Embedded In The Layers Of Andalusia, Spain

andalusia …one must seek the essence of Andalusia in its geographic reality on the one hand, and on the other in the awareness of its inhabitants. From the geographic point of view, the whole of the southern lands is too vast and varied to be embraced as a single unit. - Antonio Domínguez Ortiz

While most travelers going to Spain head straight to the popular cities of Barcelona and Madrid, journeying farther south offers a unique region of contrasts.

Andalusia (also spelled Andalucia) is a region and autonomous community in Spain. In fact, of all the country’s autonomous communities, this has the highest population and is the second largest in size with 33,821 square miles. It is comprised of eight provinces, including Seville, Malaga, Jaen, Granada, Huelva, Cadiz, Cordoba and Almeria.

While the area mainly experiences a Mediterranean climate, there are still a variety of atmospheres and landscapes in Andalusia. You’ll find the Sierra Nevada, which features the highest altitudes in the Iberian Peninsula, as well as the valley of the Guadalquivir, which is barely above sea level. Visitors will also see the dry Tabernas Desert, Atlantic beaches, Mediterranean coastal cliffs, ancient cities, high-end resort towns, natural parks, wetlands and marsh, olive groves on rolling hills and oak woodlands. Moreover, many iconic Spanish traditions originated in Andalusia, like Moorish architecture, flamenco dancing and bull fighting.

For a more visual idea of this unique region, check out the gallery below.

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[Images via Shutterstock]