July 15, 2011
Just Back: Andalusia in Spain
We recently returned from an incredible luxury tour of Spain that included visits to Madrid and some of our favorite places in Andalusia: Granada, Ronda, Cordoba, Malaga and Marbella.
We began in Granada, home to the Alhambra. This incredible 14th-century complex of Moorish palace architecture and the adjacent Generalife gardens are a cultural highlight of Spain and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Tranquil gardens are interspersed throughout the courtyards and open areas.
Exquisite tilework decorates many surfaces.
Decorative plaster and wood screens are carved with ornate patterns and calligraphy.
The baths in the Alhambra are spectacular.
This is a view looking back at the Alhambra from the Generalife, the gardens and palaces on the hillside behind. The complex was originally the summer residence of the Moorish rulers.
Here, one of the fountains in the Generalife gardens.
This view of the Albaicin, a historic district on the hill adjacent to the Alhambra, shows the influence of Moorish style in its whitewashed houses.
We had a great meal at an outdoor cafe along the river. The neighborhood is great for people watching.
This was a memorable meal of fried cheese and greens.
We highly recommend spending a night at the Parador de Granada, located within the grounds of the Alhambra. We were impressed by the recent renovation, which revealed a mix of antiques and minimalist design.
The Hospes Palacio de los Patos is another great hotel option in Granada.
We also enjoy staying at La Bobadilla, a luxury resort near Granada. The property has beautiful interiors that reflect traditional Andalusian style.
We visited a mosaic workshop and met artisans whose family have been making inlaid mosaics inside the Alhambra for generations.
They make incredible custom inlay pieces, including tables and chairs.
Next, we traveled to Ronda, a historic hill town. En route, we enjoyed the beautiful scenery of rolling hills and olive groves in the Andalusian countryside.
Whitewashed buildings sit on the edge of the gorge that divides Ronda.
We toured Ronda’s famous 18th-century bullring, Plaza de Toros. It’s one of Spain’s oldest bullrings.
Inside the bullring.
We loved staying at the luxurious Finca Cortesin resort. It overlooks the sea and is great for travelers who, in addition to touring Andalusia, also want to golf or have access to a great spa. The beautiful interiors reflect traditional Andalusian style.
We had one of the best meals of our whole trip at this restaurant inside the Finca.
Petits fours ended the meal with a humorous touch.
One of the highlights of our trip was a private tour through the fascinating medieval quarter of Cordoba, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city was once one of the most important cities in the world and enchants visitors today with its charming backstreets, incredible architecture and great food and wine.
Flowerpots hang on the walls and fill terraces and courtyards everywhere.
One afternoon, we visited an old synagogue in Cordoba. The city is one of the best places in Spain for Jewish heritage touring.
Cordoba has incredible tilework.
These signs are set in walkways and identify notable sites on the Sephardic Routes that crisscross medieval Jewish cities on the Iberian Peninsula.
The incredible interior of the Mezquita-Catedral de Cordoba, a Moorish mosque with a 16th-century cathedral built in the middle of it. Our expert local guides bring to life the complex cultural history behind the Mezquita.
This view clearly shows where the interior of the cathedral sits atop the horseshoe arches of the mosque.
We love the Hospes Palacio del Bailio, our preferred luxury hotel in Cordoba.
The interior of the hotel has beautiful frescoes in the public areas…
…including the restaurant. A glass floor allows views of a very large and incredibly intact Roman mosaic. Hotel guests can also use the ancient Roman baths in the spa.
We stopped to sample Marcona almonds in Malaga.
We also toured the Museo Picasso Malaga, a museum dedicated to Picasso who was born in Malaga. Housed in a 16th-century palace, the museum has an impressive collection that spans his career.
We stayed the Marbella Club Hotel not far from Malaga. The luxury resort has a great beach club and pool.
The rooms at the Marbella Club Hotel are beautiful.
The high-speed AVE train connects Malaga to Madrid in no time. The glass-and-steel roof of the AVE station in Madrid is very dramatic against the traditional brick buildings in the background.
The Ritz is one of our favorite hotels in Madrid.
Our private tours in Madrid feature interesting architecture…
…and art museums.
The San Miguel market is a favorite spot filled with gourmet food stalls.
Inside the market, it’s fun select different snacks to try.
Walking the backstreets of interesting neighborhoods in Madrid is a great way to work off lunch.
Contact Artisans of Leisure to begin planning a private luxury tour of Spain that features the highlights of Andalusia.