“Andalucía” (in Spanish), is the autonomy that has given the world flamenco, tapas, Picasso and the word “sherry” from the city Jerez. Located in the south of the Iberian Peninsula, it’s the most populous Spanish region and second largest in size, with beaches on both the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, the mountain ranges of the Baetic System (Sistema Bético) in between.
The name “Andalusia” derives from “Al-Andalus” in reference to the time when the area was the heart of Moorish Iberia. The Islamic state at one point stretched to southern France. It was also where the Christian Kings in the north sent their children to be educated in the classics and mathematics.
Many of the main cities and towns reflect this blend of east and west, Christian and Muslim, and they are:
- Sevilla, the capital, with La Giralda and solemn Easter week processions, then a grande party in April, (“La Feria de Abril”) when everyone eats, dances and sings, even during the rains on the Andalusian plains.
- Jerez, also with its own “Feria”, on a different date and dedicated to Cartujano horses (“La Feria del Caballo”). Regardless of the time of year, you can hear authentic flamenco music in the bars that serve “fino“, before venturing outside to sit in a shaded square.
- Córdoba, with the famous La Mezquita and “flamenquines“. Bar Santos next to the cathedral is renowned for having the best “tortilla de patata” in Spain, while “Las Cordobesas” have a reputation for being the prettiest women in the nation.
- Granada, the home of Alhambra and where “tapas” originated. And one of the few places, if not the only city, were these bite sized dishes are free and still served as they were when the horse and cart was the main mode of transport.
- Málaga, the capital of the Costal del Sol and “espetos de sardinas”. The beach town of Marbella near by has been a popular destination, since before the arrival of low cost airlines. Find out the reason why it’s so popular.
- Cádiz, one of the oldest cities in Spain, that has played the role of Havana, Cuba, in a James Bond movie, “Die Another Day”. No doubt Pierce Brosnan ate the local “pescaito frito”. He might have even stuck around for the musical Carnival in February.
- Jaén, the home of “aceite de oliva” (olive oil) and an Arabic, then Christian castle, as well the only preserved Arab baths in Spain.
- Almería, whose Tabernas Desert provided the location for many Spaghetti Westerns, and is now how to three Western inspired theme parks: Texas Hollywood, Mini Hollywood, and Western Leone.
- Huelva, the land of “jamón ibérico” (Iberian ham) and many of the strawberries found in supermarkets throughout Europe.
Then there are “los pueblos blancos” (white villages) that dot the countryside, sometimes overlooked by the famous Osborne Bull, the unofficial logo for Spain.
As the company’s name implies, it wasn’t founded by locals. In 1772 Thomas Osborne Mann arrived to supply sherry from Jerez to the UK and Osborne remains 100% family owned. They and the rest of the people of the region are called “Andalúz” or “Andaluces”. They have a reputation for being lively and talkative. The “-s” in the middle becomes almost an “-h” when they speak while the last consonant is frequently dropped, so they call themselves: Andalú or Andaluceh. The food is often fish or pork based, the soups cold and “la cervecita” (little beer) served in small glasses to keep it from getting warm in the hot sun.