Things to Do in Andalucia - page 4
Translated as Field of the Prince, this Granada square is said to be named after Prince Juan, whose late-15th-century wedding was supposed to be celebrated here. Today, however, it’s more popularly known as a pilgrimage destination come Holy Week, during which the 17th-century Cristo de los Favores cross plays the star.
Year round, people also come here to enjoy the many tapas bars that surround the square — perhaps while letting the kids burn some energy on the plaza’s playground. Humble as the square may seem, it has a special allure thanks to its historic cross, its typically Andalusian pebble-designed ground, and because it’s very much considered one of the most important places in Granada’s Realejo neighborhood, once the city’s Jewish quarter.
Centuries ago, when Spain was under Muslim rule, Arab baths could be found in locations throughout the south. These hammams are said to have served as places of purification, hygiene and relaxation. Though few remain, you can still get a feel—in more ways than one—for what these tranquil getaways were like by experiencing the Hammam Al Andalus in Malaga.
Located in a historic building just off Martyers Square and next to an old Mudejar-towered church, this hammam—or Arab bath—features Moorish-inspired architecture. Think details such as horseshoe-shaped arches, colorful tiled walls, and ethereal lighting created by star-shaped skylights in the overhead dome. As is tradition, the Hammam Al Andalus has cold, warm and hot baths, as well as a steam room, and rest room, where you can relax and sip on traditional mint tea. Lasting 1.5 hours, the sessions allow guests to experience the various pools when not enjoying their massage.
Cordoba’s Plaza de Tendillas sits in the very heart of Cordoba and at the crossroads between the older part of town and the relatively newer modern one. Its construction dates back to the 1920s, when it was built to be used as a central meeting place in the big southern city.
Nowadays, the almost entirely pedestrian-only square is home to various events, including protests, markets and celebrations. Arguably its biggest celebration is New Year’s Eve, which is marked by the Spanish tradition of eating 12 grapes in sync with the midnight strikes of the clock — which, here in Cordoba, are always marked by the musical strums of a flamenco guitarist rather than the sound of bells. Come to the plaza to check out the famous El Gran Capitan statue (erected in honor of the famous military commander Gonzalo de Cordoba), to people watch while having a drink al fresco, and, during summertime, to cool off in the geyser-like fountains especially loved by the kids.
Located at the foot of the Alhambra, and just past Santa Ana Church, sits the tranquil Hammam Al Andalus Granada. This is where after a long day of padding through the Alhambra’s gardens, palace and fortress, you’ll want to rest your tired feet and relax your muscles – just as Granada’s Moors did so long ago.
The Moors didn’t do so precisely in this building, though, which only dates back to the 13th or 14th century. It is believed, however, that this is in fact the site of previous Muslim baths, given its location near the former mosque (now the Santa Ana Church), as well as the water cisterns discovered below the land. What happened to those ancient baths? At the time of the Reconquista, when Granada became occupied by the Christians, it is likely that—along with many other Muslim traditions and sites—these original baths ceased to continue.
More Things to Do in Andalucia
Snuggled up against the Guadalqivir River’s east bank and set amidst some of Seville’s most storied streets, you’ll wander upon El Arenal. Its name (arena means sand in Spanish) tells the story of its past, when, during the 16th and 17th centuries, the sandy-banked neighborhood was used as Seville’s port, making it one of the most important port cities in the world. From its shore, boats set off west for the New World, or east for spices, and returned with grand treasures.
These days, the neighborhood, which sits within the city's historic quarter, is especially known for its residents' passion for bullfighting and also religion. Their faithfulness is evident in the abundance of Arenal brotherhoods, whose devotion can be seen during Holy Week each year, when Seville’s Catholicism comes to life in colorful processions that take over the city streets.
Just because you’re in Spain doesn’t mean that your experience need be limited to all things Spanish: Oasys Mini Hollywood transports its visitors straight to the good old Wild West. Originally just a movie set – used for films such as The Good, the Bad and the Ugly — the cowboy-style town is now a theme park, complete with daily mock shoot-outs, a can-can performance at the saloon, and much more.Indeed, the park goes beyond just the Wild West fun, and also offers a proper zoo, which boasts more than 800 animals of 200 different species that range from lions to giraffes, tigers and iguanas. A trip to the zoo can also include a very kid-friendly parrot show as well. Meanwhile, if the Spanish temperatures at Oasys get too warm, take advantage of the park’s water zone and its two pools. Finally, if you get hungry, plan to fuel-up at the park’s well-priced buffet.
If truly intimate, soul-grabbing flamenco is what you’re keen to experience while in Seville, then look no further than the Casa de la Guitarra. The cozy venue may be small in size and number of performers, but when it comes to spirit, talent, authenticity and value, it pretty much wins the prize every time.
Casa de la Guitarra was founded by flamenco guitarist great José Luis Postigo. With a passion for guitars, he not only opened this space to feature truly authentic flamenco but also to host a museum dedicated to his beloved instrument. The exhibit is the first of its kind in Spain, and displays some 60 antique guitars from the last three centuries. Meanwhile, the show, which is an hour long, features three performers - a guitarist, a singer, and dancer - and is all about the soul rather than any sort of tourist-geared spectacle.
Granada is hardly short on impressive lookout points, but when it comes to the one that rises above the rest — both literally and figuratively — La Ermita de San Miguel Alto wins the prize. Situated atop one of Granada’s northeastern hills, the tiny church offers views of the whole city, from the Albaicín neighborhood to the Alhambra fortress, and even beyond to the distant and often-snowcapped mountains.
The hermitage dates back to 1671, when it was built on the site of a former Muslim tower. The church was destroyed come French occupation during the 19th century, and then later reconstructed again. Today, what you see is a humble-but-sweet place of worship, featuring a simple, single-balcony façade, and a far-from-simple panorama of the surrounding landscape. Though it currently isn’t possible to visit the church’s interior, the views and solitude will make the journey well worth the uphill effort.
Things to do near Andalucia
- Things to do in Malaga
- Things to do in Granada
- Things to do in Seville
- Things to do in Benahavis
- Things to do in Cordoba
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- Things to do in Almeria
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