The monumental secrets of Andalusia’s cities
Taking a Flamenco Campers campervan vacation in Andalucia is not only a unique way to experience Southern Spain’s mountains, forests and its Mediterranean coast; but it’s also the perfect opportunity to discover the region’s extraordinary cultural and architectural history.
Andalucia was once at the heart of the sophisticated Al Andalus empire. To inspire you to discover this captivating part of Andalucía’s past, here at Flamenco Campers, we highlight the attractions of Cordoba and its exceptional Mosque of Abd al-Rahman; the medieval city of Medina Azahara, only now beginning to reveal its secrets: and of course, to Granada and its Alhambra, probably one of the most spectacular citadels in the world.
Granada and Cordoba are two of the most historically rich cities in Spain, and are home to unique and exotic Al-Andalus architecture. The cities are also home to a modern and vibrant culture, with a great food scene. These cities will leave lasting memories.
How to Get There
From our Flamenco Campers base near Malaga take the brand new A46 motorway that sweeps through the beautiful Malaga countryside, taking you north towards Antequera.
Bare left to take the A-92M that leads you north east to Granada, the capital of its province. The journey will take out about 90 minutes, but we’re sure you’ll take a few detours as there is lots to see, including the beautiful Lecrin Valley.
Then to reach Cordoba, take the A-92M back towards Antequera, and then join the A-45 north all the way to Cordoba. It’s a 2-hour run, but you’ll be tempted to take detours and stops as there so much to see on the way.
This regional capital is a vibrant business centre and university city. It is close to the Sierra Nevada mountain national park, which in winter is home to Andalucía’s main ski resort, whilst in summer it is paradise for hikers, mountain bikers, and climbers.
Within the city, there are three main historic areas; firstly, the Albaicin the medieval old town; then opposite across the narrow river Darro is the hilltop citadel of the Alhambra; and finally, the flamenco community of Sacromonte.
Granada’s Albaicin, and neighbouring Sacromonte district famous for its Andalusian ‘gitano’ flamenco, is a truly mesmerising place. For centuries, this unique area has been an artistic muse for outsiders. The romanticism surrounding Granada reached its peak during the nineteenth cent
ury, when visitors would come to this colourful, vibrant, mysterious world of crumbling Arab palaces, passionate gypsy dancers, and unspoilt natural beauty.
Today the district’s narrow labyrinthine streets are full of historic treasures including the Arab baths known as ‘El Bañuelo; the convent of Santa Isabel la Real; and the palaces of the ‘Casas de Chapiz’. In addition, visit the ‘Casa Zafra’, with its peaceful central reflecting pool.
This palatial city consists of six palaces and two tower-palaces, of which the Palaces of Comares and of the Lions have been preserved.
The Alhambra was a palace, a fortress and a citadel; the residence of the Nasrid Sultans and top government officials, court servants and the royal guard.
The Nasrid Kingdom became the last Islamic sultanate on the Iberian Peninsula.
The Alhambra is exceptionally popular, so to get access you need to book tickets in advance. We recommend you book using the official website.
Where to Eat
Granada is famous for its tapas; tasty snacks that come free with each drink ordered. The city is full of fascinating and historical bars – many are in the famous Calle Navas.
- Taberna La Tana – excellent selection of wines and superb tapas served in a characterful setting.
- El Claustro – fine-dining in the Hotel AC Palacio.
Lecrin Valley Garden
Whilst exploring the area in your Flamenco Campers campervan, the Lecrin Valley is worth a visit. This an area of outstanding natural beauty, on the way to Granada, to the east of the A-45 motorway. It is a verdant fertile region abundant snow-melt waters that filters down through the Sierra Nevada range. Little wonder it was as a favourite place for Al Andalus gardens.
Within easy access from the motorway is the tranquil village of Nigüelas, with its ancient ‘Casa de los Zayas’ palace, now the village town hall, surrounded by a 16th century romantic garden is free to visit, and takes inspiration from the Al Andalus culture.
- Campsite Reina Isabel – Zubia – an intimate site, just south of Granada capital.
- Camping-Motel Sierra Nevada – simple campsite, but well-positioned for exploring the city of Granada.
- Campsite Órgiva – within the Lecrin Valley.
Cordoba is a monumental city, home to some spectacular Roman and Arab ruins. Yet first, take time to visit the nearby archaeological site of Medina Azahara.
Buried for almost a millennium, this ancient place is probably the most stunning mediaeval Islamic city outside of the Arab.
The Islamic empire of Al-Andalus covered most of the Iberian Peninsula for some 700 hundred years, up until the end of the 15th century; and this was one of its most important cities. An impressive museum has been discreetly constructed near the site, offering visitors a compelling insight into life here.
The Roman Bridge is one of the most iconic sights of Cordoba, and has recently undergone a major renovation, together with the riverside area.
Within a few minutes’ walk of Córdoba’s Roman Bridge is the city’s eighth century Mosque, an immense structure that is remarkably intact. This mosque draws visitors from across the world, and is truly unique. Its striking jasper red and onyx white interior arches and exquisite detailing are breath-taking. The Christians built a Cathedral directly in the heart of the mosque; creating a somewhat surreal experience as you pass, within moments, from Arab architecture from the Middle Ages, directly into an extravagant Renaissance cathedral.
Access to the mosque and cathedral is relatively easy – you can book tickets online.
For something truly special Flamenco Campers recommends you visit the mosque in the evening for a spectacular light and sound show. Tickets are from a private company.
Cordoba’s old town is charming, with quintessential Andalusian patios, filled with geraniums and Mediterranean flowers.
Where to Eat
- Bodegas Campos – one of the best known, classic Cordobes taverns.
- Casa Nazal – fascinating restaurant dedicated to the culinary tradition of Sefarad and Al-Andalus.