Beauty And History: Enjoy Andalucia’s Five Points Of UNESCO Heritage
It does not take long in Andalucia to see the charm that permeates every corner of the region. Its stunning artistic and natural monuments make it a true and admired geographical gem.
It’s no wonder that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisations (UNESCO) has declared five different Andalucian locations World Heritage Sites. Do not miss out the tour we have created today or you may miss out on finding these beautiful enclaves that are sure to surpass your taste for the exquisite.
1. The Alhambra, Generalife and the Albaicin of Granada
This is one of the most beautiful monuments ever created in the Islamic world and is testimony to the incalculable value of the the Al Andalus era. Its walls are lined with thousands of inscribed verses and the Andalucian art and gardens that serve as decorations reflect the magnificence of the time. The fortaleza roja, or Red Fort, as it is known, is located on the La Sabika Mountain, where you can witness a view of the entire city of Granada.
The Generalife is a rural village that adds to the area’s historic and artistic profile, where ornamental gardens and architecture are integrated into the area around the Alhambra, adding to the beauty of the entire environment. When visiting this World Heritage Site, we cannot forget to visit Albaicin. This neighbourhood of narrow cobbled streets represents one of the most characteristic areas of the city, offering the chance to glimpse one of the most beautiful views in Spain from the St. Nicholas Mirador, or look-out. If you come to Granada so you don’t miss out on what one former president of the United States called the most beautiful sunset in the world.
2. The Historic Centre of Cordoba
The true, universal value of Cordoba’s historic centre is its wealth of monuments from such a broad mix of different cultures. From the Roman period, we can see the bridge over the Guadalquivir River, in addition to the mosaics of the Alcázar and the columns of the Temple of Claudius Marcellus. From the Islamic period, we can find the central mosque and Jewish neighbourhood. The culmination of the city’s Christian history can be found in the Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos and the Calahorra. After an interesting journey through history, the city is known as the Caliphate of Al Andalus. In fact it is precisely one of the monuments from this period – the mosque – that has emerged as the most important and most visited in the city.
Although it was later converted into a cathedral, this structure remains one of the most important examples of Andalucian Islamic art. A curiosity of this Cordovan monument is the Qibla Wall, which is not oriented towards Mecca – as Qilbas usually are – but 51º further south. If you have the opportunity to visit the area, stop by Cordoba for a walk that will immediately feel like walking through a museum.
3. The Cathedral, the Alcázar and Archivo de Indias in Seville
The Andalcian capital has a special charm that leaves no one unchanged by a visit. Each one of the city’s UNESCO World Heritage Site monuments signifies a period in the city’s history. The Gothic Cathedral of Seville is the world’s largest. While there are many elements that can and should be stressed about the city, one has emerged as the symbol of Sevilla: the Giralda. Once an Almohade minaret above the old mosque, the tower was transformed with the integration of a bell. Meanwhile, if you find yourself visiting the city, you cannot miss out on an approach to the Alcazar, the set of palaces surrounded by a wall that will take you back to the Dark Ages. Before leaving Sevilla, one should make an effort to see the Archivo General de Indias. More than an architectural attraction, this site has earned a place of importance for its role in a time of historical change in Spain. Here one can find a centralised collection of all documents related to the administration and trade with the Spanish colonies in the Americas. If you are able to visit Sevilla, don’t miss out on the chance to enjoy these and all the other charming treasures the city has to offer.
4. The Renaissance Monumental Complex of Ubeda and Baeza (In Jaén)
The Renaissance monuments of Ubeda and Baeza are located both in the historical centres of each town. These two municipalities, separated only by 9 kilometres, have grown in parallel since each experiencing a heyday during the Renaissance period. Ubeda, also known as the city of ” the hills”, contains a set of significant buildings showcasing the work of Andrew Vandelvira, around which some of the most important religious monuments of the time can be found, including the Holy Chapel of El Salvador and the Church of Santa Maria de los Reales Alcazares. Meanwhile, Baeza also hosts some important examples from its past, just after the Reconquista. The cathedral in the Plaza de Santa Maria is a historical treasure with a university buildings, an old seminary and the College of the Jesuits. In this city, you can also find an important example of plateresco art with the facade of the town hall, a former prison from the 16th century. If you are drawn to this area by the Renaissance treasures, be sure to sample another of Jaen’s highpoints: Olive Oil.
5. The Doñana Natural Park
This gem of nature is considered the largest natural reserve in Europe. In this mosaic of ecosystems, one can find three land types: marshes, live dunes and stabilised sands, or “preserves”. Here one can find a great variety of birds and mammals, with large populations of both. If you decide to visit this World Heritage site, know that each time you do, you will see it in a different light. The changing of the seasons give each time of the year a different feel, which can be enjoyed in a whole new way. The transition between two continents, Europe and Africa, allow Doñana to become an excellent point of observation for the more than 300 different species of birds that pass through here each year.
Moreover, in this environment you can see examples of the Iberian lynx and the imperial eagle, both of which are currently endangered. Do not forget to bring your camera with you. If you travel to this park, you’ll find an ideal landscape and light to take some beautiful snapshots. Doñana is cradled by Huelva, Cadiz and Sevilla, making it a meeting point for anyone who loves nature.
Flamenco, The Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
To speak of Andalucia and of UNESCO is to speak of flamenco. In 2010, it was declared a site of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity as the style of music and dance most characteristic of Spain. From origins in Andalucia, it has grown to cover a wide variety of styles. A guitar and voice are enough to create a great flamenco show for a seasoned, talented dancer. If you set off to take a Real Heritage tour of Andalucia, don’t miss out on the chance to stop off in points of interest for this unique musical style that is expanding across the globe more and more each day. Latin America has seen the growth of various flamenco groups and academies and Japan is now home to even more than in Spain. Flamenco in Andalucia is present in public and private parties and has become an economic engine for the cultural industry. Now that you know, you can not miss out on one of the richest and most complex cultural events in the world.
Ronda and Antequera: The Candidates
Andalucia’s five enclaves designated UNESCO Heritage Sites are about to have two more locations added to them soon. Ronda and Antequera, both cities located in the province of Malaga, have submitted their applications to qualify for this recognition. The Acinipo archaeological site, the bridge over the Tagus, a collection of churches and palaces and the with the natural wealth of the surrounding mountainous are just some of this things running in favour of Ronda’s bid for becoming a World Heritage Site. Meanwhile , Antequera offers its dolmen, one of the most megalithic complexes in Europe, and the natural landscape of El Torcal among its long list of monuments from all periods of history that make this city a true open-air museum.
We’ve toured the sites declared a World Heritage Site designated by UNESCO in Andalucia, offering a fascinating journey through the history and beauty that makes all of them a must for any lover of visual and cultural wealth.