Spain’s most populous city, Madrid has served as the nation’s capital since the 1500s. Characterised by ornate architecture and manicured public gardens and parks, Madrid is a must see for lovers of fine art. The Museo Nacional del Prado is Spain’s national art museum and considered the world’s finest collections of European art dating from the 12th century, showcasing over 7000 paintings.
Before Madrid was Spain’s capital city, Toledo served as the Spanish capital until the 16th century. Strategically situated on a mountaintop in central Spain, Toledo was inhabited by the three biblical religions: Jews, Christians and Muslims for many centuries. As a result of Toledo’s tolerant history it is sometimes called the “City of Three Cultures.” Today, Toledo is a popular destination for its wealth of historic art and architecture that dates back to the Roman Empire. Walk the streets of Toledo throughout the small ancient streets from an age gone by, and admire historic architecture that includes a stunning mosque, synagogue and cathedral.
Barcelona is Spain’s most favourite tourism city and second most populated after Madrid. Barcelona is Spain’s top travel destination for tourists as it offers a wide variety of all the things to do that visitors seek in a European city. Barcelona offers historic architecture, lively shopping, vibrant culture and a buzzing nightlife. And while Madrid boasts art, Barcelona is an architectural wonder featuring works from Spain’s most famous architect, Antoni Gaudi.
The country’s third largest city is Seville, the financial and cultural centre and capital of southern Spain’s Andalucían region. Seville is widely regarded as the birthplace of Spain’s classic flamenco dancing. Seville has many tourist attractions and is home to three different UNESCO World Heritage sites. The most notable is the Real Alcazar, an extravagant Moorish palace with beautifully manicured gardens, the Grand Cathedral of Seville and Old Town. Seville also holds the designation of being the hottest metropolitan area in Europe. Colloquially referred to as “the frying pan of Spain” during summer season.
Córdoba is the eponymous capital to the Córdoba province in the Andalucían region of southern Spain. Described as a maze of tiny ancient streets, plazas and whitewashed courtyards all strategically located around the capital’s star attraction, Córdoba’s Mezquita. Also known as the Great Mosque of Córdoba, it was originally built in the 8th century during the time when Muslims ruled Al-Andalus. After the exile of the Moors, the Great Mosque of Córdoba was converted to a church. Today it retains most of its original Islamic architecture including its most notable polychromy design – the use of red and white coloured bricks. Marvel at the forest-high columns ornately designed with red and white striped arches that serve as a reminder of the historic importance of Córdoba.
No mention of Granada is complete without mention of Spain’s most visited tourist attraction and UNESCO World Heritage site – the Alhambra Palace. A name derived from the Arabic meaning “red” due to the characteristic red coloured walls. The Alhambra Palace is a fortress complex located high above the city of Granada on top of the Al-Sabika hills amidst the backdrop of the snow-capped mountains of the Sierra Nevada – Europe’s most southern ski resort. The Alhambra palace was originally constructed as a small fortress in AD 889, which was believed to be on the remains of Roman fortifications. Today you can witness the exquisite detailed structures carved into stone with their highly ornate interior spaces and patios that contrast with the plain walls of the fortress exterior. Journey throughout the Alhambra’s magnificent and majestic architectural wonders connected by acres of manicured gardens and flowing water features and fountains.
In stark contrast to Spain’s history, Marbella represents the modern-day development of new Spain. Located in the Costa del Sol, southern Spain’s Andalucían region, Marbella is the famous holiday hotspot of the rich and famous, where it’s not uncommon to sight celebrities, royalty and Presidents. Marbella is considered Costa del Sol’s bastion of bling with TV reality stars coining the term: “No Carbs Before Marbs” in an effort to remain bikini-body ready. Standing centre stage in the tourist coastal town is the 'Golden Mile', an extravagant collection of star-studded clubs, upmarket restaurants and glamorous hotels stretching as far as Puerto Banús, the flashiest marina on the coast where supercars complement the backdrop of super yachts.
Sixty kilometres from the heart of Marbella is the city of Málaga – the eponymous city of the Málaga province in the Andalucían region. Málaga’s history dates back nearly 3,000 years and is one of the oldest cities in the world. Like its more famous cousin, Barcelona, Málaga is also found on the Mediterranean coast and enjoys one of Europe’s warmest winters. Connected to the world by Spain’s 4th busiest airport, Málaga’s International Airport serves as the gateway of tourism to the Andalucían region.