It is quite difficult to put Andalusia into words; you have to experience and feel it by yourself. You will want to savour every impression, the light and colours and all those scents up to the last second. Andalusia is just so multifaceted: on the one side are black bulls standing motionless in the shimmering heat between old oaks and on the other side noisy tapas bars in the vibrant Salvador quarter of Sevilla, where “boquerones en adobo” are served. But Andalusia can also be the peaceful idyll of a sunny winter’s day in the endless olive groves of Jaén and the stunning majestic splendour of the Alhambra. You need to experience Andalusia with all your senses. The incredible taste of your first slice of Jabugo ham, the coolness of a freshly tapped "caña" in a small village tavern and also the first view of the whitewashed villages on the slopes of Sierra de Grazalema will never be forgotten. Andalusia is endless, and so are the impressions of this country.
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History of Andalusia
Various Mediterranean peoples have inhabited Andalusia. The Phoenicians founded Gades (Cádiz) in 1100 B.C and introduced the concept of money. They also greatly influenced the language. After the Phoenicians came the Greeks, the Carthaginians and, of course, the Romans three centuries before Christ, who founded the Bética uniting it to their empire and introducing Latin as the local language. Exports were mainly olive oil, wine and wheat. Two emperors, Trajan and Adrian came from Andalusia. The Vandals arrived in the year 411 and established themselves at the doors of Guadalquivir, naming it: Vandalucía. The history of this region is intimately linked with the Moors (Arabs and Berbers) – who marched through Tarifa at the beginning of the 8th century and established themselves practically throughout the whole peninsula until the Catholic Kings expelled them, at the end of the 15th century.
Culture, handicrafts and fiestas
As befits such an historical province, Andalusia has a wide range of handicrafts. There are a number of different types of pottery and ceramics: glazed arthenware jugs, jars, the water-cooling botijo, and other vessels still produced by the innumerable potters in the region. Of particular note is the jarra occitana from Purullena (Granada), a jar covered with multifarious decoration consisting of exuberant bunches of flowers. Basket making is also very significant with esparto, willow and palm leaves being used for the purpose.
There are also various examples of the textile-making crafts; indeed, the villages of La Alpujarra (in Villor, Mecina Bombarón, Ugijar and others) make hand-driven looms that are still in use today. The jarapas - blankets made from cloth leftovers are another traditional Andalusian craft. There are also good upholstery and saddlebag workshops in La Alpujarra and Granada, Baza (Granada), Andújar, La Carolina (Jaén), Huelva, Seville. Ubrique (Cádiz) is the main centre for Moroccan leather, the production methods of which are semi-industrialized.
Andalusia is Fiesta country par excellence and the region has a wealth of festivities exuding splendour, gaiety, spirituality and imagination. Indeed, they reflect the vitality and joy of the region. Furthermore, festivities take place over a number of months so the traveller may easily find, or join in, one of these often magical and spectacular events.
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