Stunning architectural feats, old-world streets and divine cuisine: these are some of the quintessential elements of a culture enthusiast’s dream holiday. At Prestige Holidays, our 12-night escorted group tour to Andalucía and Morocco goes above and beyond these essential features, enhancing them with sunny weather, knowledgeable tour guides and stress-free travel. Curious? Here’s a sneak peek into how we’ll uncover the Moorish magic of southern Spain and northern Africa from 3 to 15 November, 2018.
When you think of Andalucía, tapas, bullfighting, balmy beaches and dances such as the flamenco may come to mind – after all, it’s a typically Spanish region, right? Wrong. In addition to its Spanish customs, this autonomous area has markedly Moorish features, ranging from gastronomic delights to art and architecture. These cultural landmarks serve as reminders of the region’s Islamic past, which began with the Umayyad invasion of Iberia in the eighth century and lasted until the Granada War in the fifteenth century. Hints of Andalucía’s Moorish history linger today, but they’re easily missed… unless you know where to look!
On our escorted group tour, you’ll get to the bottom of the rich and varied history and culture of southern Spain with the help of our experienced, English-speaking guides. After beholding the splendour of Andalucía’s historic landmarks, we’ll travel to northern Africa, enabling you to enjoy the vibrant environment and Moorish traditions of Morocco to the fullest. Along with supplementing every experience with local – and not to mention mouth-watering – culinary sensations, the tour as a whole is intriguing food for thought: do Andalucía and Morocco share visible cultural roots? And how do they differ from one another? Let’s take a closer look at how we explore these questions by introducing you to four of our tour’s highlights.
The Alhambra Palace in Granada
We begin our cultural excursion in the momentous city of Granada, nestled at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. This metropolis is a hub for fun facts: did you know that its coat of arms is a pomegranate? What’s more, it’s an ideal place to discover the Islamic legacy in Andalucía as it’s home to the Alhambra Palace, the most famous surviving edifice of the Moorish era. Its name, which roughly translates to “red castle”, perfectly describes the crimson hue that envelops the structure. On our first day we’ll venture inside this spectacular edifice, whose walls once encompassed a fortress, city and summer abode for the Arab royalty all at the same time. By showing you the fortress, the Nazari and Carlos V palaces and the gardens on our comprehensive tour, we’ll scope out every nook and cranny of this castle and its tumultuous history.
The Giralda in Seville
Of course, no trip to Andalucía would be complete without visiting Seville, the region’s capital – and the world’s go-to destination for flamenco dancing. In addition to treating you to a flamenco show, you’ll have a chance to lay eyes on the city’s wonders, including the Moorish Alcazar Castle and its gardens.
Our team’s favourite part of the itinerary is undoubtedly our guided tour of the Seville Cathedral and the adjoining Giralda, a bell tower that dates back to the twelfth century. This structure is an archetypal display of the area’s cultural mélange, as it simultaneously features Moorish and Spanish Renaissance styles. Whether you’re admiring the 104-metre tower from the ground or are ascending its ramps and steps to reach the top, the region’s diverse historical layers are sure to come alive like never before. It’s no wonder, then, that it’s also been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Blue Sights in Chefchaouen
During the latter half of the trip we’ll venture further south to Morocco, celebrated for its dramatic landscapes, refreshing mint tea and artisan products. However, did you know that it’s also famous for its almost entirely blue city? Known as Chefchaouen, which was established in 1471, its blue tint is even discernible from a bird’s eye view of the city, and is omnipresent when strolling through its maze-like streets.
This claim to fame occurred in 1492, which is when numerous Moriscos and Jews fled the Spanish Inquisition and re-settled here. Their distinctive custom of painting buildings blue caught on like wildfire, and has been charming visitors from far and near ever since. You can admire it in all its glory on our walking tour, during which you’ll get an authentic sense of the city’s cultural influences, including Moorish, Spanish and Ghomara to name a few.
Roman Ruins in Volubilis
The sundrenched state of Morocco is also known for its abundance of ancient cities, such as Marrakech and Tangier, both of which are popular destinations on our travel itinerary. Along with these cities, a highlight of our tour is Volubilis, a Roman settlement that dates back to 3 BC and has been partially excavated in recent decades. Although only about half of the city has been recovered so far, excavations to date have revealed groundbreaking discoveries, including a triumphal arch, Capitoline Temple and several private palaces and houses, all of which are surprisingly well-preserved. Volubilis’ opulent and intricately designed structures not only point towards the city’s affluence, but also highlight its role as the capital of Mauretania in the classical era. Get ready to stretch your minds, history buffs!