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It is possible that the Neolithic revolution, the discovery of agriculture thepassage of nomadic to sedentary peoples, reached Europe by way of Africa throughwhat is known today as Andalusia. This historical center of influence, an east -west displacement, from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic began with arevolution that introduced the usage of metals and the arrival of colonizersfrom the east. A confluence of fertile lands, of metallurgy and fishingactivities took place in this westernmost area that the Tartars once inhabited.This mysterious civilization that lived in the southern Iberian peninsula sincethe bronze ages, established the first known monarchy in western Europe. TheTartars, an agricultural and cattle raising people, also worked the gold mineswhile their ships traded with Great Britain from the west and received thePhoenicians from the east.
This marked the beginning of a complex geographicalposition between two oceans and two continents. Rome took up residence on theseshores after realizing that this region could become the open door for a threatfrom Cartage. Roman legions appeared for the first time in the 3rd century BC.The exuberant province of “Btica” would become for the next sevencenturies part of the great civilized world, contributing to the empirematerials such as metals, wine, oil, wheat, philosophers, writers and the firsttwo emperors born outside of the Italic peninsula.: Trajano and Adriano. Otherpeoples appeared from the north. From the shores of the Rin descended theVandals in 411 AD.
They settled in the valley of the Guadalquivir river and innorthern 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 regionof Europe: Vandaluca. Since the arrival in 711 of Islam this region enjoyedwonderful times. The Caliphate of Crdoba during many years was the mostsophisticated state in all of Europe.
The Arabs contributed new techniques toagriculture, botany and science, poetry and intellectual development during aperiod of eight centuries. Their political breakdown was taken advantage of bythe Christian Kingdoms from the north of the peninsula accelerating the captureof the Iberian peninsula. In 1236 Crdoba fell.
Sevilla followed in 1248. Thelast bastion, the Kingdom of Granada, was conquered by the Catholic Kings in1492. that same year Columbus set sail from the Andalusian port of Palos inHuelva, to discover America. The center of global economic and politicalmovement was displaced.
An Andalusian town took notice of this crucial momentachieving its greatest glory shortly afterwards for the following 150 years.Known as the spot where “the heart of Europe beats”, Sevilla becamethe neurological center of the Spanish empire. Her port received ships loadedwith gold and silver from America, and from there minted coins were circulatedthroughout other European nations. A little later Cdiz would continue thisAndalusian leading role in its relations with the Indies. Sanlcar de Barrameda,a neighboring village became the port from where the first round the worldvoyage was initiated. Romantic travelers would later recall such splendors witharcheological remains of demolished towers, hidden patios in ancient homes andstately palaces.
The myth of figures such as Carmen and the figure of Don Juan,generous bandits, brave bullfighters and oriental exoticism arose; imagesconstructed by foreign eyes that today still endure. Recent Andalusian historyis tied to a turbulent 19th century that started off with the War ofIndependence and the approval of the first Spanish Constitution in the courts ofCdiz in 1812. Efforts to modernize and industrialize the economy were markedby massive exploitations of mineral resources, and a remarkable increase inexports of wine and oil. These changes were strongly resisted by an economydeeply rooted in agriculture practices. The 20th-century arrived with proposalsof regeneration and optimism during the 20s.
however social instabilitypersisted 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 Parliamentacting 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 avast artistic legacy.
The Alhambra of Granada, the Mezquita of Crdoba, or theGiralda of Sevilla are monumental milestones of mankind. Most other cities andtowns are also represented with the best moments of Andalusian art left overlong periods of time. The brilliant Islamic, renaissance and most of all baroquearchitecture of its most important buildings, castles, fortresses andmonasteries, have been spread out over the region completing a national wealthof enormous importance. *Picture* This land of Velzquez, Murillo and Picasso,of paintings, sculpture, statues, jewelry, and archeological remains are spreadaround cathedrals, museums, churches, convents and palaces like custodians of awealth of artistic development.
This land of Velzquez, Murillo and Picasso, ofpaintings, sculpture, statues, jewelry, and archeological remains are spreadaround cathedrals, museums, churches, convents and palaces like custodians of awealth of artistic development. In the most remote towns it is possible to findan important altarpiece, a work of art in a painting or a most elaborate pieceof gold or silver work. The number of museums in Andalusia, leading off with theBellas Artes in Sevilla, the second most important art gallery in Spain afterthe Prado Museum, offers the opportunity to behold everything from sacred worksto the world of bullfighting. It also includes scenes from homes of variouswriters, painters and composers, exhibition halls of historic interest,ethnological and anthropological works, etc. It is most noted for itssignificant display of painting and sculpture. Traditions The variety of localfestivities and celebrations in Andalusia is as broad as its geography.
Thecalendar is an authentic encyclopedia where art and local customs of the townsare 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 offestivals overturning the role of daily life with humor and irony. During SemanaSanta the temples display their most valued treasures in guided processions thataccompany the statues of the Passion, in an itinerary faithfully repeated eachyear The festivity of the Corpus is a justification for a colorful parade.
TheCruces de Mayo (Crosses of May) spectacularly combine the religous with theprophane. Bullfighting fiestas in Andalusia are highly important due to theirdeep roots. During three quarters of the year bullfights are celebrated innumerous plazas, coinciding with local fairs, where people dance and sing to thesound of guitars.
Flamenco is the genuine expression of Andalusian folklore.Flamenco song festivals held during the summer offer a calendar of performancesfor all tastes. The festive and compassionate pilgrimages are processions thattake place in natural settings, reminiscent of ancient fertility rituals. On anyof these occasions there is always the particular expression of Andalusiancuisine. 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 makeupthe essence of Andalusian cooking, inherited like so many things from Al-Andalus.Andalusian handicrafts are an excellent reflection of the rich culturaltraditions of this autonomous region.
The ceramics and pottery have gained agreat name as well as the artistic metal and jewelry workmanship, shoes andsaddles, and textiles including blankets, shawls and embroidery. This display ofskill includes furniture making, bookbinding, stone and marble work and musicalinstruments amongst other items. Natural Habitat In Andalusia there is anenvironmental protection agency that observes the European laws on health andenvironment. The region has more that 80 protected areas. In total 17% of thesurface is classified as parks and reserves.
Included in this list is theNational Park of Doana, in the province of Huelva, declared by Unesco as a”biosphere reserve” with internationally important wetlands. Thisspacious territory of over 50.000 hectares of forest, marshes and protecteddunes extends throughout the provinces of Huelva, Sevilla and Cdiz. The 22natural parks correspond to mountainous and wooded terrain, and coastal areassuch as Cabo de Gata in Almera. These parks host everything from largecolonies of tawny vultures to one of the most important agglomerations of corkoak trees and gall oaks in the world. Microclimates, different species ofanimals, meadowlands, deep gorges and fir trees from the tertiary period, alongwith pine trees, reservoirs, lagoons and torrents make up the average scene ofthese locations.
The 28 natural reserves are mostly wetlands. Although smallerextensions than most parks they are nonetheless of enormous importance for theflora and fauna, especially birds. The 31 declared natural areas are of a greatvariety; 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 areaof 87.268 km2. The three regions which stand out are: to the north, the SierraMorena, in the center, the Guadalquivir river valley, and in the south, theCordillera Btica..
This physiognomy determines a land division; theGuadalquivir set in lower western region of Andalusia, while the foothills markthe upper Andalusia in the east. The climate is generally consideredMediterranean with hot and dry summers and mild winters with irregular rainfall.Nonetheless a larg most distinctive feature of the climate of Andalusia is thenumber of hours of annual sunlight, reaching over 3.000 in the lowerGuadalquivir region, Atlantic coast and shores of Granada and Almera Thisclimate produces a luminous atmosphere that is reflected in the character of itspeople.
Numerous literary testimonies from both local and foreign writersconfirm this. The hospitable and laid back view on life that embellish theAndalusians has a lot to do with clear skies and pleasant temperatures. Thecoast makes up the other significant land area of Andalusia, extending over morethan eighthundred kilometers of numerous stretches of beaches.
The averagetemperatures of its waters and hours of sunlight have made them internationallyknown and enjoyed. The Andalusian coastline runs from the coast of Almera andthe 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 famousinternational tourist centers in the world. The maintenance and protection ofthe Andalusian beaches during the past few years has added to the development ofnew boardwalks and the general improvement of services. New investment is basedon strict urban guidelines which comply with a harmonious development. Thisincludes grand avenues, parks and open spaces, in a group effort by variousmunicipalities and both national and regional administrations. TransportationAndalusia has witnessed a considerable improvement in its transportation system.
The highway network has over 22.000 kilometers of roads. It is composed ofmotorways, highways and roadways of various categories. Investments carried outbetween the period of 1984-1992 have boosted this grid.
The Highway 92, ahorizontal core which crosses through the region from east to west linking allAndalusian capitals, facilitates the access to inland tourist areas of greatinterest. 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 truerevolution. This new line of tracks has also improved communication betweenMadrid and Mlaga, as the Talgo trains also use the AVE tracks between Crdobaand the nations capital. Other junctions and stretches of important regionalrailways have been boosted while preserving the interest in the luxurious Al-Andalusline.
Andalusia has a great number of airports. The one with the most activityis Mlaga; one of Europes twenty most important in its number of passengers.Plans for expansion already underway, will increase annual passenger capacity totwelve million by the year 2000. Sevillas airport has been completelytransformed by adding on a new terminal servicing an annual capacity of fourmillion passengers. The airports in Almera and Jerez de la Frontera have alsomodernized their installations. The extensive Andalusian coastline has ports inAlgeciras, Cdiz, Mlaga and Almera.
Over nine thousand moorings for shipsand boats are spread over numerous marinas, generating important commercial andtourist activity. The province of Mlaga with its Costa del Sol has the largestnumber of moorings and marinas, followed by Almera, Cdiz and Huelva. Sevillaalso has two river ports. Tourism Relax in Andalusia. expand your knowledge,practice sports, enjoy nature, or spend time in a pleasantly tranquilenvironment; options for all visitors. New tastes have generated abundantinformation about other forms of tourism such as hiking, camping and observinganimal life.
These activities incorporate the expansion of rural tourism in theregion. The network of health spas and clinics in Andalusia are options forhealth conscious tourists. The list of sport installations is extensive. Skiingfor example in the Sierra Nevada, host of the 1995 world championship, is thesouthern most ski resort in Europe.
As regards golf, the Costa del Sol has thelargest number of courses in all Europe, designed by specialists like GaryPlayer, Severiano Ballesteros amongst others it was chosen to host the 1997Ryder Cup. Both public and private tennis courts are abundant in numbers and arevery well equipped. Hunting and fishing are special activities availablethroughout the whole region. Andalusia is a horseback riders paradise, where onecan enroll in classes or take a ride through the open country.
In addition tothese possibilities there are centers dedicated to high risk sports: caveexploring, mountain climbing and air sports such as gliding, paragliding,microlights or hot air ballooning. The Ciruito de Velocidad de Jerez (speedwaytrack) hosts international events in motorcycle and auto racing The traditionaltourist 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 recreationcenters include water parks and theme parks such as the “Parque TemticoIsla Mgica” in Sevilla as well as casinos. Conferences and conventionsheld in Andalusia take place in the well equipped convention centers with thelatest technology.
In addition to these conference and trade centers in Sevilla,Torremolinos, Granada, Huelva, Jan, Jerez de la Frontera, etc. there arenumerous hotels and state-run hotels, “Paradores”. The culturalpossibilities of Andalusia also includes a complex calendar of music and dancefestivals, cinema and theater and other events along with other art, culture andtraditions.