Diego Bejarano

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Places of interest

Fantastic landscape, beaches, sun and a wealth of history, culture and tradition

Michelle Chaplow

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Costa de la Luz

Some of An­dalu­cias's finest cul­tural her­itage can be found in this cor­ner of Spain.

Nearby there's Cape Trafal­gar, scene of the fa­mous bat­tle, and the Ro­man town of Bolo­nia. Day trips in­clude the sherry town of Jerez de la Fron­tera, the vi­brant city Sevilla, and the old fish­ing port of Cádiz. The time­less white vil­lages such as Ve­jer de la Fron­tera will take you back to the ro­man­tic days of the Moor­ish oc­cu­pa­tion.

Morokko

Travel for 35 min­utes across the Strait of Gibral­tar and you en­ter a dif­fer­ent world. You will step back in time in the souk, the crowded mar­ket in Tang­ier amid the hus­tle and bus­tle. Buy your spices and olives, drink mint tea and barter for that car­pet or ce­ramic dish. The Minza ho­tel, a bas­tion of Im­pe­ri­al­ism, is a calm­ing sanc­tu­ary for a cool­ing drink. To re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate the charms of the city in a day, a guide will open many doors. Tang­ier had an in­trigu­ing past when it was an In­ter­na­tional Zone and a play­ground for ec­cen­tric mil­lion­aires such as Bar­bara Hut­ton the Wool­worth heiress. Writ­ers like Paul Bowles and Ten­nessee Williams lived there. The town is a place rich in colour, tra­di­tion and cul­ture.

Conil de la Frontera

Conil de la Fron­tera - the “white vil­lage” di­rectly on the sea, was once a small fish­ing vil­lage on the Costa de la Luz, where peo­ple lived mainly from fish­ing and agri­cul­ture. The town has largely re­tained its typ­i­cal An­dalu­sian flair and who to­day strolls through the wind­ing al­ley­ways, will di­s­cover lovely court­yards and beau­ti­ful squares. Thanks to its pic­turesque lo­ca­tion be­tween pine forests and the At­lantic coast in the south of An­dalu­sia, the sunny weather with his un­for­get­table light and long golden sand beaches, Conil stays in the heart of many tourists who will come back, may it be for swim­ming, surf­ing, bik­ing, hik­ing, horse­back rid­ing or in or­der to taste lo­cal spe­cial­i­ties in the many beach bars and restau­rants

Vejer de la Frontera

Reign­ing supreme on the top of a cliff, this white vil­lage has been a fron­tier post, oc­cu­pied since Phoeni­cian times. Over­look­ing the At­lantic Ocean and Riff moun­tains of Africa to the south and fer­tile agri­cul­tural plains and Par­que Nat­ural de los Al­cornocales to the north, it of­fers panoramic views of the area. With its deep rooted Moor­ish past, it is a labyrinth of nar­row streets, jum­bled houses and white­washed pa­tios, each with a his­tory to tell. This is one of the most at­trac­tive of the famed pueb­los blan­cos. Wind up the hill­side and try and park in the newer part of town as space is lim­ited in the me­die­val quar­ter. Ve­jer has be­come fash­ion­able in re­cent years, and good restau­rants such as El Jardin del Cal­ifa have thrived. The cafes and bars are worth ex­plor­ing for gen­uine An­dalu­cian fare. At night, the town has a quite charm­ing and very ro­man­tic at­mos­phere.

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Tarifa

In Tar­ifa, you are at the most southerly point of Spain. The Riff moun­tains of North Africa beckon in the di­s­tance, a mere 14 km across the Strait of Gibral­tar. At night, the lights of Tang­ier give the hori­zon a fairy­tale qual­ity. The town of Tar­ifa has a di­stinctly Mo­roc­can flavour in the nar­row al­ley­ways, the ar­chi­tec­ture, shops and restau­rants. It is fa­mous for the strong east­erly wind, known as lev­ante, and the coastal strip has be­come a wind­surfer's par­adise. There is a buzz and a pul­sat­ing en­ergy in the air from the wind­surfers and kitesurfers who hang out all year round from all over the world, wait­ing for the right wind. It's hip and laid back. The ferry port at Tar­ifa links Spain and Tang­ier, and with only a 35 minute cross­ing to Mo­rocco, day trips are pos­si­ble. An­other fea­ture of this area is the wind tur­bines sup­ply­ing clean re­new­able en­ergy in the form of elec­tric­ity for the im­me­di­ate area and for Mo­rocco.

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Jerez de la Frontera

Jerez de la Fron­tera is most fa­mous for sherry and as you drive through the town, you will see the bode­gas with fa­mil­iar names such as Har­veys, Sandi­mans and Os­borne. The bode­gas can be vis­ited for tast­ings - a prior reser­va­tion is re­quired. Dy­nas­ties owned the sherry in­dus­try in the past, many of which were orig­i­nally Eng­lish and al­though the busi­ness is now owned by multi-na­tional com­pa­nies, many in­flu­ences from the old days re­main. Jerez is also fa­mous for the An­dalu­cian horse and at the Eques­trian School, vis­i­tors can en­joy a mag­nif­i­cent rid­ing dis­play once a week.If fla­menco is your pas­sion, the Cen­tro An­daluz de Fla­menco charts the his­tory of dance and song.Jerez is a town of con­trasts with ugly high rise sub­urbs, the his­toric cen­tre, the gypsy bar­rio and the af­flu­ent res­i­den­tial homes of the sherry barons.

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El Puerto de Santa María

The sight of seafood, which is of­fered in the out­door restau­rants of this for­mer fish­ing town, is some­thing that you will not for­get. Here, Colum­bus started his voy­age of the di­s­cov­ery of Amer­ica with his ship Santa Maria. Visit this place in or­der to eat seafood and to drink an ice-cold Fino or man­zanilla-sherry, which is pro­duced in this area. On the other side of the bay Cádiz is sit­u­ated - prob­a­bly the old­est city in Eu­rope, to where you can also take a ferry. An in­ter­est­ing jour­ney of 30 min­utes, a trip you can also make vice versa from Cádiz to El Puerto de Santa Maria. El Puerto de Santa María is one of the three cities, which form the "sherry tri­an­gle". Bode­gas are lined up on the banks of the river Guadalete and the hilly land­scape is cov­ered by vine­yards. The An­dalu­sian bulls are raised in this en­vi­ron­ment for bull fight­ing, which is a re­li­gion for many peo­ple.

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Cape Trafalgar

This was the scene of the Bat­tle of Trafal­gar in 1805, one of the most de­ci­sive bat­tles in British naval his­tory. Ad­mi­ral Lord Nel­son, aboard HMS Vic­tory, de­feated the com­bined fleets of France and Spain just off this head­land, cap­tur­ing or sink­ing 18 of their galleons with­out the loss of one British ship. It is said that the sound of the canons could be heard as far away as the moun­tains of Ronda. The toll was tremen­dous: the British lost 449 men with 1241 wounded, but the French and Span­ish fleets lost 4408 men with 2545 wounded. One of the British ca­su­al­ties was Ad­mi­ral Nel­son who was mor­tally wounded in the bat­tle. Nel­son is still a na­tional hero, but then in 1805, he was THE hero of the day. His body was pick­led in rum and taken to Gibral­tar be­fore be­ing taken back to Lon­don for a cer­e­mo­nial bur­ial in St. Paul's Cathe­dral. To­day Cape Trafal­gar has a light­house on the lime­s­tone head­land, set against the back­drop of the pine clad hill­sides. Other beau­ti­ful trees in­clude wild olives, cy­press, myr­tle and mar­itime ju­niper mak­ing this su­perb walk­ing coun­try, del­i­cately scented by the conifers, herbs and flow­ers.

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Bolonia

Halfway be­tween the fish­ing vil­lage of Bar­bate and Tar­ifa is the Ro­man set­tle­ment at Bolo­nia, called Baelo Clau­dio. It is not one of the more fa­mous Ro­man set­tle­ments in Eu­rope but it cer­tainly de­serves a lot more recog­ni­tion. From the N340 the road winds down and down to the sea, through what has been de­scribed as ‘painted fields' awash with wild flow­ers in spring. Baelo Clau­dio was thought to have been founded in 171BC. Ex­ca­va­tions have re­vealed a main street and mar­ket place, tem­ples, a basil­ica, the­atre and shops. The site is in a spec­tac­u­lar sit­u­a­tion with the azure sea, sand dunes and pine trees against a moun­tain back­drop. The set­tle­ment thrived on tuna fish­ing and the re­lated in­dus­tries - fish salt­ing and the pro­duc­tion of Garum, a much sought af­ter fish sauce in those days. These are the most com­pre­hen­sive re­mains of a Ro­man city on the Iberian Penin­sula and in recog­ni­tion of its im­por­tance, a con­tem­po­rary vis­i­tors' cen­tre has been built with ex­cel­lent vi­sual dis­plays which are in­for­ma­tive with­out be­ing stodgy. All in all Bolo­nia is well worth go­ing out of your way for.

Seville

There is no bet­ter place to cap­ture the pas­sion of An­dalu­cia than in this glo­ri­ous city. Fla­menco mu­sic and danc­ing, tapas bars, bull­fight­ing, Moor­ish ar­chi­tec­ture, chic shops, beau­ti­ful women...a day is not long enough in this, the cap­i­tal city of the re­gion. The pro­ces­sions of Se­m­ana Santa, Holy Week, are leg­endary. These are fol­lowed by the Seville Fe­ria when the city has a week long party; it sums up the Sevil­lano's joy of life - fire in the blood it is called. The jacaranda trees are in full bloom, there's the heady scent of or­ange blos­som, and ro­mance is in the air. Visit the cathe­dral, the largest in the world by vol­ume; the Al­cázar Moor­ish palace and the Bar­rio Santa Cruz. There is nightlife and en­ter­tain­ment, shop­ping, win­ing and din­ing in all price ranges and for all tastes.

Algarvepromotion

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Algarve

Tak­ing the ex­cel­lent mo­tor­way west from Seville, it's an easy jour­ney to the Al­garve in Por­tu­gal where you can ex­pe­rience a dif­fer­ent cul­ture again. This area is Por­tu­gal's main tourist des­ti­na­tion so in sum­mer, be pre­pared to party. The set­ting is beau­ti­ful with nat­ural bays and golden beaches against the dra­matic cliff back­drop. There are cas­tles and at­trac­tive vil­lages with build­ings washed in vi­brant Mediter­ranean colour when you ven­ture in­land.

David Ibáñez Montañez

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Cádiz

The for­tunes of Cádiz have ebbed and flowed. This port saw great­ness when Spain was col­o­niz­ing the Amer­i­cas and it is re­flected in the 18thC ar­chi­tec­ture and el­e­gant squares which have a di­stinc­tive char­ac­ter. As ad­min­is­tra­tive cen­tre for the province of Cádiz, many of these build­ings are now oc­cu­pied by the of­fices of gov­ern­ment. Wan­der around the nar­row streets of the old city. Built on a penin­su­lar, there will be a sea view at the end of vir­tu­ally every road to guide you through the maze. The town has seen a re­ju­ve­na­tion in re­cent years; it's a vi­brant, out­ward look­ing and wel­com­ing place, par­ti­c­u­larly in Feb­ru­ary dur­ing car­ni­val week. Visit the good tra­di­tional tapas bars to re­ally cap­ture the flavour of Cádiz and the fish mar­ket for the fresh­est of fresh­est catches. The ‘gold' domed roof of the Cathe­dral, made of yel­low glazed tiles, is the iconic im­age of this city.