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Andalucía evokes dazzling white towns, ancient cities, imposing mountain peaks, regiments of olive groves, golden sandy beaches, the scent of orange blossom, a temperate climate and the purest light. From the seemingly endless stretches of golden sand that line the undiscovered Costa de la Luz to the unmissable cities that bear witness to 700 years of Moorish influence, the region boasts a wealth of attractions that will not fail to impress.
Hilltop white villages of snaking narrow streets, hidden inner patios of abundant carnation pots, Islamic arches, formal gardens heavy with the scent of jasmine and orange blossom, breathtaking palaces, and above all, a warm, extrovert people who instinctively create an exuberant street life.
The historic hilltop town of Ronda offers the visitor tranquillity, a rich and diverse history and an authentic Andaluz atmosphere. Its eclectic mix of architectural styles stand testament to the diverse peoples that have fought over, occupied or simply visited the town across the centuries. Home to picturesque 'pueblo blanco ' streets, a profusion of wrought iron balconied houses and Spain's oldest and most splendid bullring, the Mercadillo quarter has its own special atmosphere.
Dividing the old part of the city from the new is a dramatic river gorge, its plunging 90m drop being bridged by the Puente Nuevo from where there are spectacular views. Our houses are scattered across the beautiful Serranía surrounding the town and all are within an easy drive. Further afield through a landscape of craggy forested sierras lies Sevilla, a city that lives life to the full. The luxuriant jungle of botanical gardens that is the Maria Lluisa Park, the once Jewish quarter with its picture book wrought iron clad houses and the vast cathedral are just a few of the good reasons to visit.
Heading west you will find Arcos de la Frontera, an original frontier town from the old Muslim kingdom of Granada, whilst the vineyards and wineries that start in earnest after here leave no doubt that you are entering the world capital of sherry production - Jerez.
The stunning stretch of coastline known as the Costa de la Luz is perhaps Andalucía's best kept secret. This magnificent, unspoilt fringe of golden sand stretches practically unbroken fromthe Portuguese border to the Straits of Gibraltar. Our property selection centres around the pretty white towns of Vejer de la Frontera and Conil de la Frontera. Nearby Cádiz is one of Europe's oldest cities. Now a busy port, it is rich in Moorish style buildings arranged around narrow streets and alleyways that criss-cross the historic peninsula.
To the east, dramatic scenery is formed by the deeply plunging gorge of El Chorro, which carves its way through breathtakingly pretty valleys of lush wooded slopes. North of here, Córdoba offers the awesome dimensions of the 'Mesquita' or Great Mosque and the myriad of white alleyways and flower filled patios that is its ancient Jewish quarter.
No visit to Andalucía would be complete without witnessing the spectacular sights of historic Granada. Nestling against a stunning backdrop of the often snow capped peaks of the Sierra Nevada, the imposing silhouette of its sumptuous Alhambra Palace towers above a delightful and intriguing network of ancient narrow streets that bear witness to the city's Moorish past. A short drive south of here, tucked between the Sierra Nevada and the coast, the delightfully undiscovered Alpujarras is unquestionably picturesque, its valleys and hillsides being dotted with oasis-like white villages and criss-crossed by a network of ancient paths that make this area a delight to discover on foot.
Local specialities include scrambled eggs with wild asparagus and various flavourful game dishes. Finish off with 'piñonate' (a sweetmeat of almonds and pine seeds) or the exquisite 'pestinos de almendras' (almond pancakes).
On the coast, tuna is offered in any one of over 1000 different recipes while the 'caldillo de perro' (fish soup) is always delicious. Meals can be complemented by a smooth glass of 'manzanilla' from Sanlucar de Barrameda, perhaps a sherry from Jerez or El Puerto de Santa Maria, or a glass of local wine from Chiclana de la Frontera. The light, white 'Tierra Blanca' is a perfect lunchtime accompaniment.
Once again Barbate hosts its annual feria to mark the beginning of the tuna fishing season. Colourful marquees are dotted along the old harbour serving a tuna based tapa and a drink for just 3 euros. As well as the food stalls there is an artisan market, live music and cooking shows and demonstrations.
Whatever the size of the village or city there will be some kind of procession on 5th January. The three Kings usually travel around the town on floats late afternoon/early evening throwing sweets and presents into the waiting crowd.
The flamenco festival in Jerez is one of the most important in the world, with two weeks of phenomenal music and dance from internationally renowned performers. Most of the performances take place in the gypsy quarter of Barrio de Santiago or in the Villamarta Theatre.
Each year at Easter the towns of Vejer, Arcos and Benalup secure the main streets with barriers and screens and release a bull into the main square. In Vejer there is a bull released from La Plazuela at 12pm and a second one at 4pm. Brave (or silly) residents run down the street, hoping to out run the animal.......This year the event takes place on Sunday 5th April.
This is hosted at the F1 Circuit on the outskirts of Jerez, close to the Montecastillo Golf and Country Club. There are also shows and parades down the Avenida Alvaro Domecq in the centre of town. In 2015 the races take place over the weekend of 2nd/3rd May.