History and Culture
Six days visiting some of the most emblematic cities in the southern Spain, meeting of the three cultures and birth of the great expeditions to the new world.
So many people who decide to visit the Iberian country just visit their bigest cities, Madrid and Barcelona, the typical photo in the Bernabeu or the Camp Nou. And although you cannot deny the beauty of these great metropolises, as well as their rich culture, architecture and history, we could not understand the essence of Spain without understanding the greatness of its past, its formation and its legacy that extends to Latin America and still manifests until this day. For this reason it is necessary to enter into the oldest villages full of history through the South of Spain road trip.
Planning the Southern Spain road trip
For this trip we take Madrid as a departure place due to its important air link with the rest of the world. Once we have visited the capital, we begin to explore the interior of the country, so we have two options: By your own car or by public transport (Bus and train). There is also the Bla Bla Car service where you share a car with other people.
To compare departure times and prices in different media we use the GoEuro app, you can also visit the official website of the Renfe train service. However, we opted for the option of renting a car because the flexibility that it offers when you are making the pre-established itinerary, in addition to the feeling of freedom that it provides for those who enjoy the pleasure to be driving on roads.
Where to rent?
We compared prices with the Rental Car app, however at the time of rent we went directly to the dealership page that offered us the best option. The truth is it was good choice. They don’t pay us for advertising, I simply share my good experience with OK RENT A CAR. Advantage; You can book and pay on the withdrawal balcony with debit card. We rented a sincronic Corsa, for 11 days, for total of € 207.73. The conditions (very important to check this allways before rent); delivery with full tank, you must return the full tank, total coverage, limit of 300 km per day with a maximum of 3000 km in total for the rental period.
To calculate the kilometers traveled per day, time and estimated fuel we simulate our itineraries on the Michelin Guide page.
As our trip was historic, we decided to take a day before to get know Segovia and Avila. For details, visit Segovia; What to see in a single day. Road trip also leaving Madrid. With all the up-to-date preparations such as lodging reservations (airbnb) and tickets to the monuments (especially the Alhambra that runs out weeks before), we begin our itinerary: Toledo, Alcazar de San Juan, Granada, Osuna, Seville and Córdoba.
Toledo: The city of the 3 cultures.
Toledo is about one hour to the south of Madrid, which was the imperial capital during the court of Carlos V, when Spain reigned throughout the world. For centuries it was habited by Christians, Jews and Muslims, which is why it is known as the city of the 3 cultures.
You can explore his historic center in a single day, however, due to the high density of medieval monuments belonging to these three cultures, it is advisable to spend two days, to know it in depth.
In addition to its monuments you can not miss the opportunity to explore its surroundings with beautiful viewpoints on the Tajo river, the longest in the Iberian peninsula and which flows into the Atlantic right in the city of Lisbon where it is known as the Tejo river. A few minutes from Toledo are a series of towns such as Consuegra, Alcazar de San Juan, among others, where the windmills that inspired “Don Quijote de la Mancha” dominate the landscape. In addition, moving a little further south and staying overnight in one of these towns allows us to save time on our South of Spain road trip tour the next day.
Granada: Last fort of the Muslim empire on the peninsula.
Second day, too early in the morning we start and after 4 hours we arrive in the city of Granada. At the foot of the beautiful Sierra Nevada, famous for its medieval Muslim architecture, where of course one of the most visited monuments of the peninsula, La Alhambra, stands out. Right in front is the Albaicin, a Moorish neighborhood with narrow alleys from which you can see spectacular panoramic views of the Alhambra and the entire city. It was in this typical Arab neighborhood where we decided to stay and spend the night. In the center of the city, Christian monuments such as the Cathedral and the Royal Chapel of Granada stand out. In the Chapel are the remains of Isabel and Fernando, the Catholic kings who unified Spain.
To avoid long lines, it is advisable to buy tickets for the Alhambra months in advance, directly on its official website. For the rest of the monuments it would be best to buy some of the tour tickets that allow you to visit several places. This way it is cheaper than to pay one by one.
Second day in Granada which, from an early age, we go to the Alhambra completely and by midday we take the road again now heading to Seville. But, before making a small strategic stop in Osuna, filming location of some chapters of the famous Game of Thrones serie.
Seville: Starting point for the new world.
On the banks of the Guadalquivir we find the Andalusian capital of Seville, the city that falls in love. Palaces, towers, squares, built in different historical eras, speak about the greatness of their past. The Santa María de la Sede in Seville, is nothing more and nothing less than the largest cathedral in the world. It contains the remains of Cristobal Colón, in addition to its Giralda tower, 106 meters high, and in the past was the tallest tower in Spain as well as one of the most famous in Europe.
The gold tower, Isabel Bridge, Plaza España, Jardines de Maria Luisa, Las Setas, are many others of the city’s many emblems, however it stands out above all of them, one in particular that you cannot miss, El Real Alcazar de Seville; Residence of the members of the Spanish Royal Family when they visit Seville. This makes it the oldest royal palace in use of Europe.
Barrio de Triana, a typical flamenco neighborhood, Barrio de Santa Cruz with narrow streets of the Jewish quarter and its orange-filled squares with many souvenir shops, handicrafts and ceramics are the most frequented but almost always sold out. Our option to stay was the neighboring town of Camas a few minutes from downtown and that also allows us a shorter link to one of the least known secrets of Seville, is located in Santiponce just 10 minutes and is called the Roman archaeological site of the Italic Does it sound to you You may not remember that the Romans dominated the peninsula for a long time and left their mark on some towns where today their monuments, palaces and amphitheaters remain of which if you are a fan of Game Of Thrones, perhaps if you remember Dragon Well.
Two days that the truth fall very short, it would be necessary to spend perhaps a week to learn more about Seville and its surroundings such as Cadiz, Puerto de Palos, Ronda, Málaga, however time is pressing and sacrificing many places and starting to return. Once again on the road very early in the morning, next destination Córdoba.
Córdoba: the second largest, most cultured and opulent city in Europe at the end of the year 1000 AD
Approximately two hours separate this city from Seville, which is why we go directly to the surroundings where the archaeological ruins of what was the palatine city of Medina Azahara during the time of the Great Caliphate of Cordoba. A couple of hours are enough to make the tourist visit so we take advantage of the proximity to get to know Hightgarden, home of the Tyrell in Game of Thrones. In reality it is the castle of Almodovar del Río, a beautiful fortification on top of a hill where it is possible to observe kilometers around. To our disappointment, it is a restored castle, which takes away that historical romanticism.
After the afternoon we arrive in Córdoba, staying right in front of the Roman bridge, an ideal place to leave the car and start the tour of the historic center. Its emblem without a doubt the mosque cathedral of Córdoba. The third largest in the world in its time being surpassed only by the Mecca and then years later by the Blue Mosque of Turkey. Then converted into a cathedral by the reconquest, it is considered as a cultural asset of humanity and one of the most visited monuments in Spain.
To know Córdoba it is necessary to enter its labyrinth of narrow streets, some as narrow as the width of a handkerchief, and where almost all of them give access to beautiful Cordovan courtyards adorned with flowers, Jewish houses or monuments of Roman origin such as the temple and The bridge over the Guadalquivir. After the afternoon, a long journey begins finally back to the capital Madrid where this beautiful and nourished journey through the South of Spain road trip culminates.