507.

Coto del Valle.
HOTEL | This delightful modern hotel in Cazorla’s foothills—easily recognized by the huge fountain outside—is surrounded by pine trees and has been built using a traditional highland stone architectural style, with wooden beams and terra-cotta tiles. The rooms have a simple rustic style, and the large restaurant has a fireplace and mounted game, ranging from mountain goats to red leg partridges. Cooked game is on the menu with the emphasis on local dishes. The spa looks over to the mountains. Pros: nature lover’s paradise; great spa. Cons: indifferent service; 10-minute drive from town. | Rooms from: €100 | Ctra. del Tranco, Km 34.3 | 953/124067 | www.hotelcotodelvalle.com | 39 rooms, 1 suite | Closed 2 wks in Dec. and 2 wks in Jan (phone for dates) | No meals.

Hotel Villa de Cazorla.
RENTAL | On a hill with superb views of the village of Cazorla, this leisure complex rents semidetached apartments that sleep two to four guests. Each has a balcony or terrace as well as a kitchenette—some have a full kitchen—and fireplace. The restaurant specializes in trout, lamb, and, in particular, game, with dishes like wild boar in a honey-based sauce. Pros: self-catering option. Cons: noisy families; in need of refurbishment; some may find it too basic. | Rooms from: €72 | Ladera de San Isicio s/n | 953/724090 | www.villasdeandalucia.com | 32 apartments | Breakfast.

Parador de Cazorla.
HOTEL | You’ll find this modern parador isolated in a valley at the edge of the nature reserve, 26 km (16 miles) north of Cazorla, in a quiet place that’s popular with hunters and anglers. Despite the disappointing exterior, the setting is bucolic, amid a pine forest on a hillside, and inside there’s a small exhibition space with life-sized reproductions of animals. The restaurant serves regional game dishes such as wild boar in red wine and fillets of grilled venison. Pros: lovely views from the pool; mountain cooking. Cons: not all rooms have views; access difficult. | Rooms from: €95 | Sierra de Cazorla s/n | 953/727075 | www.parador.es | 32 rooms, 2 suites | Closed Nov.–Feb. | No meals.

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Granada

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Exploring | Where to Eat | Where to Stay | Performing Arts | Nightlife | Shopping

430 km (265 miles) south of Madrid, 261 km (162 miles) east of Seville, 160 km (100 miles) southeast of Córdoba.

The Alhambra and the tomb of the Catholic Monarchs are the pride of Granada. The city rises majestically from a plain onto three hills, dwarfed—on a clear day—by the Sierra Nevada. Atop one of these hills perches the reddish-gold Alhambra palace, whose stunning view takes in the sprawling medieval Moorish quarter, the caves of the Sacromonte, and, in the distance, the fertile vega (plain), rich in orchards, tobacco fields, and poplar groves. In 2013, Granada celebrated its 1,000th anniversary as a kingdom.

Split by internal squabbles, Granada’s Moorish Nasrid dynasty gave Ferdinand of Aragón his opportunity in 1491. Spurred by Isabella’s religious fanaticism, he laid siege to the city for seven months, and on January 2, 1492, Boabdil, the “Rey Chico” (Boy King), was forced to surrender the keys of the city. As Boabdil fled the Alhambra via the Puerta de los Siete Suelos (Gate of the Seven Floors), he asked that the gate be sealed forever.

GETTING HERE AND AROUND

Air Travel

Three daily flights connect Granada with Madrid and two with Barcelona.

Bus Travel

Granada’s main bus station is at Carretera de Jaén, 3 km (2 miles) northwest of the center of town beyond the end of Avenida de Madrid. Most buses operate from here, except for buses to nearby destinations such as Fuentevaqueros, Viznar, and some buses to Sierra Nevada, which leave from the city center’s Plaza del Triunfo near the RENFE station. Luggage lockers (la consigna) are available at the main bus and train stations, and you can also leave your luggage at Pensión Atlántida (Gran Vía 57).

Autocares Bonal operates buses between Granada and the Sierra Nevada. ALSA buses run to and from Las Alpujarras (9 times daily), Córdoba (8 times daily), Seville (9 times daily), Málaga (18 times daily), and Jaén, Baeza, Úbeda, Cazorla, Almería, Almuñecar, and Nerja (several times daily).

In Granada, J. González buses (€3) run between the center of town and the airport, leaving every hour between 5:20 am and 8 pm from the Palacio de Congresos and making a few other stops along the way to the airport. Times are listed at the bus stop.

Granada has an extensive public bus network within the city. You can buy 5-, 10- and 20-trip discount passes on the buses and at newsstands. The single-trip fare is €1.20. Granada Cards include bus trips plus guaranteed tickets for the Alhambra and other main monuments. The three-day card costs €33.50 and the five-day card €37.50, saving at least a third on regular prices. You can purchase the cards at the municipal tourist office, but it’s best to buy them online via the tourist office website in advance of your visit (you can print them at the tourist office).

Train Travel

There are regular trains from Seville and Almería, but service from Málaga and Córdoba is less convenient, necessitating a change at Bobadilla. A new fast track is currently under construction, however, which will reduce journey times considerably. There are a couple of daily trains from Madrid, Valencia, and Barcelona.

ESSENTIALS

Airport Contact
Aeropuerto de Granada (Aeropurto Federico García Lorca). | 958/245200.

Bus Station
Granada. | Ctra. Jaén, Granada | 902/422242.

Taxi Contacts
Radio Taxi. | 958/132323
Tele Radio Taxi. | 958/280654.

Train Contacts
Station. | Av. de los Andaluces | 902/320320.

Visitor Information
Municipal Tourist Office. | Pl. del Carmen, Centro | 958/248286 | www.granadatur.com
Provincial Tourist Office. | Pl. Mariana Pineda 10, Centro | 958/247128 | www.turismodegranada.org.

TOURS

Cycling Country.
For information about cycling tours around Granada (and Andalusia), from one day to 10 days long, contact this company, run by husband-and-wife team Geoff Norris and Maggi Jones in a town about 55 km (33 miles) away. | Calle Salmerones 18 Alhama de Granada | 958/360655 | www.cyclingcountry.com | From €30.

Granada Tour.
Large open-top buses provide a hop-on, hop-off service, including informative commentary on the major sights. They take in the sights in the lower city and there’s also a minibus service that winds up to the Alhambra and through the narrow streets of Albayzín. The price includes 48 hours unlimited travel. | www.granadatour.com | €18 (discount available online).

Granada

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EXPLORING

Granada can be characterized by its major neighborhoods: East of the Darro River and up the hill is La Alhambra. South of it and around a square and a popular hangout area, Campo del Príncipe, is Realejo. To the west of the Darro and going from north to south are the two popular neighborhoods, Sacromonte and Albayzín (also spelled Albaicín). The latter is the young and trendy part of Granada, full of color, flavor, charming old architecture, and narrow, hilly streets. On either side of Gran Vía de Colón and the streets that border the cathedral (Reyes Católicos and Recogidas—the major shopping areas) is the area generally referred to as Centro, the city center. These days much of the Alhambra and Albayzín areas are closed to cars, but starting from the Plaza Nueva there are minibuses—nos. 30, 31, 34, and 35—that run frequently to these areas.

LA ALHAMBRA

Alhambra. With more than 3 million visitors a year, the Alhambra is Spain’s most popular attraction. The complex has three main parts: the Alcazaba, the Palacios Nazaríes (Nasrid Palaces), and the Generalife, the ancient summer palace. The Museo de la Alhambra is in the Alhambra building, too.

Fodor’s Choice | Alhambra.
With more than 2.3 million visitors a year, the Alhambra is Spain’s most popular attraction. Walking to the Alhambra can be as inspiring as walking around it. If you’re up to a long, and rather steep, scenic approach, start in the Plaza Nueva and climb the Cuesta de Gomérez—through the slopes of green elms planted by the Duke of Wellington—to reach the Puerta de las Granadas (Gate of the Pomegranates), a Renaissance gateway built by Carlos V and topped by three pomegranates, symbols of Granada. More easily, simply take one of the minibuses, number 30 or 32, up from the Plaza Nueva. They run every few minutes; pay the fare of €1.20 on board. Just past the gate, take the path branching off to the left to the Puerta de la Justicia (Gate of Justice), one of the Alhambra’s entrances. Yusuf I built the gate in 1348; its two arches have carvings depicting a key and a hand. The five fingers of the hand represent the five laws of the Koran. If you’re driving, you approach the Alhambra from the opposite direction. There’s a large parking lot. Alternatively, you can park in the underground lot on Calle San Agustín, just north of the cathedral, and take a taxi or the minibus from Plaza Nueva. The complex has three main parts: the Alcazaba, the Palacios Nazaríes (Nasrid Palaces), and the Generalife, the ancient summer palace.

Construction of the Alhambra was begun in 1238 by Ibn el-Ahmar, the first king of the Nasrids. The great citadel once comprised a complex of houses, schools, baths, barracks, and gardens surrounded by defense towers and seemingly impregnable walls. Today, only the Alcazaba and the Palacios Nazaríes, built chiefly by Yusuf I (1334–54) and his son Mohammed V (1354–91), remain. The palace is an endless, intricate conglomeration of patios, arches, and cupolas made from wood, plaster, and tile; lavishly colored and adorned with marquetry and ceramics in geometric patterns and topped by delicate, frothy profusions of lacelike stucco and mocárabes (ornamental stalactites). Built of perishable materials, it was never intended to last but to be forever replenished and replaced by succeeding generations. By the early 17th century, ruin and decay had set in, and the Alhambra was abandoned by all but tramps and stray dogs. Napoléon’s troops commandeered it in 1812, but their attempts to destroy it were, happily, foiled. In 1814, the Alhambra’s fortunes rose with the arrival of the Duke of Wellington, who came here to escape the pressures of the Peninsular War. Soon afterward, in 1829, Washington Irving arrived to live on the premises and helped revive interest in the crumbling palace, in part through his 1832 book Tales of the Alhambra. In 1862, Granada finally launched a complete restoration program that has been carried on ever since.

Across from the main entrance is the original fortress, the Alcazaba. Its ruins are dominated by the Torre de la Vela (Watchtower); from its summit you can see, to the north, the Albayzín; to the northeast, the Sacromonte; and to the west, the cathedral. The tower’s great bell was once used, by both the Moors and the Christians, to announce the opening and closing of the irrigation system on Granada’s great plain.

A wisteria-covered walkway leads to the heart of the Alhambra, the Palacios Nazaríes, sometimes also called the Casa Real (Royal Palace). Here, delicate apartments, lazy fountains, and tranquil pools contrast vividly with the hulking fortifications outside, and the interior walls are decorated with elaborately carved inscriptions from the Koran. The Palacios Nazaríes are divided into three sections. The first is the mexuar, where business, government, and palace administration were headquartered. These chambers include the Oratorio (Oratory) and the Cuarto Dorado (Golden Room); gaze down over the Albayzín and Sacromonte from their windows. The second section is the serrallo, a series of state rooms where the sultans held court and entertained their ambassadors. In the heart of the serrallo is the Patio de los Arrayanes (Court of the Myrtles), with a long goldfish pool. At its northern end, in the Salón de Embajadores (Hall of the Ambassadors)—which has a magnificent cedar door—King Boabdil signed the terms of surrender and Queen Isabella received Christopher Columbus.

The third and final section of the Palacios Nazaríes is the harem, which in its time was entered only by the sultan, his wives and the rest of his family, and their most trusted servants, most of them eunuchs. To reach it, pass through the Sala de los Mocárabes (Hall of the Ornamental Stalactites); note the splendid, though damaged, ceiling, and the elaborate stalactite-style stonework in the arches above. The Patio de los Leones (Court of the Lions) is the heart of the harem. From the fountain in the center, 12 lions, thought to represent the months or signs of the zodiac, leer out at you. Four streams flow symbolically to the four corners of the cosmos and more literally to the surrounding state apartments. The lions and fountain were restored in 2012, and the Court paved with white marble as it would originally have been.

The Sala de los Abencerrajes (Hall of the Moors), on the south side of the palace, may be the Alhambra’s most beautiful gallery, with its fabulous, ornate ceiling and a star-shaped cupola reflected in the pool below. Here Boabdil’s father is alleged to have massacred 16 members of the Abencerrajes family—whose chief was the lover of his favorite daughter, Zoraya—and piled their bloodstained heads in this font. The Sala de los Reyes (Hall of the Kings) lies on the patio’s east side, decorated with ceiling frescoes thought to be the work of a visiting Christian Spaniard and painted during the last days of the Moors’ tenure. To the north, the Sala de las Dos Hermanas (Hall of the Two Sisters) was Zoraya’s abode. Its stuccoed ceiling is done in an intricate honeycomb pattern. Note the symmetrically placed patterned pomegranates on the walls.

The Baños Reales (Royal Baths), the Alhambra’s semi-subterranean bathhouse, is where the sultans’ favorites luxuriated in brightly tiled pools beneath star-shaped pinpoints of light from the ceiling above. The baths are rarely open to visitors for conservation reasons, but you can glimpse their finery from the entrance.

The Renaissance Palacio de Carlos V (Palace of Carlos V), with a perfectly square exterior but a circular interior courtyard, is where the sultans’ private apartments once stood. Designed by Pedro Machuca—a pupil of Michelangelo—and begun in 1526, the palace once was the site of bullfights and mock tournaments. Today its acoustics are perfect for the summer symphony concerts held during Granada’s International Festival of Music and Dance.

Part of the building houses the Museo de la Alhambra (Museum of the Alhambra<img src=”assets/images/A.png”/>), devoted to Islamic art. Upstairs is the more modest Museo de Bellas Artes (Fine Arts Museum). You can visit the Palace of Carlos V and the museums independently of the Alhambra.

Over on the Cerro del Sol (Hill of the Sun) is the Generalife, ancient summer palace of the Nasrid kings. Its name comes from the Arabic gennat alarif (garden of the architect), and its terraces and promenades grant incomparable views of the city that stretch to the distant lowlands. During the summer’s International Festival of Music and Dance, stately cypresses serve as the backdrop for evening ballets in the Generalife amphitheater. Between the Alhambra and Generalife is the 16th-century convent of San Francisco, one of Spain’s most luxurious paradors.

TIP Don’t forget to visit the “Space of the Month”—each month one of the parts usually closed to visitors is open.

Allow a good half day for your visit, a whole day if you have time. | Cuesta de Gomérez, Alhambra | www.alhambra-patronato.es | Alhambra and Generalife: €14; Generalife and Alcazaba: €7; Fine Arts Museum: €1.50; Museum of the Alhambra and Palace of Carlos V: free | Alhambra, Alcazaba, Generalife, and Palace of Carlos V: daily 8:30–6 (to 8 Mar. 15–Oct. 14). Museum of the Alhambra: Tues.–Sun. 8:30–2. Museum of Fine Arts: Tues. 2:30–8, Wed.–Sat. 9–8, Sun. 9–2:30.

Baños Árabes.
Baths played a very important part in Muslim life and as a measure of that status were often sited near a mosque or in the souk. At the re-created baths, you can relax with friends, get a massage, and even take tea and be entertained by a belly dancer. Visits must be booked in advance. | Santa Ana 16 | 958/229978 | www.hammamspain.com | €24; €36 with aromatherapy massage | Daily, by appointment only, at 10, noon, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, and midnight.

Carmen de los Mártires.
Up the hill from the Hotel Alhambra Palace, this turn-of-the-20th-century carmen (private villa) and its gardens—the only area open to tourists—are like a Generalife in miniature. | Paseo de los Mártires, Alhambra | 958/227953 | Free | Apr.–July and Sept.–Oct., weekdays 10–2 and 6–8, weekends 10–8; Nov.–Mar., weekdays 10–2 and 4–6, weekends 10–6.

Casa-Museo de Manuel de Falla.
The composer Manuel de Falla (1876–1946) lived and worked for many years in this rustic house tucked into a charming hillside lane with lovely views of Las Alpujarras. In 1986 Granada paid homage to him by naming its new concert hall (down the street from the Carmen de los Mártires) the Auditorio Manuel de Falla—from this institution, fittingly, you have a view of his little white house. Note the bust in the small garden: It’s placed where the composer once sat to enjoy the sweeping vista. | Calle Antequeruela Alta 11, Alhambra | 958/222189 | www.museomanueldefalla.com | €3 | Tues.–Fri. 9:30–6:30, weekends 9–2:30.

Granada Walking Tour

Save a full day for the Alhambra and the Alhambra hill sights: the Alcazaba, Generalife, Alhambra Museum, Fundación Rodríguez Acosta/Instituto Gomez MorenoCasa-Museo de Manuel de Falla, and Carmen de los Mártires. This walk covers the other major Granada sights.

Begin at Plaza Isabel la Católica (corner of Gran Vía and Calle Reyes Católicos), with its statue of Columbus presenting the queen with his New World maps. Walk south on Calle Reyes Católicos and turn left into the Corral del Carbón—the oldest building in Granada.

Cross back over Calle Reyes Católicos to the Alcaicería, once the Moorish silk market and now a maze of alleys with souvenir shops and restaurants. Behind it is Plaza Bib-Rambla, with its flower stalls and historic Gran Café Bib-Rambla, famous for hot chocolate and churros. Calle Oficios is also home to the fascinating Centro José Guerrero and leads to Palacio Madraza and the Capilla Real, next to the cathedral.

Off the cathedral’s west side is the 16th-century Escuela de las Niñas Nobles, with its plateresque facade. Next to the cathedral, just off Calle Libreros, are the Curia Eclesiástica, an Imperial College until 1769; the Palacio del Arzobispo; and the 18th-century Iglesia del Sagrario. Behind the cathedral is the Gran Vía de Colón. Detour to the Casa de los Tiros (on Calle Pavaneras) before heading to Plaza Isabel la Católica. Follow Reyes Católicos to Plaza Nueva and the ornate 16th-century Real Cancillería (Royal Chancery), now the Tribunal Superior de Justicia (High Court). Just north are Plaza Santa Ana and the church of Santa Ana.

Walk through Plaza Santa Ana to Carrera del Darro—which flanks the river and is lined with shops, hotels, bars, and restaurants—and you come to the 11th-century Arab bathhouse, El Bañuelo, and the 16th-century Casa de Castril, site of Granada’s Archaeological Museum.

Follow the river along the Paseo del Padre Manjón (Paseo de los Tristes)—to the Palacio de los Córdoba. Climb Cuesta del Chapíz to the Morisco Casa del Chapíz. To the east are the caves of Sacromonte and the Museo-Cuevas del Sacromonte. Turn west into the streets of the Albayzín, with the Casa de los Pisa and Dar al-Horra nearby. Best reached by taxi are the 16th-century Monasterio de La Cartuja, the interactive science museum Parque de las Ciencias, and Casa-Museo Federico García Lorca.

REALEJO

Casa de los Tiros.
This 16th-century palace, adorned with the coat of arms of the Grana Venegas family who owned it, was named House of the Shots for the musket barrels that protrude from its facade. The stairs to the upper-floor displays are flanked by portraits of miserable-looking Spanish royals, from Ferdinand and Isabella to Felipe IV. The highlight is the carved wooden ceiling in the Cuadra Dorada (Hall of Gold), adorned with gilded lettering and portraits of royals and knights. Old lithographs, engravings, and photographs show life in Granada in the 19th and early 20th centuries. | Calle Pavaneras 19, Realejo | 958/221072 | www.juntadeandalucia.es/cultura/museos/MCTGR | €1.50 | Tues.–Sat. 10–8:30, Sun. 10–5.

Casa Sefardí (Sephardic House).
This restored house, typical of the Realejo district, offers a fascinating insight into the life of the Sephardic Jews, an essential component of Granada’s history, and their contributions to science and the arts. Visits are by guided tour. | Pl. Berrocal 5, Realejo | 958/220578 | www.museosefardidegranada.es/en | €5 | Apr.–Oct., daily 10–2 and 5–9; Nov.–Mar., daily 10–2 and 4–8.

Fundación Rodríguez-Acosta/Instituto Gómez Moreno.
A few yards from the impressive Alhambra Hotel, this nonprofit organization was founded at the bequest of the painter José Marí Rodríguez-Acosta. Inside a typical carmen, it houses works of art, archaeological findings, and a library collected by the Granada-born scholar Manuel Gómez-Moreno Martínez. Other exhibits include valuable and unique objects from Asian cultures and the prehistoric and classical eras. Call or email ahead, as advance reservations (minimum two days) are required. | Callejón Niños del Rollo 8, Realejo | 958/227497 | info@fundacionrodriguezacosta.com | www.fundacionrodriguezacosta.com | €5 | Daily 10–6.

SACROMONTE

The third of Granada’s three hills, the Sacromonte rises behind the Albayzín. The hill is covered with prickly pear cacti and riddled with caverns. The Sacromonte has long been notorious as a domain of Granada’s Gypsies and thus a den of thieves and scam artists, but its reputation is largely undeserved. The quarter is more like a quiet Andalusian pueblo (village) than a rough neighborhood. Many of the quarter’s colorful cuevas (caves) have been restored as middle-class homes, and some of the old spirit lives on in a handful of zambras (flamenco performances in caves, which are garishly decorated with brass plates and cooking utensils). These shows differ from formal flamenco shows in that the performers mingle with you, usually dragging one or two onlookers onto the floor for an improvised dance lesson. Ask your hotel to book you a spot on a cueva tour, which usually includes a walk through the neighboring Albayzín and a drink at a tapas bar in addition to the zambra.

Abadía de Sacromonte.
The caverns on Sacromonte are thought to have sheltered early Christians; 15th-century treasure hunters found bones inside and assumed they belonged to San Cecilio, the city’s patron saint. Thus, the hill was sanctified—sacro monte (holy mountain)—and an abbey built on its summit, the Abadía de Sacromonte. | C. del Sacromonte, Sacromonte | 958/221445 | €4 | Tues.–Sat. 10–12.50 and 4–6, Sun. 11–1 and 4–6; guided tours every 40 mins (Spanish only).

Museo Cuevas del Sacromonte.
The Museo Etnográfico shows how people lived here, and other areas in this interesting complex show the flora and fauna of the area as well as cultural activities. There are live flamenco concerts during the summer months. WARNING: Even if you take the minibus no. 35 (from Plaza Nueva) or the city sightseeing bus to get here, you will still be left with a steep walk of more than 200 meters to reach the center. Barranco de los Negros, Sacromonte | 958/215120 | www.sacromontegranada.com | €5 | Apr.–Oct., daily 10–8; Nov.–Mar., daily 10–6.

ALBAYZÍN

Covering a hill of its own, across the Darro ravine from the Alhambra, this ancient Moorish neighborhood is a mix of dilapidated white houses and immaculate carmenes (private villas in gardens enclosed by high walls). It was founded in 1228 by Moors who had fled Baeza after Ferdinand III captured the city. Full of cobblestone alleyways and secret corners, the Albayzín guards its old Moorish roots jealously, though its 30 mosques were converted to baroque churches long ago. A stretch of the Moors’ original city wall runs beside the ridge called the Cuesta de la Alhacaba. If you’re walking—the best way to explore—you can enter the Albayzín from either the Cuesta de Elvira or the Plaza Nueva. Alternatively, on foot or by taxi (parking is impossible), begin in the Plaza Santa Ana and follow the Carrera del Darro, Paseo Padre Manjón, and Cuesta del Chapíz. One of the highest points in the quarter, the plaza in front of the church of San Nicolás—called the Mirador de San Nicolás—has one of the finest views in all of Granada: on the hill opposite, the turrets and towers of the Alhambra form a dramatic silhouette against the snowy peaks of the Sierra Nevada. The sight is most magical at dawn, dusk, and on nights when the Alhambra is floodlighted. Take note of the mosque just next to the church—views of the Alhambra from the mosque gardens are just as good as those from the Mirador de San Nicolás and a lot less crowded. Interestingly, given the area’s Moorish history, the two sloping, narrow streets of Calderería Nueva and Calderería Vieja that meet at the top by the Iglesia San Gregorio have developed into something of a North African bazaar, full of shops and vendors selling clothes, bags, crafts, and trinkets. The numerous little teahouses and restaurants here have a decidedly Moroccan flavor. Be warned that there have been some thefts in the area, so keep your money and valuables out of sight.

Casa de los Pisa.
Originally built in 1494 for the Pisa family, the claim to fame of this house is its relationship to San Juan de Dios, who came to Granada in 1538 and founded a charity hospital to take care of the poor. Befriended by the Pisa family, he was taken into their home when he fell ill in February 1550. A month later, he died there, at the age of 55. Since that time, devotees of the saint have traveled from around the world to this house with a stone Gothic facade, now run by the Hospital Order of St. John. Inside are numerous pieces of jewelry, furniture, priceless religious works of art, and an extensive collection of paintings and sculptures depicting St. John. | Calle Convalecencia 1, Albayzín | 958/222144 | €3 | Mon.–Sat. 10–1:30.

Casa del Chapíz.
There’s a delightful garden in this fine 16th-century Morisco house (built by Moorish craftsmen under Christian rule). It houses the School of Arabic Studies. | Cuesta del Chapíz 22, Albayzín | 958/222290 | Weekdays 9–6 (until 3 in July and Aug.).

El Bañuelo (Little Bath House).
These 11th-century Arab steam baths might be a little dark and dank now, but try to imagine them some 900 years ago, filled with Moorish beauties. Back then, the dull brick walls were backed by bright ceramic tiles, tapestries, and rugs. Light comes in through star-shape vents in the ceiling, à la the bathhouse in the Alhambra. | C. del Darro 31, Albayzín | 958/229738 | Free | Daily 10–6.

QUICK BITES: Paseo Padre Manjón.
Along the Darro River, this paseo is also known as the Paseo de los Tristes (Promenade of the Sad Ones) because funeral processions once passed this way. The cafés and bars here are a good place for a coffee break. The park, dappled with wisteria-covered pergolas, fountains, and stone walkways, has a stunning view of the Alhambra’s northern side. | Albayzín.

Palacio de los Córdova.
At the end of the Paseo Padre Manjón, this 17th-century noble house today holds Granada’s municipal archives and is used for municipal functions and art exhibits. You’re free to wander about the large garden. | Cuesta del Chapiz 4, Albayzín | Free | Nov.–Mar., weekdays 10–2 and 4–6, weekends 10–6; Apr.–Oct., weekdays 10–2 and 6–8, weekends 10–8.

CENTRO

Capilla Real (Royal Chapel).
Catholic Monarchs Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragón are buried at this shrine. The couple originally planned to be buried in Toledo’s San Juan de los Reyes, but Isabella changed her mind when the pair conquered Granada in 1492. When she died in 1504, her body was first laid to rest in the Convent of San Francisco (now a parador), on the Alhambra hill. The architect Enrique Egas began work on the Royal Chapel in 1506 and completed it 15 years later, creating a masterpiece of the ornate Gothic style now known in Spain as Isabelline. In 1521 Isabella’s body was transferred to a simple lead coffin in the Royal Chapel crypt, where it was joined by that of her husband, Ferdinand, and later her unfortunate daughter, Juana la Loca (Joanna the Mad), and son-in-law, Felipe el Hermoso (Philip the Handsome). Felipe died young, and Juana had his casket borne about the peninsula with her for years, opening the lid each night to kiss her embalmed spouse good night. A small coffin to the right contains the remains of Prince Felipe of Asturias, a grandson of the Catholic Monarchs and nephew of Juana la Loca who died in his infancy. The crypt containing the five lead coffins is quite simple, but it’s topped by elaborate marble tombs showing Ferdinand and Isabella lying side by side (commissioned by their grandson Carlos V and sculpted by Domenico Fancelli).

The altarpiece, by Felipe Vigarini (1522), comprises 34 carved panels depicting religious and historical scenes; the bottom row shows Boabdil surrendering the keys of the city to its conquerors and the forced baptism of the defeated Moors.

The sacristy holds Ferdinand’s sword, Isabella’s crown and scepter, and a fine collection of Flemish paintings once owned by Isabella. | Calle Oficios, Centro | 958/229239 | www.capillarealgranada.com | €4 | Apr.–Oct., Mon.–Sat. 10:15–1:30 and 4–7:30, Sun. 11–1:30 and 4–7:30; Nov.–Mar., Mon.–Sat. 10:30–1:30 and 3:30–6:30, Sun. 10:30–1:30 and 3:30–6:30.

Cathedral.
Carlos V commissioned the cathedral in 1521 because he considered the Royal Chapel “too small for so much glory” and wanted to house his illustrious late grandparents someplace more worthy. Carlos undoubtedly had great intentions, as the cathedral was created by some of the finest architects of its time: Enrique Egas, Diego de Siloé, Alonso Cano, and sculptor Juan de Mena. Alas, his ambitions came to little, for the cathedral is a grand and gloomy monument, not completed until 1714 and never used as the crypt for his grandparents (or parents). Enter through a small door at the back, off the Gran Vía. Old hymnals are displayed throughout, and there’s a museum, which includes a 14th-century gold-and-silver monstrance (used for communion) given to the city by Queen Isabella. Audio guides are available for an extra €3. | Gran Vía, Centro | 958/222959 | €4 | Nov.–Mar., Mon.–Sat. 10:45–1:30 and 4–6:45, Sun. 4–6:45; Apr.–Oct., Mon.–Sat. 10:45–1:30 and 4–7:45, Sun. 4–7:45.

Centro José Guerrero.
Just across a lane from the Cathedral and Capilla Real, this building houses colorful modern paintings by José Guerrero. Born in Granada in 1914, Guerrero traveled throughout Europe and lived in New York in the 1950s before returning to Spain. The center also runs excellent temporary contemporary art shows. | Calle Oficios 8, Centro | 958/225185 | www.centroguerrero.org | Free | Tues.–Sat. 10:30–2 and 4:30–9, Sun. 10:30–2.

Corral del Carbón (Coal House).
This building was used to store coal in the 19th century, but its history is much longer. Dating from the 14th century, it was used by Moorish merchants as a lodging house, and then by Christians as a theater. It’s one of the oldest Moorish buildings in the city and the only Arab structure of its kind in Spain. | Pl. Mariana Pineda, Centro | Free | Daily 10–8.

Palacio Madraza.
This building conceals the Islamic seminary built in 1349 by Yusuf I. The intriguing baroque facade is elaborate; inside, across from the entrance, an octagonal room is crowned by a Moorish dome. It hosts occasional free art and cultural exhibitions. | Calle Zacatín, Centro | 958/241299 | €2 | Daily 10–7:30.

OUTSKIRTS OF TOWN

Casa-Museo Federico García Lorca.
Granada’s most famous native son, the poet Federico García Lorca, gets his due here, in the middle of a park devoted to him on the southern fringe of the city. Lorca’s onetime summer home, La Huerta de San Vicente, is now a museum—run by his niece Laura García Lorca—with such artifacts as his beloved piano and changing exhibits on specific aspects of his life. | Parque García Lorca, Virgen Blanca, Arabial | 958/258466 | www.huertadesanvicente.com | €3 (free Wed.) | June 15–Sept. 15, Tues.–Sun. 9:15–2:15; Apr.–June 14 and Sept. 16–30, Tues.–Sun. 9:15–2:15 and 5–8; Oct.–Mar., Tues.–Sun. 9:15–2:15 and 4–7. Guided tours every 45 mins until 30 mins before closing.

Monasterio de La Cartuja.
This Carthusian monastery in northern Granada (2 km [1 mile] from the center of town and reached by Bus No. 8) was begun in 1506 and moved to its present site in 1516, though construction continued for the next 300 years. The exterior is sober and monolithic, but inside are twisted, multicolor marble columns; a profusion of gold, silver, tortoiseshell, and ivory; intricate stucco; and the extravagant sacristy—it’s easy to see why it has been called the Christian answer to the Alhambra. Among its wonders are the trompe l’oeil spikes, shadows and all, in the Sanchez Cotan cross over the Last Supper painting at the west end of the refectory. If you’re lucky you may see small birds attempting to land on these faux perches. | C. de Alfacar, Cartuja | 958/161932 | €4 | Apr.–Oct., daily 10–1 and 4–8; Nov.–Mar., daily 10–1 and 3–6.

FAMILY | Parque de las Ciencias (Science Park).
Across from Granada’s convention center and easily reached on either Bus No. 1 or 5, this museum (the most visited in Andalusia) has a planetarium and interactive demonstrations of scientific experiments. The 165-foot observation tower has views to the south and west. | Av. del Mediterráneo, Zaidín | 958/131900 | www.parqueciencias.com | Park €6.50, planetarium €2.50 | Tues.–Sat. 10–7, Sun. and holidays 10–3.

WHERE TO EAT

One of the great things about Granada tapas bars is that you receive a free tapa (often very generous) with every drink. You can’t choose your tapa, but you’ll rarely be disappointed. Poke around the streets between the Carrera del Darro and the Mirador de San Nicolás, particularly around the bustling Plaza San Miguel Bajo, for Granada’s most colorful twilight hangouts. Also try the bars and restaurants in the arches underneath the Plaza de Toros (Bullfighting Ring), on the west side of the city, a bit farther from the city center.

For a change, check out some Moroccan-style tea shops, known as teterías—these first emerged in Granada and are now also popular in Seville and Málaga, particularly among students. Tea at such places can be expensive, so be sure to check the price of your brew before you order. The highest concentration of teterías is in the Albayzín, particularly around Calle Calderería Nueva where, within a few doors from each other, you find El Oriental, Ali Baba, and El Jardín de los Sueños. Tetería Ábaco, up the steep Cuesta del Perro Alto side street, is worth the climb for the Alhambra views from its roof terrace.

Bodegas Castañeda.
SPANISH | A block from the cathedral across Gran Vía, this is a delightfully typical Granadino bodega with low ceilings and dark wood furniture. In addition to the wines, specialties here are plates of cheese, pâté, and embutidos (cold meats). The extensive list of tapas includes queso viejo en aceite (cured cheese in olive oil), bacon with Roquefort cheese, and jamón de Trevélez (ham from the village of Trevélez). If you like garlic, don’t miss the Spanish tortilla with creamy alioli. | Average main: €18 | Calle Almireceros 1–3, Centro | 958/215464.

Café Botánico.
TAPAS | Southeast of Granada’s cathedral, this is a modern hot spot, a world apart from Granada’s usual traditional tapas bar. Here you’ll find a bright orange and beige interior and an eclectic crowd of students, families, and business people. The diverse menu has a distinctly international feel to it with Mexican fajitas, Indonesian woks, and Indian tikka masala wraps all sitting side by side. The good value lunchtime menu offers three courses plus a drink for €11.90. Seating is outside on the pleasant sidewalk overlooking the Botanical Garden or inside in two sizeable dining areas. | Average main: €10 | Calle Málaga 3, Centro | 958/271598.

Casa Juanillo.
TAPAS | Slightly off the beaten track, on the Sacromonte “pathway,” this place has spectacular views over the Alhambra and Generalife from its terrace. Food is based around traditional local fare and includes tortillas (the Sacromonte tortilla is made with lamb brains), prawns, and lamb chops (roasted on an open fire and reputedly the best in this part of Granada). Diners may be treated to a occasional spontaneous flamenco performance. | Average main: €13 | C. del Sacromonte 81, Sacromonte | 958/223094.

Cunini.
SPANISH | Around the corner from the cathedral, this is one of Granada’s best fish restaurants. Catch-of-the-day fish and shellfish, fresh from the boats at Motril, are displayed in the window at the front of the tapas bar, adjacent to the cozy wood-paneled dining room. Both the frito (fried) and the parrillada (grilled) fish are good choices. If it’s chilly, you can warm up with caldereta de arroz, pescado y marisco (rice, fish, and seafood stew). There are tables outdoors overlooking a busy plaza. | Average main: €20 | Pl. Pescadería 14, Centro | 958/250777 | Closed Mon. No dinner Sun.

Fodor’s Choice | Damasqueros.
SPANISH | The modern, wood-paneled dining room and warm light form the perfect setting for the creative Andalusian cuisine cooked here by local Lola Marín who learnt her trade with some of Spain’s top chefs such as Martín Berasategui. The concise menu includes dishes like fresh tuna with pumpkin ravioli, pesto, and fried almonds, and Iberian pork with couscous, apricots, and yogurt. The wine list runs to more than 120 types, including several Granada wines. Thanks to its slightly hidden location in the Realejo, Damasqueros is not highly frequented by tourists. | Average main: €20 | Calle Damasqueros 3, Realejo | 958/210550 | www.damasqueros.com | Closed Mon. No dinner Sun.

El Lagarto de Lorca.
SPANISH | In the choicest square in the Albayzín, which is covered with tables and chairs in the summer, this restaurant (named after a Lorca poem about a lizard, serves solidly traditional cuisine that includes rabo de toro, habas con jamón (ham with broad beans), and meat grilled over a log fire. The house specialties include caracoles (snails) and tapas (€1.50). There are three upstairs terraces whose views take in the Alhambra and Granada, and downstairs among the rustic interior design and Alhambra murals, the fireplace will warm your toes when there’s snow on the Sierras. | Average main: €9 | Pl. San Miguel Bajo 15, Albayzín | 958/563542.

El Pilar del Toro.
SPANISH | This bar and restaurant, just off Plaza Nueva, is in a 17th-century palace with a stunning patio (complete with original marble columns) and peaceful garden. A change of management in late 2013 has led to a menu emphasizing meat dishes such as carrillada al vino tinto (meat stew in red wine), cordero lechal al aroma de romero (suckling lamb with a hint of rosemary) and the house specialty, oxtail stew. The downstairs patio and bar serve tapas only with the elegant restaurant upstairs. | Average main: €15 | Calle Hospital de Santa Ana 12, Albayzín | 958/225470.

Fodor’s Choice | La Brujidera.
TAPAS | Also known simply as “Casa de Vinos”, this place, up a pedestrian street just behind Plaza Nueva, is a must for Spanish wine lovers. The cozy interior is reminiscent of a ship’s cabin, with wood panelling lining the walls, along with bottles of more than 150 Spanish wines. A different wine is featured each week and vermouth and sherries are on tap in barrels behind the counter. Tapas specialize in cold meats, cheeses, and patés, served on 11 types and sizes of boards (€9–€22). The house board includes 3 cold meats, goat’s cheese, and two pâtés. | Average main: €10 | Monjas del Carmen 2, Centro | 958/222595 | Closed 1 wk in Feb. (call for dates).

Las Estrellas de San Nicolás.
SPANISH | Near the Mirador San Nicolás, this elegant restaurant has panoramic views of the Alhambra from the elegant upstairs room and terrace. Renowned chef Enrique Martín from Córdoba has introduced such innovative dishes as black pudding crumble with caramelized mango and duck with pears, grapes, and apple puree but also offers a more traditional menu of oxtail stew, grilled sea bass, and creamy rice with lobster (the house specialty). Service is exemplary. | Average main: €23 | Callejón Atarazana Vieja 1, Albayzín | 958/288739 | No lunch Tues.

Los Diamantes.
TAPAS | This cheap and cheerful bar is a big favorite with locals and draws crowds whatever the time of year. Specialties include fried fish and seafood—try the surtido de pescado (assortment of fried fish) to sample the best—as well as mollejas fritas (fried lamb brains). No reservations are taken and there’s no seating, so arrive early (1:30 pm or 8 pm) to be sure of some bar space or a tall table outside. Even when it’s crowded, the service comes with a smile. | Average main: €12 | Calle Navas 28, Centro | 958/222572.

Mirador de Morayma.
SPANISH | Buried in the Albayzín, this hard-to-find restaurant might appear to be closed, but ring the doorbell—once inside, you’ll have unbeatable views across the gorge to the Alhambra, particularly from the wisteria-laden outdoor terrace. In colder weather you can enjoy the open fireplace and attractive dining space inside. The menu has some surprising sweet-savory mixes such as bacalao gratinado con alioli de manzana (grilled cod with apple-garlic mayonnaise), and presa ibérica con salsa de higos, vino dulce, membrillo y puerros (Iberian pork with fig and sweet-wine sauce, quince, and leeks). Service is sometimes a little on the slow side. The restaurant has several flights of steps. | Average main: €19 | Calle Pianista García Carrillo 2, Albayzín | 958/228290 | No dinner Sun.

Oliver.
SPANISH | The interior may look a bit bare, but whatever this fish restaurant lacks in warmth it makes up for with the food. Less pricey than its neighbor Cunini, it serves simple but high-quality dishes like grilled mullet, dorado baked in salt, prawns with garlic, and monkfish in saffron sauce. The tapas bar, which is more popular with locals than the dining room, offers classic dishes (€1.50) like migas (fried bread crumbs), beans with serrano ham, and tortilla del Sacromonte (with lamb testicles and brains, as traditionally prepared by the Sacromonte’s gypsies). Granada visitors on Fodor’s website community highlight the good, friendly service here. | Average main: €15 | Pl. Pescadería 12, Centro | 958/262200 | Closed Sun.

Paprika.
VEGETARIAN | Inside a pretty brick building and with an informal terrace sprawling over the wide steps of the Cuesta de Abarqueros, Paprika offer unpretentious vegetarian food for a mainly young clientele. Most ingredients and wines are organic, and dishes include salads, stir-fries, and curries, such as Thai curry with tofu, coconut, and green-curry sauce. There’s a good choice of vegan and gluten-free dishes. | Average main: €13 | Cuesta de Abarqueros 3 | 958/804785 | www.paprika-granada.com.

Puerta del Carmen.
SPANISH | This bustling bar and restaurant occupies an elegant townhouse and exudes a whiff of tradition with its dark-wood furnishings, lofty ceilings, and tasteful color scheme. Granada’s Círculo Taurino (bullfighting society) used to meet here as can be seen in some of the wall decorations. A congenial staff and a reliably good menu add to the appeal. It’s popular with the business community, and there are plenty of plates to share, including goat’s cheese and mango pastry. Main courses include fresh fish of the day and steak tartare (the house specialty). The wine list is superb. A plus: the kitchen doesn’t close between lunch and dinner. | Average main: €18 | Pl. Carmen 1, Centro | 958/223737.

Restaurante Arriaga.
BASQUE | Run by Basque chef Álvaro Arriaga, this restaurant sits on the top floor of the Museo de la Memoria de Andalucía just outside the city (take a taxi to get here) and enjoys panoramic views of Granada with Sierra Nevada behind. Choose from two tasting menus (€55), both with eight dishes, one based around the chef’s Basque roots and the other, known as “Play,” a succession of surprises. À la carte specialties include Basque cod and hake, and beef slow-cooked for 40 hours! Expect innovative desserts such as the pastilla de jabón de leche de almendras con “champú” de lavanda (almond milk “soap” with lavender “shampoo”). | Average main: €25 | Av. de las Ciencias 2, Ctra. de la Armilla | 958/132619 | No dinner Sun.

Ruta del Azafrán.
SPANISH | A charming surprise nestled at the foot of the Albayzín by the Darro River—this sleek contemporary space in the shadow of the Alhambra offers a selection of specialties. The menu is interesting and diverse and includes dishes like chicken pastela (sweet-savory pie); lamb couscous; and several salads including one that features watercress, fried mushrooms, quince, and pine nuts. The three-course set menu (€12) sets high standards. Steel furniture and a black and red color scheme contribute to the air of sophistication. The kitchen is open from 1 to 11 pm (midnight in summer). | Average main: €15 | Paseo de los Tristes 1, Albayzín | 958/226882.

Ruta del Veleta.
SPANISH | A short drive out of town on the way to Sierra Nevada, this established restaurant serves innovative twists on Spanish recipes using seasonal ingredients—many of the vegetables are grown in the restaurant’s own garden. Innovative options include librito del Valle Tropical de Granada (a layered stack of salmon trout and caviar) and picantón asado (roast chicken with potato couscous and sheep’s milk sauce). | Average main: €22 | Ctra. de la Sierra 136 Cenes de la Vega | 958/486134.

Sevilla.
SPANISH | Open since 1930, this two-story restaurant has fed the likes of composer Manuel de Falla and poet Federico García Lorca. There are four colorful dining rooms and a small but superb tapas bar, all furnished traditionally with lots of dark wood and decorative plates and pictures on the walls. On sunny days opt for the outdoor terrace overlooking the Royal Chapel and cathedral. Dinner is accompanied by live guitar music from May to September. The dinner menu includes Granada favorites such as sopa sevillana (soup with seafood), fresh whitebait stuffed with black pudding, and, for braver diners, tortilla al Sacromonte (with lamb’s brains and testicles). | Average main: €18 | Calle Oficios 12, Centro | 958/221223 | No dinner Sun.

Taberna Tofe.
SPANISH | One of an energetic stretch of similarly appealing traditional and contemporary bars and restaurants, this is a good choice for tapas or more substantial fare like roasted chicken. The surtido de tapas is a platter of tasty selections that includes patatas bravas (fried potatoes in a spicy chili-spiked tomato sauce), meatballs in an almond sauce, and wedges of tortilla. A jug of sangria makes a good accompaniment. The interior is an attractive (but slightly dark) space with pine furniture, and there is an outside terrace for alfresco dining. | Average main: €8 | Campo del Principe 18, Centro | 958/226207 | Closed Tues.

WHERE TO STAY

Staying in the immediate vicinity of the Alhambra tends to be pricier than the city center. The latter is a good choice if you want to combine your Alhambra trip with visits to the vibrant commercial center with its excellent shops, restaurants, and magnificent cathedral. The Albayzín is also a good place to stay for sheer character: this historic Arab quarter still has a tangible Moorish feel with its pint-size plazas and winding pedestrian streets.

Fodor’s Choice | Carmen de la Alcubilla del Caracol.
B&B/INN | In a traditional Granadino villa on the slopes of the Alhambra, this privately run lodging is one of Granada’s most stylish hotels. The rooms are bright, airy, and furnished with antiques; most also have private verandas with views over the city and the Sierra Nevada. The terraced garden, with watering troughs fed by an irrigation system from the Alhambra, is a peaceful oasis. Try to book the room in the torre (tower) for the views. Pros: great views; personal service; impeccable taste. Cons: tough climb in hot weather; mediocre breakfast. | Rooms from: €140 | Calle Aire Alta 12, Alhambra | 958/215551 | www.alcubilladelcaracol.com | 7 rooms | Closed Aug. | No meals.

Fodor’s Choice | Casa Morisca.
B&B/INN | The architect who owns this 15th-century building transformed it into a hotel so distinctive that he received Spain’s National Restoration Award for his preservation of original architectural elements, including barrel-vaulted brickwork, wooden ceilings, and the original pool. Opened in 2012, Casa Morisca is named after the term that was given to the Muslims who stayed on in Granada after the city came under Catholic rule in the late-1400’s. Many of these “moriscos” were artisans who decorated houses using materials and designs traditional to their culture, such as arches and wooden ceilings. Though the guest rooms aren’t large, they have a heady Moorish feel as a result of their wonderful antiques and unique ceilings; some also have views of the Alhambra and Albayzín, and all have minibars and free Wi-Fi. (Even if you don’t stay in it, ask for a look at the bridal suite, with its intricately carved and painted wooden ceiling.) There’s no full restaurant on site (breakfast is available for a additonal €9), but they do offer 24-hour bar service; enjoy your drink in the patio garden, which boasts views of the Comares Tower. Pros: historic location; award-winning design; easy parking; free Wi-Fi. Cons: stuffy interior rooms; no full restaurant on site. | Rooms from: €127 | Cuesta de la Victoria 9, Albayzín | 958/221100 | www.hotelcasamorisca.com | 12 rooms, 2 suites | No meals.

Hospes Palacio de los Patos.
HOTEL | This beautifully restored palace is unmissable, sitting proudly on its own in the middle of one of Granada’s busiest shopping streets. While retaining its 19th-century classical architecture, the hotel also includes all the most up-to-date luxuries, including a highly praised restaurant and a luxurious spa. The rooms are spacious and have a minimalist vibe, with dazzling white walls and shiny parquet floors. Pros: central location; historic setting. Cons: expensive parking; indifferent service. | Rooms from: €250 | Calle Solarillo de Gracia 1, Centro | 958/535790 | www.hospes.es | 42 rooms | No meals.

Hotel Alhambra Palace.
HOTEL | Built by a local duke in 1910, this neo-Moorish hotel is on leafy grounds at the back of the Alhambra hill, and 2012 saw completion of the restoration of its very Arabian Nights interior (think orange-and-brown overtones, multicolor tiles, and Moorish-style arches and pillars). The rooms are large and warmly decorated, with mosaic-tiled bathrooms, and all have views—the ones overlooking the city are particularly majestic. The terrace also has wonderful views and is a perfect place to watch the sun set while enjoying a cocktail or dinner. Ask to see the Golden Book, signed by the hotel’s famous guests. Pros: bird’s-eye views; location near but not in the Alhambra. Cons: steep climb up from Granada; doubles as a popular convention center—there are five spacious meeting rooms—so often packed with business folk. | Rooms from: €210 | Pl. Arquitecto García de Paredes 1, Alhambra | 958/221468 | www.h-alhambrapalace.es | 115 rooms, 11 suites | Breakfast.

Hotel Carmen.
HOTEL | This hotel has a prized city-center location on a busy shopping street and rooms that are spacious with modern, minimalist interiors. Extensive renovations in all rooms took place in 2012. The rooftop terrace and pool (open summer only) have stunning views of the city. For entertainment there’s an English-style pub with live music nightly and good cocktails. Pros: downtown location; rooftop pool; website offers can reduce the cost dramatically. Cons: can be noisy; dark reception area. | Rooms from: €200 | Acera del Darro 62, Centro | 958/258300 | www.hotelcarmen.com | 222 rooms, 4 suites | No meals.

Hotel Párraga Siete.
HOTEL | This family-run hotel in the heart of the old quarter within easy walking distance of sights and restaurants offers excellent value and amenities superior to its two-star official rating. With minimalist style throughout, rooms and communal areas are comfortable and clean. Parking is available opposite the hotel. The adjoining Vitola restaurant serves excellent tapas and traditional local dishes. Pros: central quiet location; good service. Cons: difficult to access by car; interiors might be too sparse for some. | Rooms from: €120 | Calle Párraga 7, Centro | 958/264227 | www.hotelparragasiete.com | 20 rooms | No meals.

Las Almenas.
HOTEL | In the city center, within walking distance from the cathedral, this family-run hotel is an excellent value. Rooms are small but bright and tastefully furnished, and bathrooms offer all modern amenities. Pros: central location; very friendly staff. Cons: poor breakfast; could be too old-fashioned for some. | Rooms from: €65 | Acera del Darro 82, Centro | 958/260434 | www.hotelalmenas.com | 24 rooms | No meals.

Palacio de los Navas.
B&B/INN | In the center of the city, this palace was built by aristocrat Francisco Navas in the 16th century and it later became the Casa de Moneda (the Mint). Its original architectural features blend well with modern ones and guest rooms, set around a traditional columned inner patio, are decorated with understated elegance. Enjoy breakfast on the outside terrace on warm days. Pros: great location; peaceful oasis. Cons: can be noisy at night; breakfast uninspiring. | Rooms from: €137 | Calle Navas 1, Centro | 958/215760 | www.palaciodelosnavas.com | 19 rooms, 1 suite | Breakfast.

Palacio de Santa Inés.
HOTEL | It’s not often you get to stay in a 16th-century palace—and this one has a stunning location in the heart of the Albayzín. Each room is magnificently decorated with antiques and modern art; some have balconies with Alhambra views, and others retain their original carved wooden ceilings. Rooms on the two upper floors center around a courtyard with frescoes painted by a disciple of Raphael. Pros: perfect location for exploring the Albayzín; gorgeous interiors. Cons: can’t get there by car; some rooms rather dark. | Rooms from: €115 | Cuesta de Santa Inés 9, Albayzín | 958/222362 | www.palaciosantaines.es | 15 rooms, 20 suites | No meals.

Fodor’s Choice | Parador de Granada.
HOTEL | This is Spain’s most expensive and most popular parador, right within the walls of the Alhambra. It occupies the gorgeous building of a former Franciscan monastery, built in the 15th century by the Catholic Monarchs after they captured Granada. Try to get a room in the old section, which has views of the Generalife and beautiful antiques, woven curtains, and bedspreads. Rooms in the newer wing are also charming but more simply decorated. Gardens surround the building. Pros: good location; lovely interiors; garden restaurant. Cons: no views in some rooms; removed from city life. | Rooms from: €336 | Calle Real de la Alhambra, Alhambra | 958/221440 | www.parador.es | 35 rooms, 5 suites | No meals.

PERFORMING ARTS

FLAMENCO

Flamenco can be enjoyed throughout the city, especially in the Gypsy cuevas of the Albayzín and Sacromonte, where zambra shows—informal performances by Gypsies—take place almost daily year-round. The most popular cuevas are along the Camino de Sacromonte, the major street in the neighborhood of the same name. Be warned that this area has become very tourist oriented, and prepare to part with lots of money (€20–€25 is average) for any show. Some shows include the price of round-trip transportation to the venue from your hotel, usually cheaper than two taxi journeys. In July and August, an annual flamenco festival takes place in the delightful El Corral del Carbón square (www.losveranosdelcorral.es). A program of flamenco in the city is available on www.granadaesflamenco.com.

El Templo del Flamenco.
Slightly off the beaten track (take a taxi to get here) and less touristy because of it, this venue has shows, at 9 on Friday and Saturday. | Calle Parnaleros Alto 41, Albayzín | 958/963904.

La Rocío.
This is a good spot for authentic flamenco shows, staged nightly at 10 and 11. | C. del Sacromonte 70, Albayzín | 958/227129.

Los Tarantos cave.
The flamenco show here, every evening at 9:30 and 10:45, takes place among the spectators (there’s no stage), who can number up to 150. | C. del Sacromonte 9, Sacromonte | 958/224525 | www.cuevaslostarantos.com.

María La Canastera.
This is one of the cuevas on Camino de Sacromonte with zambra shows at 9:30 pm daily. | C. del Sacromonte 89, Sacromonte | 958/121183.

Sala Albaicín.
Various options are scheduled at the well-established Sala Albaicín, including shows (at 9:15 and 10:30 pm) and walks to the Mirador de San Nicolás combined with a subsequent show. | Mirador San Cristóbal, Ctra. Murcia, Albayzín | 958/804646 | www.flamencoalbayzin.com.

NIGHTLIFE

Granada’s ample student population makes for a lively bar scene. Some of the trendiest bars are in converted houses in the Albayzín and Sacromonte and in the area between Plaza Nueva and Paseo de los Tristes. Calle Elvira, Calderería Vieja, and Calderería Nueva are crowded with laid-back coffee and pastry shops. In the modern part of town, Pedro Antonio de Alarcón and Martinez de la Rosa have larger but less glamorous offerings. Another nighttime gathering place is the Campo del Príncipe, a large plaza surrounded by typical Andalusian taverns.

Dar Ziryab.
A selection of live music (flamenco, jazz, and African, among others) plays nightly in this typical tea shop in the Albayzín. | Calle Calderería Nueva 11, Albayzín | 958/229429.

El Eshavira.
At this dimly lighted club you can hear sultry jazz (Wednesday and Thursday) and flamenco (Sunday) at 10 pm. Admission includes a drink. | Calle Postigo de la Cuna 2, Albayzín | 958/290829.

Granada 10.
You’ll mingle with an upscale crowd at this discothèque in a former theater. | Calle Carcel Baja 10, Centro | 958/224001.

SHOPPING

A Moorish aesthetic pervades Granada’s ceramics, marquetry (especially the taraceas, wooden boxes with inlaid tiles on their lids), woven textiles, and silver-, brass-, and copper-ware. The main shopping streets, centering on the Puerta Real, are the Gran Vía de Colón, Reyes Católicos, Zacatín, Ángel Ganivet, and Recogidas. Most antiques shops are on Cuesta de Elvira and Alcaicería—off Reyes Católicos. Cuesta de Gomérez, on the way up to the Alhambra, also has several handicrafts shops and guitar workshops.

Capricho del Artesano.
Typical Granada ceramics—blue-and-green patterns on white, with a pomegranate in the center—are sold at this shop near the cathedral, and it doesn’t close at lunchtime. | Pl. Pescadería 4, Centro | 958/288192.

Espartería San José.
For wicker baskets and esparto-grass mats and rugs, head to this shop off the Plaza Pescadería. | Calle Jáudenes 22, Centro | 958/267415.

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Side Trips from Granada

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Santa Fe | Fuentevaqueros | The Sierra Nevada | The Alpujarras | Guadix

The fabled province of Granada spans the Sierra Nevada, with the beautifully rugged Alpujarras and the highest peaks on mainland Spain—Mulhacén at 11,407 feet and Veleta at 11,125 feet. This is where you can find some of the prettiest, most ancient villages, and it’s one of the foremost destinations for Andalusia’s increasingly popular rural tourism. Granada’s vega, covered with orchards, tobacco plantations, and poplar groves, stretches for miles around.

EN ROUTE: Twelve kilometers (8 miles) south of Granada on A44, the road reaches a spot known as the Suspiro del Moro (Moor’s Sigh). Pause here a moment and look back at the city, just as Granada’s departing “Boy King,” Boabdil, did 500 years ago. As he wept over the city he’d surrendered to the Catholic Monarchs, his scornful mother pronounced her now legendary rebuke: “You weep like a woman for the city you could not defend as a man.”

SANTA FE

8 km (5 miles) west of Granada, just south of N342.

Santa Fe (Holy Faith) was founded in winter 1491 as a campground for Ferdinand and Isabella’s 150,000 troops as they prepared for the siege of Granada. It was here, in April 1492, that Isabella and Columbus signed the agreements that financed his historic voyage, and thus the town has been called the Cradle of America. Santa Fe was originally laid out in the shape of a cross, with a gate at each of its four ends, inscribed with Ferdinand and Isabella’s initials. The town has long since transcended those boundaries, but the gates remain—to see them all at once, stand in the square next to the church at the center of the old town.

FUENTEVAQUEROS

19½ km (12 miles) northwest of Granada.

Museo Casa Natal Federico García Lorca.
Born in the village of Fuentevaqueros on June 5, 1898, the poet lived here until age six. His childhood home opened as a museum in 1986, when Spain commemorated the 50th anniversary of his assassination (he was shot without trial by Nationalists at the start of the civil war in August 1936) and celebrated his reinstatement as a national figure after 40 years of nonrecognition during the Francisco Franco regime. The house has been restored with original furnishings, and the former granary, barn, and stables have been converted into exhibition spaces, with temporary art shows and a permanent display of photographs, clippings, and other memorabilia. A two-minute video shows the only existing footage of Lorca. Visits are by guided tour only. | C. del Poeta García Lorca 4 | 958/516453 | www.patronatogarcialorca.org | €1.80 | Tours on the hr: July and Aug., Tues.–Sun 10–2; Apr.–June and Sept., Tues.–Sat. 10–1 and 5–6, Sun. 10–1; Oct.–Mar., Tues.–Sat. 10–1 and 4–5, Sun. 10–1.

THE SIERRA NEVADA

The drive southeast from Granada to Pradollano along the A395—Europe’s highest road, by way of Cenes de la Vega—takes about 45 minutes. It’s wise to carry snow chains from mid-November to as late as April or even May. The mountains here make for an easy and worthwhile excursion, especially for those keen on trekking.

EXPLORING

Mulhacén.
To the east of Granada, the mighty Mulhacén, the highest peak in mainland Spain, soars to 11,427 feet. Legend has it that it came by its name when Boabdil, the last Moorish king of Granada, deposed his father, Muly Abdul Hassan, and had the body buried at the summit of the mountain so that it couldn’t be desecrated. For more information on trails to the two summits, call the National Park Service office (958/763127 www.nevadensis.com) in Pampaneira.

Pico de Veleta.
Peninsular Spain’s second-highest mountain is 11,125 feet high. The view from its summit across Las Alpujarras to the sea at distant Motril is stunning, and on a very clear day you can see the coast of North Africa. When the snow melts (July and August) you can drive or take a minibus from the Albergue Universitario (Universitario mountain refuge) to within around 400 yards of the summit—a trail takes you to the top in around 45 minutes. TIP It’s cold up there, so take a warm jacket and scarf, even if Granada is sizzling hot.

SPORTS AND THE OUTDOORS

Skiing

FAMILY | Estación de Esquí Sierra Nevada.
Europe’s southernmost ski resort is one of its best equipped. At the Pradollano and Borreguiles stations, there’s good skiing December through April or May; each has a special snowboarding circuit, floodlighted night slopes, a children’s ski school, and après-ski sun and swimming in the Mediterranean less than an hour away. In winter, buses (Autocares Bonal | 958/465022) to Pradollano leave Granada’s bus station three times a day on weekdays and four times on weekends and holidays. Tickets are €9 round-trip. As for Borreguiles, you can get there only on skis. There’s an information center (902/708090 | www.cetursa.es) at Plaza de Andalucía 4.

THE ALPUJARRAS

Village of Lanjarón: 46 km (29 miles) south of Granada.

A trip to the Alpujarras, on the southern slopes of the Sierra Nevada, takes you to one of Andalusia’s highest, most remote, and most scenic areas, home for decades to painters, writers, and a considerable foreign population. The Alpujarras region was originally populated by Moors fleeing the Christian Reconquest (from Seville after its fall in 1248, then from Granada after 1492). It was also the final fiefdom of the unfortunate Boabdil, conceded to him by the Catholic Monarchs after he surrendered Granada. In 1568 rebellious Moors made their last stand against the Christian overlords, a revolt ruthlessly suppressed by Felipe II and followed by the forced conversion of all Moors to Christianity and their resettlement farther inland and up Spain’s eastern coast. The villages were then repopulated with Christian soldiers from Galicia, who were granted land in return for their service. To this day, the Galicians’ descendants continue the Moorish custom of weaving rugs and blankets in the traditional Alpujarran colors of red, green, black, and white, and they sell their crafts in many of the villages. Be on the lookout for handmade basketry and pottery as well.

Houses here are squat and square; they spill down the southern slopes of the Sierra Nevada, bearing a strong resemblance to the Berber homes in the Rif Mountains, just across the Mediterranean in Morocco. If you’re driving, the road as far as Lanjarón and Orgiva is smooth sailing; after that come steep, twisting mountain roads with few gas stations. Beyond sightseeing, the area is a haven for outdoor activities such as hiking and horseback riding. Inquire at the Information Point at Plaza de la Libertad, at Pampaneira.

EN ROUTE: Lanjarón and Nearby Villages.
The western entrance to the Alpujarras is some 46 km (29 miles) from Granada at Lanjarón. This spa town is famous for its mineral water, collected from the melting snows of the Sierra Nevada and drunk throughout Spain. Orgiva, the next and largest town in the Alpujarras, has a 17th-century castle. Here you can leave A348 and follow signs for the villages of the Alpujarras Altas (High Alpujarras), including Pampaneira, Capileira, and especially Trevélez, which lies on the slopes of the Mulhacén at 4,840 feet above sea level. Reward yourself with a plate of locally produced jamón serrano (cured ham). Trevélez has three levels, the Barrio Alto, Barrio Medio, and Barrio Bajo; the butchers are concentrated in the lowest section (Bajo). The higher levels have narrow cobblestone streets, whitewashed houses, and shops.

WHERE TO STAY

Fodor’s Choice | Alquería de Morayma.
HOTEL | Close to the banks of the Guadalfeo River, the buildings in this charming complex have been remodeled in the old alpujarreño style, including some rooms in an old chapel. The setting is quite lovely, surrounded by nearly 100 acres of organically cultivated vineyards and woodland with almond, fig, olive, and fruit trees. An old bodega and nearby farm supply the two dining rooms, one more formal and the other with an inviting fireplace. Both serve traditional Spanish food, with the emphasis on local dishes. The management can arrange walking and trekking activities. Pros: tranquil location; lots of activities. Cons: need a car to get around; could be too quiet for some. | Rooms from: €70 | Ctra. A348, Km 50 Cádiar | 958/343303 | www.alqueriamorayma.com | 13 rooms, 10 apartments | No meals.

Las Terrazas de las Alpujarras.
HOTEL | Located in the pretty whitewashed village of Bubión, on the way to Trevélez and a short walk from Pitres, this family-run hostal offers rooms and apartments with south-facing terraces that have panoramic views of the mountains (and Africa on a clear day). The interior is in Alpujarra style, with pine furniture and colorful soft furnishings. Blazing log fires keep the place warm on all but summer evenings. Owners can provide insider information on walks and visits in the area. Pros: amazing views; excellent value; good location for exploring. Cons: could be too basic for some. | Rooms from: €36 | Pl. del Sol 7 Bubión | 958/763034 | www.terrazasalpujarra.com | 17 rooms, 3 apartments | No meals.

FAMILY | Taray Botánico.
HOTEL | This hotel—a perfect base for exploring the Alpujarras, and with its own organic farm—occupies a low, typical Alpujarran building. The sunny quarters are decorated with Alpujarran handwoven bedspreads and curtains, and three rooms have rooftop terraces. There’s also a pleasant common terrace. Most of the food at the restaurant comes from the estate, including trout and lamb; in season, you can even pick your own raspberries or oranges for breakfast. It’s an exceedingly child-friendly place: the small farm has animals and a delightful turtle pond. Pros: fun for families; great organic food. Cons: somewhat isolated; livestock attract abundant flies. | Rooms from: €78 | Ctra. Tablate–Albuñol, Km 18 Órgiva | 958/784525 | www.hoteltaray.com | 15 bungalows | No meals.

GUADIX

47 km (30 miles) east of Granada on A92.

Today, Guadix—and the neighboring village of Purullena—is best known for its cave communities, though this was an important mining town as far back as 2,000 years ago and has its fair share of monuments, including a cathedral (built 1594–1706) and a 9th-century Moorish alcazaba (citadel). Around 2,000 caves were carved out of the soft-sandstone mountains, and most are still inhabited. Far from being troglodytic holes-in-the-wall, they are well furnished and comfortable, with a pleasant year-round temperature; a few serve as hotels. A small cave museum, Cueva Museo, is in Guadix’s cave district. Toward the town center, the Cueva la Alcazaba has a ceramics workshop. A number of private caves have signs welcoming you to inspect the premises, though a tip is expected if you do. Purullena, 6 km (4 miles) from Guadix, is also known for ceramics.

Andalusia

Main Table of Contents

Welcome to Andalusia

Seville

Around Seville

Huelva

Cádiz Province and Jerez de La Frontera

Córdoba

Side Trips from Córdoba

Jaén Province

Granada

Side Trips from Granada

Welcome to Andalusia

Previous Chapter | Next Chapter | Table of Contents

Top Reasons to Go | Getting Oriented | What’s Where | Planning | Eating and Drinking Well in Andalusia | Andalusia’s White Villages

Updated by Joanna Styles

Gypsies, flamenco, horses, bulls—Andalusia is the Spain of story and song, simultaneously the least and most surprising part of the country: least surprising because it lives up to the hype and stereotype that long confused all of Spain with the Andalusian version, and most surprising because it is, at the same time, so much more.

To begin with, five of the eight Andalusian provinces are maritime, with colorful fishing fleets and a wealth of seafood usually associated with the north. Second, there are snowcapped mountains and ski resorts in Andalusia, the kind of high sierra resources normally associated with the Alps, or even the Pyrenees, yet the Sierra Nevada, with Granada at the foothills, is within sight of North Africa. Third, there are wildlife-filled wetlands and highland pine and oak forests rich with game and trout streams, not to mention free-range Iberian pigs. And last, there are cities like Seville that somehow manage to combine all of this with the creativity and cosmopolitanism of London or Barcelona.

Andalusia—for 781 years (711–1492) a Moorish empire and named for Al-Andalus (Arabic for “Land of the West”)—is where the authentic history and character of the Iberian Peninsula and Spanish culture are most palpably, visibly, audibly, and aromatically apparent.

An exploration of Andalusia must begin with the cities of Seville, Córdoba, and Granada as the fundamental triangle of interest and identity. All the romantic images of Andalusia, and Spain in general, spring vividly to life in Seville: Spain’s fourth-largest city is a cliché of matadors, flamenco, tapas bars, Gypsies, geraniums, and strolling guitarists, but there’s so much more than these urban treasures. A more thorough Andalusian experience includes such unforgettable natural settings as Huelva’s Sierra de Aracena and Doñana wetlands, Jaén’s Parque Natural de Cazorla, Cádiz’s pueblos blancos, and Granada’s Alpujarras mountains.

TOP REASONS TO GO

Appreciate exquisite architecture: Granada’s Alhambra and Córdoba’s Mezquita are two of Spain’s—if not the world’s—most impressive sites.

Dance the flamenco: ”Olé” deep into the night at a heel-clicking flamenco performance in Jerez de la Frontera, the “cradle of flamenco.”

Admire priceless paintings: Bask in the golden age of Spanish art at Seville’s Museo de Bellas Artes.

Explore ancient glory: Cádiz, believed to be the oldest port in Europe, is resplendent with its sumptuous architecture and a magnificent cathedral.

Visit the white villages: Enjoy the simple beauty of a bygone age by exploring the gleamingpueblos blancos.

GETTING ORIENTED

Andalusia is infinitely varied and diverse within its apparent unity. Seville and Granada are like feuding sisters, one vivaciously flirting, the other darkly brooding; Córdoba and Cádiz are estranged cousins, one landlocked, the other virtually under sail; Huelva is a verdant Atlantic Arcadia; and Jaén is an upland country bumpkin—albeit one with Renaissance palaces—compared with the steamy cosmopolitan seaport of Málaga which, along with the southern Andalusian cities and towns of Marbella and Tarifa, is covered in the Costas chapter.

WHAT’S WHERE

Seville. Long Spain’s chief riverine port, the captivating city of Seville sits astride the Guadalquivir River, which launched Christopher Columbus to the New World and Ferdinand Magellan around the globe. South of the capital is fertile farmland; in the north are highland villages. Don’t miss stunning, mountaintop Ronda (an hour’s drive away), which has plenty of atmosphere and memorable sights.

Huelva. Famed as live oak–forested grazing grounds for the treasured cerdo ibérico (Iberian pig), Huelva’s Sierra de Aracena is a fresh and leafy mountain getaway on the border of Portugal. The province’s Doñana National Park is one of Spain’s greatest national treasures.

Cádiz Province and Jerez de la Frontera. Almost completely surrounded by water, the city of Cádiz is Western Europe’s oldest continually inhabited city, a dazzling bastion at the edge of the Atlantic. Jerez de la Frontera is known for its sherry, flamenco, and equestrian culture.

Córdoba. A center of world science and philosophy in the 9th and 10th centuries, Córdoba is a living monument to its past glory. Its prized building is the Mezquita (mosque). In the countryside, acorns and olives thrive.

Jaén. Andalusia’s northeasternmost province is a striking contrast of olive groves, pristine wilderness, and Renaissance towns with elegant palaces and churches.

Granada. Christian and Moorish cultures are dramatically counterposed in Granada, especially in the graceful enclave of the Alhambra.

PLANNING

WHEN TO GO

The best months to go to Andalusia are October and November and April and May. It’s blisteringly hot in the summer, so, if that’s your only chance to come, plan time in the Pedroches of northern Córdoba province, Granada’s Sierra Nevada and Alpujarras highlands, or the Sierra de Cazorla in Jaén to beat the heat. Autumn catches the cities going about their business, the temperatures are moderate, and you will rarely see a line form.

December through March tends to be cool, uncrowded, and quiet, but come spring, it’s fiesta time, with Seville’s Semana Santa (Holy Week, between Palm Sunday and Easter) the most moving and multitudinous. April showcases whitewashed Andalusia at its floral best, every patio and facade covered with flowers from bougainvillea to honeysuckle.

PLANNING YOUR TIME

A week in Andalusia should include visits to Córdoba, Seville, and Granada to see, respectively, the Mezquita, the cathedral and its Giralda minaret, and the Alhambra. Two days in each city nearly fills the week, though the extra day would be best spent in Seville, Andalusia’s most vibrant concentration of art, architecture, culture, and excitement.

Indeed, a week or more in Seville alone would be ideal, especially during the Semana Santa celebration, when the city becomes a giant street party. With more time on your hands, Cádiz, Jerez de la Frontera, and Sanlúcar de Barrameda form a three- or four-day jaunt through flamenco, sherry, Andalusian equestrian culture, and tapas emporiums.

A three-day trip through the Sierra de Aracena will introduce you to a lovely Atlantic upland, filled with Mediterranean black pigs deliciously fattened on acorns, while the Alpujarras, the mountain range east of Granada, is famed for its pueblos blancos. In this region you can find anywhere from three days to a week of hiking and trekking opportunities in some of the highest and wildest reaches in Spain. For nature enthusiasts, the highland Cazorla National Park and the wetland Doñana National Park are Andalusia’s highest and lowest outdoor treasures.

Festivals

Andalusia has some of Spain’s most important and most colorful festivals, and highlights include Carnival, on the days leading up to Ash Wednesday, and Semana Santa (Holy Week, between Palm Sunday and Easter). Both are big celebrations, especially in Cádiz, Córdoba, and Seville. Other events range from international music festivals to more localized celebrations, such as the early August horse races on the beaches of Sanlúcar de Barrameda and the mid-October olive harvest in Jaén.

Concurso Nacional de Flamenco (National Flamenco Competition).
Devotees of Spain’s unique style of music and dance flock to the city for this event, held every third year—the next is in 2016—in November.|Córdoba.

Cruces de Mayo (Festival of Crosses).
Celebrated throughout the Spanish-speaking world, this ancient festival is a highlight of Córdoba’s calendar of events, with lots of flower-decked crosses and other floral displays, processions, and music.|Córdoba.

Encuentro Flamenco.
Some of the country’s best performers are featured in this early-December event in Granada. | Granada.

Feria de Abril (April Fair).
Held two weeks after Easter, this secular celebration focuses on horses and bullfights.|Seville.

Ferio de Mayo.
The city’s foremost street party is held during the last week of May. | Córdoba.

Feria del Caballo (Horse Fair).
In early May, carriages and riders fill the streets of Jerez and purebreds from the School of Equestrian Art compete in races and dressage displays.|Jerez de la Frontera.

Festival de los Patios (Patio Festival).
This celebration is held during the second week of May, a fun time to be in the city, when owners throw open their flower-decked patios to visitors (and to judges, who nominate the best), and the city celebrates with food, drink, and flamenco.|Córdoba.

Festival Internacional de Jazz de Granada.
Established in 1980, this November festival attracts big names from the world of jazz. Oscar Peterson, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, and Herbie Hancock, among many others, have delighted fans. | Granada | www.jazzgranada.net.

Festival Internacional de Música y Danza de Granada.
With some events in the Alhambra itself, this international music and dance festival runs from mid-June to mid-July. Tickets go on sale in mid-April. | Granada | www.granadafestival.org.

Fiesta de Otoño (Autumn Festival).
In September, this festival in Jerez celebrates the grape harvest and includes a procession, the blessing of the harvest on the steps of the cathedral, and traditional-style grape treading.|Jerez de la Frontera.

International Guitar Festival.
During the first two weeks of July, an array of major international artists perform at this celebration of guitar music, including classical, jazz, rock, folk, and—of course—flamenco. In addition to a full schedule of concerts, there are exhibitions, workshops, and conferences. | Córdoba | www.guitarracordoba.org.

La Bienal de Flamencol.
Celebrating flamenco, this festival is held in Seville every two years, the next being in 2016. | Seville | www.labienal.com.

Romería del Rocío.
Early June in Huelva means this gypsy favorite—a pilgrimage on horseback and by carriage to the hermitage of La Virgen del Rocío (Our Lady of the Dew). | Huelva.

GETTING HERE AND AROUND

Air Travel

Andalusia’s regional airports can be reached via Spain’s domestic flights or from major European hubs. Málaga Airport is one of Spain’s major hubs and a good access point for exploring this part of Andalusia.

The region’s second-largest airport, after Málaga, is in Seville. The smaller Aeropuerto de Jerez is 7 km (4 miles) northeast of Jerez on the road to Seville. Buses run from the airport to Jerez and Cádiz. Flying into Granada’s airport is also a good option if you want to start your trip in Andalusia. It’s easy to get into Granada from the airport.

Bus Travel

The best way to get around Andalusia, if you’re not driving, is by bus. Buses serve most small towns and villages and are faster and more frequent than trains. ALSA is the major bus company; tickets can be booked online.

Bus Line
ALSA. | 902/422242 | www.alsa.es.

Car Travel

If you’re planning to explore beyond Seville, Granada, and Córdoba, a car makes travel convenient.

The main road from Madrid is the A4 through Córdoba to Seville, a four-lane autovía (highway). From Granada or Málaga, head for Antequera, then take A92 autovía by way of Osuna to Seville. Road trips from Seville to the Costa del Sol (by way of Ronda) are slow but scenic. Driving in western Andalusia is easy—the terrain is mostly flat land or slightly hilly, and the roads are straight and in good condition. From Seville to Jerez and Cádiz, the A4 toll road gets you to Cádiz in under an hour. The only way to access Doñana National Park by road is to take the A49 Seville–Huelva highway, exit for Almonte/Bollullos Par del Condado, then follow the signs for El Rocío and Matalascañas. The A49 west of Seville will also lead you to the freeway to Portugal and the Algarve. There are some beautiful scenic drives here, about which the respective tourist offices can advise you. The A369, heading southwest from Ronda to Gaucín, passes through stunning whitewashed villages.

With the exception of parts of the Alpujarras, most roads in this region are smooth, and touring by car is one of the most enjoyable ways to see the countryside. Local tourist offices can advise about scenic drives. One good route heads northwest from Seville on the A66 passing through stunning scenery; turn northeast on the A461 to Santa Olalla de Cala to the village of Zufre, dramatically set at the edge of a gorge. Backtrack and continue on to Aracena. Return via the Minas de Riotinto (signposted from Aracena), which will bring you back to the A66 heading east to Seville.

Rental contact
Autopro. | Málaga | 952/176545 | www.autopro.es.

Ferry Travel

From Cádiz, Trasmediterránea operates ferry services to the Canary Islands with stops at Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (39 hours) and connecting ferries on to La Palma (19 hours) and Santa Cruz de Tenerife (4 hours). There are no direct ferries from Seville.

Contact
Acciona Trasmediterránea. | Estación Marítima, | Cádiz | 902/454645 | www.trasmediterranea.es.

Taxi Travel

Taxis are plentiful throughout Andalusia and may be hailed on the street or from specified taxi stands. Fares are reasonable, and meters are strictly used; the minimum fare is about €4. You are not required to tip taxi drivers, although rounding off the amount is appreciated.

In Seville or Granada, expect to pay around €20–€25 for cab fare from the airport to the city center.

Train Travel

From Madrid, the best approach to Andalusia is via the high-speed AVE. In just 2½ hours, the spectacular ride winds through olive groves and rolling fields of Castile to Córdoba and on to Seville.

Seville, Córdoba, Jerez, and Cádiz all lie on the main rail line from Madrid to southern Spain. Trains leave Madrid for Seville (via Córdoba); two of the non-AVE trains continue to Jerez and Cádiz. Travel time from Seville to Cádiz is 1¾ hours. Trains also depart regularly for Barcelona (3 daily, 5½ hours), and Huelva (3 daily, 1½ hours). From Granada, Málaga, Ronda, and Algeciras, trains go to Seville via Bobadilla.

RESTAURANTS

Eating out is an intrinsic part of the Andalusian lifestyle. Whether it’s sharing some tapas with friends over a prelunch drink or a three-course à la carte meal, many Andalusians eat out at some point during the day. Unsurprisingly, there are literally thousands of bars and restaurants throughout the region catering to all budgets and tastes.

At lunchtime, check out the daily menus (menús del día) offered by many restaurants, usually three courses and excellent value (expect to pay between €8 and €15, depending on the type of restaurant and location). Roadside restaurants, known as ventas, usually provide good food in generous portions and at reasonable prices. Be aware that many restaurants add a service charge (cubierto), which can be as much as €3 per person, and some restaurant prices don’t include value-added tax (impuesto sobre el valor añadido/I.V.A.) at 10%.

Andalusians tend to eat later than their fellow Spaniards—lunch is between 2 and 4 pm, and dinner starts at 9 pm (10 pm in the summer). In cities, many restaurants are closed Sunday night (fish restaurants tend to close on Monday) and in inland towns and cities, some close for all of August. Restaurant prices are the average cost of a main course or equivalent combination of smaller dishes at dinner.

HOTELS

Seville has grand old hotels, such as the Alfonso XIII, and a number of former palaces converted into sumptuous hostelries.

The Parador de Granada, next to the Alhambra, is a magnificent way to enjoy Granada. Hotels on the Alhambra hill, especially the parador, must be reserved far in advance. Lodging establishments in Granada’s city center, around the Puerta Real and Acera del Darro, can be unbelievably noisy, so if you’re staying there, ask for a room toward the back. Though Granada has plenty of hotels, it can be difficult to find lodging during peak tourist season (Easter to late October).

In Córdoba, several pleasant hotels occupy houses in the old quarter, close to the mosque. Other than during Holy Week and the May Patio Festival, it’s easy to find a room in Córdoba, even without a reservation.

Not all hotel prices include value-added tax (I.V.A.) and the 10% tax may be added to your final bill. Check when you book. Hotel prices are the lowest cost of a standard double room in high season.

TOURS

Alúa.
For help with planning and getting the equipment for hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking, caving, and other active sports throughout Andalusia, this is a good place to start. | Calle Concejal Francisco Ruiz Librero Bormujos, Seville | 955/984182 | www.alua.es | From €15.

Cabalgar Rutas Alternativas.
This is an established Alpujarras equestrian agency that organizes horseback riding in the Sierra Nevada. | C. Ermita Bubión | 958/763135 | www.ridingandalucia.com | From €25.

Dallas Love.
Trail rides in the Alpujarras, lasting up to a week, can be organized through this company. The price includes airport transfers, overnight stays, and most meals. | Ctra. de la Sierra Bubión | 608/453802 | www.spain-horse-riding.com | From €550.

Excursiones Bujarkay.
Guided hikes, horseback riding, and four-wheel-drive tours in the Sierra de Cazorla are offered. They can also help with rural accommodations. | Calle Martínez Falero 28 Cazorla | 953/721111 | www.bujarkay.com | From €30.

Faro del Sur.
Activities such as trekking, cycling, sailing, and kayaking in western Andalusia are available, and tours include kayaking along the Guadalquivir River and sailing along the Huelva coastline. | Puerto Deportivo L-1 Isla Cristina, Huelva | 959/344490 | www.farodelsur.com | From €500.

Glovento Sur.
Up to five people at a time are taken in balloon trips above Granada, Ronda, Sevilla, Córdoba, or other parts of the region. | Placeta Nevot 4, 1A Granada | 958/290316 | www.gloventosur.com | From €150 per person.

Nevadensis.
Based in the Alpujarras, Nevadensis leads guided hiking, climbing, and skiing tours of the Sierra Nevada. | Pl. de la Libertad Pampaneira | 958/763127 | www.nevadensis.com | From €150.

SierraeXtreme.
Choose from a wide range of adventure sports such as walking, climbing, caving, and canyoning in the Andalusian mountains with this company. | 637/727365 | www.sierraextreme.net | From €15.

EATING AND DRINKING WELL IN ANDALUSIA

Andalusian cuisine, as diverse as the geography of seacoast, farmland, and mountains, is held together by its Moorish aromas. Cumin seed and other Arabian spices, along with sweet-salty combinations, are ubiquitous.

The eight Andalusian provinces cover a wide geographical and culinary spectrum. Superb seafood is at center stage in Cádiz, Puerto de Santa María, and Sanlúcar de Barrameda. Jamon ibérico de bellota (Iberian acorn-fed ham) and other Iberico pork products rule from the Sierra de Aracena in Huelva to the Pedroches Mountains north of Córdoba. In Seville look for products from the Guadalquivir estuary, the Sierra, and the rich Campiña farmland all prepared with great creativity. In Córdoba try salmorejo cordobés (a thick gazpacho), rabo de toro (oxtail stew), or representatives of the salty-sweet legacy from Córdoba’s Moorish heritage such as cordero con miel (lamb with honey). Spicy crema de almendras (almond soup) is a Granada favorite along with habas con jamón (broad beans with ham) from the Alpujarran village of Trevélez.

Sherry

Dry sherry from Jerez de la Frontera (fino) and from Sanlúcar de Barrameda (manzanilla), share honors as favorite tapas accompaniments. Manzanilla, the more popular choice, is fresher and more delicate, with a slight marine tang. Both are the preferred drinks at Andalusian ferias (fairs), particularly in Seville in April and Jerez de la Frontera in May.

Cold vegetable soups

Spain’s most popular contribution to world gastronomy after paella may well be gazpacho, a simple peasant soup served cold and filled with scraps and garden ingredients. Tomatoes, cucumber, garlic, oil, bread, and chopped peppers are the ingredients, and side plates of chopped onion, peppers, garlic, tomatoes, and croutons accompany, to be added to taste. Salmorejo cordobés, a thicker cold vegetable soup with the same ingredients but a different consistency, is used to accompany tapas.

Moorish flavors

Andalusia’s 781-year sojourn at the heart of Al-Andalus, the Moorish empire on the Iberian Peninsula, left as many tastes and aromas as mosques and fortresses. Cumin-laced boquerones en adobo (marinated anchovies) or the salty-sweet cordero a la miel (lamb with honey) are two examples, along with coriander-spiked espinacas con garbanzos (spinach with garbanzo beans) and perdiz con dátiles y almendras (partridge stewed with dates and almonds). Desserts especially reflect the Moorish legacy in morsels such as pestiños, cylinders or twists of fried dough in anise-honey syrup.

Fried fish

Andalusia is famous for its fried fish, from pescaito frito (fried whitebait) to calamares fritos (fried squid rings). Andalusians are masters of deep-frying techniques using very hot olive and vegetable oils that produce peerlessly crisp, dry frituras (fried seafood); much of Andalusia’s finest tapas repertory is known for being served up piping hot and crunchy. Look for tortilla de camarones, a delicate lacework of tiny fried shrimp.

Stews

Guisos are combinations of vegetables, with or without meat, cooked slowly over low heat. Rabo de toro is a favorite throughout Andalusia, though Córdoba claims the origin of this dark and delicious stew made from the tail of a fighting bull. The segments of tail are cleaned, browned, and set aside before leeks, onions, carrots, garlic, and bay leaves are stewed in the same pan. Cloves, salt, pepper, a liter of wine, and a half liter of beef broth are added to the stew with the meat, and they’re all simmered for two to three hours until the meat is falling off the bone and thoroughly tenderized. Alboronía, also known as pisto andaluz, is a traditional stew of eggplant, bell peppers, and zucchini, a recipe traced back to 9th-century Baghdad and brought to Córdoba by the Umayyad dynasty.

ANDALUSIA’S WHITE VILLAGES

Looking a bit like sugar cubes spilled onto a green tablecloth, Andalusia’s pueblos blancos (white villages) are usually found nestled on densely wooded hills, clinging to the edges of deep gorges, or perched precariously on hilltops.

The picturesque locations of the pueblos blancos usually have more to do with defense than anything else, and many have crumbling walls and fortifications that show their use as defensive structures along the frontier between the Christian and Moorish realms. In a few, the remains of magnificent Moorish castles can be spied. The suffix de la frontera, literally meaning “on the frontier,” tacked onto a town’s name relates to this historical border position. A visit to the white villages gives a glimpse into a simpler time when the economy was based on agriculture, architecture was built to withstand the climate, and life moved at more of a donkey-plod pace. Little wonder that many foreign residents have moved to these rural communities in a bid to discover a more tranquil life, far from the crowds and clamor of the coast.

Picasso’s Cubes

It’s been suggested that Picasso, who was born in Málaga, was inspired to create Cubism by the pueblos blancos of his youth. The story may be apocryphal, but it’s nonetheless easy to imagine—there is something wondrous and inspiring about Andalusia’s whitewashed villages, with their houses that seem to tumble down the mountain slopes like giant dice.

Vejer de la Frontera

This dazzling white town is perched high on a hill, perfectly positioned to protect its citizens from the threat of marauding pirates. Today it is one of the most charming pueblos blancos on the Cádiz coast, known for its meandering cobbled lanes, narrow arches, and large number of atmospheric bars and restaurants. More recently, Vejer has been popular with an artsy crowd that has brought contemporary art galleries, crafts shops, and low-key music venues.

Frigiliana

This impossibly pretty whitewashed village is 7 km (4½ miles) north of the well-known resort of Nerja. Despite the encroachment of modern apartment buildings, the old center has remained relatively unchanged. Pots of crimson geraniums decorate the narrow streets, while the bars proudly serve the local sweet wine. Frigiliana is a good place for seeking out ceramics made by the town’s craftspeople. Hikers can enjoy the 3-km (2-mile) hike from the old town to the hilltop El Fuerte, site of a 1569 skirmish between the Moors and the Christians.

Gaucín

The countryside surrounding Ronda is stunning, especially in the spring when the ground is carpeted with wildflowers, including exquisite purple orchids. Not surprisingly, the Serranía de Ronda (as this area is known) is famous for its superb walking. Gaucín is a lovely village crowned by a ruined Moorish castle. It is popular with artists who open their studios to the public each year (see www.artgaucin.com for dates). The town also has several excellent restaurants and a couple of sophisticated boutique hotels.

Pitres and La Taha

Granada’s Alpujarras Mountains are home to some of Andalusia’s most unspoiled white villages. Two of the best known are Bubión and Capileira, while Pitres and La Taha villages of Mecina, Mecinilla, Fondales, Ferreirola, and Atalbéitar are lovely hamlets separated by rough tracks that wind through orchards and woodland, set in a valley that attracts few visitors.

Grazalema

About a half hour from Ronda, Grazalema is the prettiest—and the whitest—of the white towns. It’s a lovely, small town, worth some time wandering, and well situated for a visit to the mountains of the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park.

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Seville

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Exploring | Where to Eat | Where to Stay | Performing Arts | Shopping

550 km (340 miles) southwest of Madrid.

Seville’s whitewashed houses bright with bougainvillea, ocher-color palaces, and baroque facades have long enchanted both sevillanos and travelers. It’s a city for the senses—the fragrance of orange blossom (orange trees line many streets) intoxicates the air in spring, the sound of flamenco echoes through the alleyways in Triana and Santa Cruz, and views of the great Guadalquivir River accompany you at every turn. This is also a fine city in its architecture and people—stroll down the swankier pedestrian shopping streets and you can’t fail to notice just how good-looking everyone is. Aside from being blessed with even features and flashing dark eyes, sevillanos exude a cool sophistication that seems more Catalan than Andalusian.

This bustling city of more than 700,000 does have some downsides: traffic-choked streets, high unemployment, a notorious petty-crime rate, and at times the kind of impersonal treatment you won’t find in the smaller cities of Granada and Córdoba.

The layout of the historic center of Seville makes exploring easy. The central zone—Centro—around the cathedral, the Alcázar, Calle Sierpes, and Plaza Nueva is splendid and monumental, but it’s not where you’ll find Seville’s greatest charm. El Arenal, home of the Maestranza bullring, the Teatro de la Maestranza concert hall, and a concentration of picturesque taverns, still buzzes the way it must have when stevedores loaded and unloaded ships from the New World. Just southeast of Centro, the medieval Jewish quarter, Barrio de Santa Cruz, is a lovely, whitewashed tangle of alleys. The Barrio de la Macarena to the northeast is rich in sights and authentic Seville atmosphere. The fifth and final neighborhood to explore, on the far side of the Guadalquivir River, is in many ways, the best of all—Triana, the traditional habitat for sailors, bullfighters, and flamenco artists, as well as the main workshop for Seville’s renowned ceramicists.

GETTING HERE AND AROUND

Air Travel

Seville’s airport is about 7 km (4½ miles) east of the city. There’s a bus from the airport to the center of town every half hour daily (5:20 am–1:15 am; €4 one way). Taxi fare from the airport to the city center is around €22 during the day, and €25 at night and on Sunday. A number of private companies operate private airport-shuttle services.

Bike Travel

As an almost completely flat city, Seville is perfect for bike travel, and there are several bike rental companies within the city, including Bici4City.

Bus Travel

Seville has two intercity bus stations: Estación Plaza de Armas, the main one, with buses serving Córdoba, Granada, Huelva, and Málaga in Andalusia, plus Madrid and Portugal, and other international destinations; and the smaller Estación del Prado de San Sebastián, serving Cádiz and nearby towns and villages.

Seville’s urban bus service is efficient and covers the greater city area. Buses C1, C2, C3, and C4 run circular routes linking the main transportation terminals with the city center. The C1 goes east in a clockwise direction from the Santa Justa train station via Avenida de Carlos V, Avenida de María Luisa, Triana, the Isla de la Cartuja, and Calle de Resolana. The C2 follows the same route in reverse. The C3 runs from the Avenida Menéndez Pelayo to the Puerta de Jerez, Triana, Plaza de Armas, and Calle de Recaredo. The C4 does that route counterclockwise. The tram (called Metro Centro) runs between the San Bernardo station and Plaza Nueva. Buses do not run within the Barrio de Santa Cruz because the streets are too narrow, though they amply serve convenient access points around the periphery of this popular tourist area.

City buses operate limited night service between midnight and 2 am, with no service between 2 and 4 am. Single rides cost €1.40, but if you’re going to be busing a lot, it’s more economical to buy a rechargeable multitravel pass, which ends up being €0.69 per ride. Special tourist passes (Tarjeta Turística) valid for one or three days of unlimited bus travel cost (respectively) €5 and €10. Tickets are sold at newsstands and at the main bus station, Prado de San Sebastián.

Car Travel

Getting in and out of Seville by car isn’t difficult, thanks to the SE30 ring road, but getting around in the city by car is problematic. We advise leaving your car at your hotel or in a lot while you’re here.

Train Travel

Train connections include the high-speed AVE service from Madrid, with a journey time of less than 2½ hours.

Tours

In Seville, the Asociación Provincial de Informadores Turísticos, Guidetour, and ITA can hook you up with a qualified English-speaking guide. The tourist office has information on various organized tours.

History and Tapas Tour.
Glean local, historical, and culinary knowledge on a variety of tours around sights and tapas bars. | sevilleconcierge.com | From €50.

Sevilla Bike Tour.
Guided tours, leaving from the Makinline Shop on Calle Arjona at 10:30 am, take in the major sights of the city and offer interesting stories and insider information along the way. You’ll cover about 10 km (6 miles) in the three hours. Reservations are required on weekends and recommended on weekdays. | Calle Arjona 8, Centro | 954/562625 | www.sevillabiketour.com | €25.

Sevilla Walking Tours.
A choice of three walking tours are conducted in English: the Walking Tour, leaving Plaza Nueva from the statue of San Fernando; the Alcázar Tour, leaving Plaza del Triunfo from the central statue; and the Cathedral Tour, also leaving from the Plaza del Triunfo central statue. | 902/158226, 616/501100 | www.sevillawalkingtours.com | €7–€15 | Walking Tour Mon.–Sat. 10:30 (Mon., Wed., and Sat. only in Jan. and Aug.); Alcázar Tour Tues., Thurs., and Sat. at 1; Cathedral Tour Mon., Wed., and Fri. at 1.

SevillaTour.
Open-top buses leave every half hour (every 20 mins in summer) from the Torre del Oro, with stops at Parque María Luisa and Isla Mágica theme park. You can hop on and off at any stop. The complete tour lasts about an hour. | C. Jaén 2 | www.city-sightseeing.com | €15.50.

Seville Tapas Tours.
Local food and wine expert Shawn Hennessey leads guided tours round Seville’s best tapas bars (traditional and gourmet). Choose from several different tours, lunch or evening. | www.azahar-sevilla.com | From €60.

Essentials

Bike Contacts
Bici4City. | Calle Peral 6 | 954/389383 | www.bici4city.com.

Bus Stations
Estación del Prado de San Sebastián. | Calle Vázquez Sagastizábal, El Arenal | 954/417118
Estación Plaza de Armas. | Puente Cristo de la Expiración, Centro | 955/038665 | www.autobusesplazadearmas.es.

Taxi Contact
Radio Taxi Giralda. | 954/998070.

Train Station
Estación Santa Justa. | Av. Kansas City, El Arenal | 902/320320.

Visitor Information 
Ciy & Province of Seville. | Pl. de Triunfo 1, by cathedral, Barrio de Santa Cruz | 954/210005 | www.turismosevilla.org.

Seville: North

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EXPLORING

CENTRO

Top Attractions

Fodor’s Choice | Alcázar.
The Plaza del Triunfo forms the entrance to the Mudejar palace, the official residence of the king and queen when they’re in town, built by Pedro I (1350–69) on the site of Seville’s former Moorish alcázar (fortress). Don’t mistake the Alcázar for a genuine Moorish palace like Granada’s Alhambra. It may look like one, and it was designed and built by Moorish workers brought in from Granada, but it was commissioned and paid for by a Christian king more than 100 years after the reconquest of Seville.

Entering the Alcázar through the Puerta del León (Lion’s Gate) and the high, fortified walls, you’ll first find yourself in a garden courtyard, the Patio del León (Courtyard of the Lion). Off to the left are the oldest parts of the building, the 14th-century Sala de Justicia (Hall of Justice) and, next to it, the intimate Patio del Yeso (Courtyard of Plaster), the only part of the original 12th-century Almohad Alcázar. Cross the Patio de la Montería (Courtyard of the Hunt) to Pedro’s Mudejar palace, arranged around the beautiful Patio de las Doncellas (Court of the Damsels), resplendent with delicately carved stucco. Opening off this patio, the Salón de Embajadores (Hall of the Ambassadors), with its cedar cupola of green, red, and gold, is the most sumptuous hall in the palace.

Other royal rooms include the three baths of Pedro’s powerful and influential mistress, María de Padilla. María’s hold on her royal lover—and his courtiers—was so great that legend says they all lined up to drink her bathwater. The Patio de las Muñecas (Court of the Dolls) takes its name from two tiny faces carved on the inside of one of its arches, no doubt as a joke on the part of its Moorish creators. Here Pedro reputedly had his half brother, Don Fadrique, slain in 1358; and here, too, he murdered guest Abu Said of Granada for his jewels—one of which, a huge ruby, is now among England’s crown jewels. (Pedro gave it to the Black Prince, Edward, Prince of Wales [1330–76], for helping during the revolt of his illegitimate brother in 1367.)

The Renaissance Palacio de Carlos V (Palace of Carlos V) is endowed with a rich collection of Flemish tapestries depicting Carlos’s victories at Tunis. Look for the map of Spain: it shows the Iberian Peninsula upside down, as was the custom in Arab mapmaking. There are more goodies—rare clocks, antique furniture, paintings, and tapestries—on the upper floor, in the Estancias Reales (Royal Chambers).

In the gardens, inhale the fragrances of jasmine and myrtle, wander among terraces and baths, and peer into the well-stocked goldfish pond. From here, a passageway leads to the Patio de las Banderas (Court of the Flags), which has a classic view of the Giralda.

Allow at least two hours for your visit. TIP Buy tickets online to avoid waiting in line. | Pl. del Triunfo, Santa Cruz | 954/502323 | www.alcazarsevilla.org | €9.50 (free Apr.–Sept., Mon. 6–7; Oct.–Mar., Mon. 5–6) Apr.–Sept., daily 9:30–7; Oct.–Mar., daily 9:30–5.

Fodor’s Choice | Cathedral.
Seville’s cathedral can be described only in superlatives: it’s the largest and highest cathedral in Spain, the largest Gothic building in the world, and the world’s third-largest church, after St. Peter’s in Rome and St. Paul’s in London. After Ferdinand III captured Seville from the Moors in 1248, the great mosque begun by Yusuf II in 1171 was reconsecrated to the Virgin Mary and used as a Christian cathedral. In 1401 the people of Seville decided to erect a new cathedral, one that would equal the glory of their great city. They pulled down the old mosque, leaving only its minaret and outer courtyard, and built the existing building in just over a century—a remarkable feat for the time.

The cathedral’s dimly illuminated interior, aside from the well-lighted high altar, can be disappointing: Gothic purity has been largely submerged in ornate baroque decoration. In the central nave rises the Capilla Mayor (Main Chapel). Its magnificent retablo (altarpiece) is the largest in Christendom (65 feet by 43 feet). It depicts some 36 scenes from the life of Christ, with pillars carved with more than 200 figures. Restoration of the altarpiece was completed in 2014.

On the south side of the cathedral is the monument to Christopher Columbus: his coffin is borne aloft by the four kings representing the medieval kingdoms of Spain: Castile, León, Aragón, and Navarra. Columbus’s son Fernando Colón (1488–1539) is also interred here; his tombstone is inscribed with the words “A Castilla y a León, mundo nuevo dio Colón” (“To Castile and León, Columbus gave a new world”).

On the opposite north side, don’t miss the Altar de Plata (Silver Altar), an 18th century masterpiece of intricate silversmithery.

In the Sacristía de los Cálices (Sacristy of the Chalices) look for Juan Martínez Montañés’s wood carving Crucifixion, Merciful Christ; Juan de Valdés Leal’s St. Peter Freed by an Angel; Francisco de Zurbarán’s Virgin and Child; and Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes’s St. Justa and St. Rufina. The Sacristía Mayor (Main Sacristy) holds the keys to the city, which Seville’s Moors and Jews presented to their conqueror, Ferdinand III. Finally, in the dome of the Sala Capitular (Chapter House), in the cathedral’s southeastern corner, is Bartolomé Estéban Murillo’s Immaculate Conception, painted in 1668.

One of the cathedral’s highlights, the Capilla Real (Royal Chapel), is concealed behind a ponderous curtain, but you can duck in if you’re quick, quiet, and properly dressed (no shorts or sleeveless tops): enter from the Puerta de los Palos, on Plaza Virgen de los Reyes (signposted “Entrada para Culto”—entrance for worship). Along the sides of the chapel are the tombs of the Beatrix of Swabia, wife of the 13th century’s Ferdinand III, and their son Alfonso X (“the Wise”); in a silver urn before the high altar rest the relics of Ferdinand III himself, Seville’s liberator. Canonized in 1671, he was said to have died from excessive fasting.

Don’t forget the Patio de los Naranjos (Courtyard of Orange Trees), on the church’s northern side, where the fountain in the center was used for ablutions before people entered the original mosque. Near the Puerta del Lagarto (Lizard’s Gate), in the corner near the Giralda, try to find the wooden crocodile—thought to have been a gift from the emir of Egypt in 1260 as he sought the hand of the daughter of Alfonso the Wise—and the elephant tusk, found in the ruins of Itálica.

The Christians could not bring themselves to destroy the tower when they tore down the mosque, so they incorporated it into their new cathedral. In 1565–68 they added a lantern and belfry to the old minaret and installed 24 bells, one for each of Seville’s 24 parishes and the 24 Christian knights who fought with Ferdinand III in the reconquest. They also added the bronze statue of Faith, which turned as a weather vane—el giraldillo, or “something that turns,” thus the whole tower became known as the Giralda. With its baroque additions, the slender Giralda rises 322 feet. Inside, instead of steps, 35 sloping ramps—wide enough for two horsemen to pass abreast—climb to a viewing platform 230 feet up. It is said that Ferdinand III rode his horse to the top to admire the city he had conquered. Admission also includes the visit to the Iglesia del Salvador. | Pl. Virgen de los Reyes, Centro | 954/214971 | €8 (free Mon. from 4:30 if you prebook) | Sept.–June, Mon. 11–3:30, Tues.–Sat. 11–5, Sun. 2:30–6; July and Aug., Mon. 9:30–2:30, Tues.–Sat. 9:30–4, Sun. 2:30–6.

Fodor’s Choice | Palacio de la Condesa de Lebrija.
This lovely palace has three ornate patios, including a spectacular courtyard graced by a Roman mosaic taken from the ruins in Itálica, surrounded by Moorish arches and fine azulejos. The side rooms house a collection of archaeological items. The second floor contains the family apartments and visits are by guided tour only. TIP It’s well worth paying the extra for the second floor tour, which gives an interesting insight into the collections and the family. | Calle Cuna 8, Centro | 954/227802 | €5 1st fl. only; €8 with 2nd-fl. tour (free Mon. 6–7) | Weekdays 10:30–7:30, Sat. 10–2 and 4–6, Sun. 10–2.

Worth Noting

Ayuntamiento (City Hall).
This Diego de Riaño original, built between 1527 and 1564, is in the heart of Seville’s commercial center. A 19th-century plateresque facade overlooks the Plaza Nueva. The other side, on the Plaza de San Francisco, is Riaño’s work. Visits must be pre-booked via|www.visitasevilla.es. | Pl. Nueva 1, Centro | 954/470243 | €4 (free Sat.) | Tours Sept.–June, Mon.–Thurs. at 4:30 and 7:30, Sat. at 10.

Iglesia del Salvador.
Built between 1671 and 1712, the Church of the Savior stands on the site of Seville’s first great mosque, of which remains can be seen in its Courtyard of the Orange Trees. Also of note are the sculptures Jesús de la Pasión and St. Christopher by Martínez Montañés. In 2003 archeologists discovered an 18th-century burial site here; walkways have been installed to facilitate visits. | Pl. del Salvador, Centro | 954/211679 | €3 with guide, €8 combined ticket with Cathedral | Mon.–Sat. 11–5:30, Sun. 3–7.

Metropol Parasol.
This huge square, at the west end of Calle Cuna, is home to the world’s largest wooden structure, 492 feet long by 230 feet wide. The design represents giant trees, reminiscent of Gaudí, and walkways run through the “tree tops” affording great views of the city, especially at sunset. At ground level, there are interesting archaeological remains (mostly Roman) and a large indoor food market. | Pl. de la Encarnación, Centro | €3 | 10:30 am–midnight (until 1 am Fri. and Sat.).

Seville: South

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BARRIO DE SANTA CRUZ

Top Attractions

Fodor’s Choice | Casa de Pilatos.
With its fine patio and superb azulejo decorations, this palace is a beautiful blend of Spanish Mudejar and Renaissance architecture, and is considered a prototype of an Andalusian mansion. It was built in the first half of the 16th century by the dukes of Tarifa, ancestors of the present owner, the Duke of Medinaceli. It’s known as Pilate’s House because Don Fadrique, first marquis of Tarifa, allegedly modeled it on Pontius Pilate’s house in Jerusalem, where he had gone on a pilgrimage in 1518. The upstairs apartments, which you can see on a guided tour, have frescoes, paintings, and antique furniture. Admission prices include an audio guide in English. | Pl. de Pilatos 1, Barrio de Santa Cruz | 954/225298 | €6 1st fl. only, €8 with 2nd-fl. tour Daily 9–6 (until 7 Apr.–Oct.).

Fodor’s Choice | Jewish Quarter.
The twisting alleyways and traditional whitewashed houses add to the tourist charm of this barrio. On some streets, bars alternate with antiques and souvenir shops, but most of the quarter is quiet and residential. On the Plaza Alianza, pause to enjoy the antiques shops and outdoor cafés. In the Plaza de Doña Elvira, with its fountain and azulejo benches, young sevillanos gather to play guitars. Just around the corner from the hospital, at Callejón del Agua and Jope de Rueda, Gioacchino Rossini’s Figaro serenaded Rosina on her Plaza Alfaro balcony. Adjoining the Plaza Alfaro, in the Plaza Santa Cruz, flowers and orange trees surround a 17th-century filigree iron cross, which marks the site of the erstwhile church of Santa Cruz, destroyed by Napoléon’s General Jean-de-Dieu Soult. | Barrio de Santa Cruz.

Fodor’s Choice | Museo del Baile Flamenco.
This private museum in the heart of Santa Cruz (follow the signs) was opened in 2007 by the legendary flamenco dancer Cristina Hoyos and includes audiovisual and multimedia displays explaining the history, culture, and soul of Spanish flamenco. There are also regular classes and shows. | Calle Manuel Rojas Marcos 3, Barrio de Santa Cruz | 954/340311 | www.museoflamenco.com | €10 | Daily 10–7.

Worth Noting

Archivo General de Indias (Archives of the Indies).
Opened in 1785 in the former Lonja (Merchants’ Exchange), this dignified Renaissance building stores a valuable archive of more than 40,000 documents, including drawings, trade documents, plans of South American towns, and even the autographs of Columbus, Magellan, and Cortés. Temporary exhibitions showcase different archives. | Av. de la Constitución 3, Barrio de Santa Cruz | 954/500528 | Free | Mon.–Sat. 9:30–4:45, Sun. 10–2.

Hospital de los Venerables.
Once a retirement home for priests, this baroque building has a splendid azulejo patio with an interesting sunken fountain (designed to cope with low water pressure) and an upstairs gallery, but the highlight is the chapel, featuring frescoes by Valdés Leal and sculptures by Pedro Roldán. The building now houses a cultural foundation that organizes on-site art exhibitions. | Pl. de los Venerables 8, Barrio de Santa Cruz | 954/562696 | €5.50, includes audio guide (free Sun. 4–8) | Daily 10–1:30 and 4–8.

Jardines de Murillo (Murillo Gardens).
From the Plaza Santa Cruz you can stroll through these shady gardens, where you’ll find a statue of Christopher Columbus and some welcome shade in the summer. | Pl. Santa Cruz, Barrio de Santa Cruz.

Plaza de los Refinadores.
This shady square filled with palms and orange trees is separated from the Murillo Gardens by an iron grillwork and ringed with stately glass balconies. At its center is a monument to Don Juan Tenorio, the famous Don Juan known for his amorous conquests. | Barrio de Santa Cruz.

EL ARENAL AND PARQUE MARÍA LUISA

Parque María Luisa is part shady, midcity forestland and part monumental esplanade. El Arenal, named for its sandy riverbank soil, was originally a neighborhood of shipbuilders, stevedores, and warehouses. The heart of El Arenal lies between the Puente de San Telmo, just upstream from the Torre de Oro, and the Puente de Isabel II (Puente de Triana). El Arenal extends as far north as Avenida Alfonso XII to include the Museo de Bellas Artes. Between the park and El Arenal is the university.

Top Attractions

Fodor’s Choice | Museo de Bellas Artes (Museum of Fine Arts).
This museum—one of Spain’s finest for Spanish art—is in the former convent of La Merced Calzada, most of which dates from the 17th century. The collection includes works by Murillo and the 17th-century Seville school, as well as by Zurbarán, Diego Velázquez, Alonso Cano, Valdés Leal, and El Greco. You will also see outstanding examples of Sevillian Gothic art and baroque religious sculptures in wood (a quintessentially Andalusian art form). In the rooms dedicated to Sevillian art of the 19th and 20th centuries, look for Gonzalo Bilbao’s Las Cigarreras, a group portrait of Seville’s famous cigar makers. | Pl. del Museo 9, El Arenal | 954/786491 | www.museosdeandalucia.es | €1.50 | Sept. 16–May 31, Tues.–Sat. 10–8:30, Sun. 10–5:30; June 1–Sept. 15 Tues.–Sat. 9:15–3:30, Sun. 10–5.

Fodor’s Choice | Parque de María Luisa.
Formerly the garden of the Palacio de San Telmo, this park blends formal design and wild vegetation. In the burst of development that gripped Seville in the 1920s, it was redesigned for the 1929 World’s Fair, and the impressive villas you see now are the fair’s remaining pavilions, many of them consulates or schools; the old Casino holds the Teatro Lope de Vega, which puts on mainly musicals. Note the Anna Huntington statue of El Cid (Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, 1043–99), who fought both for and against the Muslim rulers during the Reconquest. The statue was presented to Seville by the Massachusetts-born sculptor for the 1929 World’s Fair. | Main entrance: Glorieta San Diego, Parque Maria Luisa.

FAMILY | Plaza de España.
This grandiose half-moon of buildings on the eastern edge of the Parque de María Luisa was Spain’s centerpiece pavilion at the 1929 World’s Fair. The brightly colored azulejo pictures represent the provinces of Spain, while the four bridges symbolize the medieval kingdoms of the Iberian Peninsula. In summer you can rent small boats to row along the arc-shaped canal. | Parque Maria Luisa.

Plaza de Toros Real Maestranza (Royal Maestranza Bullring).
Sevillanos have spent many a thrilling evening in this bullring, one of the oldest and loveliest plazas de toros in Spain, built between 1760 and 1763. The 20-minute tour (in English) takes in the empty arena, a museum with elaborate costumes and prints, and the chapel where matadors pray before the fight. Bullfights take place in the evening Thursday through Sunday, April through July and in September. Tickets can be booked online or by phone. | Paseo de Colón 12, El Arenal | 954/210315 for visits, 954/501382 for bullfights | www.realmaestranza.es | Tours €7 (free Mon. 3–7) | Tours daily 9:30–7; on bullfight days call to check.

Worth Noting

Hospital de la Caridad.
Behind the Maestranza Theater is this almshouse for the sick and elderly, where six paintings by Murillo (1617–82) and two gruesome works by Valdés Leal (1622–90), depicting the Triumph of Death, are displayed. The baroque hospital was founded in 1674 by Seville’s original Don Juan, Miguel de Mañara (1626–79). A nobleman of licentious character, Mañara was returning one night from a riotous orgy when he had a vision of a funeral procession in which the partly decomposed corpse in the coffin was his own. Accepting the apparition as a sign from God, Mañara devoted his fortune to building this hospital and is buried before the high altar in the chapel. Admission includes an audio guide (available in English). | Calle Temprado 3, El Arenal | 954/223232 | €5 | Mon.–Sat. 9:30–1 and 3:30–7, Sun. 9–12:30.

Hotel Alfonso XIII.
Seville’s most emblematic hotel, this grand, Mudejar-style building next to the university was built and named for the king when he visited for the 1929 World’s Fair. Extensive renovations were completed in 2012. Even if you are not staying here you can admire the gracious Moorish-style courtyard, best appreciated while sipping an ice-cold fino from the adjacent bar. | Calle San Fernando 2, El Arenal | 954/917000 | www.hotel-alfonsoxiii.es.

Museo Arqueológico (Museum of Archaeology).
This fine Renaissance-style building has artifacts from Phoenician, Tartessian, Greek, Carthaginian, Iberian, Roman, and medieval times. Displays include marble statues and mosaics from the Roman excavations at Itálica and a faithful replica of the fabulous Carambolo treasure found on a hillside outside Seville in 1958: 21 pieces of jewelry, all 24-karat gold, dating from the 7th and 6th centuries BC. | Pl. de América, El Arenal | 954/120632 | €1.50 | Sept. 16–May 31, Tues.–Sat. 10–8:30, Sun. 10–5; June 1–Sept. 15, Tues.–Sat. 9–3:30, Sun. 10–5.

FAMILY | Museo de Artes y Costumbres Populares (Museum of Arts and Traditions).
Among the fascinating items of mainly 19th- and 20th-century Spanish folklore in this museum, in the Mudejar pavilion opposite the Museum of Archaeology, is an impressive Díaz Velázquez collection of lace and embroidery—one of the finest in Europe. There’s a reconstruction of a typical late-19th-century Sevillian house on the first floor, while upstairs, exhibits include 18th- and 19th-century court dress, stunning regional folk costumes, religious objects, and musical instruments. In the basement, you can see ceramics, pottery, furniture, and household items from bygone ages. | Pl. de América 3, El Arenal | 954/712391 | www.museosdeandalucia.es | €1.50 | Sept. 16–June 15, Tues.–Sat. 10–8:30, Sun. 10–5; June 16–Sept. 15, Tues.–Sun 10–5.

Don Juan: Lover of Legends

Originally brought to literary life by the Spanish Golden Age playwright Fray Gabriel Téllez (better known as Tirso de Molina) in 1630, the figure of Don Juan has been portrayed in countless variations through the years, usually changing to reflect the moral climate of the times. As interpreted by such notables as Molière, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Carlo Goldoni, George Gordon (Lord Byron), and George Bernard Shaw, Don Juan has ranged from voluptuous hedonist to helpless victim, from fiery lover to coldhearted snake.

The plaques around his effigy in Plaza de los Refinadores translate as: “Here is Don Juan Tenorio, and no man is his equal. From haughty princess to a humble fisherwoman, there is no female he doesn’t desire, nor affair of gold or riches he will not pursue. Seek him ye rivals; surround him players all; may whoever values himself attempt to stop him or be his better at gambling, combat, or love.”

FAMILY | Plaza de América.
Walk to the south end of the Parque de María Luisa, past the Isla de los Patos (Island of Ducks), to find this plaza designed by Aníbal González and typically carpeted with a congregation of white doves (children can buy grain from a kiosk here to feed them). It’s a blaze of color, with flowers, shrubs, ornamental stairways, and fountains tiled in yellow, blue, and ocher. The three impressive buildings surrounding the square—in neo-Mudejar, Gothic, and Renaissance styles—were built by González for the 1929 World’s Fair. Two of them now house Seville’s museums of archaeology and arts and traditions. | Parque Maria Luisa.

Torre del Oro (Tower of Gold).
Built by the Moors in 1220 to complete the city’s ramparts, this 12-sided tower on the banks of the Guadalquivir served to close off the harbor when a chain was stretched across the river from its base to a tower on the opposite bank. In 1248, Admiral Ramón de Bonifaz broke through the barrier, and Ferdinand III captured Seville. The tower houses a small naval museum. | Paseo Alcalde Marqués de Contadero s/n, El Arenal | 954/222419 | €3 (free Mon.) | Weekdays 9:30–6:45, weekends 10:30–6:45.

University of Seville.
Fans of Bizet’s opera Carmen will want to come here, to see where the famous heroine reputedly rolled cigars on her thighs. At the far end of the Jardines de Murillo, opposite Calle San Fernando, stands what used to be the Real Fábrica de Tabacos (Royal Tobacco Factory). Built in the mid-1700s, the factory employed some 3,000 cigarreras (female cigar makers) less than a century later. Free, guided tours in English are available Monday to Thursday at 11. | Calle San Fernando 4, Parque Maria Luisa | 954/551052 | Free | Weekdays 9 am–9:30 pm.

BARRIO DE LA MACARENA

This immense neighborhood covers the entire northern half of historic Seville and deserves to be walked many times. Most of the best churches, convents, markets, and squares are concentrated around the center in an area delimited by the Arab ramparts to the north, the Alameda de Hercules to the west, the Santa Catalina church to the south, and the Convento de Santa Paula to the east. The area between the Alameda de Hercules and the Guadalquivir is known to locals as the Barrio de San Lorenzo, a section that’s ideal for an evening of tapas grazing.

Basílica de la Macarena.
This church holds Seville’s most revered image, the Virgin of Hope—better known as La Macarena. Bedecked with candles and carnations, her cheeks streaming with glass tears, the Macarena steals the show at the procession on Holy Thursday, the highlight of Seville’s Holy Week pageant. The patron of gypsies and the protector of the matador, her charms are so great that young Sevillian bullfighter Joselito spent half his personal fortune buying her emeralds. When he was killed in the ring in 1920, the Macarena was dressed in widow’s weeds for a month. The adjacent museum tells the history of Holy Week traditions through processional and liturgical artifacts amassed by the Brotherhood of La Macarena over four centuries. | Calle Bécquer 1, La Macarena | 954/901800 | Basilica free, museum €5 | Daily 9–2 and 5–9.

Seville’s Long and Noble History

Conquered in 205 BC by the Romans, Seville gave the world two great emperors, Trajan and Hadrian. The Moors held Seville for more than 500 years and left it one of their greatest works of architecture—the iconic Giralda tower that served as the minaret over the main city mosque. St. Ferdinand III (King Fernando III) lies enshrined in the glorious cathedral, and his rather less saintly descendant, Pedro the Cruel, builder of the Alcázar, is buried here as well.

Seville is justly proud of its literary and artistic associations. The painters Diego Rodríguez de Silva Velázquez (1599–1660) and Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617–82) were sons of Seville, as were the poets Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer (1836–70), Antonio Machado (1875–1939), and Nobel Prize–winner Vicente Aleixandre (1898–1984). The tale of the ingenious knight of La Mancha was begun in a Seville debtors’ prison, where Don Quixote’s creator, Miguel de Cervantes, once languished. Tirso de Molina’s Don Juan seduced his lovers in Seville’s mansions; Rossini’s barber, Figaro, was married in the Barrio de Santa Cruz; and Bizet’s sultry Carmen first met Don José in the former tobacco factory that now houses the university.

Fodor’s Choice | Convento de Santa Paula.
This 15th-century Gothic convent has a fine facade and portico, with ceramic decoration by Nicolaso Pisano. The chapel has some beautiful azulejos and sculptures by Martínez Montañés. It also contains a small museum and a shop selling delicious cakes and jams made by the nuns. | Calle Santa Paula 11, La Macarena | 954/536330 | €3 | Tues.–Sun. 10–1.

San Lorenzo y Jesús del Gran Poder.
This 17th-century church has many fine works by such artists as Martínez Montañés and Francisco Pacheco, but its outstanding piece is Juan de Mesa y Velasco’s Jesús del Gran Poder (Christ Omnipotent). | Pl. San Lorenzo 13, La Macarena | 954/915672 | Free | Sept. 16–June 19, Mon.–Thurs. 9–1:30 and 6–9, Fri. 7:30 am–10 pm, weekends 8–1:30 and 6–9; June 20–Sept. 15, Mon.–Thurs. 8–1:30 and 6–9, Fri. 7:30–2 and 5–10, weekends 8–2 and 6–9.

TRIANA

Triana used to be Seville’s Gypsy quarter. Today, it has a tranquil, neighborly feel by day and a distinctly flamenco feel at night. Cross over to Triana via the Puente de Isabel II, an iron bridge built in 1852 and the first to connect the city’s two sections. Start your walk in the Plaza del Altozano, the center of the Triana district and traditionally the meeting point for travelers from the south crossing the river to Seville. Admire the facade of the Murillo pharmacy here before walking up Calle Jacinto. Look out for the fine Casa de los Mensaque (now the district’s administrative office and usually open on weekday mornings), home to some of Triana’s finest potters and housing some stunning examples of Seville ceramics. Turn right into Calle Alfarería (Pottery Street) and visit some of the ceramic shops. Return via Calle Betis along the riverside. To reach attractions in La Cartuja, take the C1 bus.

Capilla de los Marineros.
This seamen’s chapel is one of Triana’s most important monuments and home to the Brotherhood of Triana, whose Holy Week processions are among the most revered in the city. | Calle Pureza 2,Triana | 954/332645 | Free | Mon.–Sat. 10–1:30 and 5:30–9, Sun. 10–2 and 5:30–8:30.

Isla de La Cartuja.
Named after its 14th-century Carthusian monastery, this island in the Guadalquivir River across from northern Seville was the site of the decennial Universal Exposition (Expo) in 1992. The island has the Teatro Central, used for concerts and plays; Parque del Alamillo, Seville’s largest, least known park; and the Estadio Olímpico, a 60,000-seat covered stadium. The best way to get to La Cartuja is by walking across one or both (one each way) of the superb Santiago Calatrava bridges spanning the river. The Puente de la Barqueta crosses to La Cartuja, and downstream the Puente del Alamillo connects the island with Seville. Buses C1 and C2 also serve La Cartuja. | Triana.

Monasterio de Santa María de las Cuevas (Monasterio de La Cartuja).
The 14th-century monastery was regularly visited by Christopher Columbus, who was also buried here for a few years. Part of the building houses the Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo, which has an absorbing collection of contemporary art. | Av. Américo Vespucio, La Cartuja | 955/037070 | €3 (free Tues.–Fri. 7–9) | Tues.–Sat. 11–9, Sun. 11–3.

Isla Mágica.
The eastern shore of Isla de la Cartuja holds this theme park with more than 20 attractions, including the hair-raising Jaguar roller coaster. | Isla de la Cartuja, Av. de los Descubrimiento, s/n,Triana | 902/161716 | www.islamagica.es | €30 | Apr.–June, weekends 11–10; July–Sept. 7, daily 11–11; Sept. 7–Nov. 2, weekends 11–9.

WHERE TO EAT

CENTRO

Casa Morales.
TAPAS | Down a side street off the Avenida de la Constitución, this atmospheric bar takes you back to 19th-century Seville with its wooden shelving stacked with wine bottles, beamed ceiling, and tiled walls. It was established in 1850 as a wine store and is still run by the same family. There are two bar areas—the largest fronts the store and looks out onto the street, and the other is home to huge ceramic wine barrels. Locals pack the place at lunchtime, when popular dishes include menudo con garbanzos (tripe with chickpeas) and albóndigas de choco (cuttlefish croquettes). The wine list is, as you would expect, extensive. | Average main: €8 | Calle García de Vinuesa 11, Centro | 954/221242 | Closed Sun. July–Sept. 15. No dinner Sun. Sept. 16–June|.

Fodor’s Choice | Espacio Eslava.
TAPAS | The crowds gathered outside this local favorite off the Alameda de Hercules may be off-putting at first, but the creative, inexpensive tapas (from €2.50) are well worth the wait. Try delicacies like the cigarro para Bécquer (seaweed mousse with squid and cuttlefish, and garlic sauce) or solomillo al eneldo or con cabrales (sirloin with dill or Cabrales cheese) or huevo sobre bizcocho boletus y vino dulce caramelizado (egg on mushroom pie with caramelized sweet wine). The house specialty, however, is the Basque dessert sokoa, so be sure to leave some room. Tables at the tapas bar can’t be booked (a call will get you a reservation at the next-door Eslava restaurant), so arrive early to avoid a wait. | Average main: €10 | Calle Eslava 3, Centro | 954/906568 | Reservations not accepted | Closed Mon. No dinner Sun. |

La Azotea.
SPANISH | With a young vibe and a vast and inventive menu, this tiny restaurant offers a welcome change from Seville’s typical fried fare. The owners’ haute-cuisine ambitions are reflected in excellent service and lovingly prepared food, but not in the prices. The menu changes according to the season, but typical dishes include salmon tartare, baby squid with cream of goat’s cheese and orange, and Iberian pork in red wine au gratin. Reservations are available for weekday lunches only; at any other time, put your name on the waiting list and pop round to the Azotea bar just round the corner for a drink and generous tapa (€4) while you wait. | Average main: €14 | Calle Jesus del Gran Poder 31, Centro | 955/116748 | Closed Sun., Mon., and 2 wks in Aug. (phone to check) |.

La Pepona.
TAPAS | Establishing itself as a serious contender on the Seville tapas scene, this bar, opposite Calle Cuna and just around the corner from Metropol Parasol, has a sleek modern interior that’s welcoming and cozy. Tapas focus on innovative recipes, all made with fresh, locally produced ingredients. Highlights on the 20-tapa menu include sardinas marinadas sobre pan de sésamo (marinated sardines on sesame bread) and gambones a la plancha sobre trigo negro (grilled king prawns on black buckwheat). Wash your tapas (€3–€5) down with wine from the lengthy list, all available by the glass. | Average main: €12 | Calle Orfila 2, Centro | 954/215026 | Closed Sun. |

BARRIO DE SANTA CRUZ

Fodor’s Choice | Becerrita.
SPANISH | The affable Jesús Becerra runs this cozy establishment, where several small dining rooms are decorated with traditional columns, tiles, and colorful paintings of Seville by local artists. Diligent service and tasty modern treatments of such classic Spanish dishes as bacalao gratinado con Idiazábal sobre una salsa de piquillos (Basque-cheese grilled cod with pepper sauce) and brazuelo de cordero lechal asado al tomillo (roast suckling lamb with thyme) have won the favor of sevillanos, as have the signature oxtail croquettes. Smaller appetites can try such tasty tapas as stuffed calamari and garlic-spiked prawns. The restaurant has parking for customers. | Average main: €22 | Calle Recaredo 9, Santa Cruz | 954/412057 | www.becerrita.com | Reservations essential | No dinner Sun. |

Oriza.
SPANISH | Basque chef Eneko Galarraga took over from José Mari Egaña in early 2014 and has maintained the high culinary standards. On the edge of the Murillo Gardens opposite the university, Oriza has an atrium-style dining room with high ceilings and wall-to-wall stained-glass windows. In warm weather, you can eat on the terrace under the orange trees. The menu emphasizes the chef’s Basque origins and includes merluza en salsa verde con ajetes tiernos (cod in green sauce with tender garlic shoots) and solomillo de ternera con foie a la plancha (grilled filet steak with foie gras). The adjoining Bar España serves tapas (€3.50), including mushroom tart and mustard pork chop. Private dining rooms are also available. | Average main: €30 | Calle San Fernando 41, Santa Cruz | 954/227211 | Closed Sun. |

San Marco.
ITALIAN | In the heart of Santa Cruz is one of Seville’s surprises—an Italian restaurant in a 12th-century Arab bath house where original features blend with modern design. At this venue, you might be dining under authentic bath vaults studded with star shapes or sitting surrounded by starkly modern oil paintings in the area where bathers once received massages. Fountains provide a soothing backdrop, blending with live classical guitar music every evening. Specialties include creamy cheese ravioli al pesto and leg of lamb with honey and prunes, and there’s an extensive choice of homemade desserts. Service, led by owner Angelo Ramacciotti, is excellent and many clients are regulars. It’s wise to reserve for the evening. | Average main: €12 | Calle Mesón del Moro 6, Santa Cruz | 954/214390 |.

Fodor’s Choice | Vineria San Telmo.
SPANISH | Whether you eat in the dimly lit dining room or on the street-level terrace, prepare to spend some time perusing a menu that is full of surprises. All dishes are superb and sophisticated, especially the eggplant stew with tomato, goat’s cheese and smoked salmon, the Iberian pork with curried pumpkin and rocket, and the oxtail in filo pastry. Dishes come as tapas, half portions, or full portions—ideal for sharing—and the Argentine-owned restaurant’s vast glass-front wine cellar includes an extensive choice of Spanish vino. It’s near the touristy Alcazar and its popularity sometimes works to its detriment—it can get very crowded and noisy at times, when it would not be the ideal place for a romantic meal for two. | Average main: €12 | Paseo Catalina de Ribera 4,Santa Cruz | 954/410600 |.

EL ARENAL AND PARQUE MARÍA LUISA

Fodor’s Choice | Enrique Becerra.
SPANISH | Excellent tapas (€3.50—try the lamb kebab with dates and couscous), a lively bar, and an extensive wine list await at this restaurant run by the fifth generation of a family of celebrated restaurateurs (Enrique’s brother Jesús owns Becerrita). The menu focuses on traditional, home-cooked Andalusian dishes, such as pez espada al amontillado (swordfish cooked in dark sherry) and albóndigas de cordero a la hierbabuena (lamb meatballs with mint). Don’t miss the fried eggplant stuffed with prawns. If you want a quiet meal, call to reserve a table in one of the small upstairs rooms. | Average main: €21 | Calle Gamazo 2, El Arenal | 954/213049 | Closed Aug. (call for dates). No dinner Sun. |

Taberna de Alabardero.
SPANISH | In a magnificent manor house with a stunning patio, this restaurant’s upstairs dining rooms are set around a central arcade, with tables arranged under the tinkling crystal of chandeliers. Exquisite paintings and a pale green and yellow color scheme add to the charm. The cuisine is innovative and sophisticated, with dishes like sole with baby eel, squid and macadamia nuts, and steak in bloody mary sauce with salmon tartare. The ground-level bistro offers a good-value lunchtime menú del día (daily specials are €12.90 weekdays, €17.50 weekends). | Average main: €24 | Calle Zaragoza 20, El Arenal | 954/502721 | Closed Aug. |

BARRIO DE LA MACARENA

El Rinconcillo.
SPANISH | Founded in 1670, this lovely spot serves a classic selection of dishes, such as the pavía de bacalao (fried breaded cod), a superb salmorejo, and espinacas con garbanzos, all in generous portions. Tapas are keenly priced at from €2. The views of the Iglesia de Santa Catalina out the front window upstairs are unbeatable, and your bill is chalked up on the wooden counters as you go. This is a big favorite with locals so be prepared for crowds. | Average main: €10 | Calle Gerona 40, La Macarena | 954/223183 |.

TRIANA

Bar Las Golondrinas.
SPANISH | Run by the same family for more than 50 years and lavishly decorated in the colorful tiles that pay tribute to the neighborhood’s potters, Las Golondrinas is a fixture of Triana life. The staff never changes, and neither does the menu: the recipes for the punta de solomillo (sliced sirloin), chipirones (fried baby squid) and caballito de jamón (ham on bread) have been honed to perfection, and they’re served in tapas (€2) or large portions that keep everyone happy. | Average main: €12 | Calle Antillano Campos 26, Triana | 954/331626 |.

WHERE TO STAY

CENTRO

Posada del Lucero.
HOTEL | The country’s only 16th-century building being used as a posada has architecture that combines Mudejar-style flourishes with cutting-edge modern design. Original columns and three interior patios (including the former carriage house) add to the period charm, and rooms are decorated in a minimalist style with ocher-, brown-, and cream-color textiles and sleek walnut furniture; bathrooms are of dramatic black slate. A tastefully tiled fountain provides a soothing backdrop of running water reminiscent of the traditional Moorish gardens. Pros: lots of historic atmosphere; excellent central position. Cons: no soundproofing; rooms lack storage space. | Rooms from: €120 | Calle Almirante Apodaca 7, Centro | 954/502480 | www.hotelposadadellucero.com | 37 rooms, 1 suite | No meals |.

BARRIO DE SANTA CRUZ

Casa del Poeta.
HOTEL | Up a narrow alleyway, behind an ordinary facade, a 17th-century palace has become one of Seville’s newest boutique hotels—a cool oasis of calm just a heartbeat from some bustling Santa Cruz streets. The palace, the haunt of Seville’s poets at the end of the 19th century, has been totally restored to its formal glory, preserving all its original elements. Centered around a marble-arched patio with walls in the city’s hallmark red and ocher, all rooms are light and airy, and some have intimate views of roofs and gardens. Dark wood features heavily, in keeping with the hotel’s past, and the rooftop terrace takes in the lovely dome of Santa Cruz church as well as a good view of the Giralda tower. Pros: peaceful, central location; authentic palatial atmosphere. Cons: difficult to reach by car (call shortly before arrival for staff to meet you); no restaurant on site. | Rooms from: €167 | Calle Don Carlos Alonso Chaparro 3, Santa Cruz | 954/213868 | www.casadelpoeta.es | 14 rooms, 4 suites | No meals|.

Fodor’s Choice | Casa Número 7.
B&B/INN | Dating from 1850, this converted townhouse retains an elegant but lived-in feel, with family photographs, original oil paintings, and plush furnishings throughout. The owner is a director of González Byass, a major sherry producer, who apparently spent three years restoring the house, the result being that each room is individually decorated with tasteful artwork and antiques; the salon has a fireplace and comfy chairs, the roof terrace has views of the Giralda, and breakfast in the private dining rooms is an interesting and somewhat regal experience complete with butler in white gloves. The yellow room is the best one in the house. Pros: the personal touch of a B&B; delightfully different; great location. Cons: uninteresting breakfast. | Rooms from: €200 | Calle Virgenes 7, Santa Cruz | 954/221581 | www.casanumero7.com | 6 rooms | Breakfast |.

Fodor’s Choice | Hotel Amadeus La Música de Sevilla.
HOTEL | With pianos in some of the soundproof rooms, other instruments for guests to use, a music room off the central patio, and regular classical concerts, this acoustic oasis is ideal for touring professional musicians and music fans in general. Each room is named for a different composer, the furnishings include family antiques, and the 18th-century manor house has been equipped with such modern amenities as an in-house App about Seville and a small glass-wall elevator in a corner of the central patio. You can enjoy breakfast—served until 2 pm for night owls—on the roof terrace overlooking the Judería and Giralda. The terrace also has a small Jacuzzi and a cocktail bar. Pros: small but charming rooms; roof terrace. Cons: certain rooms are noisy and lack privacy; ground-floor rooms can be dark. | Rooms from: €112 | Calle Farnesio 6, Santa Cruz | 954/501443 | www.hotelamadeussevilla.com | 30 rooms | No meals |.

Fodor’s Choice | Hotel Casa 1800.
B&B/INN | This classy boutique hotel, in a refurbished 19th-century mansion, is an oasis in bustling Santa Cruz. Rooms have high ceilings, exposed wooden beams, wood floors, and antique furniture, and are tastefully decorated in subdued colors and bathrooms are large and modern—some of the superior rooms have their own patio and private Jacuzzi. The staff is lovely, and the hotel offers complimentary afternoon tea and snacks, which can be taken on the rooftop terrace with views of the Giralda. The buffet breakfast is generous. Pros: top-notch amenities; great service. Cons: the rooms facing the patio can be noisy; no restaurant; prices rocket for a three-week period around Easter. | Rooms from: €150 | C. Rodrigo Caro 6, Santa Cruz | 954/561800 | www.hotelcasa1800sevilla.com | 23 rooms, 1 suite | No meals |.

Las Casas de la Judería.
HOTEL | This labyrinthine hotel occupies 24 houses and three of Santa Cruz’s old palaces, each arranged around an inner courtyard with fountains, traditional tile work, and plenty of greenery, giving the impression of a self-contained village in the city center. The spacious guest rooms are painted in subdued pastels and decorated with prints of Seville; most have four-poster beds and wood beams. Breakfast is generous and includes cava (sparkling wine); the staff will also pack you a picnic if you have to depart early in the morning. The adjoining restaurant serves Mediterranean style food. Pros: lovely buildings; unique experience. Cons: communal areas and some rooms look very tired; difficult to find your way round the hotel. | Rooms from: €240 | Calle Santa María la Blanca 5, Santa Cruz | 954/415150 | www.casasypalacios.com | 166 rooms, 12 suites | No meals |.

Pensión Córdoba.
HOTEL | Just a few blocks from the cathedral, nestled in the heart of Santa Cruz, this small, family-run inn is an excellent value. Rooms are simple but clean and air-conditioned, and arranged around a pretty interior patio decorated with painted tiles and ferns. The owners’ daughters speak English and are eager to give recommendations and help with bookings. Pros: quiet, central location; friendly staff. Cons: no entry after 3 am; no breakfast. | Rooms from: €65 | Calle Farnesio 12, Santa Cruz | 954/227498 | www.pensioncordoba.com | 12 rooms | No meals |.

EL ARENAL AND PARQUE MARÍA LUISA

Gran Meliá Colón.
HOTEL | Originally opened for 1929’s Ibero-American Exposition and renovated in 2009, this classic hotel retains many original features, including a marble staircase leading up to a central lobby crowned by a magnificent stained-glass dome and crystal chandelier. Each floor celebrates a different Spanish artist, with reproduction paintings set against an artful combination of period and contemporary design. Downstairs is the toreador-themed El Burladero tapas bar and restaurant, which is packed midday with local business executives. The luxurious spa on the seventh floor offers a range of treatments. Pros: good central location; excellent restaurant; some great views. Cons: some rooms overlook airshaft; on a busy and noisy street. | Rooms from: €310 | Calle Canalejas 1,El Arenal | 954/505599 | www.granmeliacolon.com | 159 rooms, 30 suites | Breakfast |.

Fodor’s Choice | Hotel Alfonso XIII.
HOTEL | Inaugurated by King Alfonso XIII in 1929 and restored in 2011, this grand hotel is a splendid, historic, Mudejar-style palace, built around a central patio and surrounded by ornate brick arches. Classic meets modern throughout the hotel and public rooms have marble floors, wood-panel ceilings, heavy Moorish lamps, stained glass, and ceramic tiles in typical Seville colors. The hotel has three restaurants and the elegant Bar Alfonso. If you can’t afford a room, you can still enjoy the sumptuous surroundings: sip a glass of fino (sherry) while overlooking the fabulous central courtyard and appearing appropriately superior (and rich). Pros: both stately and hip; impeccable service. Cons: a tourist colony; expensive. | Rooms from: €390 | Calle San Fernando 2, El Arenal | 954/917000 | www.luxurycollection.com/alfonsoxiii | 132 rooms, 19 suites | Breakfast |.

PERFORMING ARTS

Seville has a lively nightlife and plenty of cultural activity. The free monthly magazine El Giraldillo (www.elgiraldillo.es) lists classical and jazz concerts, plays, dance performances, art exhibits, and films in Seville and all major Andalusian cities. (For American films in English, look for the designation v.o., or versión original.)

FLAMENCO CLUBS

Seville has a handful of commercial tablaos (flamenco clubs), patronized more by tourists than locals. They generally offer somewhat mechanical flamenco at high prices, with mediocre cuisine. Check local listings and ask at your hotel for performances by top artists. Spontaneous flamenco is often found for free in peñas flamencas (flamenco clubs) and flamenco bars in Triana.

Barrio de Santa Cruz

Fodor’s Choice | Casa de la Memoria de Al-Andalus.
Set in an 18th-century palace, this flamenco club has a nightly show plus dance classes for the intrepid. It’s a small venue so book to be sure of a seat. | Calle Cuna 6, Santa Cruz | 954/560670 | www.casadelamemoria.es | €16 | Shows nightly at 7:30 and 9.

La Carbonería.
This rambling former coal yard is now a bar, open most evenings when you can watch spontaneous flamenco. | Calle Levíes 18, Santa Cruz | 954/229945 | Free, but you have to buy a drink.

Los Gallos.
This intimate club in the heart of Santa Cruz attracts mainly tourists. Performances are entertaining and reasonably authentic. | Pl. Santa Cruz 11, Santa Cruz | 954/216981 | www.tablaolosgallos.com | €35, includes one drink | Shows nightly at 8:15 and 10:30.

El Arenal and Parque María Luisa

Teatro de la Maestranza.
Long prominent in the opera world, Seville is proud of its opera house. Tickets go quickly, so book well in advance (online is best). | Paseo de Colón 22, El Arenal | 954/223344 for info, 954/226573 for tickets | www.teatrodelamaestranza.es.

Teatro Lope de Vega.
Classical music, ballet, and musicals are performed here. | Av. María Luisa s/n, Parque Maria Luisa | 954/472828 for info, 955/472822 for tickets | www.teatrolopedevega.org.

Triana

Casa Anselma.
In the heart of Triana, this is an unmarked bar on the corner of Antillano Campos where Anselma and her friends sing and dance for the pure joy and catharsis that are at the heart of flamenco. Admission is free, but you have to buy a drink. | Calle Pagés del Corro 49, Triana | Free | Shows Mon.–Sat. at midnight.

Teatro Central.
This modern venue on the Isla de la Cartuja stages theater, dance, and classical and contemporary music. Tickets can be bought via www.ticketmaster.es or at Caixa ATMs. | Calle José de Gálvez 6,Triana | 955/037200 for info, 902/150025 for tickets.

BULLFIGHTING

Bullfighting season is Easter through Columbus Day (no bullfights in August); most corridas (bullfights) are held on Sunday. The highlight is the April Fair, with Spain’s leading toreros; other key dates are Corpus Christi (about seven weeks after Easter), Assumption (August 15), and the last weekend in September.

Despacho de Entradas.
Tickets are expensive; buy them in advance alongside the bullring from this official ticket office. Unofficial despachos sell tickets on Calle Sierpes but charge a 20% commission. | Calle Adriano 37,El Arenal | 954/501382.

Maestranza Bullring.
This is the site for Seville’s bullfights. | Paseo de Colón 12, El Arenal | 954/224577 | www.realmaestranza.es.

SHOPPING

Seville is the region’s main shopping area and the place for archetypal Andalusian souvenirs, most of which are sold in the Barrio de Santa Cruz and around the cathedral and Giralda, especially on Calle Alemanes. The shopping street for locals is Calle Sierpes, along with neighboring Cuna, Tetuan, Velázquez, Plaza Magdalena, and Plaza Duque—boutiques abound here. For antiques, try Mateos Gago, opposite the Giralda, and in the Barrio de Santa Cruz on Jamerdana and Rodrigo Caro, off Plaza Alianza. For ceramics in the Barrio de Santa Cruz, browse along Mateos Gago; on Romero Murube, between Plaza Triunfo and Plaza Alianza, on the edge of the barrio; and between Plaza Doña Elvira and Plaza de los Venerables. Flamenco wear can be expensive; local women will gladly spend the equivalent of a month’s grocery money, or more, on their frills, with dresses ranging from €100 to €400 and up.

CENTRO

Calle Sierpes.
This is Seville’s classy main shopping street. Near the southern end, at No. 85, a plaque marks the spot where the Cárcel Real (Royal Prison) once stood. Miguel de Cervantes began writing Don Quixote in one of its cells. | Centro.

El Corte Inglés.
The main branch of this pan-Spanish department store chain has everything from high fashion to local wine. It does not close for siesta. | Pl. Duque de la Victoria 8, Centro | 954/597000.

La Campana.
Under the gilt-edged ceiling at Seville’s most celebrated pastry outlet (founded in 1885), you can enjoy the flanlike tocino de cielo, or “heavenly bacon.” | Calle Sierpes 1, Centro | 954/223570.

Lola Azahares.
For flamenco wear, this is one of Seville’s most highly regarded stores. | Calle Cuna 31, Centro | 954/222912.

Martian Ceramics.
In central Seville, Martian has high-quality dishes, especially the finely painted flowers-on-white patterns native to Seville. | Calle Sierpes 74, Centro | 954/213413.

Molina.
Flamenco dresses and traditional foot-tapping shoes are sold here. | Calle Sierpes 11, Centro | 954/229254.

Plaza del Duque.
A few blocks north of Plaza Nueva, Plaza del Duque has a crafts market on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. | Centro.

Taller de Diseño.
Come here for privately fitted and custom-made flamenco dresses. | Calle Luchana 6, Centro | 954/227186.

BARRIO DE SANTA CRUZ

Artesanía Textil.
You can find blankets, shawls, and embroidered tablecloths woven by local artisans at the two shops of Artesanía Textil. | Calle García de Vinuesa 33, El Arenal | 954/215088 | Calle Sierpes 70,Santa Cruz | 954/220125.

El Torno.
Andalusia’s convents are known for their homemade pastries, and you can sample sweets from several convents at El Torno, named after the revolving tray the nuns use to display their wares. | Pl. del Cabildo, Santa Cruz | 954/219190.

Extraverde.
Taste a selection of olive oils at this restaurant-shop in the heart of Santa Cruz. | Pl. Doña Elvira 8, Santa Cruz | 954/218417 | www.extraverde.es.

Librería Vértice.
A large assortment of books in English, Spanish, French, and Italian can be found at this American-owned store near the cathedral. | Calle San Fernando 33–35, Santa Cruz | 954/211654.

EL ARENAL AND PARQUE MARÍA LUISA

Centro Comercial Plaza de Armas.
Near the Puente del Cachorro bridge, the old Estación de Córdoba train station has been converted into this stylish shopping center, with boutiques, bars, fast-food joints, a nightclub, and a movie theater complex. | Enter on Pl. de la Legión, El Arenal.

El Postigo.
This permanent arts-and-crafts market opposite El Corte Inglés is open every day except Sunday. | Pl. de la Concordia, El Arenal.

BARRIO DE LA MACARENA

El Jueves.
This antiques and flea market is held in the Barrio de la Macarena on Thursday morning. | Calle Feria, La Macarena.

TRIANA

Mercado de Triana.
Since 2005, the Triana market, which began as an improvised fish market on the banks of the Guadalquivir in the 1830s, has been housed in a shiny new building and given the stamp “Traditional Shopping Center.” The vendors, however, continue to sell the same colorful mix of food, flowers, cheap fashion, and costume jewelry as before. It closes at 3 pm and is not open on Sunday. | Pl. del Alzotano, Triana | No credit cards.

Potters’ district.
Look for traditional azulejo tiles and other ceramics in the Triana potters’ district, on Calle Alfarería and Calle Antillano Campos. | Triana.

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Around Seville

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Carmona | Itálica | Ronda | Around Ronda: Caves, Romans, and Pueblos Blancos | Grazalema and the Sierra de Grazalema

CARMONA

32 km (20 miles) east of Seville off A4.

Wander the ancient, narrow streets here and you’ll feel as if you’ve been transported back in time. Claiming to be one of the oldest inhabited places in Spain (both Phoenicians and Carthaginians had settlements here), Carmona, on a steep, fortified hill, became an important town under the Romans and the Moors. There are many Mudejar and Renaissance churches and convents (several open weekend mornings only), medieval gateways, and simple whitewashed houses of clear Moorish influence, punctuated here and there by a baroque palace. Local fiestas are held in mid-September.

Essentials

Visitor Information
Carmona. | Alcázar de la Puerta de Sevilla | 954/190955 | www.turismo.carmona.org.

EXPLORING

Top Attractions

Alcázar del Rey Don Pedro (King Pedro’s Fortress).
The Moorish Alcázar was built on Roman foundations and converted by King Pedro the Cruel into a Mudejar palace. Pedro’s summer residence was destroyed by a 1504 earthquake, and all that remains are ruins that can be viewed but not visited. However, the parador within the complex has a breathtaking view, and the café and restaurant are lovely spots to have a refreshment or meal. | Calle Los Alcázares s/n.

FAMILY | Museo de la Ciudad.
Reopened in 2014 following restoration work, this museum behind Santa María has exhibits on Carmona’s history. There’s plenty for children, and the interactive exhibits are labeled in English and Spanish. | Calle San Ildefonso 1 | 954/140128 | €3 | Sept. 16–June 16, Mon. 11–2, Tues.–Sun. 11–7; June 16–Sept. 15, Mon. 10–2, Tues.–Fri. 10–2 and 6:30–8:30, weekends 9:30–2.

Roman Necropolis.
At the western edge of town 900 tombs were placed in underground chambers between the 2nd and 4th centuries BC. The necropolis walls, decorated with leaf and bird motifs, have niches for burial urns and tombs such as the Elephant Vault and the Servilia Tomb, a complete Roman villa with colonnaded arches and vaulted side galleries. | Calle Enmedio | 600/143632 | €1.50 | Tues.–Sat. 10–6:30, Sun. 10–5.

Santa María.
This Gothic church was built between 1424 and 1518 on the site of Carmona’s former Great Mosque and retains its beautiful Moorish courtyard, studded with orange trees. | Calle Martín | €3 | Weekdays 9–2 and 5–7, Sat. 9–2, Sun. 9–11:30.

Worth Noting

Alcázar de la Puerta de Sevilla.
Park your car near the Puerta de Sevilla in the imposing Alcázar, a Moorish fortification built on Roman foundations. Maps are available at the tourist office, in the tower beside the gate. | Pl. de Blas Infante | €2 (free Mon.) | Sept.–June, Mon.–Sat. 10–6, Sun. 10–3; July and Aug., weekdays 10:30–3 and 4:30–6, weekends 10–3.

Plaza San Fernando.
Up Calle Prim, this plaza in the heart of the old town is bordered by 17th-century houses with Moorish overtones.

Puerta de Córdoba (Córdoba Gate).
Stroll down to this old gateway on the eastern edge of town. It was first built by the Romans around AD 175, then altered by Moorish and Renaissance additions. Viewing of the interior is on weekends (12:30–1:30) by appointment only. You can book by phone or at the tourist office. | Calle Dolores Quintanilla | 615/540505 | €2.

San Bartolomé.
Just up the street from the Puerta de Sevilla is the church of San Bartolomé, a 15th-century building with a baroque interior, including a fine 18th-century altarpiece. | Calle Prim 29 | Free | Fri.–Wed. 11–1:45.

WHERE TO STAY

Parador Alcázar del Rey Don Pedro.
HOTEL | This parador has superb views from its hilltop position among the ruins of Pedro the Cruel’s summer palace. The public rooms surround a central, Moorish-style patio and include the vaulted dining hall and adjacent bar that open onto an outdoor terrace overlooking the sloping garden. Of the spacious guest rooms—decorated in light grey tones—all but six, which face onto the front courtyard, look south over the valley (the best rooms are on the top floor). The restaurant claims to be one of the best in the parador group and serves local specialties such as partridge and spicy spinach. Pros: unbeatable views over the fields; great sense of history. Cons: feels slightly lifeless after Seville. | Rooms from: €135 | Calle del Alcázar | 954/141010 | www.parador.es | 63 rooms | No meals.

ITÁLICA

12 km (7 miles) north of Seville, 1 km (½ mile) beyond Santiponce.

Neighboring the small town of Santiponce, Itálica is Spain’s oldest Roman site and one of its greatest, and is well worth a visit when you’re in Seville. If you’re here during June or July, try to get tickets for the International Dance Festival held in the ruins (www.festivalitalica.es).

Getting Here and Around

The C1 bus route runs frequently (daily from 7 am to 11 pm) between the Plaza de Armas bus station in Seville and Itálica. Journey time is 30 minutes. If you have a rental car, you could include a visit to the ruins on your way to Huelva. Allow at least three hours for your visit.

EXPLORING

Fodor’s Choice | Itálica.
One of Roman Iberia’s most important cities in the 2nd century, with a population of more than 10,000, Itálica today is a monument of Roman ruins. Founded by Scipio Africanus in 205 BC as a home for veteran soldiers, Itálica gave the Roman world two great emperors: Trajan (AD 52–117) and Hadrian (AD 76–138). You can find traces of city streets, cisterns, and the floor plans of several villas, some with mosaic floors, though all the best mosaics and statues have been removed to Seville’s Museum of Archaeology. Itálica was abandoned and plundered as a quarry by the Visigoths, who preferred Seville. It fell into decay around AD 700. The remains include the huge, elliptical amphitheater, which held 40,000 spectators, a Roman theater, and Roman baths. The small visitor center offers information on daily life in the city. | Av. Extremadura 2 Santiponce | 955/123847 | www.juntadeandalucia.es/cultura/italica | €1.50 | Sept. 16–Mar. 31, Tues.–Sat. 10–6:30, Sun. 10–5; Apr.–June 15, Tues.–Sat. 10–8:30, Sun. 10–5; June 16–Sept. 15, Tues.–Sun. 10–5.

RONDA

147 km (91 miles) southeast of Seville, 61 km (38 miles) northwest of Marbella.

Ronda, one of the oldest towns in Spain, is known for its spectacular position and views. Secure in its mountain fastness on a rock high over the Río Guadalevín, the town was a stronghold for the legendary Andalusian bandits who held court here from the 18th to the early 20th century. Ronda’s most dramatic element is its ravine (360 feet deep and 210 feet across)—known as El Tajo—which divides La Ciudad, the old Moorish town, from El Mercadillo, the “new town,” which sprang up after the Christian Reconquest of 1485. Tour buses roll in daily with sightseers from the coast 49 km (30 miles) away, and on weekends affluent sevillanos flock to their second homes here. Stay overnight midweek to see this noble town’s true colors.

In the lowest part of town, known as El Barrio, you can see parts of the old walls, including the 13th-century Puerta de Almocobar and the 16th-century Puerta de Carlos V gates. From here, the main road climbs past the Iglesia del Espíritu Santo (Church of the Holy Spirit) and up into the heart of town.

Getting Here and Around

By road, the most attractive approach is from the south. The winding but well-maintained A376 from San Pedro de Alcántara travels north up through the mountains of the Serranía de Ronda. At least four daily buses run here from Marbella, nine from Málaga, and three from Seville. The Ronda tourist office publishes an updated list (available online).

EXPLORING

Top Attractions

Juan Peña El Lebrijano.
Immediately south of the Plaza de España, this is Ronda’s most famous bridge (also known as the Puente Nuevo, or New Bridge), an architectural marvel built between 1755 and 1793. The bridge’s lantern-lit parapet offers dizzying views of the awesome gorge. Just how many people have met their ends here nobody knows, but the architect of the Puente Nuevo fell to his death while inspecting work on the bridge. During the civil war, hundreds of victims were hurled from it.

La Ciudad.
Cross the Puente Nuevo to enter the old Moorish town, with twisting streets and white houses with birdcage balconies.

Palacio de Mondragón (Palace of Mondragón).
This stone palace with twin Mudejar towers was probably the residence of Ronda’s Moorish kings. Ferdinand and Isabella appropriated it after their victory in 1485. Today, it’s the museum of Ronda and you can wander through the patios, with their brick arches and delicate Mudejar-stucco tracery, and admire the mosaics and artesonado (coffered) ceiling. The second floor holds a small museum with archaeological items found near Ronda, plus the reproduction of a dolmen, a prehistoric stone monument. | Pl. Mondragón | 952/870818 | €3 (free Wed.) | Weekdays 10–6 (until 7 in summer), weekends 10–3.

Plaza de Toros.
The main sight in Ronda’s commercial center, El Mercadillo, is the bullring. Pedro Romero (1754–1839), the father of modern bullfighting and Ronda’s most famous native son, is said to have killed 5,600 bulls here during his long career. In the museum beneath the plaza you can see posters for Ronda’s very first bullfights, held here in 1785. The plaza was once owned by the late bullfighter Antonio Ordóñez, on whose nearby ranch Orson Welles’s ashes were scattered (as directed in his will)—indeed, the ring has become a favorite of filmmakers. Every September, the bullring is the scene of Ronda’s corridas goyescas, named after Francisco Goya, whose bullfight sketches (tauromaquias) were inspired by Romero’s skill and art. The participants and the dignitaries in the audience don the costumes of Goya’s time for the occasion. Seats for these fights cost a small fortune and are booked far in advance. Other than that, the plaza is rarely used for fights except during Ronda’s May festival. | Calle Virgen de la Paz | 952/874132 | www.rmcr.org | €6.50 | Daily 10–6 (until 7 May–Sept.).

Worth Noting

Baños Arabes (Arab Baths).
The excavated remains of the Arab Baths date from Ronda’s tenure as capital of a Moorish taifa (kingdom). The star-shape vents in the roof are an inferior imitation of the ceiling of the beautiful bathhouse in Granada’s Alhambra. The baths are beneath the Puente Árabe (Arab Bridge) in a ravine below the Palacio del Marqués de Salvatierra. | Calle San Miguel | €3 (free Mon.) | Weekdays 10–6 (until 7 Apr.–Oct.), weekends 10–3.

Santa María la Mayor.
This collegiate church, which serves as Ronda’s cathedral, has roots in Moorish times: originally the Great Mosque of Ronda, the tower and adjacent galleries, built for viewing festivities in the square, retain their Islamic design. After the mosque was destroyed (when the Moors were overthrown), it was rebuilt as a church and dedicated to the Virgen de la Encarnación after the Reconquest. The naves are late Gothic, and the main altar is heavy with baroque gold leaf. The church is around the corner from the remains of a mosque, Minarete Arabe (Moorish Minaret) at the end of the Marqués de Salvatierra. | Pl. Duquesa de Parcent | €4 | Mon.–Sat. 10–6, Sun. 10–12:30 and 2–6.

OFF THE BEATEN PATH: Alameda del Tajo.
Beyond the bullring in El Mercadillo, you can relax in these shady gardens, one of the loveliest spots in Ronda. At the end of the gardens, a balcony protrudes from the face of the cliff, offering a vertigo-inducing view of the valley below. Stroll along the clifftop walk to the Reina Victoria hotel, built by British settlers from Gibraltar at the turn of the 20th century as a fashionable rest stop on the Algeciras–Bobadilla rail line. | Paseo Hemingway.

WHERE TO EAT

Almocábar.
SPANISH | Tucked agreeably away from the main tourist hub on the south side of town, this unpretentious tapas bar and restaurant on a lovely plaza offers a refined and inventive cuisine. Dishes include unusual and tasty starters, like goat-cheese salad with mango sauce, and mains based on local fare such as roast suckling lamb flavored with mountain herbs. Get here early if you want to sample the tapas (€1.50–€4), as the narrow bar gets packed with the local crowd on their tapear (bar crawl). The delicious patatas alioli (cooked potatoes in a creamily pungent garlic sauce) are great for sharing. | Average main: €15 | Calle Ruedo Alameda 5 | 952/875977 | Closed Tues. and Sept. 1–20.

Entre Vinos.
TAPAS | Just off the main road opposite the Hotel Colón, this small and cozy bar has established itself as one of Ronda’s best for tapas and wine. Inside, the wood-paneled barrel ceiling and wine bottles lining the walls add to the bodega (wine cellar) atmosphere. Local Ronda wines are a specialty here—in fact, they’re the only ones available, although with over 60 on the wine list, you’ll be spoiled for choice; ask the waiter for recommendations. Tapas (from €1) include fideos negros con chipirones y alioli (black noodles with baby squid and garlic sauce) and a mini–beef burger with foie gras. This place is popular and fills up quickly so arrive early (1:30 pm or 8 pm) to be sure of a place. Service is excellent. | Average main: €5 | Calle Pozo 2 | Closed during the Ronda Fair. No dinner Sun.; no lunch Mon.

Pedro Romero.
SPANISH | Named for the father of modern bullfighting, this restaurant opposite the bullring is packed with bullfight paraphernalia. Mounted bulls’ heads peer down at you as you tuck into choricitos al vino blanco de Ronda (small sausages in Ronda white wine) or rabo de toro Pedro Romero (slow-cooked oxtail stew with herbs) and, for dessert, tarat de queso con frutillos rojos (cheesecake with red berries). Previous diners include Ernest Hemingway and Orson Welles, whose photos are displayed. | Average main: €18 | Calle Virgen de la Paz 18 | 952/871110.

WHERE TO STAY

Acinipo.
HOTEL | The artistic legacy of its former owners, Ronda artist Téllez Loriguillo and acclaimed Japanese watercolor painter Miki Haruta, is evidenced throughout this modern boutique hotel. The interior has exposed stone panels, steel-and-glass fittings, mosaic-tile bathrooms, and many murals and paintings. The more expensive rooms have small sitting areas and bathrooms with hydromassage tubs. Most rooms have dramatic mountain views. The Atrium restaurant dishes up such traditional favorites as migas (fried bread crumbs with sausage and spices) and oxtail stew, followed by chestnuts with brandy and cream. Pros: very central location; cutting-edge design. Cons: a few rooms lack panoramic view; can be noisy at night. | Rooms from: €100 | Paseo de Blas Infante | 952/161002 | www.hotelaciniporonda.com | 16 rooms | No meals.

Alavera de los Baños.
B&B/INN | Fittingly, given its location next to the Moorish baths, there’s an Arab-influenced theme throughout this small, German-run hotel (which was used as a backdrop for the film classic Carmen). Terra-cotta tiles, graceful arches, and pastel-color washes on the walls set the scene, and the two rooms on the first floor, which have their own terraces and open onto the split-level garden, are well worth the extra €10. Breakfast (included in room price) comes with homemade jams and breads, plus local cheeses. Pros: very atmospheric and historic; owners speak several languages. Cons: rooms vary in size; steep climb into town. | Rooms from: €97 | Calle San Miguel s/n | 952/879143 | www.alaveradelosbanos.com | 9 rooms, 2 suites | Closed Jan. | Breakfast.

FAMILY | El Molino del Santo.
B&B/INN | In a converted olive mill next to a rushing stream near Benaoján, 16 km (10 miles) west of Ronda, this British-run establishment appeals for its “green” credentials and proximity to great mountain walks. One of Andalusia’s first country hotels, its guest rooms are arranged around a pleasant patio and come in different sizes, some with a terrace. The hotel uses solar panels for hot water and to heat the pool. The restaurant serves excellent meals. Pros: superb for hikers; friendly owners. Cons: you won’t hear much Spanish spoken (most guests are British); a car is essential if you want to explore farther afield. | Rooms from: €119 | Estación de Benaoján Benaoján | 952/167151 | www.molinodelsanto.com | 15 rooms, 3 suites | Closed Nov.–end Feb. | Breakfast.

Finca la Guzmana.
B&B/INN | This traditional Andalusian cortijo (farmhouse), 4 km (2½ miles) east of Ronda, has been lovingly restored with bright, fresh color schemes to complement the original beams, wood-burning stoves, and sublime setting. The cottage is surrounded by olive trees and grapevines and walkers, bird-watchers, and painters are frequent guests. The English-speaking owners also organize trips (guided or unguided) through the surrounding villages, and you can borrow bicycles. Breakfast is more generous here than many other places, with homemade bread, preserves, and local cheeses, and there are tea- and coffee-making supplies in the rooms. It’s advisable to call for directions. Pros: surrounded by beautiful countryside; very peaceful. Cons: it’s a hike to Ronda and the stores; no restaurant. | Rooms from: €75 | Off A366, on El Burgo road | 600/006305 | www.laguzmana.com | 6 rooms | Breakfast.

Montelirio.
B&B/INN | The 18th-century mansion of the Count of Montelirio, perched over the deep plunge to the Tajo, has been carefully refurbished, maintaining some original features, but the highlight is the breathtaking view over the valley. Inside, notable points of interest include the empire staircase, a precious stained-glass window, and the handcrafted wood ceiling in the common room. Guest rooms are individually styled, with dark wooden furniture and heavy fabrics, and it’s well worth paying extra for a balcony with views over the ravine. The terrace also looks out over the bridge and ravine—perfect for watching the sunset—and the Turkish bath and open fireplace make this an attractive choice for winter. The restaurant serves Mediterranean cuisine. If you need a parking space, reserve one when you reserve your room. Pros: great views; friendly staff. Cons: some rooms have windows to the street. | Rooms from: €120 | Calle Tenorio 8 | 952/873855 | www.hotelmontelirio.com | 12 rooms, 3 suites | No meals.

Fodor’s Choice | San Gabriel.
B&B/INN | In the oldest part of Ronda, this hotel is run by a family who converted their 18th-century home into an enchanting, informal hotel. The common areas, furnished with antiques, are warm and cozy and include a DVD screening room with autographed photos of actors (John Lithgow, Isabella Rossellini, and Bob Hoskins, in town to film the 2000 television movie version of Don Quixote, were among the hotel’s first guests). There’s also a wine cellar where guests can taste and purchase wine (including local vintages) and sherry. Some guest rooms have small sitting areas and Jacuzzi bathtubs; most are sumptuously furnished with four-poster beds and antiques. Breakfast includes organic pâtés, cheese, and preserves. When you book, enquire about availability of the low-cost tariff (€66 for a smaller double room). Pros: traditional Andalusian house; excellent service. Cons: some rooms are rather dark; no panoramic views. | Rooms from: €88 | Calle Marqués de Moctezuma 19 | 952/190392 | www.hotelsangabriel.com | 21 rooms, 1 suite | No meals.

AROUND RONDA: CAVES, ROMANS, AND PUEBLOS BLANCOS

This area of spectacular gorges, remote mountain villages, and ancient caves is fascinating to explore and a dramatic contrast to the clamor and crowds of the coast.

Acinipo.
Old Ronda, 20 km (12 miles) north of Ronda, is the site of this old Roman settlement, a thriving town in the 1st century AD that was abandoned for reasons that still baffle historians. Today it’s a windswept hillside with piles of stones, the foundations of a few Roman houses, and what remains of a theater. Views across the Ronda plains and to the surrounding mountains are spectacular. The site is often closed because excavations are under way. Call to check before visiting. | Ronda la Vieja | Take A376 toward Algodonales; turnoff for the ruins is 9 km (5 miles) from Ronda on MA449 | 951/041452 1 | Free | Hrs vary depending on staff availability; call to check.

Cueva de la Pileta (Pileta Cave).
At this prehistoric site, 20 km (12 miles) west of Ronda, a Spanish guide (who speaks some English) will hand you a paraffin lamp and lead you on a roughly 60-minute walk that reveals prehistoric wall paintings of bison, deer, and horses outlined in black, red, and ocher. One highlight is the Cámara del Pescado (Chamber of the Fish), whose drawing of a huge fish is thought to be 15,000 years old. Tours take place whenever 25 people have accumulated.|Benaoján | Drive west from Ronda on A374 and take the left exit for the village of Benaoján from where the caves are well signposted | 952/167343 | €8 | Daily 10–1 and 4–5 (until 6 May–Oct.).

Olvera.
Here, 13 km (8 miles) north of Setenil, two imposing silhouettes dominate the crest of the hill: the 11th-century castle Vallehermoso, a legacy of the Moors, and the neoclassical church of La Encarnación, reconstructed in the 19th century on the foundations of the old mosque.

Setenil de las Bodegas.
This small city, in a cleft in the rock cut by the Guadalporcín River, is 8 km (5 miles) north of Acinipois. The streets resemble long, narrow caves, and on many houses the roof is formed by a projecting ledge of heavy rock.

Zahara de la Sierra.
A solitary watchtower dominates a crag above this village, its outline visible for miles around. The tower is all that remains of a Moorish castle where King Alfonso X once fought the emir of Morocco; the building remained a Moorish stronghold until it fell to the Christians in 1470. Along the streets you can see doorknockers fashioned like the hand of Fatima: the fingers represent the five laws of the Koran and are meant to ward off evil. | From Olvera, drive 21 km (13 miles) southwest to the village of Algodonales then south on A376 for 5 km (3 miles).

GRAZALEMA AND THE SIERRA DE GRAZALEMA

Grazalema: 28 km (17 miles) northwest of Ronda.

The village of Grazalema is the prettiest of the pueblos blancos. Its cobblestone streets of houses with pink-and-ocher roofs wind up the hillside, red geraniums splash white walls, and black wrought-iron lanterns and grilles cling to the housefronts.

The Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park encompasses a series of mountain ranges known as the Sierra de Grazalema, which straddle the provinces of Málaga and Cádiz. These mountains trap the rain clouds that roll in from the Atlantic, and the area has the distinction of being the wettest place in Spain, with an average annual rainfall of 88 inches. Because of the park’s altitude and prevailing humidity, it’s one of the last habitats for the rare fir tree Abies pinsapo; it’s also home to ibex, vultures, and birds of prey. Parts of the park are restricted, accessible only on foot and when accompanied by an official guide.

Getting Here and Around

The village of Grazalema itself is quite small and is best reached by private car as there’s little public transport.

Essentials

Visitor Information
Grazalema. At the time of writing, the visitor center was about to relocate and the new location was unknown. Call first, or inquire locally. | 956/132225.

EXPLORING

El Bosque.
Another excursion from Grazalema takes you through the heart of this protected reserve, home to a trout stream and information center. Follow the A344 west through dramatic mountain scenery, past Benamahoma.

Ubrique.
From Grazalema, the A374 takes you to this town on the slopes of the Saltadero Mountains, known for its leather tanning and embossing industry. Look for the Convento de los Capuchinos (Capuchin Convent), the church of San Pedro, and, 4 km (2½ miles) away, the ruins of the Moorish castle El Castillo de Fátima.

WHERE TO STAY

Fodor’s Choice | La Mejorana.
B&B/INN | An ideal base for exploring the area, this is the spot to find rural simplicity and stunning mountain views. Though a mere 20 years old, the house has been cleverly designed and built to resemble an old-fashioned village home, complete with beams, tiled floors, and thick whitewashed walls, and the rooms are essentially small suites, each with a sitting area; all but one have small terraces from which to enjoy the views. The tranquil flower-filled garden is idyllic on sunny days, and when temperatures drop, there’s a cozy fireplace in the communal sitting room. Hosts can advise on hikes and car trips in the area. Pros: in the center of the village; tastefully furnished; excellent service. Cons: no TV in rooms. | Rooms from: €58 | Calle Santa Clara 6 | 956/132327 | www.lamejorana.net | 6 rooms | Breakfast.

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Huelva

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Doñana National Park | Mazagón | La Rábida | Aracena

When you’ve had enough of Seville’s urban bustle, nature awaits in Huelva. From the Parque Nacional de Doñana to the oak forests of the Sierra de Aracena, nothing is much more than an hour’s drive from Seville. If you prefer history, hop on the miners’ train at Riotinto or visit Aracena’s spectacular caves. Columbus’s voyage to the New World was sparked near here, at the monastery of La Rábida and in Palos de la Frontera. The visitor center at La Rocina has Doñana information.

Once a thriving Roman port, the city of Huelva, an hour east of Faro, Portugal, was largely destroyed by the 1755 Lisbon earthquake. As a result, it claims the dubious honor of being the least distinguished city in Andalusia. If you do end up here, Taberna el Condado or El Chiringuito de Antonio are the places to go for shellfish tapas and rice.

Getting Here and Around

Huelva has good bus connections from Seville, but traveling to the main sights in the province is difficult by public transportation so you’re better off renting a car.

Essentials

Bus Station
Huelva. | Av. Alemania s/n, | Huelva | 959/256900.

Taxi Contact
Tele Taxi. | 959/250022.

Train Station
Huelva. | Av. de Italia, | Huelva | 902/320320.

Huelva Province

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DOÑANA NATIONAL PARK

100 km (62 miles) southwest of Seville.

The jewel in Spain’s crown when it comes to national parks, and one of Europe’s most important wetlands, Doñana is a paradise for wildlife in their natural habitat. Most of the park is heavily protected and closed to visitors, although you can visit with one of the authorized tour companies who organize visits by jeep, foot, or horseback.

Getting Here and Around

To explore Doñana and its surroundings you need your own transportation, particularly to get to the different visitor centers, all some distance apart.

Essentials

In addition to the centers listed here, there is a visitor center for the park at Sanlúcar de Barrameda.

Visitor Information
El Acebuche. Two kilometers (1 mile) before Matalascañas, this is Doñana National Park’s main interpretation center and the departure point for jeep tours. | Matalascañas | 959/439569 | Daily 8–3 and 4–7 (until 9 June–Sept.)
La Rocina Visitor Center.At this visitor center, less than 2 km (1 mile) from the center of El Rocío, you can peer at the park’s many bird species from a 3½-km (2-mile) footpath. | 959/439569 | Daily 9–3 and 4–7
Palacio de Acebrón 
Five kilometers (3 miles) away from La Rocina Visitor Center, an exhibit at the Palacio de Acebrón explains the park’s ecosystems. | Ctra. de la Rocina | 959/506162 | Daily 9–3 and 4–7; last admission 1 hr before closing.

EXPLORING

FAMILY | Fodor’s Choice | Doñana National Park.
One of Europe’s most important swaths of unspoiled wilderness, these wetlands spread out along the west side of the Guadalquivir estuary. The site was named for Doña Ana, wife of a 16th-century duke, who, prone to bouts of depression, one day crossed the river and wandered into the wetlands, never to be seen alive again. The 188,000-acre park sits on the migratory route from Africa to Europe and is the winter home and breeding ground for as many as 150 rare species of birds. Habitats range from beaches and shifting sand dunes to marshes, dense brushwood, and sandy hillsides of pine and cork oak. Two of Europe’s most endangered species, the imperial eagle and the lynx, make their homes here, and kestrels, kites, buzzards, egrets, storks, and spoonbills breed among the cork oaks.

WHERE TO STAY

Toruño.
HOTEL | Despite its location behind the famous Rocío shrine, the theme at this simple, friendly hotel is nature—it’s run by the same cooperative that leads official park tours, and has become a favorite of birders. Each room is named after a local bird species and those on the first floor have balconies and priceless views over the marshes. The hotel also runs the eponymous restaurant across the plaza, serving reasonably priced traditional fare. Be warned: this small town gets extremely busy during pilgrimage week (the week before Pentecost). Pros: views over the wetlands; bird-watching opportunities. Cons: floors and hallways resonant; beds only moderately comfortable; best for a brief stay. | Rooms from: €74 | Pl. del Acebuchal 22 El Rocío-Huelva | 959/442323 | www.toruno.es | 30 rooms | Breakfast.

MAZAGÓN

19 km (12 miles) south of Huelva.

There isn’t much to see or do in this coastal town, but the parador makes a good base for touring La Rábida, Palos de la Frontera, and Moguer. Mazagón’s sweeping sandy beach, sheltered by steep cliffs, is among the region’s nicest.

Essentials

Visitor Information
Mazagón. | Av. de los Conquistadores | 959/376246.

BEACHES

Playa de Mazagón.
The 5-km (3-mile) stretch of fine golden sand running from Mazagón to the frontier of the Doñana National Park forms one of the last unspoiled beaches in Andalusia. Dunes flank most of the beach, along with attractive sandstone cliffs; the Parador de Mazagón perches here. At the western end, the beach is popular with locals and visitors, beach bars are plentiful, and towel space at a premium in August. Walk in an easterly direction, however, and the beach becomes a much quieter affair. Bathing is generally safe, but watch for rip currents when it’s windy. Amenities: (June 15–September 15 only) food and drink; lifeguards; showers, toilets; water sports. Best for: sunset; swimming; walking.

WHERE TO STAY

Parador de Mazagón.
HOTEL | This peaceful modern parador stands on a cliff surrounded by pine groves, overlooking a sandy beach 3 km (2 miles) southeast of Mazagón. Most of the spacious and comfortable rooms have balconies overlooking the garden, and the restaurant serves Andalusian dishes and local seafood specialties, such as fried cuttlefish and white shrimps. Pros: nice views; good base for birding and biking through the wetlands. Cons: mediocre breakfast; long flight of steps to get to (and back up from) the beach. | Rooms from: €195 | Pl. de Mazagón | 959/536300 | www.parador.es | 63 rooms | No meals.

LA RÁBIDA

8 km (5 miles) northwest of Mazagón.

La Rábida’s monastery is worth a stop if you’re a history buff: it’s nicknamed “the birthplace of America” because in 1485 Columbus came from Portugal with his son Diego to stay in the Mudejar-style Franciscan monastery, where he discussed his theories with friars Antonio de Marchena and Juan Pérez. They interceded on his behalf with Queen Isabella, who had originally rejected his planned expedition.

EXPLORING

Muelle de las Carabelas (Caravel’s Wharf).
Two kilometers (1 mile) from La Rábida’s monastery, on the seashore, this is a reproduction of a 15th-century port. The star exhibits here are the full-size models of Columbus’s flotilla, the Niña, Pinta, and Santa María, built using the same techniques as in Columbus’s day. You can go aboard each and learn more about the discovery of the New World in the adjoining museum. | Paraje de la Rábida | 959/530597 | €3.55 | Sept. 16–June 14, Tues.–Sun. 9:30–8; June 15–Sept. 15, Tues.–Sun. 10:30–10.

Santa María de La Rábida.
The Mudejar-style Franciscan monastery of this church has a much-venerated 14th-century statue of the Virgen de los Milagros (Virgin of Miracles). There are relics from the discovery of America displayed in the museum and the frescoes in the gatehouse were painted by Daniel Vázquez Díaz in 1930. | Camino del Monasterio, Ctra. de Huelva | 959/350411 | www.monasteriodelarabida.com | €3 | Apr.–July and Sept.–Oct., Tues.–Sat. 10–1 and 4–7, Sun. 10:45–1 and 4–7; Nov.–Mar., Tues.–Sat. 10–1 and 4–6:15, Sun. 10:45–1 and 4–6:15; Aug., Mon.–Sat. 10–1 and 4:45–8, Sun. 10:45–1 and 4:45–8.

ARACENA

105 km (65 miles) northeast of Huelva, 100 km (62 miles) northwest of Seville.

Stretching north of the provinces of Huelva and Seville is the 460,000-acre Sierra de Aracena nature park, an expanse of hills cloaked in cork and holm oak. This region is known for its cured ibérico hams, which come from the prized free-ranging Iberian pigs that gorge on acorns in the autumn months before slaughter; the hams are buried in salt and then hung in cellars to dry-cure for at least two years. The best ibérico hams have traditionally come from the village of Jabugo.

Essentials

Visitor Information
Aracena. | Calle Pozo de la Nieve, at cave entrance | 663/937877.

EXPLORING

FAMILY | Gruta de las Maravillas (Cave of Marvels).
In the town of Aracena, the capital of the region, the main attraction is this spectacular cave. Its 12 caverns contain long corridors, stalactites and stalagmites arranged in wonderful patterns, and stunning underground lagoons. Visitor numbers are limited to 1000 per day, so go early if visiting in high season. | Calle Pozo de la Nieve Pedraza de la Sierra | 663/937876 | €8.50 | Hourly guided tours, if sufficient numbers, daily 10–1:30 and 3:30–6.

WHERE TO EAT AND STAY

Montecruz.
SPANISH | The downstairs bar here serves simple tapas, but it’s the upstairs restaurant that makes it worth a visit. The rustic dining room is decorated with wall paintings and hunting trophies, and the kitchen serves only regional produce and dishes. Try the gurumelos salteados con jamón y gambas (a type of mushroom stir-fried with ham and prawns), lomo de jabalí (boar tenderloin), or the outstanding ham; chestnut stew is the standout for dessert. Vegetarian and organic menus are available. | Average main: €15 | Pl. de San Pedro | 959/126013 | Closed Wed.

Fodor’s Choice | Finca Buenvino.
B&B/INN | This lovely country house, 6 km (4 miles) from Aracena, is nestled in 150 acres of woods and is run by a charming British couple, Sam and Jeannie Chesterton, who include big breakfasts in the room price and offer dinner for a small fee. You’ll enjoy vegetables and herbs from the garden and eggs from their own chickens, and Jeannie also conducts Spanish cookery courses for groups of up to eight people. Three woodland vacation cottages are available, converted from former stables and workers’ cottages. Views from the infinity pool (heated) are spectacular. Pros: intimate and personal; friendly hosts. Cons: somewhat removed from village life. | Rooms from: €140 | N433, Km 95 Los Marines | 959/124034 | www.fincabuenvino.com | 4 rooms, 3 cottages | Breakfast.

La Casa Noble.
B&B/INN | In this lovingly restored town house, built in 1914 as one of the town’s finest buildings, you’ll find luxury, relaxation, and friendly service from an engaging owner. All rooms are spacious and those in the older part of the house retain original tiles, beamed ceilings, and frescoed walls (those in the dining room are particularly fine); those in the newer annex come with striking modern touches. Deep tubs with scented candles and cozy sofas provide perfect relaxation after a day’s exploring. The owner can offer plenty of tips and advice on the area and organizes themed stays for foodies, walkers, and those who simply want to see the sights. Pros: luxury surroundings and amenities; central location. Cons: breakfast is delicious but has limited choices; no children under 16. | Rooms from: €195 | Calle Campito 35 | 959/127778 | www.lacasanoble.net | 6 suites | Closed Dec. 15–Jan. 15 | Breakfast.

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Cádiz Province and Jerez de La Frontera

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Jerez de la Frontera | Arcos de la Frontera | Sanlúcar de Barrameda | Puerto de Santa María | Cádiz

A trip through this province is a journey into the past. Winding roads take you through scenes ranging from flat and barren plains to seemingly endless vineyards, and the rolling countryside is carpeted with blindingly white soil known as albariza—unique to this area and the secret to the grapes used in sherry. In Jerez de La Frontera, you can savor the town’s internationally known sherry and delight in the skills and forms of purebred Carthusian horses.

Throughout the province, the pueblos blancos provide striking contrasts with the terrain, especially at Arcos de la Frontera, where the village sits dramatically on a crag overlooking the gorge of the Guadalete River. In the city of Cádiz you can absorb about 3,000 years of history in what is generally considered the oldest continuously inhabited city in the Western world.

Cádiz Province

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JEREZ DE LA FRONTERA

97 km (60 miles) south of Seville.

Jerez, world headquarters for sherry—the city was European Wine City in 2014—is surrounded by vineyards of chalky soil, producing Palomino grapes that have funded a host of churches and noble mansions. Names such as González Byass, Domecq, Harvey, and Sandeman are inextricably linked with Jerez. The word “sherry,” first used in Great Britain in 1608, is an English corruption of the town’s old Moorish name, Xeres. Both sherry and horses are the domain of Jerez’s Anglo-Spanish aristocracy, whose Catholic ancestors came here from England centuries ago. At any given time, more than half a million barrels of sherry are maturing in Jerez’s vast aboveground cellars.

Getting Here and Around

Jerez is a short way from Seville with frequent daily trains (journey time is around an hour) and buses (1 hour 15 minutes), fewer on weekends. If you’re traveling to the city by car, park in one of the city-center lots or at your hotel as street parking is difficult.

Essentials

Bus Station
Jerez de la Frontera. | Pl. de la Estación | 956/149990.

Taxi Contact
Tele Taxi. | 956/344860.

Train Station
Jerez de la Frontera. | Pl. de la Estación s/n, off Calle Diego Fernández Herrera | 902/320320.

Visitor Information
Jerez de la Frontera. | Edificio Los Arcos, Pl. del Arenal | 956/338874 | www.turismojerez.com.

EXPLORING

Top Attractions

Alcázar.
Once the residence of the caliph of Seville, the 12th-century Alcázar and its small, octagonal mosque and baths were built for the Moorish governor’s private use. The baths have three sections: the sala fria (cold room), the larger sala templada (warm room), and the sala caliente (hot room) for steam baths. In the midst of it all is the 17th-century Palacio de Villavicencio, built on the site of the original Moorish palace. A camera obscura, a lens-and-mirrors device that projects the outdoors onto a large indoor screen, offers a 360-degree view of Jerez. | Calle Alameda Vieja | 956/149955 | €5, €7 including camera obscura | Mar.–Oct., weekdays 9:30–6 (until 8 July–mid-Sept.), weekends 9:30–3; Nov.–Feb., daily 9:30–3.

Catedral de Jerez.
Across from the Alcázar and around the corner from the González Byass winery, the cathedral has an octagonal cupola and a separate bell tower, as well as Zurbarán’s canvas La Virgen Niña (The Virgin as a Young Girl). | Pl. de la Encarnación | 956/169059 | €5 | Mon.–Sat. 10–6:30.

Fodor’s Choice | Plaza de la Asunción.
Here on one of Jerez’s most intimate squares you can find the Mudejar church of San Dionisio and the ornate cabildo municipal (city hall), with a lovely plateresque facade dating from 1575. | Jerez de la Frontera, Cádiz.

FAMILY | Fodor’s Choice | Real Escuela Andaluza del Arte Ecuestre (Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art).
This prestigious school operates on the grounds of the Recreo de las Cadenas, a 19th-century palace. The school was masterminded by Alvaro Domecq in the 1970s, and every Thursday (and at various other times throughout the year) the Cartujana horses—a cross between the native Andalusian workhorse and the Arabian—and skilled riders in 18th-century riding costume demonstrate intricate dressage techniques and jumping in the spectacular show “Cómo Bailan los Caballos Andaluces” (roughly, “The Dancing Horses of Andalusia”). Reservations are essential. Admission price depends on how close to the arena you sit; the first two rows are the priciest. At certain other times you can visit the stables and tack room, and watch the horses being schooled. | Av. Duque de Abrantes | 956/319635 for info | www.realescuela.org | Shows €21–€27, stables tour and training sessions €11 | Times for shows, tours, and training sessions vary throughout the year; check website for up-to-date details.

Worth Noting

Domecq.
This is Jerez’s oldest bodega, founded in 1730. Aside from sherry, Domecq makes the world’s best-selling brandy, Fundador. Harveys Bristol Cream is also part of the Domecq group. | Calle San Ildefonso 3 | 956/151552 | www.bodegasfundadorpedrodomecq.com | Tours Mar.–Oct., weekdays at 10, noon, 1, 2, 3 and 4, Sat. at noon, 1 and 2; Jan., Feb., Nov., and Dec., Mon.–Sat. at noon, 1, and 2.

González Byass.
If you have time for only one bodega, make it this one—home of the famous Tío Pepe. The tour is well organized and includes La Concha, an open-air aging cellar designed by Gustave Eiffel. Tours in English daily at noon, 1, 2 and 5 (no afternoon tour on Sunday). | Calle Manuel María González | 956/357016 | www.bodegastiopepe.com | Tours Mon.–Sat. at noon, 1, 2, and 5, Sun. at noon.

Jerez Plaza de Toros.
Jerez’s bullring is northeast of the city center. Tickets are sold at the official ticket office on Calle Porvera, but only about five bullfights are held each year, in May and October. | Calle Circo.

Museo Arqueológico.
Diving into the maze of streets that form the scruffy San Mateo neighborhood east of the town center, you come to one of Andalusia’s best archaeological museums, which were extensively restored prior to 2012. The collection is strongest on the pre-Roman period and the star item, found near Jerez, is a Greek helmet dating from the 7th century BC. | Pl. del Mercado s/n | 956/149561 | €5 | Tues.–Fri. 10–2 and 4–7, weekends 10–2.

Museo Taurino.
Six blocks from the bullring is this bullfighting museum, where admission includes a drink. | Calle Pozo del Olivar 6 | 956/319000 | €2.50 | Mon.–Sat. 10–2.

FAMILY | Parque Zoológico.
Just west of the town center, the Jerez zoo is set in lush botanical gardens where you can usually spy up to 33 storks’ nests. Primarily a place for the rehabilitation of injured or endangered animals native to the region, the zoo also houses white tigers, elephants, a giant red panda, and the endangered Iberian lynx (the only place where you can see the lynx in captivity). | Calle Madreselva | 956/149785 | www.zoobotanicojerez.com | €9.30 | May–mid-June., Tues.–Sun. 10–7; mid-June–mid-Sept., daily 10–7; Oct.–Apr., Tues.–Sun. 10–6.

San Miguel.
One block from the Plaza del Arenal, near the Alcázar, stands the church of San Miguel. Built over the 15th and 16th centuries, it’s interior illustrates the evolution of Gothic architecture, with various styles mixed into the design. | Pl. de San Miguel | 956/343347 | Free | Weekdays 9:30–1:30 and 4:30–6:30, by appointment.

Sandeman.
This brand of sherry is known for its dashing man-in-a-cape logo. | Calle Pizarro 10 | 675/647177 | www.sandeman.eu.

Winery Tours in Jerez

On a bodega (winery) visit, you’ll learn about the solera method of blending old wine with new, and the importance of the flor (yeast that forms on the wine as it ages) in determining the kind of sherry.

Phone ahead for an appointment to make sure you join a group that speaks your language. Admission fees start at €7 (more for extra wine tasting or tapas) and tours, which last between 60 and 90 minutes, go through the aging cellars, with their endless rows of casks. (You won’t see the actual fermenting and bottling, which take place in more modern, less romantic plants outside town.) Finally, you’ll be invited to sample generous amounts of pale, dry fino, nutty amontillado, or rich, deep oloroso, and, of course, to purchase a few robustly priced bottles in the winery shop.

Yeguada de la Cartuja.
This farm just outside Jerez de la Frontera specializes in Carthusian horses. In the 15th century, a Carthusian monastery on this site started the breed for which Jerez and the rest of Spain are now famous. Visits include a full tour of the stables and training areas, and a show. Book ahead. | Finca Fuente El Suero, Ctra. Medina–El Portal, Km 6.5 | 956/162809 | www.yeguadacartuja.com | €15.50–€21.50 | Tour and show Sat. at 11 am.

WHERE TO EAT

Albores.
SPANISH | Opposite the city hall, this restaurant, with pleasant outdoor seating under orange trees and a sleek interior with low lighting, serves modern dishes with a traditional base. The menu is extensive and changes often, although must-try staples include barriga de atún con salsa cremosa de soja y mermelada de tomate (tuna belly with cream of soy sauce and tomato jam) and lomo de ciervo con boniato y salsa de mostaza (venison filet with sweet potato and mustard sauce). Portions are generous and sharing is encouraged, but half portions are also available if you want something for yourself. This is a busy venue (book on weekends), but service is always efficient and reasonably swift. | Average main: €13 | Calle Consistorio 12 | 956/320266.

El Bosque.
SPANISH | In an early-20th-century villa with contemporary paintings of bullfights, this is one of the most stylish dining spots in town, and the smaller of the two dining rooms has picture windows overlooking a park. The food is contemporary Spanish: Sopa de galeras (shrimp soup) is a rich appetizer; follow up with the local favorite arroz con langostinos (rice with jumbo shrimps) or rabo de toro al estilo El Bosque (oxtail in sherry). Desserts are less exciting but include a delicious tocino de cielo (egg-yolk pudding). Service is excellent. | Average main: €22 | Av. Alcalde Alvaro Domecq 26 | 956/307030 | Closed Sun. and Mon.

Fodor’s Choice | La Carboná.
SPANISH | In a former bodega, this eatery has a rustic atmosphere with arches, beams, and a fireplace for winter nights, and in summer you can often enjoy live music and sometimes flamenco dancing while you dine. The chef has worked at several top restaurants, and his menu includes traditional grilled meats as well as innovative twists on classic dishes, such as foie gras terrine with strawberry coulis, and cod with artichoke and fino cream. Try the sherry menú de degustación (€32)—five courses, each accompanied by a different type of sherry. Both the tapas menu and the wine list are excellent. | Average main: €14 | Calle San Francisco de Paula 2 | 956/347475 | Closed Tues.

Mesón del Asador.
SPANISH | Just off the Plaza del Arenal, this rustic meat restaurant is always packed with young locals who crowd around the bar for cheap and generous tapas (from €2.50). Oxtail stew, fried chorizo, black pudding, and pig’s-cheek stew come in huge portions, resulting in an incredibly inexpensive meal. Choose table service to try the excellent oxtail sirloin or other type of meat, barbecued or grilled on hot stones. | Average main: €12 | Calle Remedios 2–4 | 952/322658 | Reservations not accepted.

Fodor’s Choice | Sabores.
SPANISH | The walled garden at this eatery, widely regarded as the best restaurant in town, is a cool spot on a warm night. The staff’s enthusiasm and culinary knowledge will help guide your choice. Consider kickstarting your meal with the creative tapas, such as roast pork, tomato and Manchego cheese on toast, and fried hake with lemon sauce. Innovative main dishes include fish of the day with sauteed eggplant and asparagus, and slow-cooked oxtail in sherry, carrot and ginger. | Average main: €16 | Chancilleria Hotel, Calle Chancilleria 21 | 956/329835 | Reservations essential | No lunch Mon.

Venta Antonio.
SEAFOOD | Crowds come to this roadside inn for superb, fresh seafood cooked in top-quality olive oil. You enter through the busy bar, where lobsters await their fate in a tank. Try the specialties of the Bay of Cádiz, such as sopa de mariscos (shellfish soup) followed by succulent bogavantes de Sanlúcar (local lobster). Be prepared for large, noisy Spanish families dining here on the weekends, particularly during the winter months. | Average main: €12 | Ctra. de Jerez–Sanlúcar, Km 5 | 956/140535 | Closed Mon.

WHERE TO STAY

Fodor’s Choice | Hotel Palacio Garvey.
B&B/INN | Dating from 1850, this luxurious boutique hotel was once the home of the prestigious Garvey family, and the original neoclassical architecture and interior decoration has been exquisitely restored. Tastefully minimalist rooms have shiny parquet floors and sleek furniture, and the artwork throughout the hotel is edgy and modern. The restaurant’s red lacquered chairs provide a suitably innovative impact to match the modern Mediterranean cuisine. Parts of the ancient city wall are visible from the gardens. Pros: in the center of town; fashionable and contemporary feel. Cons: breakfast offers few choices; inadequate parking. | Rooms from: €85 | Calle Tornería 24 | 956/326700 | www.hotelpalaciogarvey.com | 7 rooms, 9 suites | Breakfast.

Hotel San Andrés.
HOTEL | This low-rise hotel on a quiet side street off the center has an inviting traditional entrance patio and rooms set around a courtyard filled with plants, local tile work, and graceful arches. The rooms are modestly decorated with pine furniture set against dazzling white walls. There is also a less expensive pensión within the same building, with 18 similar quality rooms but shared bathrooms. Pros: friendly owners; easy on-street parking. Cons: small rooms; accommodation only. | Rooms from: €40 | Calle Morenos 12 | 956/340983 | www.hotel-sanandres.com | 30 rooms | No meals.

Hotel Villa Jerez.
B&B/INN | Tastefully furnished, this hacienda-style hotel offers luxury on the outskirts of town. The traditional courtyard is surrounded by lush landscaped gardens featuring palm trees and a dazzling array of colorful plants. It has an elegant Italian restaurant with terrace and a saltwater swimming pool. The bedrooms are individually decorated, plush, and well equipped, and the staff is friendly and efficient. Pros: elegant surroundings; noble architecture. Cons: outside of town center; small pool. | Rooms from: €100 | Av. de la Cruz Roja 7 | 956/153100 | www.hace.es/hotelvillajerez | 14 rooms, 4 suites | No meals.

La Fonda Barranco.
HOTEL | A block away from the cathedral and behind the police station, this typical Jerez townhouse has been restored to its full bourgeois glory, preserving original tiled floors, beamed ceilings, and a light central patio. Rooms are small, dressed in white with Moroccan touches and blissfully cool in the warmer months. Two apartments on the top floor provide great accommodations for four or five people. The rooftop terrace has lovely views over to the cathedral, and you can enjoy breakfast or a drink up here. Pros: personalized attention; central location; good value. Cons: some rooms are dark; no elevator. | Rooms from: €75 | Calle Barranco 12 | 956/332141 | www.lafondabarranco.com | 8 rooms, 2 apartments | No meals.

Las Palomas.
HOTEL | This inexpensive hotel also happens to be one of the oldest in town, and the restored rooftop terrace, with its sweeping views, is the perfect spot to relax with a drink. Thanks to the enthusiasm of the owners, its interior is cheery and bright, with sunny yellow paint, wrought-iron beds, wood shutters, and ocher floor tiles. The rooms are set around a charming tiled patio where a buffet breakfast is available. The owners speak English and can advise on local restaurants, sights, and activities. Pros: simple and homey rooms; friendly English-speaking owners. Cons: rooms facing the patio are noisy. | Rooms from: €36 | Calle Higueras 17 | 956/343773 | www.pension-las-palomas.es | 35 rooms | No meals.

SPORTS AND THE OUTDOORS

Circuito Permanente de Velocidad.
Formula One Grand Prix races—including the Spanish motorcycle Grand Prix on the first weekend in May—are held at Jerez’s racetrack. | Ctra. Arcos, Km 10 | 956/151100 | www.circuitodejerez.com.

SHOPPING

Calle Corredera and Calle Bodegas are the places to go if you want to browse for wicker and ceramics.

ARCOS DE LA FRONTERA

31 km (19 miles) east of Jerez.

Its narrow and steep cobblestone streets, whitewashed houses, and finely crafted wrought-iron window grilles make Arcos the quintessential Andalusian pueblo blanco. Make your way to the main square, the Plaza de España, the highest point in the village; one side of the square is open, and a balcony at the edge of the cliff offers views of the Guadalete Valley. On the opposite end is the church of Santa María de la Asunción, a fascinating blend of architectural styles—Romanesque, Gothic, and Mudejar—with a plateresque doorway, a Renaissance retablo (altarpiece), and a 17th-century baroque choir. The Ayuntamiento stands at the foot of the old castle walls on the northern side of the square; across is the Casa del Corregidor, onetime residence of the governor and now a parador. Arcos is the westernmost of the 19 pueblos blancos dotted around the Sierra de Cádiz.

Getting Here and Around

Arcos is best reached by private car, but there are frequent bus services here from Cádiz, Jerez, and Seville on weekdays. Weekend services are less frequent.

Essentials

Visitor Information
Arcos de la Frontera. | Cuesta de Belén 5 | 956/702264 | www.turismoarcos.es.

WHERE TO EAT

El Paquetito.
TAPAS | At the bottom of the climb up to the old town, this small restaurant serves—according to many—the best tapas (from €2.50) in Arcos. Signature tapas are paquetitos (little parcels) of filo pastry with seven different fillings; the most requested are the goat cheese with spinach and pine nuts, and the salmon with herbed cheese. Tapas change on the weekend. Berenjenas con miel (fried eggplant with honey) and the filet steak with Pedro Ximénez sherry are other house specialties. The interior is cheap and cheerful, with plastic tables on the pleasant outside terrace and wooden ones inside. | Average main: €8 | Av. Miguel Mancheño 1 | 956/704937 | Closed Wed. mid-Sept.–June. No lunch weekends July–mid-Sept.

Mesón del Corregidor.
SPANISH | The old town has only one real restaurant—this one within the parador hotel—and it boasts perhaps the best views ever from a table. Wherever you choose to sit (bar, terrace, or restaurant), you’ll dine looking over the clifftop to the miles of green countryside beyond. Parador fare is justly famed in Spain and the food on offer here is no exception. Try the corvina a la roteña (sea bass Rota style, steamed with vegetables) or the carrillera de cerdo en salsa de almendra (pig’s cheek in almond sauce). Finish with delicias del cielo (“heavenly delights”—cream of coconut). | Average main: €12 | Parador Casa del Corregidor, Pl. del Cabildo | 956/700500.

WHERE TO STAY

Fodor’s Choice | El Convento.
B&B/INN | Perched atop the cliff behind the town parador, this tiny hotel in a former 17th-century convent shares the amazing view of another hotel in town, its swish neighbor (La Casa Grande). Though the rooms here are smaller and very slightly cheaper, most have private terraces, and all are furnished tastefully with period artwork and sculptures. In addition guests have the use of a large rooftop terrace on the edge of the cliff. There is no restaurant, but breakfast is available. Pros: location; intimacy. Cons: small spaces; lots of stairs. | Rooms from: €82 | Calle Maldonado 2 | 956/702333 | www.hotelelconvento.es | 13 rooms | Closed Nov.–Feb. | No meals.

Fodor’s Choice | La Casa Grande.
B&B/INN | Built in 1729, this extraordinary 18th-century mansion encircles a central patio with lush vegetation and is perched on the edge of the 400-foot cliff to which Arcos de la Frontera clings. Inside, Catalan owner Elena Posa has restored each room, and the artwork, the casually elegant style, and the inventive bathrooms are all a delight. The breakfast terrace allows you to look down on hundreds of swallows circling over the riverbed below. The rooftop rooms, El Palomar (the Pigeon Roost) and El Soberao (the Attic), are the best, but the Cuarto Bajo and Cuarto y Mitad rooms have large terraces. Pros: attentive owner; impeccable aesthetics. Cons: inconvenient parking; long climb to the top floor. | Rooms from: €90 | Calle Maldonado 10 | 956/703930 | www.lacasagrande.net | 7 rooms | No meals.

Parador Casa del Corregidor.
HOTEL | Expect a spectacular view from the terrace, as this parador clings to the cliffside, overlooking the rolling valley of the Guadalete River. Public rooms include a popular bar and restaurant, Mesón del Corregidor (FSee Where to Eat), which opens onto the terrace and an enclosed patio, and the best rooms are 6–9 and 15–18, which overlook the valley (well worth the €35 extra). Spacious guest rooms are furnished with dark Castilian furniture, reed rugs, and abundant tiles. Pros: gorgeous views from certain rooms; elegant interiors. Cons: public areas a little tired; expensive bar and cafeteria. | Rooms from: €171 | Pl. del Cabildo | 956/700500 | www.parador.es | 24 rooms | No meals.

SANLÚCAR DE BARRAMEDA

24 km (15 miles) northwest of Jerez.

This fishing town has a crumbling charm and is best known for its langostinos (jumbo shrimp) and manzanilla, an exceptionally dry sherry, though it’s also known because Columbus sailed from this harbor on his third voyage to the Americas, in 1498, and 20 years later Ferdinand Magellan began his circumnavigation of the globe from here. The most popular restaurants are in the Bajo de Guía neighborhood, on the banks of the Guadalquivir. Here, too, is a visitor center for Doñana National Park (open daily 9–6:45 in winter and 9–8 in summer).

EXPLORING

Real Fernando.
Boat trips can take you up the river, stopping at various points in the park; the Real Fernando, with bar and café, does a 3½-hour cruise up the Guadalquivir to the Coto de Doñana and a combined 2½-hour boat trip with a Jeep tour in Doñana. Book ahead. | Edificio Fábrica de Hielo, Bajo de Guía Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Cádiz | 956/363813 | www.visitasdonana.com | €17.27 cruise, €35boat/jeep tour Cruises: June–mid-Sept., daily at 10 and 5; Mar.–May and mid-Sept.–Oct., daily at 10 and 4; Nov.–Feb., daily 10. Boat/Jeep tour: Oct.–May, daily at 9:30, 11 and 3 (also at 4:30 Apr.–May); June–Sept., daily at 9:30, 11, 4, and 5:30.

WHERE TO EAT AND STAY

Casa Bigote.
SEAFOOD | Colorful and informal, this spot near the beach is known for its fried acedias (a type of small sole) and langostinos, which come from these very waters. The seafood paella is also catch-of-the-day fresh. To get here head down the Bajo de Guía; the restaurant is toward the end. Reservations, which can be made through their website (three days in advance), are advisable in summer as the place gets packed with vacationers and locals. | Average main: €17 | Bajo de Guía 10 Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Cádiz | 956/362696 | www.restaurantecasabigote.com | Closed Sun. and Nov.

Mirador de Doñana.
SEAFOOD | This Bajo de Guía landmark, with a large terrace overlooking the water, serves delicious sea bass tartare, chocos (cuttlefish), and exquisite locally caught langostinos de Sanlúcar (jumbo shrimp), which is particularly recommended when washed down with a glass of locally produced manzanilla. The dining area overlooks the large, busy tapas bar. | Average main: €14 | Bajo de Guía Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Cádiz | 956/364205.

Los Helechos.
HOTEL | Named for the ferns (los helechos) that dominate the public spaces, this former private mansion has rooms set around two delightful courtyards, with traditional stone fountains and leafy plants and palms. The spacious rooms are painted in cool pastels and have cozy drapes and wooden floors. A lovely rooftop terrace with pool has the distinct advantage of being out of earshot but within stumbling distance of the Plaza del Cabildo. Pros: ideal location; top value. Cons: not easy to find; some rooms are plain. | Rooms from: €85 | Pl. Madre de Dios 9 Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Cádiz | 956/361349 | www.hotelloshelechos.com | 56 rooms | No meals.

Posada de Palacio.
B&B/INN | On a narrow street in the historic center, this romantic 18th-century palace with Moorish influences is an architectural delight. Three patios (one communal) and several private terraces provide ample space for rest, and the interiors are a colorful mix of period artwork, plants, and antique furniture. Rooms vary greatly in style: some are cavernous with stone floors, others have high ceilings with wood beams. All have been individually decorated and are equipped with large and comfortable beds, but rooms on the upper floor tend to have more natural light. Pros: beautiful setting; historic charm. Cons: some rooms in need of refurbishment; parking difficult. | Rooms from: €120 | Calle Caballeros 9–11 Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Cádiz | 956/364840 | www.posadadepalacio.com | 27 rooms, 6 suites | No meals.

PUERTO DE SANTA MARÍA

12 km (7 miles) southwest of Jerez, 17 km (11 miles) north of Cαdiz.

This attractive if somewhat dilapidated little fishing port on the northern shores of the Bay of Cádiz, with lovely beaches nearby, has white houses with peeling facades and vast green grilles covering the doors and windows. The town is dominated by the Terry and Osborne sherry and brandy bodegas. Columbus once lived in a house on the square that bears his name (Cristobal Colón), and Washington Irving spent the autumn of 1828 at Calle Palacios 57. The marisco bars along the Ribera del Marisco (Seafood Way) are Puerto de Santa María’s main claim to fame. La Dorada, Romerijo La Guachi, and Casa Paco Ceballos are among the most popular, along with El Betis, at Misericordia 7. The tourist office organizes several tours round the port and some include visits to the more than 70 tapas bars in the town!

Essentials

Visitor Information
Puerto de Santa María. | Pl. del Castillo | 956/483715 | www.turismoelpuerto.com.

EXPLORING

Castillo de San Marcos.
This castle was built in the 13th century on the site of a mosque. Created by Alfonso X, it was later home to the Duke of Medinaceli. Among the guests were Christopher Columbus—who tried unsuccessfully to persuade the duke to finance his voyage west—and Juan de la Cosa, who, within these walls, drew up the first map ever to include the Americas. The red lettering on the walls is a 19th-century addition. Visits are by tour only (in English at 1) and include the bodega next door. | Pl. de Alfonso X | 956/851751 | €6 | Tues. 11:30–1:30, Wed. and Sat. 10–2.

Plaza de Toros.
The stunning neo-Mudejar bullring was built in 1880 thanks to a donation from the winemaker Thomas Osborne. It originally had seating for exactly 12,816 people, the entire population of Puerto at that time. | Los Moros | Free | Tues.–Fri., 11–1. Closed to visitors on bullfight days plus days before and after.

WHERE TO EAT AND STAY

Fodor’s Choice | Aponiente.
SPANISH | Deemed one of the world’s top ten chefs by the New York Times in 2014 and worthy of a Michelin star in 2013, Ángel León showcases his creative seafood dishes in this elegant restaurant where edgy interior design combines lime green with crisp white lighting and table linen. Aponiente serves two menús de degustación (€80 for 14 dishes or €115 for 22), or you can mix and match food and wine for €45. Expect plenty of gastronomic inventions such as marine cheese, cuttlefish with potatoes, and rice with plankton and sea cucumber. León avoids species of fish that have become scarce, championing more abundant species such as sardines, shrimp, and cuttlefish. | Average main: €75 | Calle Puerto Escondido 6 | 856/151186 | www.aponiente.com | Reservations essential | Closed Sun. and Mon. Nov.–mid-Mar. (phone for exact dates).

El Faro del Puerto.
SPANISH | In a villa outside town, the “Lighthouse in the Port” is run by the same family that established the classic El Faro in Cádiz. Like its predecessor, it serves excellent seafood, most of which is freshly caught locally. The chef places the emphasis on seasonal fare, which is reflected in the daily specials, and the restaurant has its own vegetable garden. The impressive wine list runs to over 400 choices. Dining alfresco on the outside terrace is particularly pleasant. Cheaper but just as tasty dishes are available at the bar. | Average main: €20 | Ctra. Fuentebravia–Rota, Km 0.5 | 956/870952 | www.elfarodelpuerto.com | No dinner Sun., except in Aug.

Fodor’s Choice | Monasterio San Miguel.
HOTEL | Dating from 1733, this former monastery is a few blocks from the harbor; there’s nothing spartan about the former cells, which are now plush suites with all the trappings. The restaurant is in a large, vaulted hall (formerly the nuns’ laundry), the baroque church is now a concert hall, and the cloister’s gardens provide a peaceful refuge. Beam ceilings, polished marble floors, and huge brass lamps enhance the 18th-century feel. Pros: supremely elegant; efficient service. Cons: some furnishings worn out; breakfast has little variety. | Rooms from: €90 | Calle Virgen de los Milagros 27 | 956/540440 | www.sanmiguelhotelmonasterio.com | 141 rooms, 24 suites | Breakfast.

CÁDIZ

32 km (20 miles) southwest of Jerez, 149 km (93 miles) southwest of Seville.

With the Atlantic Ocean on three sides, Cádiz is a bustling town that’s been shaped by a variety of cultures, and has the varied architecture to prove it. Founded as Gadir by Phoenician traders in 1100 BC, Cádiz claims to be the oldest continuously inhabited city in the Western world. Hannibal lived in Cádiz for a time, Julius Caesar first held public office here, and Columbus set out from here on his second voyage, after which the city became the home base of the Spanish fleet. In the 18th century, when the Guadalquivir silted up, Cádiz monopolized New World trade and became the wealthiest port in Western Europe. Most of its buildings—including the cathedral, built in part with wealth generated by gold and silver from the New World—date from this period. The old city is African in appearance and immensely intriguing—a cluster of narrow streets opening onto charming small squares. The golden cupola of the cathedral looms above low white houses, and the whole place has a slightly dilapidated air. Spaniards flock here in February to revel in the carnival celebrations, but in general it’s not very touristy.

Getting Here and Around

Every day, around 15 local trains connect Cádiz with Seville, Puerto de Santa María, and Jerez. The city has two bus stations. The main one, run by Comes, serves most destinations in Andalusia and farther afield; the other, run by Socibus, serves Córdoba and Madrid. There are buses to and from Sanlúcar de Barrameda (12 on weekdays), Arcos de la Frontera (4 daily), and the Costa del Sol (4 daily). Cádiz is easy to get to and navigate by car. Once there, the old city is easily explored by foot.

Essentials

Bus Station
Cádiz–Estación de Autobuses Comes. | Pl. de Sevilla | 902/199208
Cádiz-Estación de Autobuses Socibus. | Av. León de Carranza 20 | 902/229292.

Taxi Contact
Radiotaxi. | 956/212121.

Train Station
Cádiz. | Pl. de Sevilla s/n | 902/320320.

Visitor Information
Local Tourist Office. | Paseo de Canalejas | 956/241001 | www.turismo.cadiz.es | Av. Caballerizas Reales s/n, Judería, | Córdoba | 902/201774
Provincial Tourist Office. | Pl. de San Antonio 3, 2nd fl. | 956/807061
Regional Tourist Office. | Av. Ramón de Carranza s/n | 956/203191 | www.cadizturismo.com.

EXPLORING

Begin your explorations in the Plaza de Mina, a large, leafy square with palm trees and plenty of benches.

Top Attractions

Cádiz Cathedral.
Five blocks southeast of the Torre Tavira are the gold dome and baroque facade of Cádiz’s cathedral, begun in 1722, when the city was at the height of its power. The Cádiz-born composer Manuel de Falla, who died in 1946 at the age of 70, is buried in the crypt. The cathedral museum, on Calle Acero, displays gold, silver, and jewels from the New World, as well as Enrique de Arfe’s processional cross, which is carried in the annual Corpus Christi parades. The cathedral is known as the New Cathedral because it supplanted the original 13th-century structure next door, which was destroyed by the British in 1592, rebuilt, and rechristened the church of Santa Cruz when the New Cathedral came along. | Pl. Catedral | 956/286154 | €5, includes crypt, museum, and church of Santa Cruz | Museum, crypt, and Santa Cruz: Mon.–Sat. 10–6:30, Sun. 1:30–6:30; Cathedral: Mass Sun. at noon.

Museo de Cádiz (Provincial Museum).
On the east side of the Plaza de Mina is Cadiz’s provincial museum. Notable pieces include works by Murillo and Alonso Cano as well as the Four Evangelists and a set of saints by Zurbarán. The archaeological section contains Phoenician sarcophagi from the time of this ancient city’s birth. | Pl. de Mina | 956/203368 | €1.50 | June–Sept., Tues.–Sat. 9–3, Sun. 10–5; Oct.–May, Tues.–Sat. 10–8:30, Sun. 10–5.

Oratorio de San Felipe Neri.
A walk up Calle San José from the Plaza de la Mina will bring you to this church, where Spain’s first liberal constitution (known affectionately as La Pepa) was declared in 1812. It was here, too, that the Cortes (Parliament) of Cádiz met when the rest of Spain was subjected to the rule of Napoléon’s brother, Joseph Bonaparte (more popularly known as Pepe Botella, for his love of the bottle). On the main altar is an Immaculate Conception by Murillo, the great Sevillian artist who in 1682 fell to his death from a scaffold while working on his Mystic Marriage of St. Catherine in Cádiz’s Chapel of Santa Catalina. | Calle Santa Inés 38 | 956/229120 | €3 (free Sun.) | Tues.–Fri. 10–1:45 and 5–7:45, Sat. 10–1:45, Sun. 11–1:45.

FAMILY | Fodor’s Choice | Torre Tavira.
At 150 feet, this is the highest point in the old city. More than a hundred such watchtowers were used by Cádiz ship owners to spot their arriving fleets. A camera obscura gives a good overview of the city and its monuments; the last show is a half hour before closing time. | Calle Marqués del Real Tesoro 10 | 956/212910 | €5 | Daily 10–6 (until 8 May–Sept.).

Worth Noting

Ayuntamiento (City hall).
This impressive building overlooks the Plaza San Juan de Diós, one of Cádiz’s liveliest hubs. It’s attractively illuminated at night and open to visits on Saturday mornings. Just ring the bell next to the door. | Pl. de San Juan de Dios | Sat. 11–12:45.

Gran Teatro Manuel de Falla.
Four blocks west of Santa Inés is the Plaza Manuel de Falla, overlooked by this amazing neo-Mudejar redbrick building. The classic interior is impressive as well; try to attend a performance. | Pl. Manuel de Falla | 956/220828.

Museo de las Cortes.
Next door to the Oratorio de San Felipe Neri, this small but pleasant museum has a 19th-century mural depicting the establishment of the Constitution of 1812. Its real showpiece, however, is a 1779 ivory-and-mahogany model of Cádiz, with all of the city’s streets and buildings in minute detail, looking much as they do now. | Calle Santa Inés 9 | 956/221788 | Free | Tues.–Fri. 9–6, weekends 9–2.

Oratorio de la Santa Cueva.
A few blocks east of the Plaza de Mina, next door to the Iglesia del Rosario, this oval 18th-century chapel has three frescoes by Goya. | Calle Rosario 10 | 956/222262 | €3 | Apr.–Oct., Tues.–Fri. 11–2 and 5:30–8:30, weekends 11–2; Nov.–Mar., Tues.–Fri. 10–1 and 4:30–7:30, weekends 10–1.

Plaza San Francisco.
Near the Ayuntamiento is this pretty square surrounded by white-and-yellow houses and filled with orange trees and elegant streetlamps. It’s especially lively during the evening paseo (promenade). | Cádiz, Cádiz.

WHERE TO EAT AND STAY

Fodor’s Choice | Casa Manteca.
SPANISH | Cádiz’s most quintessentially Andalusian tavern is in the neighborhood of La Viña, named for the vineyard that once grew here. Chacina (Iberian ham or sausage) and chicharrones de Cádiz (cold pork) served on waxed paper and washed down with manzanilla are standard fare at the low wooden counter that has served bullfighters and flamenco singers, as well as dignitaries from around the world, since 1953. The walls are covered with colorful posters and other memorabilia from the annual carnival, flamenco shows, and ferias. No hot dishes are available. | Average main: €8 | Corralón de los Carros 66 | 956/213603 | No dinner Sun. and Mon.

Fodor’s Choice | El Faro.
SPANISH | This famous fishing-quarter restaurant near Playa de la Caleta is deservedly known as one of the best in the province. From the outside, it’s one of many whitewashed houses with ocher details and shiny black lanterns; inside it’s warm and inviting, with half-tile walls, glass lanterns, oil paintings, and photos of old Cádiz. Fish dishes dominate the menu, of course, but meat and vegetarian options are always available. If you don’t want to go for the full splurge (either gastronomically or financially), there’s an excellent tapas bar. | Average main: €20 | Calle San Felix 15 | 956/211068.

El Ventorrillo del Chato.
SPANISH | Standing on its own on the sandy isthmus between the Atlantic and the Bay of Cádiz, this former inn was founded in 1780 by a man ironically nicknamed “El Chato” (“the small-nosed”) for his prominent proboscis. Run by a scion of El Faro’s Gonzalo Córdoba, the restaurant serves tasty regional specialties in charming Andalusian surroundings. Seafood is a favorite, but meat, stews, and rice dishes are also well represented on the menu, and the wine list is very good. | Average main: €18 | Vía Augusta Julia | 956/250025 | www.ventorrillodelchato.com | No dinner Sun. except in Aug.

Argantonia.
B&B/INN | This small, family-run hotel in the historic center of town combines traditional style and modern amenities with impressive results. Each of the three floors in the 19th-century mansion has been decorated in a different style: Andalusian (first), French colonial (second), and simple rustic colonial (third). All rooms have generous mosaic-tiled bathrooms and balconies, some facing the patio rather than the street. Breakfast is abundant, with hot options available on request. Pros: friendly and helpful staff; great location. Cons: some rooms on the small side. | Rooms from: €119 | Calle Argantonio 3 | 956/211640 | www.hotelargantonio.com | 16 rooms, 1 suite | Breakfast.

Las Cortes de Cádiz.
HOTEL | This colonial-style lodging, clustered around a delightful light-filled atrium, has an attractive and stylish appeal and a rooftop terrace with sweeping views. There’s a glossy marble-and-tile reception area and four floors of rooms washed in pale pastel shades. The restaurant provides Spanish fare in intimate surroundings. Modern comforts include a small spa and well-equipped gym. Pros: tastefully renovated building; excellent service. Cons: few staffers speak English; interior rooms rather dark, with no external windows. | Rooms from: €135 | Calle San Francisco 9 | 956/220489 | www.hotellascortes.com | 36 rooms | No meals.

Parador de Cádiz.
HOTEL | Totally reformed in 2013, this parador has a privileged position overlooking the bay. The spacious public areas combine wood, steel, and marble, with black and white furniture to introduce a modern edgy look. Rooms are also large and are mostly decorated in beige and white tones; most have balconies facing the sea. The pool, surrounded by decking and with panoramic ocean views, is one of the highlights. Pros: great views of the bay; central location; bright and cheerful. Cons: could be too modern for some. | Rooms from: €185 | Av. Duque de Nájera 9 | 956/226905 | www.parador.es | 106 rooms, 18 suites | No meals.

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Córdoba

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Exploring | Where to Eat | Where to Stay | Nightlife | Performing Arts | Shopping

166 km (103 miles) northwest of Granada, 407 km (250 miles) southwest of Madrid, 239 km (143 miles) northeast of Cádiz, 143 km (86 miles) northeast of Seville.

Strategically located on the north bank of the Guadalquivir River, Córdoba was the Roman and Moorish capital of Spain, and its old quarter, clustered around its famous Mezquita, remains one of the country’s grandest and yet most intimate examples of its Moorish heritage. Once a medieval city famed for the peaceful and prosperous coexistence of its three religious cultures—Islamic, Jewish, and Christian—Córdoba is also a perfect analogue for the cultural history of the Iberian Peninsula.

Córdoba today, with its modest population of a little more than 300,000, offers a cultural depth and intensity—a direct legacy from the great emirs, caliphs, philosophers, physicians, poets, and engineers of the days of the caliphate—that far outstrips the city’s current commercial and political power. Its artistic and historical treasures begin with the Mezquita-Catedral (mosque-cathedral), as it is ever-more-frequently called, and continue through the winding, whitewashed streets of the Judería (the medieval Jewish quarter); the jasmine-, geranium-, and orange blossom–filled patios; the Renaissance palaces; and the two dozen churches, convents, and hermitages, built by Moorish artisans directly over former mosques.

Córdoba’s History

The Romans invaded Córdoba in 206 BC, later making it the capital of Rome’s section of Spain. Nearly 800 years later, the Visigoth king Leovigildus took control, but the tribe was soon supplanted by the Moors, whose emirs and caliphs held court here from the 8th to the early 11th century. At that point Córdoba was one of the greatest centers of art, culture, and learning in the Western world; one of its libraries had a staggering 400,000 volumes. Moors, Christians, and Jews lived together in harmony within Córdoba’s walls. In that era, it was considered second in importance only to Constantinople; but in 1009, Prince Muhammad II and Omeyan led a rebellion that broke up the caliphate, leading to power flowing to separate Moorish kingdoms.

Córdoba remained in Moorish hands until it was conquered by King Ferdinand in 1236 and repopulated from the north of Spain. Later, the Catholic Monarchs used the city as a base from which to plan the conquest of Granada. In Columbus’s time, the Guadalquivir was navigable as far upstream as Córdoba, and great galleons sailed its waters. Today, the river’s muddy water and marshy banks evoke little of Córdoba’s glorious past, but an old Arab waterfall and the city’s bridge—of Roman origin, though much restored by the Arabs and successive generations, the most recent in 2012—recall a far grander era.

GETTING HERE AND AROUND

Bus Travel

Córdoba is easily reached by bus from Granada, Málaga and Seville. The city has an extensive public bus network with frequent service. Buses usually start running at 6:30 or 7 am and stop around midnight. You can buy 10-trip passes at newsstands and the bus office in Plaza de Colón. A single-trip fare is €1.20.

Córdoba has organized open-top bus tours of the city that can be booked via the tourist office.

Car Travel

The city’s one-way system can be something of a nightmare to navigate, and it’s best to park in one of the signposted lots outside the old quarter.

Train Travel

The city’s modern train station is the hub for a comprehensive network of regional trains, with regular service to Seville, Málaga, Madrid, and Barcelona. Trains for Granada change at Bobadilla.

Essentials

Bike Travel 
Never designed to support cars, Córdoba’s medieval layout is ideal for bicycles, and there’s a good network of designated bicycle tracks.
Solo Bici. You can rent bikes here at reasonable rates here: €6 for 3 hours or €15 for the day. | Calle Maria Cristina 5, behind Ayuntamiento | 957/485766 | www.solobici.net.

Bus Station
Córdoba. | Glorieta de las Tres Culturas | 957/404040 | www.estacionautobusescordoba.es.

Taxi Contact
Radio Taxi. | 957/764444.

Train Contacts
Train Station. | Glorieta de las Tres Culturas | 902/320320.

Visitor Information
Tourist Office. | Pl. de las Tendillas 5, 3A, Centro | 902/201774 | www.cordobaturismo.org.

Córdoba

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EXPLORING

Córdoba is an easily navigable city, with twisting alleyways that hold surprises around every corner. The main city subdivisions used in this book are the Judería (which includes the Mezquita); Sector Sur, around the Torre de la Calahorra across the river; the area around the Plaza de la Corredera, a historic gathering place for everything from horse races to bullfights; and the Centro Comercial, from the area around Plaza de las Tendillas to the Iglesia de Santa Marina and the Torre de la Malmuerta. Incidentally, the last neighborhood is much more than a succession of shops and stores. The town’s real life, the everyday hustle and bustle, takes place here, and the general atmosphere is very different from that of the tourist center around the Mezquita, with its plethora of souvenir shops. Some of the city’s finest Mudejar churches and best taverns, as well as the Palacio de los Marqueses de Viana, are in this pivotal part of town well back from the Guadalquivir waterfront.

Some of the most characteristic and rewarding places to explore in Córdoba are the parish churches and the taverns that inevitably accompany them, where you can taste finos de Moriles, a dry, sherrylike wine from the Montilla-Moriles district, and tentempiés (tapas; literally, “keep you on your feet”). The iglesias fernandinas (so called for their construction after Fernando III’s conquest of Córdoba) are nearly always built over mosques with stunning horseshoe-arch doorways and Mudejar towers, and taverns tended to spring up around these populous hubs of city life. Examples are the Taberna de San Miguel (aka Casa el Pisto) next to the church of the same name, and the Bar Santa Marina (aka Casa Obispo) next to the Santa Marina Church.

TIP Córdoba’s officials frequently change the hours of the city’s sights; before visiting an attraction, confirm hours with the tourist office or the sight itself.

TOP ATTRACTIONS

Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos (Fortress of the Christian Monarchs).
Built by Alfonso XI in 1328, the Alcázar is a Mudejar-style palace with splendid gardens. (The original Moorish Alcázar stood beside the Mezquita, on the site of the present Bishop’s Palace.) This is where, in the 15th century, the Catholic Monarchs held court and launched their conquest of Granada. Boabdil was imprisoned here in 1483, and for nearly 300 years the Alcázar served as the Inquisition’s base. The most important sights here are the Hall of the Mosaics and a Roman stone sarcophagus from the 2nd or 3rd century. | Pl. Campo Santo de los Mártires, Judería | 957/420151 | €4.50 | June 15–Sept. 15, Tues.–Sun. 8:30–3:30; Sept. 16–June 14, Tues.–Fri. 8:30 am–8:45 pm, weekends 8:30–4:30.

Calleja de las Flores.
You’d be hard pressed to find prettier patios than those along this tiny street, a few yards off the northeastern corner of the Mezquita. Patios, many with ceramics, foliage, and iron grilles, are key to Córdoba’s architecture, at least in the old quarter, where life is lived behind sturdy white walls—a legacy of the Moors, who honored both the sanctity of the home and the need to shut out the fierce summer sun. Between the first and second week of May—right after the Cruces de Mayo (Crosses of May) competition, when neighborhoods compete at setting up elaborate crosses decorated with flowers and plants—Córdoba throws a Patio Festival, during which private patios are filled with flowers, opened to the public, and judged in a municipal competition. Córdoba’s tourist office publishes an itinerary of the best patios in town (downloadable from www.turismodecordoba.org)—note that most are open only in the late afternoon on weekdays, but all day on weekends. | Córdoba.

Fodor’s Choice | Madinat Al-Zahra (Medina Azahara).
Built in the foothills of the Sierra Morena by Abd ar-Rahman III for his favorite concubine, az-Zahra (the Flower), this once-splendid summer pleasure palace was begun in 936. Historians say it took 10,000 men, 2,600 mules, and 400 camels 25 years to erect this fantasy of 4,300 columns in dazzling pink, green, and white marble and jasper brought from Carthage. A palace, a mosque, luxurious baths, fragrant gardens, fish ponds, an aviary, and a zoo stood on three terraces here, and for around 70 years the Madinat was the de facto capital of al-Andalus, until, in 1013, it was sacked and destroyed by Berber mercenaries. In 1944 the Royal Apartments were rediscovered, and the throne room carefully reconstructed. The outline of the mosque has also been excavated. The only covered part of the site is the Salon de Abd ar-Rahman III (currently being restored); the rest is a sprawl of foundations and arches that hint at the splendor of the original city-palace. Visits begin at the nearby museum, which provides background information and a 3-D reconstruction of the city, and continue with a walk among the ruins, where you can only imagine the bustle and splendor of days gone by. There’s no public transportation, but a tourist bus runs twice daily (three times on Saturday); the tourist office can provide details of stops and schedule. | Ctra. de Palma del Río, Km 5.5, 8 km (5 miles) west of Córdoba on C431 | 957/352860 | www.museosdeandalucia.es | €1.50 | Tues.–Sat. 9–6:30 (until 8:30 Apr.–mid-Sept.), Sun. 10–5.

Fodor’s Choice | Mezquita (Mosque).
Built between the 8th and 10th centuries, Córdoba’s mosque is one of the earliest and most transportingly beautiful examples of Spanish Islamic architecture. The plain, crenellated exterior walls do little to prepare you for the sublime beauty of the interior. As you enter through the Puerta de las Palmas (Door of the Palms), some 850 columns rise before you in a forest of jasper, marble, granite, and onyx. The pillars are topped by ornate capitals taken from the Visigothic church that was razed to make way for the mosque. Crowning these, red-and-white-stripe arches curve away into the dimness, and the ceiling is of delicately carved tinted cedar. The Mezquita has served as a cathedral since 1236, but its origins as a mosque are clear. Built in four stages, it was founded in 785 by Abd ar-Rahman I (756–88) on a site he bought from the Visigoth Christians. He pulled down their church and replaced it with a mosque, one-third the size of the present one, into which he incorporated marble pillars from earlier Roman and Visigothic shrines. Under Abd ar-Rahman II (822–52), the Mezquita held an original copy of the Koran and a bone from the arm of the prophet Mohammed and became a Muslim pilgrimage site second only in importance to Mecca.

Al Hakam II (961–76) built the beautiful mihrab (prayer niche), the Mezquita’s greatest jewel. Make your way over to the qiblah, the south-facing wall in which this sacred prayer niche was hollowed out. (Muslim law decrees that a mihrab face east, toward Mecca, and that worshippers do likewise when they pray. Because of an error in calculation, this one faces more south than east. Al Hakam II spent hours agonizing over a means of correcting such a serious mistake, but he was persuaded to let it be.) In front of the mihrab is the maksoureh, a kind of anteroom for the caliph and his court; its mosaics and plasterwork make it a masterpiece of Islamic art. A last addition to the mosque as such, the maksoureh was completed around 987 by Al Mansur, who more than doubled its size.

After the Reconquest, the Christians left the Mezquita largely undisturbed, dedicating it to the Virgin Mary and using it as a place of Christian worship. The clerics did erect a wall closing off the mosque from its courtyard, which helped dim the interior and thus separate the house of worship from the world outside. In the 13th century, Christians had the Capilla de Villaviciosa built by Moorish craftsmen, its Mudejar architecture blending with the lines of the mosque. Not so the heavy, incongruous baroque structure of the cathedral, sanctioned in the very heart of the mosque by Carlos V in the 1520s. To the emperor’s credit, he was supposedly horrified when he came to inspect the new construction, exclaiming to the architects, “To build something ordinary, you have destroyed something that was unique in the world.” (Not that this sentiment stopped him from tampering with the Alhambra to build his Palacio Carlos V). Rest up and reflect in the Patio de los Naranjos (Orange Court), perfumed in springtime by orange blossoms. The Puerta del Perdón (Gate of Forgiveness), so named because debtors were forgiven here on feast days, is on the north wall of the Orange Court and is the formal entrance to the mosque. The Virgen de los Faroles (Virgin of the Lanterns), a small statue in a niche on the outside wall of the mosque along the north side on Cardenal Herrero, is behind a lantern-hung grille, rather like a lady awaiting a serenade. The Torre del Alminar, the minaret once used to summon the Muslim faithful to prayer, has a baroque belfry. Allow a good hour for your visit. | Calle de Torrijos, Judería | 957/470512 | €8 | Mon.–Sat. 10–6, Sun. 8:30–11:30 and 3–6 (Mass at 11 and 1).

QUICK BITES: La Casa Andalusí.
A few blocks from the Mezquita, this place is a beautiful spot for tea, with a courtyard, side rooms filled with cushions, and a shop selling Moroccan clothing. It’s open daily from 10 am to 7 pm. | Calle del Buen Pastor 13, Judería | 957/487984 | €2.50.

Fodor’s Choice | Museo de Bellas Artes.
Hard to miss because of its deep-pink facade, Córdoba’s Museum of Fine Arts, in a courtyard just off the Plaza del Potro, belongs to a former Hospital de la Caridad (Charity Hospital). It was founded by Ferdinand and Isabella, who twice received Columbus here. The collection, which includes paintings by Murillo, Valdés Leal, Zurbarán, Goya, and Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida, concentrates on local artists. Highlights are altarpieces from the 14th and 15th centuries, and the large collection of prints and drawings including some by Fortuny, Goya, and Sorolla. | Pl. del Potro 1, San Francisco | 957/103639 | www.juntadeandalucia.es/cultura/museos/MBACO | €1.50 | Tues.–Sun. 10–8:30.

Palacio de Viana.
This 17th-century palace is one of Córdoba’s most splendid aristocratic homes. Also known as the Museo de los Patios, it contains 12 interior patios, each one different; the patios and gardens are planted with cypresses, orange trees, and myrtles. Inside the building are a carriage museum, a library, embossed leather wall hangings, filigree silver, and grand galleries and staircases. As you enter, note that the corner column of the first patio has been removed to allow the entrance of horse-drawn carriages. | Pl. Don Gomé 2, Centro | 957/496741 | Patios €5, patios and interior €8 | Tues.–Fri. 10–7, weekends 10–3.

Plaza de San Miguel.
The square and café terraces around it, and its excellent tavern, Taberna San Miguel–Casa El Pisto, form one of the city’s finest combinations of art, history, and gastronomy. The San Miguel church has an interesting facade with Romanesque doors built around Mudejar horseshoe arches. | Centro.

Torre de la Calahorra.
The tower on the far side of the Puente Romano (Roman Bridge), which was restored in 2008, was built in 1369 to guard the entrance to Córdoba. It now houses the Museo Vivo de Al-Andalus (Al-Andalus is Arabic for “Land of the West”), with films and audiovisual guides (in English) on Córdoba’s history. Climb the narrow staircase to the top of the tower for the view of the Roman bridge and city on the other side of the Guadalquivir. | Av. de la Confederación, Sector Sur | 957/293929 | www.torrecalahorra.com | €4.50, includes audio guide; slide show €1.20 extra | Daily 10–6.

WORTH NOTING

Casa de Sefarad.
This private museum opposite the synagogue is dedicated to the culture of Sephardic Jews in the Mediterranean. Providing a very personal insight, the museum’s director leads visitors through the five rooms of the 14th-century house, where displays cover Sephardic domestic life, music, festivities, the history of Córdoba’s Jewish district, and finally a collection of contemporary paintings of the women of al-Andalus. | Calle Judíos 17, Judería | 957/421404 | www.casadesefarad.es | €4 | Mon.–Sat. 10–6, Sun. 11–2.

QUICK BITES: Gaudí Juda Levi.
The lively Juda Levi plaza, surrounded by a maze of narrow streets and squares, lies at the heart of the Judería and makes a great spot for indulging in a little people-watching and a well-earned break. Sit outside here with a drink or, better still, an ice cream, sandwich, or snack. | Pl. Juda Levi.

Museo Arqueológico.
In the heart of the old quarter, this museum has finds from Córdoba’s varied cultural past. The ground floor has ancient Iberian statues and Roman statues, mosaics, and artifacts; the upper floor is devoted to Moorish art. By chance, the ruins of a Roman theater were discovered right next to the museum in 2000—have a look from the window just inside the entrance. The alleys and steps along Altos de Santa Ana make for great wandering. | Pl. Jerónimo Paez, Judería | 957/355517 | www.museosdeandalucia.es/culturayedeporte/museos | €1.50 | Tues.–Sat. 10–8:30, Sun. 10–5.

Museo Julio Romero de Torres.
Across the courtyard from the Museum of Fine Arts, this museum is devoted to the early-20th-century Córdoban artist Julio Romero de Torres (1874–1930), who specialized in mildly erotic portraits of demure, partially dressed Andalusian temptresses. Romero de Torres, who was also a flamenco cantador (singer), died at the age of 56 and is one of Córdoba’s greatest folk heroes. Restoration of the 19th-century palace that houses the museum was completed in early 2012. | Pl. del Potro 1–4, San Francisco | 957/470356 | www.museojulioromero.cordoba.es | €4.50 | Tues.–Fri. 8:30 am–8:45 pm, Sat. 8:30–4:30, Sun. 8:30–2:30.

Plaza de los Dolores.
The 17th-century Convento de Capuchinos surrounds this small square north of Plaza San Miguel. The square is where you feel most deeply the city’s languid pace. In its center, a statue of Cristo de los Faroles (Christ of the Lanterns) stands amid eight lanterns hanging from twisted wrought-iron brackets. | Centro.

Plaza Santa Marina.
At the edge of the Barrio de los Toreros, a quarter where many of Córdoba’s famous bullfighters were born and raised, stands a statue of the famous bullfighter Manolete (1917–47) opposite the lovely fernandina church of Santa Marina de Aguas Santas (St. Marina of Holy Waters). Not far from here, on the Plaza de la Lagunilla, is a bust of Manolete. | Centro.

Puerta de Almodóvar.
Outside this old Moorish gate at the northern entrance of the Judería is a statue of Seneca, the Córdoba-born philosopher who rose to prominence in Nero’s court in Rome and was forced to commit suicide at his emperor’s command. The gate stands at the top of the narrow and colorful Calle San Felipe. | Judería.

San Nicolás de Villa.
This classically dark Spanish church displays the Mudejar style of Islamic decoration and art forms. Córdoba’s well-kept city park, the pleasant Jardines de la Victoria, with tile benches and manicured bushes, is a block west. | Calle San Felipe, Centro.

Synagogue.
The only Jewish temple in Andalusia to survive the expulsion and inquisition of the Jews in 1492, Córdoba’s synagogue is also one of only three ancient synagogues left in all of Spain (the other two are in Toledo). Though it no longer functions as a place of worship, it’s a treasured symbol for Spain’s modern Jewish communities. The outside is plain, but the inside, measuring 23 feet by 21 feet, contains some exquisite Mudejar stucco tracery. Look for the fine plant motifs and the Hebrew inscription saying that the synagogue was built in 1315. The women’s gallery, not open for visits, still stands, and in the east wall is the ark where the sacred scrolls of the Torah were kept. | Calle Judíos, Judería | 957/202928 | Free | Tues.–Sun. 9:30–2:45.

Zoco.
The Spanish word for the Arab souk (zoco) recalls the onetime function of this courtyard near the synagogue. It’s now the site of a daily crafts market, where you can see artisans at work, and evening flamenco in summer. | Calle Judíos 5, Judería | 957/204033 | Free | Craft stalls daily 10–8; workshops weekdays 10–2 and 5–8, weekends 11–2.

QUICK BITES: Plaza de las Tendillas.
Wander over to this plaza, which is halfway between the Mezquita and Plaza Colón, for a visit to the terraces of Café Boston or Café Siena, both enjoyable places to relax with a coffee when the weather is warm. | Centro.

WHERE TO EAT

Amaltea.
INTERNATIONAL | Satisfying both vegetarians and their meat-eating friends, this organic restaurant includes some meat and fish dishes on the menu. There’s a healthy mix of Mexican, Asian, Spanish, and Italian-influenced dishes, including pasta with artichokes, chicken curry with mango and apricots, and several inventive dishes with bacalao (cod). The interior is warm and inviting, and diners are treated to a soothing musical backdrop of jazz, blues, and chill-out music. Tap water is served free in attractive bottles. | Average main: €10 | Ronda de Isasa 10, Centro | 957/491968 | No dinner Sun.; no lunch Aug.

Bar Santos.
TAPAS | This very small, quintessentially Spanish bar, with no seats and numerous photos of matadors and flamenco dancers, seems out of place surrounded by the tourist shops and overshadowed by the Mezquita, but its appearance—and its prices—are part of its charm. Tapas (from €2) such as morcilla ibérica (black pudding) and bocadillos (sandwiches that are literally “little mouthfuls”) are excellent in quality and value, while the tortilla de patata (potato omelet) is renowned and celebrated both for its taste and its heroic thickness—so much so that on weekends, they sell up to 60 a day. When it’s busy, drinks and food are served on plastic and you often have to eat outside on the street. | Average main: €6 | Calle Magistral González Francés 3, Judería | 957/479360.

Fodor’s Choice | Bodegas Campos.
SPANISH | A block east of the Plaza del Potro, this traditional old wine cellar is the epitome of all that’s great about Andalusian cuisine and high-quality service. The dining rooms are in barrel-heavy rustic rooms and leafy traditional patios (take a look at some of the signed barrels—you may recognize a name or two, such as the former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair. Magnificent vintage flamenco posters decorate the walls. Regional dishes include solomillo del Valle de los Pedroches dos salsas y patatas a lo pobre (local pork with two sauces—green and sherry—and creamy potatoes) and dados de bacalao frito con ali-oli (fried dices of cod with garlic mayonnaise). Vegetables come from the restaurant’s own market garden. There’s also an excellent tapas bar (from €3). | Average main: €16 | Calle Los Lineros 32, San Pedro | 957/497500 | No dinner Sun.

Casa Mazal.
ECLECTIC | In the heart of the Judería, this pretty little restaurant serves a modern interpretation of Sephardic cuisine, with organic dishes that are more exotic than the usual Andalusian fare. The many vegetarian options include berenjena timbal (eggplant and tomato “pie”), and the cordero especiado (spiced lamb) and pollo a la miel (chicken with honey, dates, and raisins) are delicious. Try a bottle of kosher wine, and for dessert consider the rose mousse or ginger ice cream. The romantic atmosphere is compounded by two violinists playing Sephardic music on the patio. | Average main: €17 | Calle Tomás Conde 3, Judería | 957/941888.

Casa Pepe de la Judería.
SPANISH | Geared toward a tourist clientele, this place is always packed, noisy, and fun. Antiques and some wonderful old oil paintings fill this three-floor labyrinth of rooms just around the corner from the mosque, near the Judería. There is live Spanish guitar music most summer nights. A full selection of tapas and house specialties includes tostón de cochinillo con palmentier de patata (crispy suckling pig with herby roast potatoes) and the solidly traditional rabo de toro. The cured-ham croquettes are reputedly the best in town. | Average main: €19 | Calle Romero 1, off Deanes,Judería | 957/200744 | Reservations essential.

El Blasón.
SPANISH | One block west of Avenida Gran Capitán and down an unpromising side street, El Blasón has a Moorish-style entrance bar leading onto a patio enclosed by ivy-covered walls where tapas are served. Downstairs is a lounge with a red-tile ceiling and old polished clay plates on the walls. Upstairs are two elegant dining rooms where blue walls, white silk curtains, and candelabras evoke early-19th-century luxury. The menu includes lomos de merluza con ciruelas (hake steaks with prunes) and magret de pato al perfume de vinagre de frambuesa (duck breast with aroma of raspberry wine vinegar). Innovative tapas (€4) are also available such as the crujiente de trigueros con queso de rulo (asparagus in filo pastry with goat’s cheese). | Average main: €18 | Calle José Zorrilla 11, Centro | 957/480625 | No dinner Sun.

Fodor’s Choice | El Caballo Rojo.
SPANISH | This is one of the most famous traditional restaurants in Andalusia, frequented by royalty and society folk. The interior resembles a cool, leafy Andalusian patio, and the dining room is furnished with stained glass and dark wood; the upstairs terrace overlooks the Mezquita. The menu combines traditional specialties, such as rabo de toro and salmorejo, with more modern versions, such as alcachofas a la Montillana (artichoke in sweet Montilla wine) and pez espada a la cordobesa con gambas (swordfish Cordoba-style with prawns). A delicious selection of homemade tarts and flans are served from a trolley. | Average main: €18 | Calle Cardenal Herrero 28, Judería | 957/475375 | www.elcaballorojo.com | Reservations essential.

Fodor’s Choice | El Choco.
SPANISH | The city’s most exciting restaurant, which renewed its Michelin star in 2013, El Choco has renowned chef Kisko Garcia at the helm whipping up innovative dishes with a twist of traditional favorites such as cochinillo crujiente con crema de ajos y naranjas (crispy suckling pig with cream of garlic and oranges) and atún fresco de Almadraba que quiso ser cerdo ibérico (traditionally caught fresh tuna “that wished it were an Iberian pig”—cooked in pork stock and roasted on an oak log fire). The caldo blanco de Sierra Morena (creamy stock with potatoes and ham) is a highly acclaimed starter. The restaurant has a minimalist interior, with charcoal-color walls and glossy parquet floors. El Choco is outside the city center to the east and not easy to find, so take a taxi. | Average main: €17 | Compositor Serrano Lucena 14, Centro | 957/264863 | Closed Mon. and Aug. No dinner Sun.

El Churrasco.
SPANISH | The name suggests grilled meat, but this restaurant in the heart of the Judería serves much more than that. In the colorful bar try tapas (from €3) such as the berenjenas crujientes con salmorejo (crispy fried eggplant slices with thick gazpacho). In the restaurant, the grilled fish is supremely fresh, and the steak is the best in town, particularly the namesake churrasco (grilled meat, served here in a spicy tomato-based sauce). On the inner patio, there’s alfresco dining when it’s warm outside, also the season to try another specialty: gazpacho blanco de piñones con manzanas y pasas (a white gazpacho made with pine nuts, apple and raisins). Save some room for the creamy fried ice cream. | Average main: €20 | Calle Romero 16, Judería | 957/290819 | www.elchurrasco.com | Closed Aug.

Mesón San Basilio.
SPANISH | This unpretentious local eatery just outside the tourist center serves excellent simple, hearty meat and fish dishes, all prepared in a large kitchen visible from the patio terrace and bar. The menu is dominated by revueltos (scrambled eggs with varying ingredients) and roast meat dishes like leg of lamb and suckling pig. Try the mollejas (grilled sweetbreads) accompanied by a mixed salad and a bottle of decent house red. At weekday lunchtime, a set menu offers great value. This is a busy and noisy venue so not somewhere for a quiet meal. | Average main: €9 | Calle San Basilio 19, Judería | 957/297007 | No dinner Sun.

Taberna de San Miguel.
TAPAS | Just a few minutes’ walk from the Plaza de las Tendillas and opposite the lovely San Miguel Church, this popular tapas spot—also known as the Casa el Pisto (House of Ratatouille)—was established in 1880. You can choose to squeeze in at the bar and dine on tapas (€2.10) or spread out a little more on the patio decked with ceramics and bullfighting memorabilia, where half and full portions are served. Legenadary toreador Manolete is particularly revered here. The menu is one long list of typical local dishes so expect to find oxtail, salmorejo and flamenquín (breaded pork filet with cheese). | Average main: €11 | Pl. San Miguel 1, Centro | 957/470166 | Closed Sun.

Taberna Sociedad de Plateros.
TAPAS | On a narrow side street just steps away from the Plaza del Potro, this delightful spot dates from the 17th century. One of the city’s most historic inns, it has a large patio that adjoins a traditional marble bar where locals meet. Photographs of iconic local bullfighter Manolete line the walls, and the patio is decorated with giddily patterned tiles and bricks plus a giant flat-screen television. The food is solid home-style cooking, with choices including fried green peppers, Spanish potato omelet, and hearty oxtail stew. Choose from tapas (€2) or full portions. | Average main: €7 | Calle San Francisco 6, Pl. de la Corredera | 957/470042 | Closed Mon. Sept.–mid-May; closed Sun. mid-May–Aug.

WHERE TO STAY

Casa de los Azulejos.
B&B/INN | This 17th-century house still has original details like the majestic vaulted ceilings and, with the use of stunning azulejos—hence the name—it mixes Andalusian and Latin American influences. All rooms are painted in warm pastels, filled with antiques, and open onto the tropical central patio with banana trees, lofty palms, and frilly ferns. The breakfast buffet is generous. Live music concerts are held on Friday evenings. Pros: interesting architecture; friendly staff. Cons: hyper-busy interior design; limited privacy. | Rooms from: €83 | Calle Fernando Colón 5, Centro | 957/470000 | www.casadelosazulejos.com | 7 rooms, 2 suites | Breakfast.

Gonzalez.
HOTEL | A few minutes from the Mezquita, the Gonzalez was originally built in the 16th-century as a palace for ancestors of the famous local artist Julio Romero de Torres. Now a small hotel, it has an elegant marble entrance, an overall antique style, and a typical geranium-filled patio. The rooms are small and plainly decorated but have comparatively large bathrooms with tubs. Breakfast is taken in the bright patio with walls covered by geraniums. Pros: central location. Cons: public areas rather jaded; exterior rooms noisy. | Rooms from: €79 | Calle Manrique 3, Judería | 957/479819 | www.hotel-gonzalez.com | 29 rooms | No meals.

Fodor’s Choice | Hospederia de El Churrasco.
B&B/INN | This small hotel, occupying a collection of houses just a stone’s throw from the Mezquita, combines enchanting antique furnishings with modern amenities, but its greatest asset is its exceptionally helpful staff. The spacious rooms come with computers and unlimited internet usage. Breakfast is generous and is served either in the room or on one of the small patios. Pros: beautiful interiors; rooms are equipped with computers. Cons: rooms facing street can be noisy. | Rooms from: €178 | Calle Romero 38, Judería | 957/294808 | 9 rooms | Breakfast.

Fodor’s Choice | Hospes Palacio del Bailío.
HOTEL | One of the city’s top lodging options, this tastefully renovated 17th-century mansion is built over the ruins of a Roman house (visible beneath glass floors) in the historic center of town. Archaeological remains combine with contemporary features, with glimpses of Roman ruins below one of the patios and under the dining room floor, and clever lighting and a relaxing spa completing the mélange of old and new. The spacious rooms have parquet floors, exposed brick walls, and many original architectural features. Splash out on the blue Gran Capitán or the pink Don Quijote suite. The restaurant offers a fusion of modern and traditional Córdoba cuisine and there’s a tapas bar. Pros: dazzling interiors; impeccable comforts. Cons: not easy to access by car. | Rooms from: €235 | Calle Ramírez de las Casas Deza 10–12, Plaza de la Corredera | 957/498993 | www.hospes.es | 49 rooms, 4 suites | No meals.

Hotel Maestre.
HOTEL | Around the corner from the Plaza del Potro, this is an affordable hotel in which Castilian-style furniture, gleaming marble, and high-quality oil paintings add elegance to excellent value. Rooms overlook a gracious inner courtyard framed by arches. The management also runs an even cheaper lodging, the Hostal Maestre, a few doors away, and two types of apartments down the street; the best are large and clean and represent a great deal. Pros: good location; great value. Cons: no elevator and lots of steps; ancient plumbing. | Rooms from: €56 | Calle Romero Barros 4–6, San Pedro | 957/472410 | www.hotelmaestre.com | 26 rooms | No meals.

Lola.
B&B/INN | The eponymous owner of this former 19th-century palace has decorated the rooms—each named after an Arab princess—with flair and attention to detail. There are original beams, woven rugs, antique wardrobes and telephones, and Art Deco accents throughout. The bathrooms are airy, modern, and marbled. Tucked down a side street, Lola is far enough away from the tour groups but within walking distance of all the big-city sights. Breakfast is served on the roof terrace, which has views of the Mezquita tower. There’s parking on nearby Plaza Vallinas. Pros: good value for the money; lively interior design. Cons: cramped shower; style may be too twee for some. | Rooms from: €120 | Calle Romero 3, Judería | 957/200305 | www.hotelconencantolola.com | 8 rooms | Breakfast.

NH Amistad Córdoba.
HOTEL | Two 18th-century mansions overlooking Plaza de Maimónides in the heart of the Judería have been melded into a modern business hotel with a cobblestone Mudejar courtyard, carved-wood ceilings, and a plush lounge. The newer wing (opened in 2012, with more rooms added in 2013) across the street is done in blues and grays and Norwegian wood. Guest rooms are large and comfortable. You can also enter the hotel through the old Moorish walls on Calle Cairuán. Pros: pleasant and efficient service; great value. Cons: parking is difficult; access via steep steps with no ramp. | Rooms from: €155 | Pl. de Maimónides 3, Judería | 957/420335 | www.nh-hoteles.com | 108 rooms | No meals.

Parador de Córdoba.
HOTEL | On the slopes of the Sierra de Córdoba, on the site of Abd ar-Rahman I’s 8th-century summer palace, this modern parador has sunny rooms and nice views. Rooms have wood or wicker furnishings, and the pricier ones have balconies overlooking the lush, peaceful garden or facing Córdoba. The restaurant serves typical local dishes including the chef’s specialty, samorejo (thick tomato soup, served cold). Pros: wonderful views from south-facing rooms; sleek interiors; quality traditional cuisine. Cons: characterless modern building; far from main sights. | Rooms from: €165 | Av. de la Arruzafa 39, El Brillante, 5 km (3 miles) north of | Córdoba | 957/275900 | www.parador.es | 88 rooms, 6 suites | No meals.

Viento 10.
HOTEL | Tucked away to the east of the old quarter, but within just 10 minutes’ walk of the Mezquita is a quiet, romantic haven, once part of the 17th-century Sacred Martyrs Hospital. One of the six rooms has a view of the quiet pedestrian street, while the others all look onto the interior patio with its original marble columns. The interior style is low-key designer with warm splashes of color in the fabrics, reflecting the simplicity of the hotel. Luxury touches include a pillow menu, Jacuzzi and sauna (book your private session), and a breakfast with surprise daily special. Pros: quiet but central location; personalized service. Cons: no car access to hotel entrance. | Rooms from: €115 | Calle Ronquillo Briceño 10 | www.hotelviento10.es | 6 rooms | Closed Jan. and 2 wks in Aug. (phone for dates) | No meals.

NIGHTLIFE

Córdoba locals hang out mostly in the areas of Ciudad Jardín (the old university area), Plaza de las Tendillas, and the Avenida Gran Capitán.

Bodega Guzman.
For some traditional tipple, check out this atmospheric bodega, near the old synagogue. Its sherries are served straight from the barrel in a room that doubles as a bullfighting museum. | Calle de los Judios 6, Judería.

Café Málaga.
A block from Plaza de las Tendillas, this is a laid-back hangout for jazz and blues aficionados. | Calle Málaga 3, Centro.

La Casa de los Azulejos.
Live music (jazz, flamenco, and pop) is performed Friday from 9 pm in the patio area of this hotel. | Calle Fernando Colón 5, Centro | 957/470000.

PERFORMING ARTS

FLAMENCO

Tablao Cardenal.
Córdoba’s most popular flamenco club is worth the trip just to see the courtyard of the 16th-century building, which was Córdoba’s first hospital. Admission is €23 (including drink) and the 90-minute shows take place Monday to Saturday at 10:30 pm. | Calle Torrijos 10, Judería | 957/483320.

SHOPPING

Córdoba’s main shopping district is around Avenida Gran Capitán, Ronda de los Tejares, and the streets leading away from Plaza Tendillas.

Meryan.
This is one of Córdoba’s best workshops for embossed leather. | Calleja de las Flores 9 | 957/475902 | www.meryancor.com.

Fodor’s Choice | Zoco.
Córdoba’s artisans have workshops and sell their crafts in the Zoco, open daily 10–8 (workshops closed weekdays 2–5, weekends 11–2). | Calle Judíos, opposite Synagogue, Judería | 957/290575.

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Side Trips from Córdoba

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Montilla | Baena | Zuheros | Priego de Córdoba

If you have time to go beyond Córdoba and have already seen the Medina Azahara palace ruins, head south to the wine country around Montilla, olive oil–rich Baena, and the Subbética mountain range, a cluster of small towns virtually unknown to travelers.

The entire Subbética region is protected as a natural park, and the mountains, canyons, and wooded valleys are stunning. You’ll need a car to explore, though, and in some parts, the roads are rather rough. To reach these enticing towns in la campiña (the countryside), take the low road (A318) through Montilla, cutting north to Baena via Zuheros, or take the high road (A307) through Espejo and Baena, cutting south through Cabra.

For park information or hiking advice, contact the Mancomunidad de la Subbética (Ctra. Carcabuey–Zagrilla, Km 5.75, Carcabuey | 957/704106 www.turismodelasubbetica.es).

You can also pick up information, including a pack of maps titled Rutas Senderistas de la Subbética, from any local tourist office. The handy cards detail 15 walks with sketched maps.

Southern Córdoba is also the province’s main olive-producing region, with the town of Lucena at its center. If you follow the Ruta del Aceite (olive-oil route), you’ll pass some of the province’s most picturesque villages. In Lucena is the Torre del Moral, where Granada’s last Nasrid ruler, Boabdil, was imprisoned in 1483 after launching an unsuccessful attack on the Christians; and the Parroquia de San Mateo, a small but remarkable Renaissance–Gothic cathedral. Furniture and brass and copper pots are made in the town. Southeast of Lucena, C334 crosses the Embalse de Iznájar (Iznájar Reservoir) amid spectacular scenery. On C334, halfway between Lucena and the reservoir, in Rute, you can sample the potent anís (anise) liqueur for which this small, whitewashed town is famous.

Side Trips from Córdoba

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MONTILLA

46 km (28 miles) south of Córdoba.

Heading south from Córdoba toward Málaga, you’ll pass through hills ablaze with sunflowers in early summer before you reach the vineyards of the Montilla–Moriles. Every fall, 47,000 acres’ worth of Pedro Ximénez grapes are crushed here to produce the region’s rich Montilla wines, which are similar to sherry. Montilla-Moriles has developed a young white wine similar to Portugal’s Vinho Verde.

Essentials

Visitor Information
Montilla. | Calle Capitán Alonso de Vargas 3 | 957/652462.

EXPLORING

Bodegas Alvear.
Founded in 1729, this bodega in the center of town is Montilla’s oldest. Besides being informative, the fun tour and wine tasting gives you the chance to buy a bottle or two of Alvear’s tasty version of the sweet Pedro Ximenez aged sherry. Sunday tours are available by appointment only. | Calle María Auxiliadora 1 | 957/652939 | www.alvear.es | €6 | Mon.–Sat. 12:30.

WHERE TO EAT AND STAY

Las Camachas.
SPANISH | The best-known restaurant in southern Córdoba Province is in an Andalusian-style hacienda outside Montilla—near the main road toward Málaga. Start with tapas in the attractive bar, then move on to one of the six dining rooms, where regional specialties include alcachofas al Montilla (artichokes braised in Montilla wine), salmorejo (a thick, garlicky gazpacho), perdiz a la campiña (country-style partridge), and pierna de cordero lechal (leg of suckling lamb). You can also try local wines here; the fino is particularly good. | Average main: €12 | Av. Europa 3 | 957/650004.

Don Gonzalo.
HOTEL | Just south of town is one of Andalusia’s better roadside hotels, with a highly regarded and elegant restaurant. The wood-beamed common areas have a mixture of decorative elements—note the elephant tusks flanking the TV in the lounge—and the clay-tile guest rooms are large and comfortable; some look onto the road, others onto the garden and pool. Ask to see the wine cellar; it’s a beauty. Pros: easy to get to; refreshing pool. Cons: some rooms in need of refurbishment; outside of town. | Rooms from: €65 | Ctra. Córdoba–Málaga (N331), Km 47, 3 km (2 miles) south | 957/650658 | www.hoteldongonzalo.com | 32 rooms, 2 suites | Breakfast.

SHOPPING

On the outskirts of town, coopers’ shops produce barrels of various sizes, some small enough to serve as creative souvenirs.

Tonelería J. L. Rodríguez.
On Montilla’s main road, it is worth stopping here not just to buy barrels and local wines, but also to pop in the back and see the barrels being made. | Ctra. Córdoba–Málaga, Km 43.3 | 957/650563 | www.toneleriajlrodriguez.com.

BAENA

66 km (43 miles) southeast of Cσrdoba, 42 km (26 miles) east of Montilla.

Outside the boundaries of Subbética and surrounded by chalk fields producing top-quality olives, Baena is an old town of narrow streets, whitewashed houses, ancient mansions, and churches clustered beneath Moorish battlements.

Museo del Olivar y el Aceite.
This museum is housed in the old olive mill owned and operated by Don José Alcalá Santaella until 1959. The machinery on display dates from the middle of the 19th century, when the mill was capable of processing up to 3 tons of olives a day. The museum aims to demonstrate the way of life of workers in this important industry. You can taste and buy olive oil at the shop. | Calle Cañada 7 | 957/691641 | www.museoaceite.com | €2 | May–Sept., Tues.–Sat. 11–2 and 6–8, Sun. 11–2; Oct.–Apr., Tues.–Fri. 11–2 and 5–7, Sun. 11–2.

WHERE TO STAY

Fuente las Piedras.
HOTEL | The rooms in this stylish hotel, on the edge of the Parque Natural Sierra Subbética 25 km (15 miles) southeast of Baena, are elegantly modern and generous in size, and a large pool is surrounded by exquisitely landscaped gardens. The hotel restaurant serves traditional local fare and has a good value menú del díaPros: good stop midway between Córdoba and Granada; park access. Cons: pool is open to the public on weekends. | Rooms from: €90 | Av. Fuente de las Piedras s/n, on A316 toward Jaén Cabra | 957/529740 | www.mshoteles.com | 61 rooms | Breakfast.

La Casa Grande.
HOTEL | In the center of town, just a few steps from the famous Nuñez de Prado olive oil mill, this is the top hotel in Baena and for miles around. Public rooms are sumptuous to an almost over-the-top degree—antiques, chandeliers, suits of armor, old-fashioned paintings—and rooms are only slightly more muted. If you like modern minimalism, this hotel is probably not for you. The reception hall has elegant high ceilings, the restaurant is a good reason to stop in for a meal, and the professional and friendly staff is always helpful. Pros: classical elegance; walking distance from everything. Cons: rather dark; formal rather than relaxed. | Rooms from: €50 | Av. De Cervantes 35 | 957/671905 | www.lacasagrandebaena.com | 35 rooms, 4 suites | Breakfast.

ZUHEROS

80 km (50 miles) southeast of Cσrdoba.

Zuheros, at the northern edge of the Subbética mountain range and at an altitude of 2,040 feet, is one of the most attractive villages in the province of Córdoba. From the road up, it’s hidden behind a dominating rock face topped off by the dramatic ruins of a castle built by the Moors over a Roman castle. There’s an expansive view back over the valley from here. Next to the castle is the Iglesia de Santa María, built over a mosque. The base of the minaret is the foundation for the bell tower.

EXPLORING

Cueva de los Murciélagos (Cave of the Bats).
Some 4 km (2½ miles) above Zuheros along a winding road, the Cueva de los Murciélagos runs for about 2 km (1 mile), although only about half of that expanse is open to the public. The main attractions are the wall paintings dating from the Neolithic Age (6000–3000 BC) and Chalcolithic Age (3000–2000 BC), but excavations have indicated that the cave was inhabited as far back as 35,000 years ago. Items from the Copper and Bronze ages as well as from the Roman period and the Middle Ages have also been found here. Visits are by guided tour only and must be booked in advance, by phone or email (turismo@zuheros.es) or at Calle Nueva 1 in the village. | CV-247, off Calle Santo | 957/694545 Tues.–Fri. 10–1:30 | €6 | Guided tours Tues.–Fri. at 12:30 and 4:30 (last tour at 5:30 in summer), weekends at 11, 12:30, 2, 4, and 5:30 (last two tours at 5 and 6:30 in summer).

Museo de Costumbres y Artes Populares Juan Fernandez Cruz.
Housed in an impressive square mansion from 1912, this museum is at the edge of the village. Exhibits detail local customs and traditions. | Calle Santo 29 | 957/694690 | €3 | May–Sept., Tues.–Fri. noon–2 and 5:30–8:30, weekends 10:30–2:30 and 5:30–8:30; Oct.–Apr., Tues.–Fri. noon–2 and 4–7, weekends 10:30–2:30 and 4–7.

Museo Histórico-Arqueológico Municipal.
This museum displays archaeological remains found in local caves and elsewhere; some date back to the Middle Paleolithic period some 35,000 years ago. You can also visit the remains of the Renaissance rooms in the castle, across the road. Visits are by guided tour only. | Pl. de la Paz 2 | 957/694545 | €2 | Guided tours on the hour 10–2 and 4–6 (also at 7 Apr.–Sept.).

WHERE TO STAY

Fodor’s Choice | Hacienda Minerva.
B&B/INN | This stylish hotel was created out of a country estate dating from the late 19th century, and its original features, including the historic oil mill, have been preserved. The rooms are typical farmhouse style, and the parlor has a large fireplace flanked by panoramic windows framing a gorgeous landscape. Additions include some Arab baths with massage included. The restaurant serves dishes such as pastela mozárabe (savory tart with meat and cinnamon) and organic lamb with cream of almonds. Pros: tranquil surroundings; superb restaurant. Cons: outside of town. | Rooms from: €80 | Crta. Zuheros, Doña Mencia | 957/090951 | www.haciendaminerva.com | 25 rooms | Breakfast.

Zuhayra.
B&B/INN | This small hotel on a narrow street has comfortable rooms painted a sunny yellow with views over the village rooftops to the valley below. There’s also a cozy bar and dining room with original beams and an open fireplace—the restaurant serves local fare and the downstairs bar offers pizzas and tapas; both venues are among the best dining options in the village. During the summer months diners can sit outside on the attractive cobbled patio. Pros: cozy public spaces; stunning vistas; good service. Cons: plain decoration. | Rooms from: €70 | Calle Mirador 10 | 957/694693 | www.zercahoteles.com | 18 rooms | Breakfast.

PRIEGO DE CÓRDOBA

103 km (64 miles) southeast of Córdoba, 25 km (15 miles) southeast of Zuheros.

The jewel of Córdoba’s countryside is Priego de Córdoba, a town of 23,500 inhabitants at the foot of Mt. Tinosa. Wander down Calle del Río, opposite the town hall, to see 18th-century mansions, once the homes of silk merchants. At the end of the street is the Fuente del Rey (King’s Fountain), with some 130 water jets, built in 1803. Don’t miss the lavish baroque churches of La Asunción and La Aurora or the Barrio de la Villa, an old Moorish quarter with a maze of narrow streets of white-walled buildings.

Getting Here and Around

Priego has a reasonable bus service from Córdoba (2½ hours) and Granada (1½ hours), although your best bet is to visit by car en route to either of these cities. Once there, it’s perfect for pedestrian exploration.

Essentials

Visitor Information
Priego de Córdoba. | Pl. de la Constitución 3 | 957/700625 | www.turismodepriego.com.

WHERE TO EAT AND STAY

La Paloma.
MEDITERRANEAN | About 30 km (18 miles) south of Priego de Córdoba, this restaurant overlooks the rolling hills of the Subbética. It’s run by an Italian-Spanish couple; wife Elena hails from Tuscany and honed her culinary skills in one of Marbella’s more exclusive restaurants before opting for the Córdoba countryside. The menu has plenty of Italian influence, including dishes like roast lamb filets with herbs and mustard and jumbo shrimp in creamy garlic sauce. Most of the vegetables are from the couple’s organic garden. | Average main: €13 | Crta. Salinas-Iznajar, Km 63 Villanueva de Tapia | 952/750409 | Closed Mon., 1st wk in Feb., and 2 wks in Nov. (dates vary; call to check).

FAMILY | Barceló La Bobadilla.
HOTEL | On its own 1,000-acre estate amid olive and oak trees, 42 km (24 miles) west of Priego de Córdoba, this complex resembles a Moorish village of white-wall buildings with tile roofs and patios, and there are fountains and an artificial lake on the property. Guest buildings center on a 16th-century-style chapel that houses a 1,595-pipe organ, and each room has a balcony, a terrace, or a garden. One of the three restaurants, El Mirador (open in summer only), concentrates on dishes prepared from locally grown ingredients while El Cortijo offers Mediterranean dishes and La Finca a four-course menú de degustación. A spa rounds out the list of nice extras. The hotel is just south of La Subbética region, technically in Granada Province. Pros: spacious, comfortable rooms; lovely setting; many activities. Cons: pricey; limited covered parking; rather isolated. | Rooms from: €405 | Finca La Bobadilla, Apdo 144 E Loja | 958/321861 | www.barcelolabobadilla.com | 60 rooms, 10 suites | Closed Nov.–Feb. | Breakfast.

Villa Turística de Priego.
RESORT | In the heart of the Subbética nature park, 6 km (4 miles) north of town, this complex of semidetached units is clustered to form a gleaming white Andalusian pueblo. Each unit sleeps from two to six people and is surrounded by colorful gardens and a patio—some have a terrace or balcony. The restaurant provides a three-course menú del día at lunch and dinner. The hotel management can arrange activities in the nature park, including horseback riding and guided walks. Pros: family-friendly vibe; quiet retreat. Cons: far from town; some areas could do with refurbishment. | Rooms from: €81 | Aldea de Zagrilla | 957/703503 | www.villasdeandalucia.com | 52 apartments/villas | Closed for a month in winter (check website for dates) | No meals.

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Jaén Province

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Jaén | Alcalá la Real | Baeza | Úbeda | Cazorla

Jaén is dominated by its Alcázar. To the northeast are the olive-producing towns of Baeza and Úbeda. Cazorla, the gateway to the Parque Natural Sierra de Cazorla Segura y Las Villas, lies beyond.

Jaén Province

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JAÉN

107 km (64 miles) southeast of Córdoba, 93 km (58 miles) north of Granada.

Nestled in the foothills of the Sierra de Jabalcuz, Jaén is surrounded by towering peaks and olive-clad hills. The modern part of town holds little interest for travelers these days, but the old town is an atmospheric jumble of narrow cobblestone streets hugging the mountainside. Jaén’s grand parador, in the city’s hilltop castle, is a great reason to stop here.

The Arabs called this land Geen (Route of the Caravans) because it formed a crossroad between Castile and Andalusia. Captured from the Moors by Ferdinand III in 1246, Jaén became a frontier province, the site of many a skirmish and battle over the following 200 years between the Moors of Granada and Christians from the north and west.

Getting Here and Around

You can reach Jaén by bus from Granada, Madrid, and Málaga (ALSA | 902/422242 | www.alsa.es), and also by train from Granada. Jaén is compact and all sights are easy to visit on foot, with the exception of the castle, 3 km (2 miles) from the center and a steep climb—if you can’t face the ascent, take a taxi.

Essentials

Visitor Information
Jaén. | Calle Maestra 8 | 953/190455 | www.turjaen.org.

EXPLORING

Baños Árabes.
Explore the narrow alleys of old Jaén as you walk from the cathedral to the Baños Árabes (Arab Baths), which once belonged to Ali, a Moorish king of Jaén, and probably date from the 11th century. In 1592, Fernando de Torres y Portugal, a viceroy of Peru, built himself a mansion, the Palacio de Villardompardo, right over the baths, so it took years of painstaking excavation to restore them to their original form. The palace contains a fascinating, albeit small, museum of folk crafts and a larger museum devoted to native art. The baths and museums were restored to great acclaim in 2012. | Palacio de Villardompardo, Pl. Luisa de Marillac | 953/248068 | Free | Tues.–Sat. 9–2:30 and 4–8:30, Sun. 9–2:30.

Basílica Menor de San Ildefonso (Smaller Basilica of Saint Ildefonso).
Set on the square and in the district of the same name, this large church is one of Jaén’s treasures. Built mainly in the Gothic style with baroque details, the magnificent gilded altar is the highlight. | Pl. de San Ildefonso | 953/190346 | Free | Mon.–Thurs. 8:30–12:30 and 5–8, Fri. 8:30–10:30 and 5–8, weekends 9–1:30 and 5–8.

Fodor’s Choice | Castillo de Santa Catalina.
This castle, perched on a rocky crag 400 yards above the center of town, is Jaén’s star monument. It may have originated as a tower built by Hannibal, but whatever its start, the site was fortified continuously over the centuries. The Nasrid king Alhamar, builder of Granada’s Alhambra, constructed an alcázar here, but Ferdinand III captured it from him in 1246 on the feast day of Santa Catalina (St. Catherine). Catalina consequently became Jaén’s patron saint, so when the Christians built a castle and chapel here, they dedicated both to her. The castle is currently undergoing renovations, and is due to reopen in mid-2014. | Ctra. del Castillo de Santa Catalina | 953/120733 | Free | June–Sept., Tues.–Fri. 10–2, weekends 10–2 and 5–9; Oct.–May, Tues.–Fri. 10–2, weekends 10–2 and 3:30–7:30 (hrs are approximate; call to check).

Jaén Cathedral.
Looming above the modest buildings around it, the cathedral was begun in 1492 on the site of a former mosque and took almost 300 years to build. Its chief architect was Andrés de Vandelvira (1509–75)—many more of his buildings can be seen in Úbeda and Baeza. The ornate facade was sculpted by Pedro Roldán, and the figures on top of the columns include San Fernando (Ferdinand III) and the four evangelists. The cathedral’s most treasured relic is the Santo Rostro (Holy Face), the cloth with which, according to tradition, St. Veronica cleansed Christ’s face on the way to Calvary, leaving his image imprinted on the fabric. The rostro is displayed every Friday. In the underground museum, look for the paintings San Lorenzo, by Martínez Montañés; the Immaculate Conception, by Alonso Cano; and a Calvary scene by Jácobo Florentino. | Pl. Santa María | 953/241448 | €5 | July–Sept., weekdays 10–2 and 5–8, weekends 10–noon and 5–7; Oct.–June, weekdays 10–2 and 4–7, weekends 10–noon and 4–6.

Museo de Jaén.
This museum has one of the best collections of Iberian (pre-Roman) artifacts in Spain—the newest wing has 20 life-size Iberian sculptures discovered by chance near the village of Porcuna in 1975. The museum proper is in a 1547 mansion and has a patio with the facade of the erstwhile Church of San Miguel. The fine-arts section has a room full of Goya lithographs. | Paseo de la Estación 29 | 953/313339 | €1.50 | Tues.–Sat. 10–8:30, Sun. 10–5.

WHERE TO EAT AND STAY

Casa Antonio.
SPANISH | Exquisite Andalusian food with a contemporary twist is served at this somber yet elegant restaurant with three small dining rooms, all with cherry-paneled walls and dramatic contemporary artwork. Try the alcachofas de la tierra con salsa de almendras (locally-grown artichokes in almond sauce) or cochinillo lechal con cebolleta a la naranja y cardamomo (suckling pig with orange- and cardamom-flavored spring onion). | Average main: €19 | Calle Fermín Palma 3 | 953/270262 | Closed Mon. and Aug. No dinner Sun.

Taberna El Zurito.
SPANISH | Locals and visitors rave about this tiny bar less than 10 minutes’ walk north of the cathedral. It’s one of the oldest bars in the city (established in 1912), has just two tables plus bar space, and is crammed with Jaén memorabilia, but the homemade dishes more than make up for the lack of elbow room. The free tapas that come with every drink are tasty and generous, and menu highlights include rabo de toro dehuesado con jamón (deboned oxtail with ham) and ventresca de atún rojo (red tuna belly). | Average main: €15 | Calle Correa Weglison 6 | 605/988016 | Closed Sun.

Fodor’s Choice | Parador de Jaén.
HOTEL | Built amid the mountaintop towers of the Castillo de Santa Catalina, this 13th-century castle is one of the showpieces of the parador chain and a good reason to visit Jaén. Its grandiose exterior echoes the Santa Catalina fortress next door, as do the massive vaulted halls, tapestries, baronial shields, and suits of armor inside. The comfortable bedrooms, with lofty ceilings, Islamic tilework, and canopy beds, have balconies overlooking fields stretching toward a dramatic mountain backdrop. Specialties served in the restaurant include spinach Jaén-style (with egg) and ajo blanco (cold garlic soup). Pros: architectural grandeur; panoramic views. Cons: outside Jaén. | Rooms from: €125 | Calle Castillo de Santa Catalina | 953/230000 | www.parador.es | 45 rooms | No meals.

ALCALÁ LA REAL

75 km (46½ miles) south of Jaén on N432 and A316.

Alcalá la Real’s hilltop fortress, the Fortaleza de la Mota, was installed by the Moors in 727 and sits imperiously at an elevation of 3,389 feet, dominating not only the town but the whole area for miles around. Spectacular views of the peaks of the Sierra Nevada are visible on the southern horizon.

This ancient city, known to the Iberians and Romans, grew to prominence under the Moors who ruled here for more than 600 years. It was they who gave it the first part of its name, Alcalá, which originated from a word meaning “fortified settlement.”

During the 12th century the city changed hands frequently as the Moors fought to maintain control of the area. Finally, in 1341, Alfonso XI conquered the town for good, adding Real (Royal) to its name. It remained of strategic importance until the Catholic Monarchs took Granada in 1492—indeed, it was from here that they rode out to accept the keys of the city and the surrender. Hundreds of years later, French forces left the town in ruins after their retreat in the early 19th century.

Getting Here and Around

Alcalá La Real can be reached by bus from Córdoba, Granada, and Jaén (Autocares Contreras |953/583000 | www.autocarescontreras.es), although it’s easiest and quickest to visit by car. You can easily explore the town on foot, including the fortress, which is about 15 minutes’ walk from the center.

EXPLORING

Fortaleza de la Mota (Hilltop Fortress).
The town of Alcalá la Real itself was gradually rebuilt, but the hilltop fortress, consisting of the alcazaba (citadel) and the abbey church that Alfonso XI built, was more or less ignored. Up until the late 1990s, exposed skeletons were visible in some open tombs on the floor of the church. Today visitors can wander around the ruins and visit the small archaeological museum. | Calle Castillo de la Mota, s/n | €6 | Apr.–Oct. 14, daily 10:30–7:30; Oct. 15–Mar., Mon–Sat. 10–5:30, Sun. 10–6.

WHERE TO STAY

Hospedería Zacatín.
B&B/INN | This smallish hideaway in the center of town is an inexpensive and cozy waystation for visitors to Alcalá la Real. Rooms are simple, with pine furniture, but are equipped with modern touches, including Wi-Fi; the more expensive rooms (known as ‘special rooms’ and around €25 extra) are slightly larger, with wrought-iron beds, warm peach colored walls, and Jacuzzi baths. The restaurant is rustic and comfortable with a good value menú del díaPros: roof terrace for barbecues; Andalusian cuisine. Cons: no frills; street-side rooms can be noisy on weekends. | Rooms from: €51 | Calle Pradillo 2 | 953/580568 | www.hospederiazacatin.com | 15 rooms | No meals.

BAEZA

48 km (30 miles) northeast of Jaén on N321.

The historic town of Baeza, nestled between hills and olive groves, is one of the best-preserved old towns in Spain. Founded by the Romans, it later housed the Visigoths and became the capital of a Moorish taifa, one of some two dozen mini-kingdoms formed after the Ummayad Caliphate was subdivided in 1031. Ferdinand III captured Baeza in 1227, and for the next 200 years it stood on the frontier of the Moorish kingdom of Granada. In the 16th and 17th centuries, local nobles gave the city a wealth of Renaissance palaces.

Getting Here and Around

Frequent buses (15 weekdays, 10 weekends; ALSA | 902/422242 | www.alsa.es) connect Baeza with Jaén and Úbeda, although a private car is the best option given the remoteness of the town and that you may want to explore nearby Úbeda on the same day. Baeza is small and flat, and with its sights clustered round the very center it’s very easy to explore on foot.

Essentials

Visitor Information
Baeza. | Pl. del Pópulo | 953/779982 | www.ubedaybaezaturismo.com.

Tours
Semer Guided Tours. Two-hour guided tours around Baeza (in English, minimum two people) recount the history, culture, and traditions of the town. Tours of Úbeda are also available, with a discount for combined tours of both towns. | Portales Carbonería 15 | 953/757916 | www.semerturismo.com | €12 | Mon.–Thurs. at 11, Fri. and Sat. at 11 and 5 (6 June–Sept.).

EXPLORING

Top Attractions

Ayuntamiento (Town hall).
Baeza’s town hall was designed by cathedral master Andrés de Vandelvira. The facade is ornately decorated with a mix of religious and pagan imagery; look between the balconies for the coats of arms of Felipe II, the city of Baeza, and the magistrate Juan de Borja. Ask at the tourist office about visits to the salón de plenos, a meeting hall with painted, carved woodwork. | Pl. Cardenal Benavides.

Baeza Cathedral.
Originally begun by Ferdinand III on the site of a former mosque, the cathedral was largely rebuilt by Andrés de Vandelvira, architect of Jaén’s cathedral, between 1570 and 1593, though the west front has architectural influences from an earlier period. A fine 14th-century rose window crowns the 13th-century Puerta de la Luna (Moon Door). Don’t miss the baroque silver monstrance (a vessel in which the consecrated Host is exposed for the adoration of the faithful), which is carried in Baeza’s Corpus Christi processions—the piece is kept in a concealed niche behind a painting, but you can see it in all its splendor by putting a coin in a slot to reveal the hiding place. Next to the monstrance is the entrance to the clock tower, where a small donation and a narrow spiral staircase take you to one of the best views of Baeza. The remains of the original mosque are in the cathedral’s Gothic cloisters. | Pl. de Santa María | 953/742188 | Cathedral free, cloister and museum €4 | Weekdays 10–2 and 4–6, Sat. 10–6 (until 7 Apr.–Sept.), Sun. 10–5.

Museo de Baeza.
Tucked away behind the tourist office, the Baeza Museum is in itself a museum piece. Housed in a 15th-century noble palace, the facade and interiors are home to an interesting display of Baeza’s history, from Roman remains to more recent religious paintings. | Calle Casas Nuevas | 953/741582 | €2 | Tues.–Fri. 10–2 and 4:30–7:30, weekends 10–2.

Worth Noting

Casa del Pópulo.
In the central paseo—where the Plaza del Pópulo (or Plaza de los Leones) and Plaza de la Constitución (or Plaza del Mercado Viejo) merge to form a cobblestone square—this is a graceful town house built around 1530. The first Mass of the Reconquest was supposedly celebrated on its curved balcony; it now houses Baeza’s tourist office. | Pl. del Pópulo.

Convento de San Francisco.
This 16th-century convent is one of Vandelvira’s religious architectural masterpieces. The building was spoiled by the French army and partially destroyed by a light earthquake in the early 1800s, but you can see its restored remains. | Calle de San Francisco.

Fuente de los Leones (Fountain of the Lions).
In the center of the town square is an ancient Iberian-Roman statue thought to depict Imilce, wife of Hannibal; at the foot of her column is the Fuente de los Leones. | Pl. del Pópulo.

Iglesia de Santa Cruz.
This rather plain church dates from the early 13th century. One of the first built here after the Reconquest, it’s also one of the earliest Christian churches in all of Andalusia. It has two Romanesque portals and a curved stone altar. Volunteers man admissions to the church so opening hours can be erratic—you’re most likely to find it open in the morning (11–1). | Pl. de Santa Cruz s/n | Free.

Palacio de Jabalquinto.
Built between the 15th and 16th centuries as a palatial home by Juan Alfonso de Benavides, a cousin of Ferdinand the Catholic, this palace has a flamboyant Gothic facade and a charming marble colonnaded Renaissance patio. It is now part of the International University of Andalucía, and you can wander in and view the patio for free. | Pl. de Santa Cruz s/n | Weekdays 9–2.

Plaza de Santa María.
The main square of the medieval city is surrounded by palaces as well as the cathedral. The highlight is the fountain, built in 1564 and resembling a triumphal arch.

San Felipe Neri.
The ancient student custom of inscribing names and graduation dates in bull’s blood (as in Salamanca) is still evident on the walls of the seminary of San Felipe Neri, opposite the cathedral and built in 1660. | Cuesta de San Felipe | Free | Weekdays 9–2.

WHERE TO EAT AND STAY

La Góndola.
SPANISH | Service comes with a smile at this rustic restaurant on Baeza’s Plaza de la Constitución, and it’s popularity with locals is a good endorsement. The interior is typically Andalusian, with agricultural implements adding a rustic touch, and there’s a pleasant and shady outside terrace. Specialties include snails as well as hearty fare such as homemade partridge pâté, and suckling pig and lamb, and there are some local dishes to choose from—patatas baezanas (roast potatoes served with mushrooms), for instance. The daily three-course menú del día and the dish of the day (usually a stew) are a good value. | Average main: €15 | Portales Carbonería 13 | 953/742984.

La Casona del Arco.
HOTEL | Housed in an old stone building just inside the walls of the historic center, this comfortable hotel is an excellent base for excursions to the surrounding towns. The large rooms are furnished in traditional style and have modern bathrooms that come with great showers. The generous common areas include a pool and sun deck. Pros: central yet quiet; modern fixtures. Cons: unimaginative breakfast; no parking. | Rooms from: €56 | Calle Sacramento 3 | 953/747208 | www.lacasonadelarco.com | 18 rooms | No meals.

ÚBEDA

9 km (5½ miles) northeast of Baeza on N321.

Úbeda’s casco antiguo (old town) is one of the most outstanding enclaves of 16th-century architecture in Spain. It’s a stunning surprise in the heart of Jaén’s olive groves, set in the shadow of the wild Sierra de Cazorla mountain range. For crafts enthusiasts, this is Andalusia’s capital for many kinds of artisan goods. Follow signs to the Zona Monumental, where there are countless Renaissance palaces and stately mansions, though most are closed to the public.

Getting Here and Around

Frequent buses (15 weekdays, 10 weekends; ALSA | 902/422242 | www.alsa.es) connect Úbeda with Jaén and Baeza, although a private car is the best option given the remoteness of the town and that you may want to explore nearby Baeza in the same day. Úbeda’s sights are all within easy reach of the center so exploring on foot is easy.

Essentials

Visitor Information
Úbeda. | Palacio Marqués del Contadero, Calle Baja del Marqués 4 | 953/779204 | www.ubeda.com.

Tours
Semer Guided Tours. Two-hour guided tours around Úbeda (in English, minimum two people) recount the history, culture, and traditions of the town. Tours of Baeza are also available, with a discount on combined tours of both towns. | Calle Juan Montilla 3 | 953/757916 | www.semerturismo.com | €14, includes all entry fees | Tours Mon.–Thurs. at 11, Fri.–Sat. at 11 and 5 (6 June–Sept.).

EXPLORING

Top Attractions

Ayuntamiento Antiguo (Old Town Hall).
Begun in the early 16th century but restored as a beautiful arcaded baroque palace in 1680, the former town hall is now a conservatory of music. From the hall’s upper balcony, the town council watched celebrations and autos-da-fé (“acts of faith”—executions of heretics sentenced by the Inquisition) in the square below. You can’t enter the town hall, but on the north side you can visit the 13th-century church of San Pablo, with an Isabelline south portal. | Pl. Primero de Mayo, off Calle María de Molina | 953/750637 | Church free | Church only: Tues. and Wed. 11–noon and 5–7:30, Thurs. and Fri. 11–1 and 5–7:30, Sat. 11–1, Sun. 12:15–1:30.

Hospital de Santiago.
Sometimes jokingly called the Escorial of Andalusia (in allusion to Felipe II’s monolithic palace and monastery outside Madrid), this is a huge, angular building in the modern section of town, and yet another one of Vandelvira’s masterpieces in Úbeda. The plain facade is adorned with ceramic medallions, and over the main entrance is a carving of Santiago Matamoros (St. James the Moorslayer) in his traditional horseback pose. Inside are an arcaded patio and a grand staircase. Now a cultural center, it holds some of the events at the International Spring Dance and Music Festival. | Av. Cristo Rey | 953/750842 | Free | Daily 10–2:30 and 5–9:30.

Sacra Capilla de El Salvador.
The Plaza Vázquez de Molina, in the heart of the old town, is the site of this building, which is photographed so often that it’s become the city’s unofficial symbol. It was built by Vandelvira, but he based his design on some 1536 plans by Diego de Siloé, architect of Granada’s cathedral. Considered one of the masterpieces of Spanish Renaissance religious art, the chapel was sacked in the frenzy of church burnings at the outbreak of the civil war, but it retains its ornate western facade and altarpiece, which has a rare Berruguete sculpture. | Pl. Vázquez de Molina | 609/279905 | €5 (free Mon.–Sat. 9:30–10, Sun. 6–7) | Mon.–Sat. 9:30–2 and 4–6, Sun. 11:30–2 and 4–7.

Worth Noting

Casa Museo Arte Andalusi.
This interesting museum is in an attractive building with a traditional patio and displays a former private collection of period antiques, including Moorish, Mudejar, and Mozarabic pieces. | Calle Narvaez 11 | 619/076132 | €2 | Daily 11–2 and 5–8.

Palacio de las Cadenas (House of Chains).
Vandelvira’s 16th-century Palacio Juan Vázquez de Molina is better known as the Palacio de las Cadenas because decorative iron chains (cadenas) were once affixed to the columns of its main doorway. It’s now the town hall and has entrances on both Plaza Vázquez de Molina and Plaza Ayuntamiento. Molina was a nephew of Francisco de los Cobos, and both served as secretaries to Emperor Carlos V and King Felipe II. | Pl. Vázquez de Molina and Pl. Ayuntamiento | Free | Weekdays 7:30–3.

Palacio de Vela de los Cobos.
The Plaza del Ayuntamiento is crowned by this privately owned palace, designed by the architect Andrés de Vandelvira (1505–75), a key figure in the Spanish Renaissance era, for Úbeda’s magistrate, Francisco de Vela de los Cobos. The corner balcony has a central white marble column that’s echoed in the gallery above. Guided tours of the interior are led by the owner. | Pl. del Ayuntamiento Úbeda, Jaén | 953/750034 | €4 | Tours Tues.–Fri. at 1:15 and 7:15, Sat. at noon, 1:15, 6, and 7:15, Sun at noon and 1:15.

WHERE TO EAT

Asador de Santiago.
SPANISH | At this adventurous restaurant just off the main street, the chef prepares both Spanish classics like white shrimp from Huelva or suckling pig from Segovia and innovative dishes like ajoblanco de piñones con granizado de mango (cream of garlic and almond soup with pine nuts and mango sorbet). There’s a delicious menú de degustación. Vegetarian choices such as risotto can be prepared on request. The candle-filled interior is more traditional than the menu and has terra-cotta tiles, dark-wood furnishings, and crisp white linens. | Average main: €18 | Av. Cristo Rey 4 | 953/750463 | Reservations essential | No dinner Sun.

La Imprenta.
SPANISH | Housed in a former printer’s workshop in the historic center of town, this cozy restaurant and tapas bar offers a refreshing alternative to more traditional establishments. The short but well-balanced menu includes inventions like scorpion fish in a sea urchin cream and sea bass pastry with prawns in Barbadillo wine sauce, along with an excellent solomillo con foie (sirloin with foie gras) and unusual rice dishes. Portions are generous, the staff attentive, and the wine list will surprise even connoisseurs. | Average main: €16 | Pl. Doctor Quesada 1 | 953/755500.

Mesón Gabino.
SPANISH | A stalwart defender of Úbeda’s culinary traditions, this cavelike restaurant serves such standards as andrajos de Úbeda (fish, pasta, and vegetable stew) and the beef, lamb, and fish cooked over coals are always delicious. The wine list offers an ample range of Rioja and Ribera del Duero selections. You can have tapas at the bar and, for a more substantial repast, the good-value lunchtime menú del día offers appetizers, three courses including dessert, and one drink. It’s on the edge of town near the Puerta del Losal, but it’s well worth the walk from Plaza 1 de Mayo. | Average main: €15 | Calle Fuente Seca s/n | 953/757553 | No dinner Mon.

WHERE TO STAY

Hotel Sercotel Rosaleda de Don Pedro.
HOTEL | This beautiful 16th-century mansion, in the city’s Zona Monumental, blends the best of the old with many of the comforts a modern traveler would want, including king-size beds. The pool—a rarity in this town—offers relief from the summer heat. Bought by the Spanish Sercotel chain in 2012, its rooms and public areas are tastefully furnished and spacious. The restaurant serves good traditional cuisine in its three-course menú del díaPros: easy parking; good value; has a pool. Cons: hard to find; basement reception and restaurant areas a little dingy. | Rooms from: €119 | Calle Obispo Toral 2 | 953/796111 | www.hotelrosaledadonpedro.com | 60 rooms | No meals.

Fodor’s Choice | Palacio de la Rambla.
B&B/INN | In old Úbeda, this stunning 16th-century mansion has been in the same family since it was built—it still hosts the Marquesa de la Rambla when she’s in town—and eight of the rooms are available for overnighters. Each room is unique, but all are large and furnished with original antiques, tapestries, and works of art, and some have chandeliers, four-poster beds, and access to the garden. The palace is arranged on two levels, around a cool, ivy-covered patio, and there are several salons open to guests. Pros: central location; elegant style. Cons: little parking. | Rooms from: €132 | Pl. del Marqués 1 | 953/750196 | www.palaciodelarambla.com | 6 rooms, 2 suites | Closed 3 wks in Jan. | Breakfast.

Fodor’s Choice | Parador de Úbeda.
HOTEL | Designed by Andrés de Vandelvira, this splendid parador is in a 16th-century ducal palace in a prime location on the Plaza Vázquez de Molina, next to the Capilla del Salvador. Guests are led to their rooms—which have tile floors, lofty ceilings, Castilian-style furniture, four-poster beds, and modern bathrooms—up a grand stairway decked with tapestries and suits of armor. The dining room, specializing in regional dishes, serves some of the best food in Úbeda—try the typical andrajos soup with noodles, cod, and prawns. A three-course menú del día is available, or you can dine à la carte. There’s a bar in the vaulted basement. Reservations are essential on weekends and in Spring. Pros: elegant surroundings; perfect location. Cons: parking is difficult; church bells in the morning. | Rooms from: €165 | Pl. Vázquez de Molina s/n | 953/750345 | www.parador.es | 35 rooms, 1 suite | No meals.

SHOPPING

Little Úbeda is the crafts capital of Andalusia, with workshops devoted to carpentry, basket weaving, stone carving, wrought iron, stained glass, and, above all, the city’s distinctive green-glaze pottery. Calle Valencia is the traditional potters’ row, running from the bottom of town to Úbeda’s general crafts center, northwest of the old quarter (follow signs to Calle Valencia or Barrio de Alfareros).

Úbeda’s most famous potter was Pablo Tito, whose craft is carried on at three different workshops run by two of his sons, Paco and Juan, and a son-in-law, Melchor, each of whom claims to be the sole true heir to the art.

Alfarería Góngora.
All kinds of ceramics are sold here. | Calle Cuesta de la Merced 32 | 953/754605.

Juan Tito.
The extrovert Juan Tito can often be found at the potter’s wheel in his rambling shop, which is packed with ceramics of every size and shape. You can also shop online. | Pl. del Ayuntamiento 12 | 953/751302 | www.alfareriatito.com.

Melchor Tito.
You can see classic green-glazed items—the focus of Melchor Tito’s work—being made in his workshops in Calle Valencia and Calle Fuenteseca 17, which are both also shops. | Calle Valencia 44 | 953/753692.

Paco Tito.
Clay sculptures of characters from Don Quixote, fired by Paco Tito in an old Moorish-style kiln, are the specialty of this studio and shop. There is also a museum (Monday–Saturday 8–2 and 4–8, Sunday 10–2) on the premises. | Calle Valencia 22 | 953/751496.

CAZORLA

48 km (35 miles) southeast of Úbeda.

Unspoiled and remote, the village of Cazorla is at the east end of Jaén province. The pine-clad slopes and towering peaks of the Cazorla and Segura sierras rise above the village, and below it stretch endless miles of olive groves. In spring, purple jacaranda trees blossom in the plazas.

Getting Here and Around

The remoteness and size of Cazorla Nature Park plus the lack of frequent public transportation make this somewhere to explore by car.

Essentials

Visitor Information
Cazorla Tourist Office. | Paseo Santo Cristo 19 | 953/710102 | www.cazorla.es.

EXPLORING

FAMILY | Parque Natural Sierra de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas (Cazorla, Segura and Las Villas Nature Park).
For a break from man-made sights, drink in the scenery or watch for wildlife in this park, a carefully protected patch of mountain wilderness 80 km (50 miles) long and 30 km (19 miles) wide. Deer, wild boar, and mountain goats roam its slopes and hawks, eagles, and vultures soar over the 6,000-foot peaks. Within the park, at Cañada de las Fuentes (Fountains’ Ravine), is the source of Andalusia’s great river, the Guadalquivir. The road through the park follows the river to the shores of Lago Tranco de Beas. Alpine meadows, pine forests, springs, waterfalls, and gorges make Cazorla a perfect place to hike. Past Lago Tranco and the village of Hornos, a road goes to the Sierra de Segura mountain range, the park’s least crowded area. At 3,600 feet, the spectacular village of Segura de la Sierra, on top of the mountain, is crowned by an almost perfect castle with impressive defense walls, a Moorish bath, and a nearly rectangular bullring. There’s also a hunting museum, with random attractions such as the interlocked antlers of bucks who clashed in autumn rutting season, became helplessly trapped, and died of starvation. Nearby are a botanical garden and a game reserve.

Early spring is the ideal time to visit; try to avoid the summer and late-spring months, when the park teems with tourists and locals. It’s often difficult, though by no means impossible, to find accommodations in fall, especially on weekends during hunting season (between September and February). Between June and October, the park maintains seven well-equipped campgrounds. For information on hiking, camping, canoeing, horseback riding, or guided excursions, contact the Agencia de Medio Ambiente (Tejares Altos | 953/711534), or the park visitor center. For hunting or fishing permits, apply to the Jaén office well in advance.

Centro de Interpretación Torre del Vinagre.
A short film shown in the interpretive center introduces the park’s main sights. Displays explain the plants and geology, and the staff can advise about camping, fishing, and hiking trails. | Ctra. del Tranco (A319), Km 48, Torre del Vinagre | 953/713017 | www.sierrasdecazorlaseguraylasvillas.es | Sept.–June, daily 10–2 and 4–7; July and Aug., daily 10–2 and 5–8.

Turisnat.
Four-wheel-drive trips can be taken into restricted areas of the park to observe the flora and fauna and photograph the larger animals. | Paseo del Santo Cristo 19 | 953/721351 | www.turisnat.es.

EN ROUTE: Guadalquivir River Gorge.
Leave Cazorla Nature Park by an alternative route—drive along the spectacular gorge carved by the Guadalquivir River, a rushing torrent beloved by kayaking enthusiasts. At the El Tranco Dam, follow signs to Villanueva del Arzobispo, where N322 takes you back to Úbeda, Baeza, and Jaén.

WHERE TO EAT AND STAY

Gastro Bar La Sarga.
SPANISH | Combining a cheerfully kitschy interior with spectacular views over the valley below, this gastro bar combines attentive service with good local food. Expect to find traditional cooked meat alongside more elaborate dishes like setas en salsa de almendras (oyster mushrooms in an almond sauce) and alcachofas en salsa de romero (artichokes with rosemary). There’s a daily plato del día and a tapas tasting menu (each tapa costs €2), all in generous portions. The kitchen opens at lunchtime and again at 8:30 for dinner (9 in summer). | Average main: €10 | Pl. del Mercado | 953/721507.

Coto del Valle.
HOTEL | This delightful modern hotel in Cazorla’s foothills—easily recognized by the huge fountain outside—is surrounded by pine trees and has been built using a traditional highland stone architectural style, with wooden beams and terra-cotta tiles. The rooms have a simple rustic style, and the large restaurant has a fireplace and mounted game, ranging from mountain goats to red leg partridges. Cooked game is on the menu with the emphasis on local dishes. The spa looks over to the mountains. Pros: nature lover’s paradise; great spa. Cons: indifferent service; 10-minute drive from town. | Rooms from: €100 | Ctra. del Tranco, Km 34.3 | 953/124067 | www.hotelcotodelvalle.com | 39 rooms, 1 suite | Closed 2 wks in Dec. and 2 wks in Jan (phone for dates) | No meals.

Hotel Villa de Cazorla.
RENTAL | On a hill with superb views of the village of Cazorla, this leisure complex rents semidetached apartments that sleep two to four guests. Each has a balcony or terrace as well as a kitchenette—some have a full kitchen—and fireplace. The restaurant specializes in trout, lamb, and, in particular, game, with dishes like wild boar in a honey-based sauce. Pros: self-catering option. Cons: noisy families; in need of refurbishment; some may find it too basic. | Rooms from: €72 | Ladera de San Isicio s/n | 953/724090 | www.villasdeandalucia.com | 32 apartments | Breakfast.

Parador de Cazorla.
HOTEL | You’ll find this modern parador isolated in a valley at the edge of the nature reserve, 26 km (16 miles) north of Cazorla, in a quiet place that’s popular with hunters and anglers. Despite the disappointing exterior, the setting is bucolic, amid a pine forest on a hillside, and inside there’s a small exhibition space with life-sized reproductions of animals. The restaurant serves regional game dishes such as wild boar in red wine and fillets of grilled venison. Pros: lovely views from the pool; mountain cooking. Cons: not all rooms have views; access difficult. | Rooms from: €95 | Sierra de Cazorla s/n | 953/727075 | www.parador.es | 32 rooms, 2 suites | Closed Nov.–Feb. | No meals.

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Granada

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Exploring | Where to Eat | Where to Stay | Performing Arts | Nightlife | Shopping

430 km (265 miles) south of Madrid, 261 km (162 miles) east of Seville, 160 km (100 miles) southeast of Córdoba.

The Alhambra and the tomb of the Catholic Monarchs are the pride of Granada. The city rises majestically from a plain onto three hills, dwarfed—on a clear day—by the Sierra Nevada. Atop one of these hills perches the reddish-gold Alhambra palace, whose stunning view takes in the sprawling medieval Moorish quarter, the caves of the Sacromonte, and, in the distance, the fertile vega (plain), rich in orchards, tobacco fields, and poplar groves. In 2013, Granada celebrated its 1,000th anniversary as a kingdom.

Split by internal squabbles, Granada’s Moorish Nasrid dynasty gave Ferdinand of Aragón his opportunity in 1491. Spurred by Isabella’s religious fanaticism, he laid siege to the city for seven months, and on January 2, 1492, Boabdil, the “Rey Chico” (Boy King), was forced to surrender the keys of the city. As Boabdil fled the Alhambra via the Puerta de los Siete Suelos (Gate of the Seven Floors), he asked that the gate be sealed forever.

GETTING HERE AND AROUND

Air Travel

Three daily flights connect Granada with Madrid and two with Barcelona.

Bus Travel

Granada’s main bus station is at Carretera de Jaén, 3 km (2 miles) northwest of the center of town beyond the end of Avenida de Madrid. Most buses operate from here, except for buses to nearby destinations such as Fuentevaqueros, Viznar, and some buses to Sierra Nevada, which leave from the city center’s Plaza del Triunfo near the RENFE station. Luggage lockers (la consigna) are available at the main bus and train stations, and you can also leave your luggage at Pensión Atlántida (Gran Vía 57).

Autocares Bonal operates buses between Granada and the Sierra Nevada. ALSA buses run to and from Las Alpujarras (9 times daily), Córdoba (8 times daily), Seville (9 times daily), Málaga (18 times daily), and Jaén, Baeza, Úbeda, Cazorla, Almería, Almuñecar, and Nerja (several times daily).

In Granada, J. González buses (€3) run between the center of town and the airport, leaving every hour between 5:20 am and 8 pm from the Palacio de Congresos and making a few other stops along the way to the airport. Times are listed at the bus stop.

Granada has an extensive public bus network within the city. You can buy 5-, 10- and 20-trip discount passes on the buses and at newsstands. The single-trip fare is €1.20. Granada Cards include bus trips plus guaranteed tickets for the Alhambra and other main monuments. The three-day card costs €33.50 and the five-day card €37.50, saving at least a third on regular prices. You can purchase the cards at the municipal tourist office, but it’s best to buy them online via the tourist office website in advance of your visit (you can print them at the tourist office).

Train Travel

There are regular trains from Seville and Almería, but service from Málaga and Córdoba is less convenient, necessitating a change at Bobadilla. A new fast track is currently under construction, however, which will reduce journey times considerably. There are a couple of daily trains from Madrid, Valencia, and Barcelona.

ESSENTIALS

Airport Contact
Aeropuerto de Granada (Aeropurto Federico García Lorca). | 958/245200.

Bus Station
Granada. | Ctra. Jaén, Granada | 902/422242.

Taxi Contacts
Radio Taxi. | 958/132323
Tele Radio Taxi. | 958/280654.

Train Contacts
Station. | Av. de los Andaluces | 902/320320.

Visitor Information
Municipal Tourist Office. | Pl. del Carmen, Centro | 958/248286 | www.granadatur.com
Provincial Tourist Office. | Pl. Mariana Pineda 10, Centro | 958/247128 | www.turismodegranada.org.

TOURS

Cycling Country.
For information about cycling tours around Granada (and Andalusia), from one day to 10 days long, contact this company, run by husband-and-wife team Geoff Norris and Maggi Jones in a town about 55 km (33 miles) away. | Calle Salmerones 18 Alhama de Granada | 958/360655 | www.cyclingcountry.com | From €30.

Granada Tour.
Large open-top buses provide a hop-on, hop-off service, including informative commentary on the major sights. They take in the sights in the lower city and there’s also a minibus service that winds up to the Alhambra and through the narrow streets of Albayzín. The price includes 48 hours unlimited travel. | www.granadatour.com | €18 (discount available online).

Granada

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EXPLORING

Granada can be characterized by its major neighborhoods: East of the Darro River and up the hill is La Alhambra. South of it and around a square and a popular hangout area, Campo del Príncipe, is Realejo. To the west of the Darro and going from north to south are the two popular neighborhoods, Sacromonte and Albayzín (also spelled Albaicín). The latter is the young and trendy part of Granada, full of color, flavor, charming old architecture, and narrow, hilly streets. On either side of Gran Vía de Colón and the streets that border the cathedral (Reyes Católicos and Recogidas—the major shopping areas) is the area generally referred to as Centro, the city center. These days much of the Alhambra and Albayzín areas are closed to cars, but starting from the Plaza Nueva there are minibuses—nos. 30, 31, 34, and 35—that run frequently to these areas.

LA ALHAMBRA

Alhambra. With more than 3 million visitors a year, the Alhambra is Spain’s most popular attraction. The complex has three main parts: the Alcazaba, the Palacios Nazaríes (Nasrid Palaces), and the Generalife, the ancient summer palace. The Museo de la Alhambra is in the Alhambra building, too.

Fodor’s Choice | Alhambra.
With more than 2.3 million visitors a year, the Alhambra is Spain’s most popular attraction. Walking to the Alhambra can be as inspiring as walking around it. If you’re up to a long, and rather steep, scenic approach, start in the Plaza Nueva and climb the Cuesta de Gomérez—through the slopes of green elms planted by the Duke of Wellington—to reach the Puerta de las Granadas (Gate of the Pomegranates), a Renaissance gateway built by Carlos V and topped by three pomegranates, symbols of Granada. More easily, simply take one of the minibuses, number 30 or 32, up from the Plaza Nueva. They run every few minutes; pay the fare of €1.20 on board. Just past the gate, take the path branching off to the left to the Puerta de la Justicia (Gate of Justice), one of the Alhambra’s entrances. Yusuf I built the gate in 1348; its two arches have carvings depicting a key and a hand. The five fingers of the hand represent the five laws of the Koran. If you’re driving, you approach the Alhambra from the opposite direction. There’s a large parking lot. Alternatively, you can park in the underground lot on Calle San Agustín, just north of the cathedral, and take a taxi or the minibus from Plaza Nueva. The complex has three main parts: the Alcazaba, the Palacios Nazaríes (Nasrid Palaces), and the Generalife, the ancient summer palace.

Construction of the Alhambra was begun in 1238 by Ibn el-Ahmar, the first king of the Nasrids. The great citadel once comprised a complex of houses, schools, baths, barracks, and gardens surrounded by defense towers and seemingly impregnable walls. Today, only the Alcazaba and the Palacios Nazaríes, built chiefly by Yusuf I (1334–54) and his son Mohammed V (1354–91), remain. The palace is an endless, intricate conglomeration of patios, arches, and cupolas made from wood, plaster, and tile; lavishly colored and adorned with marquetry and ceramics in geometric patterns and topped by delicate, frothy profusions of lacelike stucco and mocárabes (ornamental stalactites). Built of perishable materials, it was never intended to last but to be forever replenished and replaced by succeeding generations. By the early 17th century, ruin and decay had set in, and the Alhambra was abandoned by all but tramps and stray dogs. Napoléon’s troops commandeered it in 1812, but their attempts to destroy it were, happily, foiled. In 1814, the Alhambra’s fortunes rose with the arrival of the Duke of Wellington, who came here to escape the pressures of the Peninsular War. Soon afterward, in 1829, Washington Irving arrived to live on the premises and helped revive interest in the crumbling palace, in part through his 1832 book Tales of the Alhambra. In 1862, Granada finally launched a complete restoration program that has been carried on ever since.

Across from the main entrance is the original fortress, the Alcazaba. Its ruins are dominated by the Torre de la Vela (Watchtower); from its summit you can see, to the north, the Albayzín; to the northeast, the Sacromonte; and to the west, the cathedral. The tower’s great bell was once used, by both the Moors and the Christians, to announce the opening and closing of the irrigation system on Granada’s great plain.

A wisteria-covered walkway leads to the heart of the Alhambra, the Palacios Nazaríes, sometimes also called the Casa Real (Royal Palace). Here, delicate apartments, lazy fountains, and tranquil pools contrast vividly with the hulking fortifications outside, and the interior walls are decorated with elaborately carved inscriptions from the Koran. The Palacios Nazaríes are divided into three sections. The first is the mexuar, where business, government, and palace administration were headquartered. These chambers include the Oratorio (Oratory) and the Cuarto Dorado (Golden Room); gaze down over the Albayzín and Sacromonte from their windows. The second section is the serrallo, a series of state rooms where the sultans held court and entertained their ambassadors. In the heart of the serrallo is the Patio de los Arrayanes (Court of the Myrtles), with a long goldfish pool. At its northern end, in the Salón de Embajadores (Hall of the Ambassadors)—which has a magnificent cedar door—King Boabdil signed the terms of surrender and Queen Isabella received Christopher Columbus.

The third and final section of the Palacios Nazaríes is the harem, which in its time was entered only by the sultan, his wives and the rest of his family, and their most trusted servants, most of them eunuchs. To reach it, pass through the Sala de los Mocárabes (Hall of the Ornamental Stalactites); note the splendid, though damaged, ceiling, and the elaborate stalactite-style stonework in the arches above. The Patio de los Leones (Court of the Lions) is the heart of the harem. From the fountain in the center, 12 lions, thought to represent the months or signs of the zodiac, leer out at you. Four streams flow symbolically to the four corners of the cosmos and more literally to the surrounding state apartments. The lions and fountain were restored in 2012, and the Court paved with white marble as it would originally have been.

The Sala de los Abencerrajes (Hall of the Moors), on the south side of the palace, may be the Alhambra’s most beautiful gallery, with its fabulous, ornate ceiling and a star-shaped cupola reflected in the pool below. Here Boabdil’s father is alleged to have massacred 16 members of the Abencerrajes family—whose chief was the lover of his favorite daughter, Zoraya—and piled their bloodstained heads in this font. The Sala de los Reyes (Hall of the Kings) lies on the patio’s east side, decorated with ceiling frescoes thought to be the work of a visiting Christian Spaniard and painted during the last days of the Moors’ tenure. To the north, the Sala de las Dos Hermanas (Hall of the Two Sisters) was Zoraya’s abode. Its stuccoed ceiling is done in an intricate honeycomb pattern. Note the symmetrically placed patterned pomegranates on the walls.

The Baños Reales (Royal Baths), the Alhambra’s semi-subterranean bathhouse, is where the sultans’ favorites luxuriated in brightly tiled pools beneath star-shaped pinpoints of light from the ceiling above. The baths are rarely open to visitors for conservation reasons, but you can glimpse their finery from the entrance.

The Renaissance Palacio de Carlos V (Palace of Carlos V), with a perfectly square exterior but a circular interior courtyard, is where the sultans’ private apartments once stood. Designed by Pedro Machuca—a pupil of Michelangelo—and begun in 1526, the palace once was the site of bullfights and mock tournaments. Today its acoustics are perfect for the summer symphony concerts held during Granada’s International Festival of Music and Dance.

Part of the building houses the Museo de la Alhambra (Museum of the Alhambra<img src=”assets/images/A.png”/>), devoted to Islamic art. Upstairs is the more modest Museo de Bellas Artes (Fine Arts Museum). You can visit the Palace of Carlos V and the museums independently of the Alhambra.

Over on the Cerro del Sol (Hill of the Sun) is the Generalife, ancient summer palace of the Nasrid kings. Its name comes from the Arabic gennat alarif (garden of the architect), and its terraces and promenades grant incomparable views of the city that stretch to the distant lowlands. During the summer’s International Festival of Music and Dance, stately cypresses serve as the backdrop for evening ballets in the Generalife amphitheater. Between the Alhambra and Generalife is the 16th-century convent of San Francisco, one of Spain’s most luxurious paradors.

TIP Don’t forget to visit the “Space of the Month”—each month one of the parts usually closed to visitors is open.

Allow a good half day for your visit, a whole day if you have time. | Cuesta de Gomérez, Alhambra | www.alhambra-patronato.es | Alhambra and Generalife: €14; Generalife and Alcazaba: €7; Fine Arts Museum: €1.50; Museum of the Alhambra and Palace of Carlos V: free | Alhambra, Alcazaba, Generalife, and Palace of Carlos V: daily 8:30–6 (to 8 Mar. 15–Oct. 14). Museum of the Alhambra: Tues.–Sun. 8:30–2. Museum of Fine Arts: Tues. 2:30–8, Wed.–Sat. 9–8, Sun. 9–2:30.

Baños Árabes.
Baths played a very important part in Muslim life and as a measure of that status were often sited near a mosque or in the souk. At the re-created baths, you can relax with friends, get a massage, and even take tea and be entertained by a belly dancer. Visits must be booked in advance. | Santa Ana 16 | 958/229978 | www.hammamspain.com | €24; €36 with aromatherapy massage | Daily, by appointment only, at 10, noon, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, and midnight.

Carmen de los Mártires.
Up the hill from the Hotel Alhambra Palace, this turn-of-the-20th-century carmen (private villa) and its gardens—the only area open to tourists—are like a Generalife in miniature. | Paseo de los Mártires, Alhambra | 958/227953 | Free | Apr.–July and Sept.–Oct., weekdays 10–2 and 6–8, weekends 10–8; Nov.–Mar., weekdays 10–2 and 4–6, weekends 10–6.

Casa-Museo de Manuel de Falla.
The composer Manuel de Falla (1876–1946) lived and worked for many years in this rustic house tucked into a charming hillside lane with lovely views of Las Alpujarras. In 1986 Granada paid homage to him by naming its new concert hall (down the street from the Carmen de los Mártires) the Auditorio Manuel de Falla—from this institution, fittingly, you have a view of his little white house. Note the bust in the small garden: It’s placed where the composer once sat to enjoy the sweeping vista. | Calle Antequeruela Alta 11, Alhambra | 958/222189 | www.museomanueldefalla.com | €3 | Tues.–Fri. 9:30–6:30, weekends 9–2:30.

Granada Walking Tour

Save a full day for the Alhambra and the Alhambra hill sights: the Alcazaba, Generalife, Alhambra Museum, Fundación Rodríguez Acosta/Instituto Gomez MorenoCasa-Museo de Manuel de Falla, and Carmen de los Mártires. This walk covers the other major Granada sights.

Begin at Plaza Isabel la Católica (corner of Gran Vía and Calle Reyes Católicos), with its statue of Columbus presenting the queen with his New World maps. Walk south on Calle Reyes Católicos and turn left into the Corral del Carbón—the oldest building in Granada.

Cross back over Calle Reyes Católicos to the Alcaicería, once the Moorish silk market and now a maze of alleys with souvenir shops and restaurants. Behind it is Plaza Bib-Rambla, with its flower stalls and historic Gran Café Bib-Rambla, famous for hot chocolate and churros. Calle Oficios is also home to the fascinating Centro José Guerrero and leads to Palacio Madraza and the Capilla Real, next to the cathedral.

Off the cathedral’s west side is the 16th-century Escuela de las Niñas Nobles, with its plateresque facade. Next to the cathedral, just off Calle Libreros, are the Curia Eclesiástica, an Imperial College until 1769; the Palacio del Arzobispo; and the 18th-century Iglesia del Sagrario. Behind the cathedral is the Gran Vía de Colón. Detour to the Casa de los Tiros (on Calle Pavaneras) before heading to Plaza Isabel la Católica. Follow Reyes Católicos to Plaza Nueva and the ornate 16th-century Real Cancillería (Royal Chancery), now the Tribunal Superior de Justicia (High Court). Just north are Plaza Santa Ana and the church of Santa Ana.

Walk through Plaza Santa Ana to Carrera del Darro—which flanks the river and is lined with shops, hotels, bars, and restaurants—and you come to the 11th-century Arab bathhouse, El Bañuelo, and the 16th-century Casa de Castril, site of Granada’s Archaeological Museum.

Follow the river along the Paseo del Padre Manjón (Paseo de los Tristes)—to the Palacio de los Córdoba. Climb Cuesta del Chapíz to the Morisco Casa del Chapíz. To the east are the caves of Sacromonte and the Museo-Cuevas del Sacromonte. Turn west into the streets of the Albayzín, with the Casa de los Pisa and Dar al-Horra nearby. Best reached by taxi are the 16th-century Monasterio de La Cartuja, the interactive science museum Parque de las Ciencias, and Casa-Museo Federico García Lorca.

REALEJO

Casa de los Tiros.
This 16th-century palace, adorned with the coat of arms of the Grana Venegas family who owned it, was named House of the Shots for the musket barrels that protrude from its facade. The stairs to the upper-floor displays are flanked by portraits of miserable-looking Spanish royals, from Ferdinand and Isabella to Felipe IV. The highlight is the carved wooden ceiling in the Cuadra Dorada (Hall of Gold), adorned with gilded lettering and portraits of royals and knights. Old lithographs, engravings, and photographs show life in Granada in the 19th and early 20th centuries. | Calle Pavaneras 19, Realejo | 958/221072 | www.juntadeandalucia.es/cultura/museos/MCTGR | €1.50 | Tues.–Sat. 10–8:30, Sun. 10–5.

Casa Sefardí (Sephardic House).
This restored house, typical of the Realejo district, offers a fascinating insight into the life of the Sephardic Jews, an essential component of Granada’s history, and their contributions to science and the arts. Visits are by guided tour. | Pl. Berrocal 5, Realejo | 958/220578 | www.museosefardidegranada.es/en | €5 | Apr.–Oct., daily 10–2 and 5–9; Nov.–Mar., daily 10–2 and 4–8.

Fundación Rodríguez-Acosta/Instituto Gómez Moreno.
A few yards from the impressive Alhambra Hotel, this nonprofit organization was founded at the bequest of the painter José Marí Rodríguez-Acosta. Inside a typical carmen, it houses works of art, archaeological findings, and a library collected by the Granada-born scholar Manuel Gómez-Moreno Martínez. Other exhibits include valuable and unique objects from Asian cultures and the prehistoric and classical eras. Call or email ahead, as advance reservations (minimum two days) are required. | Callejón Niños del Rollo 8, Realejo | 958/227497 | info@fundacionrodriguezacosta.com | www.fundacionrodriguezacosta.com | €5 | Daily 10–6.

SACROMONTE

The third of Granada’s three hills, the Sacromonte rises behind the Albayzín. The hill is covered with prickly pear cacti and riddled with caverns. The Sacromonte has long been notorious as a domain of Granada’s Gypsies and thus a den of thieves and scam artists, but its reputation is largely undeserved. The quarter is more like a quiet Andalusian pueblo (village) than a rough neighborhood. Many of the quarter’s colorful cuevas (caves) have been restored as middle-class homes, and some of the old spirit lives on in a handful of zambras (flamenco performances in caves, which are garishly decorated with brass plates and cooking utensils). These shows differ from formal flamenco shows in that the performers mingle with you, usually dragging one or two onlookers onto the floor for an improvised dance lesson. Ask your hotel to book you a spot on a cueva tour, which usually includes a walk through the neighboring Albayzín and a drink at a tapas bar in addition to the zambra.

Abadía de Sacromonte.
The caverns on Sacromonte are thought to have sheltered early Christians; 15th-century treasure hunters found bones inside and assumed they belonged to San Cecilio, the city’s patron saint. Thus, the hill was sanctified—sacro monte (holy mountain)—and an abbey built on its summit, the Abadía de Sacromonte. | C. del Sacromonte, Sacromonte | 958/221445 | €4 | Tues.–Sat. 10–12.50 and 4–6, Sun. 11–1 and 4–6; guided tours every 40 mins (Spanish only).

Museo Cuevas del Sacromonte.
The Museo Etnográfico shows how people lived here, and other areas in this interesting complex show the flora and fauna of the area as well as cultural activities. There are live flamenco concerts during the summer months. WARNING: Even if you take the minibus no. 35 (from Plaza Nueva) or the city sightseeing bus to get here, you will still be left with a steep walk of more than 200 meters to reach the center. Barranco de los Negros, Sacromonte | 958/215120 | www.sacromontegranada.com | €5 | Apr.–Oct., daily 10–8; Nov.–Mar., daily 10–6.

ALBAYZÍN

Covering a hill of its own, across the Darro ravine from the Alhambra, this ancient Moorish neighborhood is a mix of dilapidated white houses and immaculate carmenes (private villas in gardens enclosed by high walls). It was founded in 1228 by Moors who had fled Baeza after Ferdinand III captured the city. Full of cobblestone alleyways and secret corners, the Albayzín guards its old Moorish roots jealously, though its 30 mosques were converted to baroque churches long ago. A stretch of the Moors’ original city wall runs beside the ridge called the Cuesta de la Alhacaba. If you’re walking—the best way to explore—you can enter the Albayzín from either the Cuesta de Elvira or the Plaza Nueva. Alternatively, on foot or by taxi (parking is impossible), begin in the Plaza Santa Ana and follow the Carrera del Darro, Paseo Padre Manjón, and Cuesta del Chapíz. One of the highest points in the quarter, the plaza in front of the church of San Nicolás—called the Mirador de San Nicolás—has one of the finest views in all of Granada: on the hill opposite, the turrets and towers of the Alhambra form a dramatic silhouette against the snowy peaks of the Sierra Nevada. The sight is most magical at dawn, dusk, and on nights when the Alhambra is floodlighted. Take note of the mosque just next to the church—views of the Alhambra from the mosque gardens are just as good as those from the Mirador de San Nicolás and a lot less crowded. Interestingly, given the area’s Moorish history, the two sloping, narrow streets of Calderería Nueva and Calderería Vieja that meet at the top by the Iglesia San Gregorio have developed into something of a North African bazaar, full of shops and vendors selling clothes, bags, crafts, and trinkets. The numerous little teahouses and restaurants here have a decidedly Moroccan flavor. Be warned that there have been some thefts in the area, so keep your money and valuables out of sight.

Casa de los Pisa.
Originally built in 1494 for the Pisa family, the claim to fame of this house is its relationship to San Juan de Dios, who came to Granada in 1538 and founded a charity hospital to take care of the poor. Befriended by the Pisa family, he was taken into their home when he fell ill in February 1550. A month later, he died there, at the age of 55. Since that time, devotees of the saint have traveled from around the world to this house with a stone Gothic facade, now run by the Hospital Order of St. John. Inside are numerous pieces of jewelry, furniture, priceless religious works of art, and an extensive collection of paintings and sculptures depicting St. John. | Calle Convalecencia 1, Albayzín | 958/222144 | €3 | Mon.–Sat. 10–1:30.

Casa del Chapíz.
There’s a delightful garden in this fine 16th-century Morisco house (built by Moorish craftsmen under Christian rule). It houses the School of Arabic Studies. | Cuesta del Chapíz 22, Albayzín | 958/222290 | Weekdays 9–6 (until 3 in July and Aug.).

El Bañuelo (Little Bath House).
These 11th-century Arab steam baths might be a little dark and dank now, but try to imagine them some 900 years ago, filled with Moorish beauties. Back then, the dull brick walls were backed by bright ceramic tiles, tapestries, and rugs. Light comes in through star-shape vents in the ceiling, à la the bathhouse in the Alhambra. | C. del Darro 31, Albayzín | 958/229738 | Free | Daily 10–6.

QUICK BITES: Paseo Padre Manjón.
Along the Darro River, this paseo is also known as the Paseo de los Tristes (Promenade of the Sad Ones) because funeral processions once passed this way. The cafés and bars here are a good place for a coffee break. The park, dappled with wisteria-covered pergolas, fountains, and stone walkways, has a stunning view of the Alhambra’s northern side. | Albayzín.

Palacio de los Córdova.
At the end of the Paseo Padre Manjón, this 17th-century noble house today holds Granada’s municipal archives and is used for municipal functions and art exhibits. You’re free to wander about the large garden. | Cuesta del Chapiz 4, Albayzín | Free | Nov.–Mar., weekdays 10–2 and 4–6, weekends 10–6; Apr.–Oct., weekdays 10–2 and 6–8, weekends 10–8.

CENTRO

Capilla Real (Royal Chapel).
Catholic Monarchs Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragón are buried at this shrine. The couple originally planned to be buried in Toledo’s San Juan de los Reyes, but Isabella changed her mind when the pair conquered Granada in 1492. When she died in 1504, her body was first laid to rest in the Convent of San Francisco (now a parador), on the Alhambra hill. The architect Enrique Egas began work on the Royal Chapel in 1506 and completed it 15 years later, creating a masterpiece of the ornate Gothic style now known in Spain as Isabelline. In 1521 Isabella’s body was transferred to a simple lead coffin in the Royal Chapel crypt, where it was joined by that of her husband, Ferdinand, and later her unfortunate daughter, Juana la Loca (Joanna the Mad), and son-in-law, Felipe el Hermoso (Philip the Handsome). Felipe died young, and Juana had his casket borne about the peninsula with her for years, opening the lid each night to kiss her embalmed spouse good night. A small coffin to the right contains the remains of Prince Felipe of Asturias, a grandson of the Catholic Monarchs and nephew of Juana la Loca who died in his infancy. The crypt containing the five lead coffins is quite simple, but it’s topped by elaborate marble tombs showing Ferdinand and Isabella lying side by side (commissioned by their grandson Carlos V and sculpted by Domenico Fancelli).

The altarpiece, by Felipe Vigarini (1522), comprises 34 carved panels depicting religious and historical scenes; the bottom row shows Boabdil surrendering the keys of the city to its conquerors and the forced baptism of the defeated Moors.

The sacristy holds Ferdinand’s sword, Isabella’s crown and scepter, and a fine collection of Flemish paintings once owned by Isabella. | Calle Oficios, Centro | 958/229239 | www.capillarealgranada.com | €4 | Apr.–Oct., Mon.–Sat. 10:15–1:30 and 4–7:30, Sun. 11–1:30 and 4–7:30; Nov.–Mar., Mon.–Sat. 10:30–1:30 and 3:30–6:30, Sun. 10:30–1:30 and 3:30–6:30.

Cathedral.
Carlos V commissioned the cathedral in 1521 because he considered the Royal Chapel “too small for so much glory” and wanted to house his illustrious late grandparents someplace more worthy. Carlos undoubtedly had great intentions, as the cathedral was created by some of the finest architects of its time: Enrique Egas, Diego de Siloé, Alonso Cano, and sculptor Juan de Mena. Alas, his ambitions came to little, for the cathedral is a grand and gloomy monument, not completed until 1714 and never used as the crypt for his grandparents (or parents). Enter through a small door at the back, off the Gran Vía. Old hymnals are displayed throughout, and there’s a museum, which includes a 14th-century gold-and-silver monstrance (used for communion) given to the city by Queen Isabella. Audio guides are available for an extra €3. | Gran Vía, Centro | 958/222959 | €4 | Nov.–Mar., Mon.–Sat. 10:45–1:30 and 4–6:45, Sun. 4–6:45; Apr.–Oct., Mon.–Sat. 10:45–1:30 and 4–7:45, Sun. 4–7:45.

Centro José Guerrero.
Just across a lane from the Cathedral and Capilla Real, this building houses colorful modern paintings by José Guerrero. Born in Granada in 1914, Guerrero traveled throughout Europe and lived in New York in the 1950s before returning to Spain. The center also runs excellent temporary contemporary art shows. | Calle Oficios 8, Centro | 958/225185 | www.centroguerrero.org | Free | Tues.–Sat. 10:30–2 and 4:30–9, Sun. 10:30–2.

Corral del Carbón (Coal House).
This building was used to store coal in the 19th century, but its history is much longer. Dating from the 14th century, it was used by Moorish merchants as a lodging house, and then by Christians as a theater. It’s one of the oldest Moorish buildings in the city and the only Arab structure of its kind in Spain. | Pl. Mariana Pineda, Centro | Free | Daily 10–8.

Palacio Madraza.
This building conceals the Islamic seminary built in 1349 by Yusuf I. The intriguing baroque facade is elaborate; inside, across from the entrance, an octagonal room is crowned by a Moorish dome. It hosts occasional free art and cultural exhibitions. | Calle Zacatín, Centro | 958/241299 | €2 | Daily 10–7:30.

OUTSKIRTS OF TOWN

Casa-Museo Federico García Lorca.
Granada’s most famous native son, the poet Federico García Lorca, gets his due here, in the middle of a park devoted to him on the southern fringe of the city. Lorca’s onetime summer home, La Huerta de San Vicente, is now a museum—run by his niece Laura García Lorca—with such artifacts as his beloved piano and changing exhibits on specific aspects of his life. | Parque García Lorca, Virgen Blanca, Arabial | 958/258466 | www.huertadesanvicente.com | €3 (free Wed.) | June 15–Sept. 15, Tues.–Sun. 9:15–2:15; Apr.–June 14 and Sept. 16–30, Tues.–Sun. 9:15–2:15 and 5–8; Oct.–Mar., Tues.–Sun. 9:15–2:15 and 4–7. Guided tours every 45 mins until 30 mins before closing.

Monasterio de La Cartuja.
This Carthusian monastery in northern Granada (2 km [1 mile] from the center of town and reached by Bus No. 8) was begun in 1506 and moved to its present site in 1516, though construction continued for the next 300 years. The exterior is sober and monolithic, but inside are twisted, multicolor marble columns; a profusion of gold, silver, tortoiseshell, and ivory; intricate stucco; and the extravagant sacristy—it’s easy to see why it has been called the Christian answer to the Alhambra. Among its wonders are the trompe l’oeil spikes, shadows and all, in the Sanchez Cotan cross over the Last Supper painting at the west end of the refectory. If you’re lucky you may see small birds attempting to land on these faux perches. | C. de Alfacar, Cartuja | 958/161932 | €4 | Apr.–Oct., daily 10–1 and 4–8; Nov.–Mar., daily 10–1 and 3–6.

FAMILY | Parque de las Ciencias (Science Park).
Across from Granada’s convention center and easily reached on either Bus No. 1 or 5, this museum (the most visited in Andalusia) has a planetarium and interactive demonstrations of scientific experiments. The 165-foot observation tower has views to the south and west. | Av. del Mediterráneo, Zaidín | 958/131900 | www.parqueciencias.com | Park €6.50, planetarium €2.50 | Tues.–Sat. 10–7, Sun. and holidays 10–3.

WHERE TO EAT

One of the great things about Granada tapas bars is that you receive a free tapa (often very generous) with every drink. You can’t choose your tapa, but you’ll rarely be disappointed. Poke around the streets between the Carrera del Darro and the Mirador de San Nicolás, particularly around the bustling Plaza San Miguel Bajo, for Granada’s most colorful twilight hangouts. Also try the bars and restaurants in the arches underneath the Plaza de Toros (Bullfighting Ring), on the west side of the city, a bit farther from the city center.

For a change, check out some Moroccan-style tea shops, known as teterías—these first emerged in Granada and are now also popular in Seville and Málaga, particularly among students. Tea at such places can be expensive, so be sure to check the price of your brew before you order. The highest concentration of teterías is in the Albayzín, particularly around Calle Calderería Nueva where, within a few doors from each other, you find El Oriental, Ali Baba, and El Jardín de los Sueños. Tetería Ábaco, up the steep Cuesta del Perro Alto side street, is worth the climb for the Alhambra views from its roof terrace.

Bodegas Castañeda.
SPANISH | A block from the cathedral across Gran Vía, this is a delightfully typical Granadino bodega with low ceilings and dark wood furniture. In addition to the wines, specialties here are plates of cheese, pâté, and embutidos (cold meats). The extensive list of tapas includes queso viejo en aceite (cured cheese in olive oil), bacon with Roquefort cheese, and jamón de Trevélez (ham from the village of Trevélez). If you like garlic, don’t miss the Spanish tortilla with creamy alioli. | Average main: €18 | Calle Almireceros 1–3, Centro | 958/215464.

Café Botánico.
TAPAS | Southeast of Granada’s cathedral, this is a modern hot spot, a world apart from Granada’s usual traditional tapas bar. Here you’ll find a bright orange and beige interior and an eclectic crowd of students, families, and business people. The diverse menu has a distinctly international feel to it with Mexican fajitas, Indonesian woks, and Indian tikka masala wraps all sitting side by side. The good value lunchtime menu offers three courses plus a drink for €11.90. Seating is outside on the pleasant sidewalk overlooking the Botanical Garden or inside in two sizeable dining areas. | Average main: €10 | Calle Málaga 3, Centro | 958/271598.

Casa Juanillo.
TAPAS | Slightly off the beaten track, on the Sacromonte “pathway,” this place has spectacular views over the Alhambra and Generalife from its terrace. Food is based around traditional local fare and includes tortillas (the Sacromonte tortilla is made with lamb brains), prawns, and lamb chops (roasted on an open fire and reputedly the best in this part of Granada). Diners may be treated to a occasional spontaneous flamenco performance. | Average main: €13 | C. del Sacromonte 81, Sacromonte | 958/223094.

Cunini.
SPANISH | Around the corner from the cathedral, this is one of Granada’s best fish restaurants. Catch-of-the-day fish and shellfish, fresh from the boats at Motril, are displayed in the window at the front of the tapas bar, adjacent to the cozy wood-paneled dining room. Both the frito (fried) and the parrillada (grilled) fish are good choices. If it’s chilly, you can warm up with caldereta de arroz, pescado y marisco (rice, fish, and seafood stew). There are tables outdoors overlooking a busy plaza. | Average main: €20 | Pl. Pescadería 14, Centro | 958/250777 | Closed Mon. No dinner Sun.

Fodor’s Choice | Damasqueros.
SPANISH | The modern, wood-paneled dining room and warm light form the perfect setting for the creative Andalusian cuisine cooked here by local Lola Marín who learnt her trade with some of Spain’s top chefs such as Martín Berasategui. The concise menu includes dishes like fresh tuna with pumpkin ravioli, pesto, and fried almonds, and Iberian pork with couscous, apricots, and yogurt. The wine list runs to more than 120 types, including several Granada wines. Thanks to its slightly hidden location in the Realejo, Damasqueros is not highly frequented by tourists. | Average main: €20 | Calle Damasqueros 3, Realejo | 958/210550 | www.damasqueros.com | Closed Mon. No dinner Sun.

El Lagarto de Lorca.
SPANISH | In the choicest square in the Albayzín, which is covered with tables and chairs in the summer, this restaurant (named after a Lorca poem about a lizard, serves solidly traditional cuisine that includes rabo de toro, habas con jamón (ham with broad beans), and meat grilled over a log fire. The house specialties include caracoles (snails) and tapas (€1.50). There are three upstairs terraces whose views take in the Alhambra and Granada, and downstairs among the rustic interior design and Alhambra murals, the fireplace will warm your toes when there’s snow on the Sierras. | Average main: €9 | Pl. San Miguel Bajo 15, Albayzín | 958/563542.

El Pilar del Toro.
SPANISH | This bar and restaurant, just off Plaza Nueva, is in a 17th-century palace with a stunning patio (complete with original marble columns) and peaceful garden. A change of management in late 2013 has led to a menu emphasizing meat dishes such as carrillada al vino tinto (meat stew in red wine), cordero lechal al aroma de romero (suckling lamb with a hint of rosemary) and the house specialty, oxtail stew. The downstairs patio and bar serve tapas only with the elegant restaurant upstairs. | Average main: €15 | Calle Hospital de Santa Ana 12, Albayzín | 958/225470.

Fodor’s Choice | La Brujidera.
TAPAS | Also known simply as “Casa de Vinos”, this place, up a pedestrian street just behind Plaza Nueva, is a must for Spanish wine lovers. The cozy interior is reminiscent of a ship’s cabin, with wood panelling lining the walls, along with bottles of more than 150 Spanish wines. A different wine is featured each week and vermouth and sherries are on tap in barrels behind the counter. Tapas specialize in cold meats, cheeses, and patés, served on 11 types and sizes of boards (€9–€22). The house board includes 3 cold meats, goat’s cheese, and two pâtés. | Average main: €10 | Monjas del Carmen 2, Centro | 958/222595 | Closed 1 wk in Feb. (call for dates).

Las Estrellas de San Nicolás.
SPANISH | Near the Mirador San Nicolás, this elegant restaurant has panoramic views of the Alhambra from the elegant upstairs room and terrace. Renowned chef Enrique Martín from Córdoba has introduced such innovative dishes as black pudding crumble with caramelized mango and duck with pears, grapes, and apple puree but also offers a more traditional menu of oxtail stew, grilled sea bass, and creamy rice with lobster (the house specialty). Service is exemplary. | Average main: €23 | Callejón Atarazana Vieja 1, Albayzín | 958/288739 | No lunch Tues.

Los Diamantes.
TAPAS | This cheap and cheerful bar is a big favorite with locals and draws crowds whatever the time of year. Specialties include fried fish and seafood—try the surtido de pescado (assortment of fried fish) to sample the best—as well as mollejas fritas (fried lamb brains). No reservations are taken and there’s no seating, so arrive early (1:30 pm or 8 pm) to be sure of some bar space or a tall table outside. Even when it’s crowded, the service comes with a smile. | Average main: €12 | Calle Navas 28, Centro | 958/222572.

Mirador de Morayma.
SPANISH | Buried in the Albayzín, this hard-to-find restaurant might appear to be closed, but ring the doorbell—once inside, you’ll have unbeatable views across the gorge to the Alhambra, particularly from the wisteria-laden outdoor terrace. In colder weather you can enjoy the open fireplace and attractive dining space inside. The menu has some surprising sweet-savory mixes such as bacalao gratinado con alioli de manzana (grilled cod with apple-garlic mayonnaise), and presa ibérica con salsa de higos, vino dulce, membrillo y puerros (Iberian pork with fig and sweet-wine sauce, quince, and leeks). Service is sometimes a little on the slow side. The restaurant has several flights of steps. | Average main: €19 | Calle Pianista García Carrillo 2, Albayzín | 958/228290 | No dinner Sun.

Oliver.
SPANISH | The interior may look a bit bare, but whatever this fish restaurant lacks in warmth it makes up for with the food. Less pricey than its neighbor Cunini, it serves simple but high-quality dishes like grilled mullet, dorado baked in salt, prawns with garlic, and monkfish in saffron sauce. The tapas bar, which is more popular with locals than the dining room, offers classic dishes (€1.50) like migas (fried bread crumbs), beans with serrano ham, and tortilla del Sacromonte (with lamb testicles and brains, as traditionally prepared by the Sacromonte’s gypsies). Granada visitors on Fodor’s website community highlight the good, friendly service here. | Average main: €15 | Pl. Pescadería 12, Centro | 958/262200 | Closed Sun.

Paprika.
VEGETARIAN | Inside a pretty brick building and with an informal terrace sprawling over the wide steps of the Cuesta de Abarqueros, Paprika offer unpretentious vegetarian food for a mainly young clientele. Most ingredients and wines are organic, and dishes include salads, stir-fries, and curries, such as Thai curry with tofu, coconut, and green-curry sauce. There’s a good choice of vegan and gluten-free dishes. | Average main: €13 | Cuesta de Abarqueros 3 | 958/804785 | www.paprika-granada.com.

Puerta del Carmen.
SPANISH | This bustling bar and restaurant occupies an elegant townhouse and exudes a whiff of tradition with its dark-wood furnishings, lofty ceilings, and tasteful color scheme. Granada’s Círculo Taurino (bullfighting society) used to meet here as can be seen in some of the wall decorations. A congenial staff and a reliably good menu add to the appeal. It’s popular with the business community, and there are plenty of plates to share, including goat’s cheese and mango pastry. Main courses include fresh fish of the day and steak tartare (the house specialty). The wine list is superb. A plus: the kitchen doesn’t close between lunch and dinner. | Average main: €18 | Pl. Carmen 1, Centro | 958/223737.

Restaurante Arriaga.
BASQUE | Run by Basque chef Álvaro Arriaga, this restaurant sits on the top floor of the Museo de la Memoria de Andalucía just outside the city (take a taxi to get here) and enjoys panoramic views of Granada with Sierra Nevada behind. Choose from two tasting menus (€55), both with eight dishes, one based around the chef’s Basque roots and the other, known as “Play,” a succession of surprises. À la carte specialties include Basque cod and hake, and beef slow-cooked for 40 hours! Expect innovative desserts such as the pastilla de jabón de leche de almendras con “champú” de lavanda (almond milk “soap” with lavender “shampoo”). | Average main: €25 | Av. de las Ciencias 2, Ctra. de la Armilla | 958/132619 | No dinner Sun.

Ruta del Azafrán.
SPANISH | A charming surprise nestled at the foot of the Albayzín by the Darro River—this sleek contemporary space in the shadow of the Alhambra offers a selection of specialties. The menu is interesting and diverse and includes dishes like chicken pastela (sweet-savory pie); lamb couscous; and several salads including one that features watercress, fried mushrooms, quince, and pine nuts. The three-course set menu (€12) sets high standards. Steel furniture and a black and red color scheme contribute to the air of sophistication. The kitchen is open from 1 to 11 pm (midnight in summer). | Average main: €15 | Paseo de los Tristes 1, Albayzín | 958/226882.

Ruta del Veleta.
SPANISH | A short drive out of town on the way to Sierra Nevada, this established restaurant serves innovative twists on Spanish recipes using seasonal ingredients—many of the vegetables are grown in the restaurant’s own garden. Innovative options include librito del Valle Tropical de Granada (a layered stack of salmon trout and caviar) and picantón asado (roast chicken with potato couscous and sheep’s milk sauce). | Average main: €22 | Ctra. de la Sierra 136 Cenes de la Vega | 958/486134.

Sevilla.
SPANISH | Open since 1930, this two-story restaurant has fed the likes of composer Manuel de Falla and poet Federico García Lorca. There are four colorful dining rooms and a small but superb tapas bar, all furnished traditionally with lots of dark wood and decorative plates and pictures on the walls. On sunny days opt for the outdoor terrace overlooking the Royal Chapel and cathedral. Dinner is accompanied by live guitar music from May to September. The dinner menu includes Granada favorites such as sopa sevillana (soup with seafood), fresh whitebait stuffed with black pudding, and, for braver diners, tortilla al Sacromonte (with lamb’s brains and testicles). | Average main: €18 | Calle Oficios 12, Centro | 958/221223 | No dinner Sun.

Taberna Tofe.
SPANISH | One of an energetic stretch of similarly appealing traditional and contemporary bars and restaurants, this is a good choice for tapas or more substantial fare like roasted chicken. The surtido de tapas is a platter of tasty selections that includes patatas bravas (fried potatoes in a spicy chili-spiked tomato sauce), meatballs in an almond sauce, and wedges of tortilla. A jug of sangria makes a good accompaniment. The interior is an attractive (but slightly dark) space with pine furniture, and there is an outside terrace for alfresco dining. | Average main: €8 | Campo del Principe 18, Centro | 958/226207 | Closed Tues.

WHERE TO STAY

Staying in the immediate vicinity of the Alhambra tends to be pricier than the city center. The latter is a good choice if you want to combine your Alhambra trip with visits to the vibrant commercial center with its excellent shops, restaurants, and magnificent cathedral. The Albayzín is also a good place to stay for sheer character: this historic Arab quarter still has a tangible Moorish feel with its pint-size plazas and winding pedestrian streets.

Fodor’s Choice | Carmen de la Alcubilla del Caracol.
B&B/INN | In a traditional Granadino villa on the slopes of the Alhambra, this privately run lodging is one of Granada’s most stylish hotels. The rooms are bright, airy, and furnished with antiques; most also have private verandas with views over the city and the Sierra Nevada. The terraced garden, with watering troughs fed by an irrigation system from the Alhambra, is a peaceful oasis. Try to book the room in the torre (tower) for the views. Pros: great views; personal service; impeccable taste. Cons: tough climb in hot weather; mediocre breakfast. | Rooms from: €140 | Calle Aire Alta 12, Alhambra | 958/215551 | www.alcubilladelcaracol.com | 7 rooms | Closed Aug. | No meals.

Fodor’s Choice | Casa Morisca.
B&B/INN | The architect who owns this 15th-century building transformed it into a hotel so distinctive that he received Spain’s National Restoration Award for his preservation of original architectural elements, including barrel-vaulted brickwork, wooden ceilings, and the original pool. Opened in 2012, Casa Morisca is named after the term that was given to the Muslims who stayed on in Granada after the city came under Catholic rule in the late-1400’s. Many of these “moriscos” were artisans who decorated houses using materials and designs traditional to their culture, such as arches and wooden ceilings. Though the guest rooms aren’t large, they have a heady Moorish feel as a result of their wonderful antiques and unique ceilings; some also have views of the Alhambra and Albayzín, and all have minibars and free Wi-Fi. (Even if you don’t stay in it, ask for a look at the bridal suite, with its intricately carved and painted wooden ceiling.) There’s no full restaurant on site (breakfast is available for a additonal €9), but they do offer 24-hour bar service; enjoy your drink in the patio garden, which boasts views of the Comares Tower. Pros: historic location; award-winning design; easy parking; free Wi-Fi. Cons: stuffy interior rooms; no full restaurant on site. | Rooms from: €127 | Cuesta de la Victoria 9, Albayzín | 958/221100 | www.hotelcasamorisca.com | 12 rooms, 2 suites | No meals.

Hospes Palacio de los Patos.
HOTEL | This beautifully restored palace is unmissable, sitting proudly on its own in the middle of one of Granada’s busiest shopping streets. While retaining its 19th-century classical architecture, the hotel also includes all the most up-to-date luxuries, including a highly praised restaurant and a luxurious spa. The rooms are spacious and have a minimalist vibe, with dazzling white walls and shiny parquet floors. Pros: central location; historic setting. Cons: expensive parking; indifferent service. | Rooms from: €250 | Calle Solarillo de Gracia 1, Centro | 958/535790 | www.hospes.es | 42 rooms | No meals.

Hotel Alhambra Palace.
HOTEL | Built by a local duke in 1910, this neo-Moorish hotel is on leafy grounds at the back of the Alhambra hill, and 2012 saw completion of the restoration of its very Arabian Nights interior (think orange-and-brown overtones, multicolor tiles, and Moorish-style arches and pillars). The rooms are large and warmly decorated, with mosaic-tiled bathrooms, and all have views—the ones overlooking the city are particularly majestic. The terrace also has wonderful views and is a perfect place to watch the sun set while enjoying a cocktail or dinner. Ask to see the Golden Book, signed by the hotel’s famous guests. Pros: bird’s-eye views; location near but not in the Alhambra. Cons: steep climb up from Granada; doubles as a popular convention center—there are five spacious meeting rooms—so often packed with business folk. | Rooms from: €210 | Pl. Arquitecto García de Paredes 1, Alhambra | 958/221468 | www.h-alhambrapalace.es | 115 rooms, 11 suites | Breakfast.

Hotel Carmen.
HOTEL | This hotel has a prized city-center location on a busy shopping street and rooms that are spacious with modern, minimalist interiors. Extensive renovations in all rooms took place in 2012. The rooftop terrace and pool (open summer only) have stunning views of the city. For entertainment there’s an English-style pub with live music nightly and good cocktails. Pros: downtown location; rooftop pool; website offers can reduce the cost dramatically. Cons: can be noisy; dark reception area. | Rooms from: €200 | Acera del Darro 62, Centro | 958/258300 | www.hotelcarmen.com | 222 rooms, 4 suites | No meals.

Hotel Párraga Siete.
HOTEL | This family-run hotel in the heart of the old quarter within easy walking distance of sights and restaurants offers excellent value and amenities superior to its two-star official rating. With minimalist style throughout, rooms and communal areas are comfortable and clean. Parking is available opposite the hotel. The adjoining Vitola restaurant serves excellent tapas and traditional local dishes. Pros: central quiet location; good service. Cons: difficult to access by car; interiors might be too sparse for some. | Rooms from: €120 | Calle Párraga 7, Centro | 958/264227 | www.hotelparragasiete.com | 20 rooms | No meals.

Las Almenas.
HOTEL | In the city center, within walking distance from the cathedral, this family-run hotel is an excellent value. Rooms are small but bright and tastefully furnished, and bathrooms offer all modern amenities. Pros: central location; very friendly staff. Cons: poor breakfast; could be too old-fashioned for some. | Rooms from: €65 | Acera del Darro 82, Centro | 958/260434 | www.hotelalmenas.com | 24 rooms | No meals.

Palacio de los Navas.
B&B/INN | In the center of the city, this palace was built by aristocrat Francisco Navas in the 16th century and it later became the Casa de Moneda (the Mint). Its original architectural features blend well with modern ones and guest rooms, set around a traditional columned inner patio, are decorated with understated elegance. Enjoy breakfast on the outside terrace on warm days. Pros: great location; peaceful oasis. Cons: can be noisy at night; breakfast uninspiring. | Rooms from: €137 | Calle Navas 1, Centro | 958/215760 | www.palaciodelosnavas.com | 19 rooms, 1 suite | Breakfast.

Palacio de Santa Inés.
HOTEL | It’s not often you get to stay in a 16th-century palace—and this one has a stunning location in the heart of the Albayzín. Each room is magnificently decorated with antiques and modern art; some have balconies with Alhambra views, and others retain their original carved wooden ceilings. Rooms on the two upper floors center around a courtyard with frescoes painted by a disciple of Raphael. Pros: perfect location for exploring the Albayzín; gorgeous interiors. Cons: can’t get there by car; some rooms rather dark. | Rooms from: €115 | Cuesta de Santa Inés 9, Albayzín | 958/222362 | www.palaciosantaines.es | 15 rooms, 20 suites | No meals.

Fodor’s Choice | Parador de Granada.
HOTEL | This is Spain’s most expensive and most popular parador, right within the walls of the Alhambra. It occupies the gorgeous building of a former Franciscan monastery, built in the 15th century by the Catholic Monarchs after they captured Granada. Try to get a room in the old section, which has views of the Generalife and beautiful antiques, woven curtains, and bedspreads. Rooms in the newer wing are also charming but more simply decorated. Gardens surround the building. Pros: good location; lovely interiors; garden restaurant. Cons: no views in some rooms; removed from city life. | Rooms from: €336 | Calle Real de la Alhambra, Alhambra | 958/221440 | www.parador.es | 35 rooms, 5 suites | No meals.

PERFORMING ARTS

FLAMENCO

Flamenco can be enjoyed throughout the city, especially in the Gypsy cuevas of the Albayzín and Sacromonte, where zambra shows—informal performances by Gypsies—take place almost daily year-round. The most popular cuevas are along the Camino de Sacromonte, the major street in the neighborhood of the same name. Be warned that this area has become very tourist oriented, and prepare to part with lots of money (€20–€25 is average) for any show. Some shows include the price of round-trip transportation to the venue from your hotel, usually cheaper than two taxi journeys. In July and August, an annual flamenco festival takes place in the delightful El Corral del Carbón square (www.losveranosdelcorral.es). A program of flamenco in the city is available on www.granadaesflamenco.com.

El Templo del Flamenco.
Slightly off the beaten track (take a taxi to get here) and less touristy because of it, this venue has shows, at 9 on Friday and Saturday. | Calle Parnaleros Alto 41, Albayzín | 958/963904.

La Rocío.
This is a good spot for authentic flamenco shows, staged nightly at 10 and 11. | C. del Sacromonte 70, Albayzín | 958/227129.

Los Tarantos cave.
The flamenco show here, every evening at 9:30 and 10:45, takes place among the spectators (there’s no stage), who can number up to 150. | C. del Sacromonte 9, Sacromonte | 958/224525 | www.cuevaslostarantos.com.

María La Canastera.
This is one of the cuevas on Camino de Sacromonte with zambra shows at 9:30 pm daily. | C. del Sacromonte 89, Sacromonte | 958/121183.

Sala Albaicín.
Various options are scheduled at the well-established Sala Albaicín, including shows (at 9:15 and 10:30 pm) and walks to the Mirador de San Nicolás combined with a subsequent show. | Mirador San Cristóbal, Ctra. Murcia, Albayzín | 958/804646 | www.flamencoalbayzin.com.

NIGHTLIFE

Granada’s ample student population makes for a lively bar scene. Some of the trendiest bars are in converted houses in the Albayzín and Sacromonte and in the area between Plaza Nueva and Paseo de los Tristes. Calle Elvira, Calderería Vieja, and Calderería Nueva are crowded with laid-back coffee and pastry shops. In the modern part of town, Pedro Antonio de Alarcón and Martinez de la Rosa have larger but less glamorous offerings. Another nighttime gathering place is the Campo del Príncipe, a large plaza surrounded by typical Andalusian taverns.

Dar Ziryab.
A selection of live music (flamenco, jazz, and African, among others) plays nightly in this typical tea shop in the Albayzín. | Calle Calderería Nueva 11, Albayzín | 958/229429.

El Eshavira.
At this dimly lighted club you can hear sultry jazz (Wednesday and Thursday) and flamenco (Sunday) at 10 pm. Admission includes a drink. | Calle Postigo de la Cuna 2, Albayzín | 958/290829.

Granada 10.
You’ll mingle with an upscale crowd at this discothèque in a former theater. | Calle Carcel Baja 10, Centro | 958/224001.

SHOPPING

A Moorish aesthetic pervades Granada’s ceramics, marquetry (especially the taraceas, wooden boxes with inlaid tiles on their lids), woven textiles, and silver-, brass-, and copper-ware. The main shopping streets, centering on the Puerta Real, are the Gran Vía de Colón, Reyes Católicos, Zacatín, Ángel Ganivet, and Recogidas. Most antiques shops are on Cuesta de Elvira and Alcaicería—off Reyes Católicos. Cuesta de Gomérez, on the way up to the Alhambra, also has several handicrafts shops and guitar workshops.

Capricho del Artesano.
Typical Granada ceramics—blue-and-green patterns on white, with a pomegranate in the center—are sold at this shop near the cathedral, and it doesn’t close at lunchtime. | Pl. Pescadería 4, Centro | 958/288192.

Espartería San José.
For wicker baskets and esparto-grass mats and rugs, head to this shop off the Plaza Pescadería. | Calle Jáudenes 22, Centro | 958/267415.

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Side Trips from Granada

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Santa Fe | Fuentevaqueros | The Sierra Nevada | The Alpujarras | Guadix

The fabled province of Granada spans the Sierra Nevada, with the beautifully rugged Alpujarras and the highest peaks on mainland Spain—Mulhacén at 11,407 feet and Veleta at 11,125 feet. This is where you can find some of the prettiest, most ancient villages, and it’s one of the foremost destinations for Andalusia’s increasingly popular rural tourism. Granada’s vega, covered with orchards, tobacco plantations, and poplar groves, stretches for miles around.

EN ROUTE: Twelve kilometers (8 miles) south of Granada on A44, the road reaches a spot known as the Suspiro del Moro (Moor’s Sigh). Pause here a moment and look back at the city, just as Granada’s departing “Boy King,” Boabdil, did 500 years ago. As he wept over the city he’d surrendered to the Catholic Monarchs, his scornful mother pronounced her now legendary rebuke: “You weep like a woman for the city you could not defend as a man.”

SANTA FE

8 km (5 miles) west of Granada, just south of N342.

Santa Fe (Holy Faith) was founded in winter 1491 as a campground for Ferdinand and Isabella’s 150,000 troops as they prepared for the siege of Granada. It was here, in April 1492, that Isabella and Columbus signed the agreements that financed his historic voyage, and thus the town has been called the Cradle of America. Santa Fe was originally laid out in the shape of a cross, with a gate at each of its four ends, inscribed with Ferdinand and Isabella’s initials. The town has long since transcended those boundaries, but the gates remain—to see them all at once, stand in the square next to the church at the center of the old town.

FUENTEVAQUEROS

19½ km (12 miles) northwest of Granada.

Museo Casa Natal Federico García Lorca.
Born in the village of Fuentevaqueros on June 5, 1898, the poet lived here until age six. His childhood home opened as a museum in 1986, when Spain commemorated the 50th anniversary of his assassination (he was shot without trial by Nationalists at the start of the civil war in August 1936) and celebrated his reinstatement as a national figure after 40 years of nonrecognition during the Francisco Franco regime. The house has been restored with original furnishings, and the former granary, barn, and stables have been converted into exhibition spaces, with temporary art shows and a permanent display of photographs, clippings, and other memorabilia. A two-minute video shows the only existing footage of Lorca. Visits are by guided tour only. | C. del Poeta García Lorca 4 | 958/516453 | www.patronatogarcialorca.org | €1.80 | Tours on the hr: July and Aug., Tues.–Sun 10–2; Apr.–June and Sept., Tues.–Sat. 10–1 and 5–6, Sun. 10–1; Oct.–Mar., Tues.–Sat. 10–1 and 4–5, Sun. 10–1.

THE SIERRA NEVADA

The drive southeast from Granada to Pradollano along the A395—Europe’s highest road, by way of Cenes de la Vega—takes about 45 minutes. It’s wise to carry snow chains from mid-November to as late as April or even May. The mountains here make for an easy and worthwhile excursion, especially for those keen on trekking.

EXPLORING

Mulhacén.
To the east of Granada, the mighty Mulhacén, the highest peak in mainland Spain, soars to 11,427 feet. Legend has it that it came by its name when Boabdil, the last Moorish king of Granada, deposed his father, Muly Abdul Hassan, and had the body buried at the summit of the mountain so that it couldn’t be desecrated. For more information on trails to the two summits, call the National Park Service office (958/763127 www.nevadensis.com) in Pampaneira.

Pico de Veleta.
Peninsular Spain’s second-highest mountain is 11,125 feet high. The view from its summit across Las Alpujarras to the sea at distant Motril is stunning, and on a very clear day you can see the coast of North Africa. When the snow melts (July and August) you can drive or take a minibus from the Albergue Universitario (Universitario mountain refuge) to within around 400 yards of the summit—a trail takes you to the top in around 45 minutes. TIP It’s cold up there, so take a warm jacket and scarf, even if Granada is sizzling hot.

SPORTS AND THE OUTDOORS

Skiing

FAMILY | Estación de Esquí Sierra Nevada.
Europe’s southernmost ski resort is one of its best equipped. At the Pradollano and Borreguiles stations, there’s good skiing December through April or May; each has a special snowboarding circuit, floodlighted night slopes, a children’s ski school, and après-ski sun and swimming in the Mediterranean less than an hour away. In winter, buses (Autocares Bonal | 958/465022) to Pradollano leave Granada’s bus station three times a day on weekdays and four times on weekends and holidays. Tickets are €9 round-trip. As for Borreguiles, you can get there only on skis. There’s an information center (902/708090 | www.cetursa.es) at Plaza de Andalucía 4.

THE ALPUJARRAS

Village of Lanjarón: 46 km (29 miles) south of Granada.

A trip to the Alpujarras, on the southern slopes of the Sierra Nevada, takes you to one of Andalusia’s highest, most remote, and most scenic areas, home for decades to painters, writers, and a considerable foreign population. The Alpujarras region was originally populated by Moors fleeing the Christian Reconquest (from Seville after its fall in 1248, then from Granada after 1492). It was also the final fiefdom of the unfortunate Boabdil, conceded to him by the Catholic Monarchs after he surrendered Granada. In 1568 rebellious Moors made their last stand against the Christian overlords, a revolt ruthlessly suppressed by Felipe II and followed by the forced conversion of all Moors to Christianity and their resettlement farther inland and up Spain’s eastern coast. The villages were then repopulated with Christian soldiers from Galicia, who were granted land in return for their service. To this day, the Galicians’ descendants continue the Moorish custom of weaving rugs and blankets in the traditional Alpujarran colors of red, green, black, and white, and they sell their crafts in many of the villages. Be on the lookout for handmade basketry and pottery as well.

Houses here are squat and square; they spill down the southern slopes of the Sierra Nevada, bearing a strong resemblance to the Berber homes in the Rif Mountains, just across the Mediterranean in Morocco. If you’re driving, the road as far as Lanjarón and Orgiva is smooth sailing; after that come steep, twisting mountain roads with few gas stations. Beyond sightseeing, the area is a haven for outdoor activities such as hiking and horseback riding. Inquire at the Information Point at Plaza de la Libertad, at Pampaneira.

EN ROUTE: Lanjarón and Nearby Villages.
The western entrance to the Alpujarras is some 46 km (29 miles) from Granada at Lanjarón. This spa town is famous for its mineral water, collected from the melting snows of the Sierra Nevada and drunk throughout Spain. Orgiva, the next and largest town in the Alpujarras, has a 17th-century castle. Here you can leave A348 and follow signs for the villages of the Alpujarras Altas (High Alpujarras), including Pampaneira, Capileira, and especially Trevélez, which lies on the slopes of the Mulhacén at 4,840 feet above sea level. Reward yourself with a plate of locally produced jamón serrano (cured ham). Trevélez has three levels, the Barrio Alto, Barrio Medio, and Barrio Bajo; the butchers are concentrated in the lowest section (Bajo). The higher levels have narrow cobblestone streets, whitewashed houses, and shops.

WHERE TO STAY

Fodor’s Choice | Alquería de Morayma.
HOTEL | Close to the banks of the Guadalfeo River, the buildings in this charming complex have been remodeled in the old alpujarreño style, including some rooms in an old chapel. The setting is quite lovely, surrounded by nearly 100 acres of organically cultivated vineyards and woodland with almond, fig, olive, and fruit trees. An old bodega and nearby farm supply the two dining rooms, one more formal and the other with an inviting fireplace. Both serve traditional Spanish food, with the emphasis on local dishes. The management can arrange walking and trekking activities. Pros: tranquil location; lots of activities. Cons: need a car to get around; could be too quiet for some. | Rooms from: €70 | Ctra. A348, Km 50 Cádiar | 958/343303 | www.alqueriamorayma.com | 13 rooms, 10 apartments | No meals.

Las Terrazas de las Alpujarras.
HOTEL | Located in the pretty whitewashed village of Bubión, on the way to Trevélez and a short walk from Pitres, this family-run hostal offers rooms and apartments with south-facing terraces that have panoramic views of the mountains (and Africa on a clear day). The interior is in Alpujarra style, with pine furniture and colorful soft furnishings. Blazing log fires keep the place warm on all but summer evenings. Owners can provide insider information on walks and visits in the area. Pros: amazing views; excellent value; good location for exploring. Cons: could be too basic for some. | Rooms from: €36 | Pl. del Sol 7 Bubión | 958/763034 | www.terrazasalpujarra.com | 17 rooms, 3 apartments | No meals.

FAMILY | Taray Botánico.
HOTEL | This hotel—a perfect base for exploring the Alpujarras, and with its own organic farm—occupies a low, typical Alpujarran building. The sunny quarters are decorated with Alpujarran handwoven bedspreads and curtains, and three rooms have rooftop terraces. There’s also a pleasant common terrace. Most of the food at the restaurant comes from the estate, including trout and lamb; in season, you can even pick your own raspberries or oranges for breakfast. It’s an exceedingly child-friendly place: the small farm has animals and a delightful turtle pond. Pros: fun for families; great organic food. Cons: somewhat isolated; livestock attract abundant flies. | Rooms from: €78 | Ctra. Tablate–Albuñol, Km 18 Órgiva | 958/784525 | www.hoteltaray.com | 15 bungalows | No meals.

GUADIX

47 km (30 miles) east of Granada on A92.

Today, Guadix—and the neighboring village of Purullena—is best known for its cave communities, though this was an important mining town as far back as 2,000 years ago and has its fair share of monuments, including a cathedral (built 1594–1706) and a 9th-century Moorish alcazaba (citadel). Around 2,000 caves were carved out of the soft-sandstone mountains, and most are still inhabited. Far from being troglodytic holes-in-the-wall, they are well furnished and comfortable, with a pleasant year-round temperature; a few serve as hotels. A small cave museum, Cueva Museo, is in Guadix’s cave district. Toward the town center, the Cueva la Alcazaba has a ceramics workshop. A number of private caves have signs welcoming you to inspect the premises, though a tip is expected if you do. Purullena, 6 km (4 miles) from Guadix, is also known for ceramics.