Visiting UNESCO sites in Andalucia

With plenty of UNESCO sites in Andalucia to visit and 45 UNESCO World Heritage sites in Spain. So far I managed to visit half of them.

Here are my tips on visiting the UNESCO sites in Andalucia.

Plaza Vazquez de Molina Ubeda Spain

Renaissance Monumental Ensembles of Úbeda and Baeza

What is it?

Two historic towns in Jaen province with many historic buildings in the Renaissance Style. After Florence, Italy, these monuments are the next most important example of this architectural style in the world.

How to visit?

In Ubeda and Baeza there is a train which takes you on a guided tour of the main sights. This is a good option especially on hot days. I would suggest one day in each location to be able to see it all.

Artificis in Ubeda offer walking guided tours around the main sights. This area begins around the Plaza Vazquez de Molina. (Find their office is opposite the Parador of Ubeda)

When did I visit: 15th August 2015

 

UNESCO World Heritage

Alhambra, Generalife and Albayzín, Granada

What is it?

The Alhambra palace is the palatial city overlooking the city of Granada. This was built upon continually from the 10th century and up until 18th century. This is a fabulous example of Moorish architecture, the best in Europe.  The Generalife is part of the Alhambra complex. This summer palace is set in lush gardens dotted with fountains and ponds.

The Albayzin is the old town opposite the Alhambra palace.  A medieval Moorish neighbourhood with its distinctive white washed houses, narrow and stepped streets. One of the oldest examples of Muslim culture in Granada.

 

How to visit the Alhambra palace?

To visit the Alhambra palace you need to book as early as you can (6-7 weeks ahead of your visit). Wear comfortable shoes and allow 4 hours for your daytime visit.

Book> Alhambra tickets online Or read more information about planning your visit at this link: How to visit the Alhambra palace 

When did I visit: Ongoing. I live in Granada, Spain and visit often.

Insider tip: The Palacio de Carlos V and Alhambra museum are free to go inside and are open to visit daily.

UNESCO World Heritage

 

Historic Centre of Cordoba

What is it?

The Cathedral Mosque, Roman Bridge and historic streets of the city in Cordoba. This was the capital of the Islamic Emirate and also the Caliphate of Córdoba (in 1000 AD). The Calipahate included most of the Iberian Peninsula. It the city in the world with the largest population in 11th century.

How to visit?

To visit the Cathedral-Mosque allow 3 hours for your visit. I recommend two days in Cordoba.  Allowing time to visit the main monuments. It´s also worthwhile to visit the patios of Cordoba which are typical. Summertime temperatures are extremely high it may be preferable to avoid July and August.

When did I visit: August 2016

The night view of the city

Cathedral, Alcázar and Archivo de Indias in Seville

What is it?

Three monuments in the historic quarter of Seville. The Cathedral with its iconic Giralda belltower which towers over the city.  The Alcazar is a Royal Palace with beautiful Moorish architecture and lush gardens. The Archivo de Indias is a large building opposite Seville Cathedral. This is where the ships crew came to document all their finds and log their journeys. This archive is of great historic importance.Alcazar by piccavey

How to visit?

Seville Cathedral, get an entrance ticket on the door or click here to book online tickets for the Alcazar ahead of your visit. Allow 2 hours for your visit. If you intend to walk up the tower do remember wear comfortable shoes. There are no steps but steep ramps going up.

The Alcazar entrance is at the Lions Gate and tickets can be bought at the entrance or online if preferred. Allow 3-4 hours for the visit. Many of the areas of the Alcazar are outdoors, remember to wear suncream according to the weather.

Archivo de Indias. At the entrance there is a airport style security check although it is free to go inside. Allow 1 hour-90 mins to visit the monument.

When did I visit: March 2016

More information on this article here: A weekend in SevilleUNESCO World Heritage

 

Doñana National Park

What is it?

This Natural Park in western Andalucía is in Seville and Huelva province. The biodiversity of this park is unique in Europe. Local fauna includes the Spanish imperial eagle and the Iberian lynx.

How to visit?

Popular with birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts. Start at Acebuche where the main visitors centre is located. Here they have information to plan your visit and the trails into the park leave from this point. Tours in 4×4 also leave from El Rocio.

 

Dolmenes and El Torcal of Antequera

Declared UNESCO sites in Andalucia last year, these three sites are located in the centre of the region in Malaga province.

What is it? The Dolmens of Menga, Viera and Romeral are three ancient megalithic structures located in the countryside close to the town of Antequera. El Torcal is an interesting karst landscapes with unusual shaped formations.

How to visit? 

The Dolmens of Menga and Viera are located on one site and El Romeral is on the other side of the town but has some signs to be able to get there by car. The small visitor centre is worth visiting first to get information on how to visit the Romeral site if directions are needed.

El Torcal. The best way to visit this Natural park is by taking a hike along one of the routes or taking the guided tour.

Book ahead at the visitors centre  Tel. 952243324
or email: reservas@torcaldeantequera.com Open 10am to 5pm in winter and til 7pm in summertime.

When did I visit: March 2017 + Aug 2016

 

Medina Azahara, Cordoba

This site is proposed to be a new addition to the 6 UNESCO sites in Andalucia. If so it would certainly be one of the most impressive considering that a great part of it is still underground and has not yet been excavated.

What is it?

A medieval Arab Muslim palatial city located in the surrounding countryside around Cordoba. Built in 940

How to visit? Take a bus from Cordoba (several buses every day from Alcazar) Drive to the Medina Azahara which is just 10 kms from the city. Two hours is the recommended time to visit the monument. Wear a hat and sun cream as there is little shade at this outdoor site.  Useful link: Medina Azahara tickets online 

When did I visit: August 2016

UNESCO World Heritage

The Villages of the Alpujarra (Almeria/Granada)

Although Spain already has its fair share of UNESCO sites, there are still some amazing places which aren´t on the list. Amongst the UNESCO sites in Andalucia one candidate is on the waiting list. It could be included soon and is a personal favourite of mine.

It may be worthwhile visiting them before the rush.

What is it?

The Alpujarras. Berber villages in the Sierra Nevada N.P, South of Granada and to the East of Almeria. These typical white villages have a traditional construction with slate roofs and chimney stacks. The area is known for its crafts and local food.


UNESCO World Heritage

How to visit the Alpujarra?

Drive to Lanjaron which is the first main village on the route on the Granada side. Then drive up to Pampaneira, Capileira and Bubion which are the most charcteristic locations in the Alpujarra. From the Almeria side head towards Ugijar. The roads are high and have many curves. It takes quite a long time to drive from one village to the next. A weekend in the region is recommended or a day trip from Granada.

When did I visit: Ongoing. I travel to these villages every few months to have lunch or buy some local honey or pastries.

More details about the Alpujarras on these two articles: Remote Alpujarra Villages and Secrets of the Spanish Silk trade

 

Have you made a visit to any of these UNESCO sites in Andalucia yet?

UNESCO sites in Andalucia

UNESCO Sites in Andalucia and Spain

  1. Alhambra, Generalife and Albayzín, Granada
  2. Burgos Cathedral
  3. Historic Centre of Cordoba
  4. Monastery and Site of the Escurial, Madrid
  5. Works of Antoni Gaudí
  6. Cave of Altamira and Paleolithic Cave Art of Northern Spain
  7. Monuments of Oviedo and the Kingdom of the Asturias
  8. Old Town of Ávila with its Extra-Muros Churches
  9. Old Town of Segovia and its Aqueduct
  10. Santiago de Compostela (Old Town)
  11. Garajonay National Park
  12. Historic City of Toledo
  13. Mudejar Architecture of Aragon
  14. Old Town of Cáceres
  15. Cathedral, Alcázar and Archivo de Indias in Seville
  16. Old City of Salamanca
  17. Poblet Monastery
  18. Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida
  19. Routes of Santiago de Compostela: Camino Francés and Routes of Northern Spain
  20. Royal Monastery of Santa María de Guadalupe
  21. Doñana National Park
  22. Historic Walled Town of Cuenca
  23. La Lonja de la Seda de Valencia
  24. Las Médulas, Galicia
  25. Palau de la Música Catalana and Hospital de Sant Pau, Barcelona
  26. Pyrénées – Mont Perdu
  27. San Millán Yuso and Suso Monasteries
  28. Prehistoric Rock Art Sites in the Côa Valley and Siega Verde Rock Art of the Mediterranean Basin on the Iberian Peninsula
  29. University and Historic Precinct of Alcalá de Henares
  30. Ibiza, Biodiversity and Culture
  31. San Cristóbal de La Laguna
  32. Archaeological Ensemble of Tárraco
  33. Archaeological Site of Atapuerca
  34. Catalan Romanesque Churches of the Vall de Boí
  35. Palmeral of Elche
  36. Roman Walls of Lugo
  37. Aranjuez Cultural Landscape
  38. Renaissance Monumental Ensembles of Úbeda and Baeza
  39. Vizcaya Bridge
  40. Teide National Park
  41. Tower of Hercules
  42. Cultural Landscape of the Serra de Tramuntana
  43. Heritage of Mercury. Almadén and Idrija
  44. Pyrenees – Mont Perdu
  45. Dolmenes and Torcal of Antequera

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