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Andalucia’s monuments on the world stage: from prehistoric to islamic

May 25, 2016 – 11:31 pm The interior of the Mezquita of Cordoba, Europe's fourth-top attraction, according to Trip Advisor users. Photo: Michelle Chaplow The interior of the Mezquita of Cordoba, Europe’s fourth-top attraction, according to Trip Advisor users. Photo: Michelle Chaplow

Trip Advisor has just released its top ten landmarks in Europe, as voted by users of the frighteningly influential reviewing website. Two of these, both in the top five of the list, are in Andalucia.

Number 2, rather surprisingly, is the Mezquita. The 10th-century mosque in Cordoba is a wonder of Moorish architecture, with its forest of striped brick arches and jasper columns, but it would normally play second fiddle to the monument which comes in at number four, according to Trip Advisor users.

Yes, the top visitor attraction in Spain by numbers, the Alhambra, has slipped down into fourth position on the Trip Advisor leader board. The Moorish hilltop palace in Granada, which dates from the 13th century and is famous for room after room adorned with intricate Arabic plasterwork, exquisite geometrically-patterned ceramic tiles, and serene gardens with pools and fountains, was pushed down the list by its fellow Muslim monument. First place in the European hit parade was held by St Peter’s in Vatican City, Rome, and third by a church in St Petersburg, which (according to Trip Advisor) goes by the unsavoury name of “the Saviour of Spilled Blood”.

These two monuments, which any visitor to Andalucia, shouldn’t miss, also held very respectable positions in the world ranking – number 6 and 8 respectively. Topping the global countdown is Machu Picchu, the Incan city in Peru, followed by Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi (2), and Angkor Wat in Cambodia (3).

Religious heritage plays a strong role, with four of the top ten being Islamic buildings – the two mosques and the Alhambra, plus the Taj Mahal in India (5), a Muslim tomb, while Angkor Wat is a Buddhist site; the St Petersburg church (7) is Russian orthodox; and St Peter’s Rome and Milan cathedral in Italy (10) – Roman Catholic. Faiths, while causing endless wars across the centuries, have also left us with some of our most spectacular, and popular, monuments.


Peña de los Enamorados  (Lovers' Rock), part of the Monumental Compex of Anterquera, entered as Spain's application for UNESCO World Heritage Status for 2015, to be decided this July. Photograph: Michelle Chaplow Peña de los Enamorados (Lovers’ Rock), part of the Monumental Compex of Antequera, will almost definitely be declared UNESCO World Heritage Status this July. Photograph: Michelle Chaplow

Dolmens PM

The other exciting news for Andalucia is that the Dolmens of Antequera have moved a step closer to being declared UNESCO World Heritage (Patrimonio de la Humanidad in Spanish), at the next meeting in Istanbul this July.

The three stone structures, built in the Neolithic period (fifth millennium BC), together with the natural rock formation Peña de los Enamorados, are very likely to be given the coveted status, and the funding that comes along with it. Other UNESCO monuments in Andalucia include the aforementioned Alhambra and Mezquita, as well as the Alcazar and Cathedral in Seville, and the Renaissance towns of Ubeda and Baeza in Jaen.

After a recent visit by an assessor, at the end of last year, a report specified that the area surrounding the dolmen complex must be protected (from development), and the visual impact of the museum reduced – it will lose its first floor. Another ruling was that the old railway line near the site be turned into a via verde (green pathway) more than 10km long. Then, at a meeting of ICOMOS (International Committee of Monuments and Sites) in Paris last week, it was accepted that these modifications were being addressed, and the application was given the green light.

The final decision is set to be made at the UNESCO World Heritage Committee meeting in the Turkish city on 10-20 July. After this rubber-stamping, the town of Antequera – at the very heart of Andalucia, and closest to the dolmens of Viera, Manga and el Romeral, the first megalithic complex in Spain to gain World Heritage status – will be put firmly on the global historic monument map.


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Hoard of Roman coins uncovered near Seville

May 5, 2016 – 9:44 pm
Amphorae insitu containing the Roman Coins found in Tomares Photo: Ayuntamiento de Tomares

Amphorae insitu containing the Roman Coins found in Tomares Photo: Ayuntamiento de Tomares


Huge excitement here in Seville recently, when an extraordinary hoard of Roman coins was discovered in a park near the city.

Workmen were digging a trench to lay pipes using a digger vehicle in the Parque Zaudin in Tomares on Tuesday last week, when the machine’s scoop hit something which sounded unusual. They paused their work, removed the earth and found Roman amphorae (clay pots) full of bronze coins buried just 1 metre under the ground.

In this area, with its layer upon layer of history from the Phoenicians to Visgoths to Moors, Roman coins are not that uncommon. The Aljarafe (“high ground” in Arabic) region to the east of Seville was once home to many thousands of legionnaries, with the first Roman city built outside Italy, Italica, just a few kilometres away.

What makes this find so rare, and of such incalculable value, is the quantity of money found – 19 amphorae in total, weighing 600 kilos – together with the fact that the coins are newly-minted; it’s thought they had never been used, as they don’t have scratches or other signs of wear, which means they are extremely well-preserved.

Indeed, ten of the amphorae, which are of a smaller size than those used for olive oil or wine, were found intact with the coins still inside; the others were damaged while the trench was being dug.

Close up of the Roman Coins found in Tomares Photo: Ayuntamiento de Tomares

Close up of the Roman Coins found in Tomares Photo: Ayuntamiento de Tomares


“It is a unique collection and there are very few similar cases,” said Ana Navarro, director of Seville’s archaeology museum. “I could not give you an economic value because the value they really have is historical and you can’t calculate that.”

It is thought that such a sizeable load of unused coins has never before been unearthed, either in Spain or anywhere else in the world.

The coins are made of bronze, and bear the images of Roman Emperors thought to be either Constantine or Maximian, dating from the late 3rd to early 4th century AD. El Pais has said that they have “various Roman allegories” on the back, including abudance.

Such was the level of interest in our little corner of the Aljarafe – the park is about 5km from where I live – that the news went worldwide, making the BBC, Guardian, CNN and Washington Post.

The coins might have been destined to pay taxes to the Empire, or alternatively as salaries for the Roman legions or civil servants here in Spain.




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20 years of

April 27, 2016 – 1:31 pm
Treasure hunt between Estepona and Casares Photo (C) Michelle Chaplow

Treasure hunt between Estepona and Casares

Back in 1996, in the early days of the internet – when WIFI, twitter and touch-screen smart phones were but a far-off futuristic dream – a tech-savvy young British engineer living in southern Spain had an idea: to register the domain Chris Chaplow, along with his wife Michelle, an award-winning photographer who had already taken thousands of images of Andalucia, made a decision which was as forward-thinking as it was simple. Using Michelle’s ample photo library, at first on slide and later digital, and information garnered during weekend trips around the region, on 17 April 1996 the Chaplows started what was to become Spain’s premier English-language website.

Twenty years on, after the dotcom boom-and-bust of the early 2000s, followed by a major economic recession which has hit Spain particularly hard, has consolidated its position, continues to thrive, and indeed goes from strength to strength.

Visitor figures hit an all-time high in March – 419,117 in a month – and the site has over 10,000 pages which are constantly being edited, updated and added to. The website prides itself on being the most-visited website about Southern Spain.

To celebrate this double-decade milestone, the Chaplows organised a media excursion for a select group of guests last week, on the website’s 20th birthday – 17 April 2016. Around 50 Brits, Americans, Italians, and Spaniards – from Andalucia and beyond – enjoyed a memorable day out of treasure hunts, story-telling and delicious tapas.

With unusually British weather for the coast – sharp rain showers, grey clouds, and intervals of intense sunshine – we climbed up to hilltop castles, hunted down clues, and tweeted selfies.

Searching for clues in the old town of Estepona Photo (C) Joaquin Alarcon

Searching for clues in the old town of Estepona

After a treasure hunt through the pretty streets of Estepona old town, in teams of three themed around colours, we took a bus to the hidden-away Necropolis Prehistorica de Corominasin Estepona, where we saw the contents of five dolmens discovered when the AP7 motorway was being built, with reproductions of the skeletons arranged exactly how they were found, along with arrowheads and ornaments.

In this historic setting, Founder and MD Chris recounted the past, present and future of, from right through fromn 1996 to 2016. He started with the background about when the site was founded all those years ago, using painfully slow, now-antiquated technology, and took us through the major milestones along the way – including yours truly coming on board as Chief Blogger and Contributing Editor in 2010. Lots of interesting insights into how the business was built, and how it has come through good times as well as more challenging ones, plus Chris’ vision for the future.

Necropolis Prehistorica de Corominas in Estepona. Photo (C) Joaquin Alarcon

Necropolis Prehistorica de Corominas in Estepona

After Chris’ presentation, followed by a team photo at the Necropolis entrance, we were taken up to the spectacular hilltop town of Casares, for another treasure hunt, climbing the steep streets past flower-filled gardens and terraces, to the castle. The teams had to look for various dates and names, and have a photo taken with two girls in flamenco dresses (the feria season has just started in Andalucia, with the Feria de Abril in Seville). The weather was dramatic, with short rain showers and  much laughter as we sheltered under trees, then made our way back down through the town.

Next stop, treasure hunt in  Casares. Photo (C) Joaquin Alarcon

Next stop, treasure hunt in Casares

Our final stop was for lunch in the beautifully-situated Venta Garcia, a gourmet restaurant in the countryside near Casares, which overlooks green hills through its high picture windows. When we arrived, it was time for a well-deserved drink on the pretty terrace, with its outdoor bar and fireplace. Juan Jesus Garcia, the owner and chef, put on an endless stream of delicious tapas to satisfy our considerable appetites, worked up by all that walking and hunting including duck with orange, grilled goat’s cheese, and prawn couscous. And, at the end, of course, a birthday cake and cava, to toast the continued success of the website!

Gourmet lunch at Venta Garcia, Casares. Photo (C) Joaquin Alarcon

Gourmet lunch at Venta Garcia, Casares

What a perfect way to celebrate this important anniversary in the history of – exploring and enjoying this stunning part of southern Spain, with great company, visiting typically picturesque spots but also introducing us to less well-known places. The day ran smoothly, despite occasionally inclement weather, thanks to an excellent support team of staff and volunteers.

Celebrations and prizes. Photo (C) Joaquin Alarcon

Gourmet lunch at Venta Garcia, Casares

Here’s to the next 20 years!

Click here for more media coverage of the event.

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Tio Pepe en Rama – the wild fino sherry

April 15, 2016 – 9:59 am

As spring arrives in Seville, two weeks after Semana Santa (Holy Week), it’s time for Feria. Ladies prepare their flamenca dresses, horses are groomed, carriages polished, and Seville’s vino-gastro crowd waits expectantly for the big pre-Feria sherry event.

Tio Pepe on the iconic hat style table

Tio Pepe on the iconic hat style table

Every year, for the past four years, the Monday when Feria starts (Lunes de Pescaito), has been the day for launching the latest Tio Pepe en Rama. This is a raw, unfiltered version of the famous dry sherry, well-known for its logo of the man (Uncle Joe) in the red hat and jacket.

Tio Pepe en Rama is a very special sherry, chosen from just 60 out of 22,000 barrels. As Master Winemaker Antonio Flores explains, 100 barrels are selected in October, from those which have lasted best through the heat of the summer. He then keeps an eye on these, continuing with tests throughout the autumn, winter, and into spring, and finally the 60 which make the cut are bottled in April. Only 16,000 bottles are produced – the first year, this limited-run sherry was only available in the UK, and sold out within 48 hours. Now it is also sold in the US, around Europe, and even in newly sherry-loving countries such as China.

This year’s launch was held at the gourmet market, Lonja del Barranco, by the Triana Bridge. A stripy caseta-style tent in Tio Pepe’s signature colours of red and white, next to the market, was where we first arrived, with a guitarist playing and a venenciador pouring sherry with great skill. Later, for the tasting, we moved down to a long, narrow bar on a terrace closer to the river, when the wind whipped in the open sides from the river, causing a few spilt sherries.

The front section was full by the time I arrived, so watching Antonio on a TV screen as he led the tasting of this year’s En Rama: “Pale yellow with golden tones, a bit cloudy; in the mouth, long and salty, with a slightly bitter aftertaste.” With tastebuds dulled by a vicious cold, I couldn’t fully appreciate this magnificent wine, but I certainly got a sense of its “wildness” – the flavour is much fuller than a regular dry sherry. The labels are always beautiful and vintage-style, inspired by the Gonzalez Byass archive.

The other two sherries we tasted were Leonor Palo Cortado, described by Antonio – ever the poet – as “long and seductive”; and Viña AB, a 12-year-old amontillado which smelled wonderfully of hazelnuts (my poorly nose was more sensitive than my tongue).

As any sherry lover will tell you, this is a wine which marries extremely well with food; each brings out the others’ virtues. From the gourmet market’s stalls we enjoyed intensely-flavoured mini-squid ink salmorejo topped with onion and octopus, delicate but dense mini-tortillas, salmon tartare, and meaty goodies not to my taste, including little “bonbons de chorizo” – wrapped up in filo pastry to look like sweets.

A moody sky, which had threatened rain throughout the event, opened just as it finished – to kick off a Feria week which is starting with unsettled weather, but with another superb limited-run sherry to enjoy.

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Route of Casas Palacio in Seville: the “New Rome”

March 27, 2016 – 1:39 am Casa de Pilatos, one of the casa-palacios in Seville on the new route. Casa de Pilatos, one of the casas-palacio on the new route in Seville. Photo: Michelle Chaplow


After the excitement of the opening last week of Las Duenas, the Duquesa de Alba’s palace, a new route in Seville has been announced of palaces and casa-palacios.

Individually, these 23 palaces and grand mansions already represent an interesting variety of magnificent buildings in the city – some are hotels, others already open as cultural centres, and some are privately owned but partly open to the general public. Taken together, however, they offer a collection of such great architectural and historical value that it is being called the “New Rome”.

Many of the buildings have several features in common: Mudejar architecture (by Moorish craftsmen, with characteristic intricate plasterwork, but created under Christian rulers); exquisite azulejos – coloured ceramic tiles; arcaded patios with central fountains; and artesonado carved painted wooden ceilings, with Mudejar motifs such as stars. Most date from the 15th and 16th centuries, Seville’s Golden age, when riches flooded in from the newly discovered Americas and trade prospered.

The Route of Casas-Palacio in Seville includes the following:

Casa de Pilatos – one of the most sizeable; like many impressive palaces built on land seized during the Inquisition. Already open to the public as part of the Medinaceli estate. In the Alfalfa barrio.

Palacio de los Marqueses de Villapanes - a five-star luxury boutique hotel which preserves original features such as the family coat of arms on the grand staircase. In Santa Catalina.

Palacio de los Marqueses de Algaba – currently the Centro del Mudejar. Behind Feria market.

Casa de los Padilla – part of the hotel Casas de la Juderia, made up of a network of patios and small houses. Barrio Santa Cruz, the old Jewish Quarter.

Palacio Arzobispal – the Archbishop’s residence, next to the cathedral.

Palacio San Telmo, 17th century naval college. Palacio San Telmo, 17th century naval college. Photo: Michelle Chaplow

Palacio San Telmopalace built as a navigators’ college for the orphans of sailors, now seat of the Junta de Andalucia’s President. Named for the patron saint of sailors. Next to the river.

Casa de las Sirenas – used to be the naval college before San Telmo. Calle Pureza in Triana.





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Palacio de las Dueñas, the Duquesa de Alba’s home, opens to public on 17 March

March 12, 2016 – 9:50 pm


Palacio Las Dueñas


Next week one of the most hotly-anticipated new attractions in Seville opens its doors – the Palacio de las Duenas, favourite residence of the late Duquesa de Alba.

From 10am on Thursday 17 March, you’ll be able to see inside the home of one of Spain’s most famous aristocrats, the most titled woman in the world, and the owner of one of the most important private art collections in Spain. She passed away in November 2014, and this palace is now the official Seville residence of her son, Carlos Fitz-James Stuart y Martinez de Irujo, the 19th Duke of Alba. Contrary to many press reports that Carlos’ son and heir, Fernando, inherited it from his grandmother the Duquesa when she died, the Duke of Alba is the owner of Palacio de las Dueñas.

The building itself is of considerable architectural interest, dating from the 15th and 16th centuries, and built in Mudejar style on the site of the Casa-Palacio de los Pineda, another aristocratic Sevillano family – some parts of this can still be seen, such as the Mudejar arches in the original patio. The palace is named after the Monasterio de Santa Maria de las Dueñas, which was located next door and was demolished in 1868.

The artworks you’ll be able to see include priceless historic paintings, sculpture, tapestries and furniture. Some of the most valued pieces are Santa Catalina de Siena entre Santos, a 15th-century work by Neri de Bicci in the chapel (above left), and La Epifania by Giordano in the Salon de la Gitana, one of the Duchess’ favourite rooms, where you can also see a bronze sculpture of a gypsy by Mariano Benlliure.

In addition the porcelain collection has pieces by Sevres, Meissen and La Cartuja de Sevilla,while the patio has archaeological treasures from the Castillo del Carpio as well as an Iberian lion.


Antonio Machado plaque


Also of great interest is the Patio del Limonero – the poet Antonio Machado, who was born in the palace in 1875, wrote these much-quoted lines:

Mi infancia son recuerdos de un patio de Sevilla,
y un huerto claro donde madura el limonero.”

My childhood memories are of a patio in Seville
And a bright orchard where a lemon tree ripens.

From Retrato (Portrait) by Antonio Machado

Illustrious visitors to the palace have included hispanophile Lord Holland, Edward VIII and George VI, Alfonso XIII, Wallis Simpson, Cole Porter, Jackie Kennedy, Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier of Monaco.


Palacio Las Dueñas


The Duquesa owned a number of magnificent private residences around Spain, from palaces and castle to villas, but this palace was always her favourite. She said she felt most at home in Seville, being a huge aficionado of local festivals such as Holy Week, the Feria de Abril, and bullfighting. The Sevillanos reciprocated with warmth and affection which was demonstrated by the turn-out when she lay in state in Ayuntamiento – 80,00 people came to pay their respects. And now they can see behind the gates, inside the salons of the palace where this intriguing, eccentric woman lived right up until she died – even if the entry price might be out of the reach of some.

The palace will be open daily from 10am-6pm October to March and 10am-8pm April to September. Tickets cost 8 euros for adults, and 6 euros for children aged 6 years and over, plus 2 euros for the audio guide (English, French and Spanish). You can buy them online from the Palace’s own website or from a soon-to-open ticket office at the palace itself. Entry is free on Mondays from 4pm.


Palacio Las Dueñas  - Floor Plan
Palacio Las Dueñas – Floor Plan


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BioCultura: the eco-fair in Seville 26-28 February 2016

February 25, 2016 – 11:33 pm Bio Cultura has xx exhibitors, with food being the strongest sector. BioCultura is an eco-fair in Seville this weekend with more than 250 exhibitors – food is the strongest sector.

This weekend a major ecological fair – the most important in Spain, and in Europe – takes place in Seville, starting tomorrow.

BioCultura is at the Palacio de Congresos de Sevilla (Seville Conference Centre) – FIBES – from 26 to 28 February. This is the first edition in Seville of this event; two smaller eco-fairs took place at the same location back in 2011 and 2012.

The fair, which focuses on organic products and responsible consumption, is a national reference for the ecological sector; BioCultura is also held in Barcelona (May), Bilbao (September), Madrid (November) and Valencia (February next year); the Madrid edition started 31 years ago. This inaugural event will see more than 250 exhibitors and 10,000 visitors at FIBES, in Seville Este. BioCultura Sevilla is planned to take place every two years.

The largest section of the fair is organic food products, with more than 5,000 including the Andalucian classics of olive oil, wine, cheese and Iberian pork, plus – naturally – fruit and vegetables. Andalucia is the biggest producer of organic fresh produce in Europe, yet the vast majority is sent abroad to countries like the UK and Germany, and little is consumed here, where it is grown.

Other sectors include hygiene products and cosmetics with certified ingredients; organic fashion and textiles; eco-building materials, furniture and decoration; renewable energy; complementary therapies and medicines; recycling; ecology; environment; rural tourism and rest homes; toys; crafts; music; books and magazines.

More than 150 parallel events being held include discussions, workshops, cooking demonstrations, concerts, and demonstrations of organic beauty products.

Mamaterra has children's activities throughout the three days of the fair. MamaTerra has children’s activities throughout the three days of the fair.

In addition, MamaTerra is a dedicated area of the fair for the younger eco-conscious. Here you can find activities for children, including recycling-handicrafts workshops, organic bread-making, organic make-up, how to create a kitchen-garden, as well as a play area and an eco-cine.

On Saurday and Sunday at 5pm you and your family can watch show cooking – demonstrations of fun things to do with healthy ingredients such as fruit and vegetables.

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New regulations on rental accommodation in Andalucia

February 22, 2016 – 4:23 pm

A large proportion of visitors who come to Andalucia for their holidays rent a self-catering apartment or villa, whether by the beach or inland; in a city or in the mountains.

New regulations for tourist accommodation (BOJA Decreto 28/2016) came into force this month (February 2016) to stipulate formally what property owners are obligated to provide for their guests.

Here is a list of the new rules, some of which are more specific than others.

A property is defined as accommodating a maximum of 15 people, with up to four in each room. Access to tourist accommodation cannot be denied for reasons of birth, race, sex, religion, opinion, or other personal or social circumstance

Each property must offer the following.

Practical equipment:

  • sufficient equipment and furnishings for immediate use, according to how many people are being accommodated
  • bedding, towels and household goods in general, as well as spare sets
  • air-conditioning units in all bedrooms and communal lounge areas to provide cooling (if rented from May to September) and heating (October to April). Owners have one year to comply with this; properties are exempt when classified as “of Cultural Interest” and modifications and/or building work is prohibited.
  • fully-stocked medical kit
  • direct external ventilation or via a patio and a window-shading system (darkening the windows either by blinds or curtains)

Support and information:

  • rules regarding use of facilities, whether pets are allowed, restrictions for smokers, and areas of the property where access is restricted
  • instructions for electrical appliances
  • information (either in paper or electronic form) about nearby shops, restaurants, parking, medical services, public transport
  • Complaints and Claims book and sign (on wall)
  • a contact number to answer questions or issues regarding the property

Additional points:

  • car parking facilities should be within 300 metres of the property, otherwise the owner must provide free parking
  • the property should be cleaned prior to the arrival, and after the departure, of new customers


  • all holidaymakers must present their identification document (passport or NIE) on arrival at the property, so that the homeowner can register their data (legal requirement)
  • arrival and departure times will be agreed by the homeowner and the renter, otherwise the arrival time will be at 16:00 and departure time at 12:00.
  • the advertised price must be per night (no minimum stay) and must include water, electricity, cleaning and bedding

This is a concise version – for the full law, see here.

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Record tourist numbers for Spain, world’s no3 tourist destination, plus Andalucia has top national attraction

January 31, 2016 – 8:53 pm Spain, tourists, tourism Fabulous seaside resorts and beaches are one of Spain’s biggest draws for international visitors.

More foreigners visited Spain than ever before in 2015, as unsettled situations in North African countries caused European holidaymakers to take their holidays nearer to home.

Record visitor numbers again – Spain is third-most-visited country in world – Brits top nationality
Spanish hotels and other accommodation received over 68 million international tourists last year, the third year running of record-beating figures. The figure represents a 4.9% increase on 2014, according to Spain’s Office of National Statistics (INE). Spain was the third-most visited country in the world, according to the World Tourism Association, after France and the US, but had a higher percentage increase than the two top spots.

Spain’s rising success as a holiday destination looks set to carry on apace, with bookings to Spain by Britons up more than a third, according to the Association of British Travel Agents. The British were the most numerous tourists to Spain by nationality in 2015, followed by the Germans and French. Britain had 15.7 million holidaymakers in Spain last year, a rise of 4.5 per cent on the previous year.

The continuing growth of the tourism sector is more crucial than ever to Spain’s economy, as this sector accounts for 11 percent of the country’s economic output, and employs two million people. Although the Spanish financial situation has improved, it still needs support and stability in this post-recession era. And the figures are steady throughout the year, rather than being focussed primarily on the summer season of July and August, with the number of visitors in December up nearly 14%.
Most visited monument in Spain: the Alhambra
The Alhambra remains the most-visited attraction in Spain, and Andalucia’s top monument, with nearly two and half million visitors.

The total of people visiting Granada’s majestic palace complex in 2015 was 2,474,231, according to the Patronato del Alhambra. The highest month was May, with 263,300 visitors, while the other strongest months were April, August, September and October; the best day was 10 October, with 9,947 people visiting. The month with least visitors was January when 110,019 visitors explored the Moorish monument.

The British accounted for 6.52 percent of visitors, being the fourth nationality; first was the French, the Germans were second, and Americans third.

Brits are biggest Spain’s spenders
The total euros spent in Spain by international tourists in 2015 was 67.385 million, up 6.8% on the previous year. The two months for highest expenditure were May and November.

Of this, Brits spent 14.057m, an increase of 10.3%, representing 20.9% of the total. In December 2015 spending by British visitors was up nearly 20%.

Tourism in Andalucia – up more than 10%
In terms of tourism in Andalucia, 9.424 million international tourists visited the region, 11% up on 2014. Those staying in hotels averaged eight nights whilst those not in hotels spent an average of 16 nights. The principal arrival was via an airport at 80%, followed by road at 8%.

Spending in Andalucia by visitors from abroad in 2015 was 10.346 million euros, which had by far the highest increase of all Spanish regions at 10.7%, and represents 15.4% of the total spend in Spain.

For more details on tourism statistics in Andalucia, see this page.


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Landscapes of Andalucia

January 25, 2016 – 12:27 pm

Clockwise Sierra de Ronda near Gaucin. wetlands of Doñana Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Almeria’s desert landscape, used as a location for Series 6 of Game of Thrones. Los Muertos beach in Almeria, with volcanic cliffs. ©Michelle Chaplow

Clockwise Sierra de Ronda near Gaucin. wetlands of Doñana Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Almeria’s desert landscape, used as a location for Series 6 of Game of Thrones. Los Muertos beach in Almeria, with volcanic cliffs.

Those of us who are fortunate enough to live here in Andalucia will be aware (well, most of us – some never venture beyond the coast, which is their loss) of the wide and wonderful variety of Andalucia’s scenery. Each of the eight provinces – Almeria, Cadiz, Cordoba, Granada, Huelva, Jaen, Malaga and Sevilla – has much to offer. And if you’re planning to visit, hopefully this post will open your eyes to the extraordinary sights, the out-of-the-way places and stunning views you can enjoy while you’re staying in sunny southern Spain.

This region has the broadest range of landscapes of any region in Spain. Where else in the country (or indeed, in Europe) can you see, within a few hours’ drive, beaches, a desert and a snow-capped mountain?

The wetlands of Doñana Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The wetlands of Doñana Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

For nature lovers, bird-watchers and hikers, not to mention photographers, this terrain is heaven. You can admire rare birds such as the imperial eagle on the wetlands of Doñana in Huelva province, while the highest peak in the Iberian mainland, Mulhacen (3,482m) in Granada’s Sierra Nevada, becomes a popular skiing destination in winter.

But if your bag is more relaxed, then choose from hundreds of beaches along the 1000-plus kilometres of coastline, from wide expanses of sand along the Costa de la Luz in Huelva and Cadiz to small, rocky coves along the rugged coastline of the Costa Almeria and Costa Tropical of Granada province. And that’s without all the celebrated Costa del Sol beaches of Malaga!

The desert of Tabernas in Almeria offers such an extraordinary arid landscape, with flat, arid land as far as the eye can see, and bare mountains and that it has long been a popular location for filming movies and TV shows, most recently Game of Thrones and The Emerald City, and before that a number of westerns in the 1960s and 1970s.

For more other-wordly rock formations, also featured on screen, El Torcal near Antequera is a craggy mountain scape which is well worth visiting. Indeed the most famous strangely-shaped geological feature in the whole region must be the nearby Peña de los Enamorados, which has the shape of Indian face in profile.

In Andalucia, agriculture is integral to the landscape, as well as to gastronomy, economy and society, and in Jaen province you’ll see rolling field after rolling field with neat lines of olive trees. During spring time, and even late winter, soft pink almond blossom covers the land, especially in Cadiz, Malaga and Granada provinces.

Another close connection between food and landscape is the hallowed jamon iberico. Black Iberian pigs feast on acorns as they graze on pastureland called dehesa, found in Cordoba and Huelva provinces.

Driving across Andalucia from one side to the other, you’ll cross plains, mountains, desert, wetlands, river valleys, fertile plains planted with all sorts of crops – a scenic smorgasbord. Keep your eyes open, since in a region like Andalucia, it’s as much about the journey, as about the destination.

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