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Want to see the major sites of Southern Spain, in a short period of time? Here is a suggestion!
Days 1-2-3: We started our tour in Seville, after taking the Renfe AVE train from Madrid. We spent two nights in Seville, leaving at 8am on day 3.
The Alcazar is an excellent example of Mudejar architecture, and is still the home of the Royal family when they visit Seville.
When the Royals are not in residence, you can tour the Royal apartments for an additional 4 Euro. The tours are small (up to 15 people), last about 30 minutes, and include an audioguide in five languages. Arrive early to get tickets.
The view from the tower is the best part, although not recommended for a weak of heart (or legs)! The climb to the top is on ramps, with 34 levels to achieve before reaching the bell tower. The views over the city are spectacular.
This pleasant neighborhood of small streets and whitewashed buildings contains many small shops and restaurants. It is the former Jewish district of Seville.
Day 3: after leaving Seville, we drove to Jerez on our way to Ronda.
The Royal School was chartered in the 1990's, based on Andalusian equestrian traditions that go back a thousand years. The compound consists of a show arena (used for training on non-show days, which can be viewed 11am-1pm), an interesting interactive museum, the palace (formerly belonging to the House of Sandeman), a museum of coaches in remarkable condition, stables and grounds.
Located immediately adjacent to the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art, the House of Sandeman offers tours and tastings of some excellent sherry.
Day 3-4: Ronda is an excellent example of the Pueblos Blancos (White Villages) located in the mountains north of the Costa del Sol.
The old town is a medieval walled city from which you can get spectacular views of the surrounding countryside. Do not miss visiting the Arab Baths located just below the old city.
Bullfighting was invented in Ronda, and there is a great museum of the history of this sport located in this city.
We stayed overnight, leaving around noon on Day 4 and traveling to Granada.
This is the best preserved Arab baths in Andalucia, and well worth the visit.
The art of bullfighting was created in Ronda, and the museum at the bull ring is very comprehensive.
Days 4-5-6: Granada offers several sights: the Alhambra, the Generalife and the Albaicyn district. We stayed two nights in Granada and left early on day 6.
Situated on a hill overlooking the city of Granada, the Alhambra was originally a separate city for the Moorish rulers and government of Granada. It consists of palaces, alcazar (fortress) and ruins of the city where more than 2,000 people lived.
The Generalife is the garden and private residence of the Sultans who controlled Granada until they were overthrown by the Christians in 1492. Entrance is included in the ticket to the Alhambra.
This neighborhood is full of Moroccan tea houses, tapas bars, restaurants, gypsies and hippies. Street performers fill the Plaza Nueva every afternoon.
Day 6: We stopped in Ubeda and Baeza on our drive from Granada to Cordoba. These villages are both Unesco World Heritage sites, and make for nice short stops between two major cities.
The main square of old Ubeda is classic renaissance, and uncharacteristic of Spain... more like Italy.
Days 6-7-8: We arrived the evening of day 6, and stayed two nights in Cordoba before returning to Madrid via the Renfe AVE train to catch our flight home.
The Mezquita is a stunning example of Islamic art, and is perhaps the most interesting Catholic church I have ever seen.
Built over the course of hundreds of years to celebrate the Muslim religion, this mosque was huge and thousands of people could worship at once. When the Catholics expelled the Moors from Andalucia the mosque was converted to a Catholic church that is still in use today. The building complex contains dozens of Catholic chapels, still surrounded by decoration from the original mosque.
Stunning views of the city from the towers, a museum of Roman art, and a wonderful garden with water features. Plan to spend at least one hour exploring this former fortress.
The Puente Romana is an old structure, crossing the Guadalqivir river, dating from the first century.