Andalusia, the Southern region of Spain, is one of my favorite destinations in Europe. Although there are many enchanting and diverse destinations such as Marbella, Malaga, Granada and Cadiz, I focused on Seville and Cordoba on this trip.
In one day in Seville, I experienced tapas bar crawling to visiting the Royal Palace, to seeing the most famous Flamenco show at the El Arenal to following a Catholic procession to the Gothic Cathedral to exploring the Royal Tobacco Factory where the famous opera Carmen was inspired. Seville is a tourist dream, the city center is enchanting because it has been preserved and there are no high rise buildings.
Seville offers many hotel choices. The King Alfonso XIII Hotel has been the premier hotel in Seville for 85 years and has consistently maintained the aura of history and glamour. The distinctive Mudejar –style architecture is breathtaking with sweeping arches, decorative brickwork and ceramic finials. I stayed in a room that offered a grand terrace that overlooked the city center.
If you are looking for smaller boutique hotels in Seville, I highly recommend the Hotel Hospes Las Casas del Rey de Baeza for its Andalusian charm and elegant decor. It is located on a quiet street yet a ten minute walk to Seville’s iconic sights such as the Cathedral, the largest Gothic cathedral in the world and the Reales Alcazares, one of the oldest palaces in the world. This small hotel has 41 rooms and the restaurant, Azahar, is a culinary delight serving tapas and dinner nightly. Don’t forget to go to the top of the hotel where there is a relaxing pool-solarium which offers unique views of the historical city.
Located in the center of Seville in the old quarter Alfalfa, five minutes from the Cathedral, is a small boutique hotel called the Corral del Rey that has been meticulously restored from an original 17th century palace offering chic accommodations.
For a day trip outside Seville, Cordoba, which has the second largest Old Town in Europe, is an excellent choice. While touring this World Heritage Site, you get an insightful sense of the melting pot of the religious history of Spain relating to the Muslim, Christian and Jewish cultures.
The most important building and symbol of the city is the Great Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba called the Mezquita. Cordoba has architectural wonders and I loved the cobblestone lanes lined with flowering balconies. Another sight worth visiting is the Alcazar de los Reyes Cristanos, the medieval palace and fortress with beautiful gardens and fountains.
If Andalusia is not on your destination list, you are missing an incredible experience that will enrich both your mind and palate.