Semana Santa (Holy Week) is the week before Easter, which makes it a very important time for a traditionally Catholic country such as Spain. Universities also have their spring breaks during Semana Santa, so many students choose to travel around Spain or to other destinations in Europe or beyond. I decided to visit several cities in Andalucía, the southernmost region of Spain, and I would say it’s quite different from the North.
My first destination was Granada, a city that was the last Muslim stronghold during the Spanish Reconquest. Today, Granada is a popular tourist destination, and it’s also home to many artists, musicians and street performers.
Granada is also famous for its beautiful palace/fortress known as the Alhambra. Muslim emirs once ruled from the Alhambra; it’s an impressive example of Muslim architecture that can be found throughout Andalucía.
After Granada, I visited Seville, the capital of Andalucía. One of its most famous landmarks is the Plaza de España, which was built in 1929 to host the Ibero-American Exposition. It’s said that the half-circle shape of the plaza is meant to symbolize a hug to embrace the countries in attendance, many of which were former Spanish colonies.
The Plaza de España also has murals on its walls dedicated to several different cities in Spain, such as this one for Oviedo.
While in Seville, I also witnessed some processions for Semana Santa. At first glance, these robes and hoods might seem to resemble those worn by members of the Ku Klux Klan in America, but really these costumes have been part of Catholic traditions in Spain long before the KKK came into existence. In Spain, these pointy hoods are a symbol of penitence, and the giant candles they are holding represent the light of Jesus.
Andalucía is also well-known for its bitter oranges that actually taste more like lemons than regular oranges.
I also made a stop in Málaga, which is situated on the Costa del Sol (Coast of the Sun) along the Mediterranean Sea. The beaches are beautiful, and it’s quite nice to walk around the city as well.
The last place I visited in Andalucía was Córdoba, a very medieval-looking city with narrow streets and various plazas. The Roman bridge leading into the city offers a great view of the river that runs along the outskirts.
El callejón de las flores (the flower alley) is one of the gems that can be seen in the streets of Córdoba. The tower in the distance is part of la Mezquita (mosque) de Córdoba.
La mezquita de Córdoba is technically no longer a mosque because it was converted into a cathedral after the Reconquest. It’s another prime example of Muslim architecture in southern Spain. The views of both the interior and the exterior are quite breathtaking.