Andalucia History & Culture

The Viking Raids on Seville

Vikings in Spain The great city of Seville was the preferred capital in the early days of Muslim Spain. As well as being prosperous, with a rich history dating back to Roman times, it was situated nearly 100km from the coastline. Consequently, despite its lack of city walls, it was seen as well protected from naval attacks, and thus an ideal place to store much of the wealth of the al-Andalus Emirate.

This illusion, however, was shattered in the year 844 when, on a warm October morning, 54 long boats rowed their way up the Guadalquivir River and landed on the grassy banks on the edge of Seville. Within minutes, hundreds of Vikings had disembarked and had rushed into the unfortified city. Wielding their customary axes and screaming war cries, the Vikings spent the day wreaking havoc. They took vast quantities of booty and captives, before retiring to their camp on the Doñana Estuary...

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Al-Andalus: The Birth of Muslim Spain

Andalus Style Patio Garden Modern day Andalucia is defined by a unique culture and identity - visible in both its traditions and its architecture. It is a land which has been shaped by immmigrants and power struggles for over 3,000 years. Recorded history began in 1200 BCE, as Phoenician traders were the first group to write about the Iberian peninsula, and they established the coastal trading city of Cadiz.

In the next thousand years, the region was inhabited by Greeks and then conquered by the Romans. After the Romans were thrown out by the Vandals and the Visigoths, there was a period of stasis, sometimes referred to as the Dark Ages. Then, in the early 8th century, the most important and influential era began in the history of southern Spain - the Muslim one...

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Cordoba: An Introduction

Cordoba Roman Bridge The origins of modern day Cordoba can be traced to the 8th Century BC, when the area was first settled by The Tartessians. However, it did not grow to prominence until the Carthaginian's named the town 'Kartuba' in honour of a local commander.

By the time of Julius Caesar, in the 1st century BC, Cordoba had become the capital of Roman Hispania (Spain) and was already one of the most important cities in the region. After a short period under Visigoth rule, Cordoba was captured by a Muslim army in the early 8th century. Over the next 400 years, Cordoba gradually become the largest, wealthiest and most advanced city in the world.

It was during the Muslim period that the Mezquita was built; indeed, Cordoba had over 3000 mosques, palaces and public baths at the height of its power. It was known for its university and libraries, which attracted the greatest mathematicians and physicists of the age...

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Medina Azahara: Cordoba's Historic Jewel

Medina Azahara Medina Azahara is one of the many places of interest that we visit on our Historic Andalucia cycle tour. It may not be as well known as the Alhambra Palace in Granada, but Medina Azahara is a must visit for history lovers.

Situated just a few kilometres from Cordoba, Medina Azahara (meaning beautiful town in Arabic) was built in the 10th century as the capital of Muslim Spain. Find out about what makes the Medina Azahara such a unique site and such a fascinating place to visit, particularly for history lovers.

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Gazpacho Andaluz - The Foods that Define Spain

Gazpacho Andaluz Andalucia is the most visited region in Spain. As well as a fantastic coastline, it contains the historic cities of Seville, Granada and Cordoba. Andalucia is also the home to the highest mountains on the Iberian peninsular, flamenco and tapas. It is, however, a different food that we profile in this article from our Foods that Define Spain series - Gazpacho.

Gazpacho is a quintessentially Andalucian dish, which has now become common throughout Spain (and further afield). Gazpacho is basically a cold tomato soup; however, the quality of the ingredients and the preparation really make the dish stand out.

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Semana Santa in Seville

Semana Santa in Seville Semana Santa (Holy Week) is a big deal throughout Spain. In many English speaking countries, it is an excuse to have a few days off work and eat a bit of chocolate; in Spain, however, it is a week of processions, music and street parties. Although it is celebrated throughout the country, the biggest and most famous is in Seville, the capital of Andalucia.

Hundreds of thousands of tourists visit Seville each year for its Holy Week processions which take place several times each day from Palm Sunday until Easter Sunday. The processions are carried out by various brotherhoods from the city, made up of a few hundred to several thousand 'Nazarenos'. The brotherhoods recreate the events of Holy Week (as suggested by the bible) adding their own interpretation at times, but usually carrying wooden structures to depict their part of the story...

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Five Lesser Known Spanish Towns for History

Historic Towns Spain Spain is one of the most incredible countries to visit for history lovers. There are many cities with a great variety of historical influences; from the Moorish cities of Seville and Granada, to the impressive architecture in Barcelona and Valencia.

However, there also many towns and villages, much less visited than the big cities, that are of real historical interest. Here we look at five our favourites, which offer different aspects of Spanish and European history...

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