Wednesday, 20 November 2013

My 3 favourite cities in Spain

Spain is one of my favourite countries in Europe: I have been three times so far and I can't wait to go back. The reasons why I like Spain are simple: friendly people, excellent food and lots of history, not to mention interesting sights. I'm particularly in love with tapas and with the Moorish architecture of the south of Spain, but I also enjoy Gaudí, sangria and speaking Spanish! Here are my favourite cities in Spain. I hope to add more in the future: I still haven't been to Granada or the Basque Country.

1) Barcelona

It might seem obvious to point it out but the main reason why Barcelona is on this list is its vibrant life. Museums, first-rate art venues, mind-blowing architecture, an excellent nightlife and good food, Barcelona has it all.

If there is an artist that has shaped Barcelona, this is Antoni Gaudi, the architect who designed the Sagrada Familia, Parc Güell, Casa Battló and other sights in the city. His colourful and inventive style, which is inspired by the form of the natural world, is everywhere in Barcelona. It's really interesting to visit these architectural wonders: just look at the division between the window on the bottom of this picture: they are made to look like human bones!

Casa Battlò, Barcelona
Casa Battló, restored by Gaudí

One of my favourite spots in this city is La Boquería, which is considered one of the best markets in Europe. It is located in the heart of the city, and you can enter from La Rambla, the popular pedestrian street that you know for sure if you visited the city at least once. Colourful piles of fruit that look like art installations, and fresh juices squeezed in front of you are the trademark of this market popular with tourists, but you can also find fresh fish, meat and cured hams, plus many kinds of cheese. They sell cups of sliced or freshly squeezed fruit for 1,50€ at the most. It's basically a paradise for foodies! Don't skip it if you are in Barcelona.

La Boqueria, Barcelona
Piles of fruit for sell in La Boqueria market

2) Seville

Seville is the capital of Andalusia, the south-western region that borders on Portugal. Andalusia used to be an Arabic kingdom up until 1492 when Isabel and Ferdinand, the Reyes Católicos, reconquered Granada. The Alcázar of Seville is one of the major sights in the city: it is a royal palace dating back to the IX century, first built by the Almohades. Its mudejar architecture is astonishing: engraved arches, pools, gardens and peaceful courtyards make this place a paradise on earth.

Alcazar, Sevilla
Alcazar, Sevilla

Other sights in this beautiful city with a mixed Arabic and Spanish influence is the Giralda, the elegant bell tower, with its adjoining cathedral, and Plaza de España, a very beautiful square built for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929 and adorned with tiled benches, fountains and coats of arms from different regions of Spain.

Plaza de España, Seville
Plaza de España, Seville

3) Córdoba

Cordoba, Spain
Cordoba with its orange trees

Córdoba is the smallest of these three cities I'm presenting, but it's definitely worth a detour if you are in the south of Spain. It is famous for its mezquita, a place of worship that switched from Muslim to Christian several times, following the fate of the area.  The town, a UNESCO world heritage site, is filled to the brim with examples of Moorish architecture, from engraved portals to courtyards decorated with azulejos, the typical ceramic tilework of Spain and Portugual. When orange trees are bearing fruit, the squares of Córdoba become particularly charming. I wouldn't mind taking a second tour of Andalusiaa and visit this town again.

cordoba, Spain
Detail of a portal in Cordoba
What are your favourite cities in Spain?

* Some of the pictures in this post were not taken by me but by my friends during a trip to the south of Spain.

1 comment:

  1. I love that pic of the Barcelona fruit market. My favourite would have to be Barcelona too - obvious, but for a reason. I'd like to see more and like you I've not been to the north. I've heard great things about Oviedo and San Sebastian. The food there is supposed to be amazing.


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