It is possible that the Neolithic revolution, the discovery of agriculture the passage of nomadic to sedentary peoples, reached Europe by way of Africa through what is known today as Andalusia. This historical center of influence, an east – west displacement, from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic began with a revolution that introduced the usage of metals and the arrival of colonizers from the east. A confluence of fertile lands, of metallurgy and fishing activities took place in this westernmost area that the Tartars once inhabited.
This mysterious civilization that lived in the southern Iberian peninsula since the bronze ages, established the first known monarchy in western Europe. The Tartars, an agricultural and cattle raising people, also worked the gold mines while their ships traded with Great Britain from the west and received the Phoenicians from the east. This marked the beginning of a complex geographical position between two oceans and two continents. Rome took up residence on these shores after realizing that this region could become the open door for a threat from Cartage.
Roman legions appeared for the first time in the 3rd century BC. The exuberant province of Btica would become for the next seven centuries part of the great civilized world, contributing to the empire materials such as metals, wine, oil, wheat, philosophers, writers and the first two emperors born outside of the Italic peninsula. : Trajano and Adriano. Other peoples appeared from the north. From the shores of the Rin descended the Vandals in 411 AD. They settled in the valley of the Guadalquivir river and in northern Africa and for half a century united the shores of the two continents.
Before being expelled by the Visigoths they had given a new name to the region of Europe: Vandaluca. Since the arrival in 711 of Islam this region enjoyed wonderful times. The Caliphate of Crdoba during many years was the most sophisticated state in all of Europe. The Arabs contributed new techniques to agriculture, botany and science, poetry and intellectual development during a period of eight centuries. Their political breakdown was taken advantage of by the Christian Kingdoms from the north of the peninsula accelerating the capture of the Iberian peninsula.
In 1236 Crdoba fell. Sevilla followed in 1248. The last bastion, the Kingdom of Granada, was conquered by the Catholic Kings in 1492. that same year Columbus set sail from the Andalusian port of Palos in Huelva, to discover America. The center of global economic and political movement was displaced. An Andalusian town took notice of this crucial moment achieving its greatest glory shortly afterwards for the following 150 years. Known as the spot where the heart of Europe beats, Sevilla became the neurological center of the Spanish empire.
Her port received ships loaded with gold and silver from America, and from there minted coins were circulated throughout other European nations. A little later Cdiz would continue this Andalusian leading role in its relations with the Indies. Sanlcar de Barrameda, a neighboring village became the port from where the first round the world voyage was initiated. Romantic travelers would later recall such splendors with archeological remains of demolished towers, hidden patios in ancient homes and stately palaces.
The myth of figures such as Carmen and the figure of Don Juan, generous bandits, brave bullfighters and oriental exoticism arose; images constructed by foreign eyes that today still endure. Recent Andalusian history is tied to a turbulent 19th century that started off with the War of Independence and the approval of the first Spanish Constitution in the courts of Cdiz in 1812. Efforts to modernize and industrialize the economy were marked by massive exploitations of mineral resources, and a remarkable increase in exports of wine and oil.
These changes were strongly resisted by an economy deeply rooted in agriculture practices. The 20th-century arrived with proposals of regeneration and optimism during the 20s. however social instability persisted and led to the start of the Civil War in 1936 and its consequences. After the brilliant economic and social transformations of the 60s and 70s, democracy was established and Andalusia became an autonomous region in 1981, with the Junta de Andaluca as the maximum governing body and a Parliament acting as the main instrument representing a population of close to six million.
Arts and Culture The age old millennial history of Andalusia has left behind a vast artistic legacy. The Alhambra of Granada, the Mezquita of Crdoba, or the Giralda of Sevilla are monumental milestones of mankind. Most other cities and towns are also represented with the best moments of Andalusian art left over long periods of time. The brilliant Islamic, renaissance and most of all baroque architecture of its most important buildings, castles, fortresses and monasteries, have been spread out over the region completing a national wealth of enormous importance.
This land of Velzquez, Murillo and Picasso, of paintings, sculpture, statues, jewelry, and archeological remains are spread around cathedrals, museums, churches, convents and palaces like custodians of a wealth of artistic development. This land of Velzquez, Murillo and Picasso, of paintings, sculpture, statues, jewelry, and archeological remains are spread around cathedrals, museums, churches, convents and palaces like custodians of a wealth of artistic development. In the most remote towns it is possible to find an important altarpiece, a work of art in a painting or a most elaborate piece of gold or silver work.
The number of museums in Andalusia, leading off with the Bellas Artes in Sevilla, the second most important art gallery in Spain after the Prado Museum, offers the opportunity to behold everything from sacred works to the world of bullfighting. It also includes scenes from homes of various writers, painters and composers, exhibition halls of historic interest, ethnological and anthropological works, etc. It is most noted for its significant display of painting and sculpture. Traditions The variety of local festivities and celebrations in Andalusia is as broad as its geography.
The calendar is an authentic encyclopedia where art and local customs of the towns are summed up. During the spring, planting and harvesting seasons, holidays, street fairs and pilgrimages depict the most elaborate display of handicrafts, gastronomy, music and religious beliefs. Carnivals start off the series of festivals overturning the role of daily life with humor and irony. During Semana Santa the temples display their most valued treasures in guided processions that accompany the statues of the Passion, in an itinerary faithfully repeated each year
The festivity of the Corpus is a justification for a colorful parade. The Cruces de Mayo (Crosses of May) spectacularly combine the religous with the prophane. Bullfighting fiestas in Andalusia are highly important due to their deep roots. During three quarters of the year bullfights are celebrated in numerous plazas, coinciding with local fairs, where people dance and sing to the sound of guitars. Flamenco is the genuine expression of Andalusian folklore. Flamenco song festivals held during the summer offer a calendar of performances for all tastes.
The festive and compassionate pilgrimages are processions that take place in natural settings, reminiscent of ancient fertility rituals. On any of these occasions there is always the particular expression of Andalusian cuisine. the quality of the stews go along with internationally famous wines, seafood or inland, mountain dishes. White and bluefish, local vegetable stews, along with game stews chacinas (pork) , and an enormous variety of sweets makeup the essence of Andalusian cooking, inherited like so many things from Al-Andalus.
Andalusian handicrafts are an excellent reflection of the rich cultural traditions of this autonomous region. The ceramics and pottery have gained a great name as well as the artistic metal and jewelry workmanship, shoes and saddles, and textiles including blankets, shawls and embroidery. This display of skill includes furniture making, bookbinding, stone and marble work and musical instruments amongst other items. Natural Habitat In Andalusia there is an environmental protection agency that observes the European laws on health and environment.
The region has more that 80 protected areas. In total 17% of the surface is classified as parks and reserves. Included in this list is the National Park of Doana, in the province of Huelva, declared by Unesco as a biosphere reserve with internationally important wetlands. This spacious territory of over 50. 000 hectares of forest, marshes and protected dunes extends throughout the provinces of Huelva, Sevilla and Cdiz. The 22 natural parks correspond to mountainous and wooded terrain, and coastal areas such as Cabo de Gata in Almera.
These parks host everything from large colonies of tawny vultures to one of the most important agglomerations of cork oak trees and gall oaks in the world. Microclimates, different species of animals, meadowlands, deep gorges and fir trees from the tertiary period, along with pine trees, reservoirs, lagoons and torrents make up the average scene of these locations. The 28 natural reserves are mostly wetlands. Although smaller extensions than most parks they are nonetheless of enormous importance for the flora and fauna, especially birds.
The 31 declared natural areas are of a great variety; from the interesting rock formations of Torcal de Antequera, Mlaga, to the only desert on the European continent found in Tabernas, Almera. Geography Andalusia is the largest and southernmost region of Spain with an area of 87. 268 km2. The three regions which stand out are: to the north, the Sierra Morena, in the center, the Guadalquivir river valley, and in the south, the Cordillera Btica.. This physiognomy determines a land division; the Guadalquivir set in lower western region of Andalusia, while the foothills mark the upper Andalusia in the east.
The climate is generally considered Mediterranean with hot and dry summers and mild winters with irregular rainfall. Nonetheless a larg most distinctive feature of the climate of Andalusia is the number of hours of annual sunlight, reaching over 3. 000 in the lower Guadalquivir region, Atlantic coast and shores of Granada and Almera This climate produces a luminous atmosphere that is reflected in the character of its people. Numerous literary testimonies from both local and foreign writers confirm this.
The hospitable and laid back view on life that embellish the Andalusians has a lot to do with clear skies and pleasant temperatures. The coast makes up the other significant land area of Andalusia, extending over more than eighthundred kilometers of numerous stretches of beaches. The average temperatures of its waters and hours of sunlight have made them internationally known and enjoyed. The Andalusian coastline runs from the coast of Almera and the Tropical Coast of Granada to the Costa de la Luz of Cdiz and Huelva, gravitating along the Costa del Sol in Mlaga, one of the most famous international tourist centers in the world.
The maintenance and protection of the Andalusian beaches during the past few years has added to the development of new boardwalks and the general improvement of services. New investment is based on strict urban guidelines which comply with a harmonious development. This includes grand avenues, parks and open spaces, in a group effort by various municipalities and both national and regional administrations. Transportation Andalusia has witnessed a considerable improvement in its transportation system.
The highway network has over 22. 0 kilometers of roads. It is composed of motorways, highways and roadways of various categories. Investments carried out between the period of 1984-1992 have boosted this grid. The Highway 92, a horizontal core which crosses through the region from east to west linking all Andalusian capitals, facilitates the access to inland tourist areas of great interest. The railway system, the main star being the AVE, (high speed train) covers the distance between Madrid and Sevilla in less than three hours; a true revolution.
This new line of tracks has also improved communication between Madrid and Mlaga, as the Talgo trains also use the AVE tracks between Crdoba and the nations capital. Other junctions and stretches of important regional railways have been boosted while preserving the interest in the luxurious Al-Andalus line. Andalusia has a great number of airports. The one with the most activity is Mlaga; one of Europes twenty most important in its number of passengers. Plans for expansion already underway, will increase annual passenger capacity to twelve million by the year 2000.
Sevillas airport has been completely transformed by adding on a new terminal servicing an annual capacity of four million passengers. The airports in Almera and Jerez de la Frontera have also modernized their installations. The extensive Andalusian coastline has ports in Algeciras, Cdiz, Mlaga and Almera. Over nine thousand moorings for ships and boats are spread over numerous marinas, generating important commercial and tourist activity. The province of Mlaga with its Costa del Sol has the largest number of moorings and marinas, followed by Almera, Cdiz and Huelva.
Sevilla also has two river ports. Tourism Relax in Andalusia. expand your knowledge, practice sports, enjoy nature, or spend time in a pleasantly tranquil environment; options for all visitors. New tastes have generated abundant information about other forms of tourism such as hiking, camping and observing animal life. These activities incorporate the expansion of rural tourism in the region. The network of health spas and clinics in Andalusia are options for health conscious tourists. The list of sport installations is extensive.
Skiing for example in the Sierra Nevada, host of the 1995 world championship, is the southern most ski resort in Europe. As regards golf, the Costa del Sol has the largest number of courses in all Europe, designed by specialists like Gary Player, Severiano Ballesteros amongst others it was chosen to host the 1997 Ryder Cup. Both public and private tennis courts are abundant in numbers and are very well equipped. Hunting and fishing are special activities available throughout the whole region. Andalusia is a horseback riders paradise, where one can enroll in classes or take a ride through the open country.
In addition to these possibilities there are centers dedicated to high risk sports: cave exploring, mountain climbing and air sports such as gliding, paragliding, microlights or hot air ballooning. The Ciruito de Velocidad de Jerez (speedway track) hosts international events in motorcycle and auto racing The traditional tourist infrastructure of the coast offers sporting activities such as sailing, windsurfing, water-skiing and scuba-diving in the Atlantic and Mediterranean. The numerous marinas and scuba centers are proof of this.
Other recreation centers include water parks and theme parks such as the Parque Temtico Isla Mgica in Sevilla as well as casinos. Conferences and conventions held in Andalusia take place in the well equipped convention centers with the latest technology. In addition to these conference and trade centers in Sevilla, Torremolinos, Granada, Huelva, Jan, Jerez de la Frontera, etc. there are numerous hotels and state-run hotels, Paradores. The cultural possibilities of Andalusia also includes a complex calendar of music and dance festivals, cinema and theater and other events along with other art, culture and traditions.