In the heart of Andalusia in Southern Spain is Seville, a remarkable city bursting with culture and beauty. You’ll find historic landmarks like the Cathedral of Seville, where Christopher Columbus was laid to rest, and you can also experience the vibrant heritage through flamenco dancing. After exploring the sights in Seville, make time to explore other nearby destinations. These day trips from Seville can be completed in a single day, and each makes for a wonderful experience you won’t soon forget.
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Just an hour’s drive south of Seville is Jerez de la Frontera, a city with a diverse and epic history. Jerez de la Frontera has been under Moorish rule as well as Christian rule, and its proximity to Africa has also influenced the development of the city. The 10th century Monumental Compound of the Moorish Palace-Fortress and Dark Chamber is undeniably the city’s most famous attraction, and it still boasts a camera obscura that can be used to admire a full 360-degree view over Jerez de la Frontera. There are a dozen palaces and castles in the city, but the 18th century Viceroy Laserna Palace is one of the most grand, and it is also open to the public. Jerez is also the center of Spanish horse culture, and home of the invention of fortified sherry wine.
The city of Cadiz is located on the water, overlooking the Bay of Cadiz, and it is the perfect day trip from Seville. Cadiz may be the oldest city in all of Western Europe, and it is believed to have been settled by Phoenician solders. With a history of more than 3,000 years, Cadiz is packed with incredible landmarks. If you’re a history or archeology buff, then you’ll want to see the Archeological Museum as well as the Roman Theater ruins. The Mercado de Abastos, or central market, is the hub of Cadiz, and it is a great place to explore to learn more about the local residents, their cuisine and their day-to-day lives.
The small town of Arcos de la Frontera can be found south of Seville and a mere five minutes from the nearby Jerez de la Frontera. Arcos de la Frontera was created atop a sandstone ridge for protection against attack, but today that location is known for its sweeping vistas. Most of the buildings are painted white, giving the town a picturesque appearance. The heart of the town is Plaza del Cabildo, which is surrounded by significant buildings like the beautifully reconstructed 16th-century magistrate’s house called Parador de Arcos de la Frontera.
Two hours south of Seville is Ronda, a town located in the province of Malaga. Constructed around a deep gorge, Ronda is a truly breathtaking destination. When you visit, you can see right in and around El Tajo Gorge, and you can admire the blue waters of the Guadalevín River cutting right through it. South of the gorge is La Ciudad, the historic center and where the medieval walls are found. The bridges spanning the gorge and the river are a big part of the town. While there are three distinct bridges, the most interesting is the Puente Nuevo, or new bridge, which is made from stone and even features a small museum.
Northeast of Sevilla is Cordoba, an ancient city with a blend of cultures, cuisines and architecture from around the world. Since Cordoba was established as a city, it has been a Caliphate, the capital of an Arab state and even the capital of a Roman province. The most iconic attraction in Cordoba today is the Mezquita, a former mosque-cum-cathedral. The structure boasts incredible arches in the interior, an enormous 17th century bell tower and a beautiful outdoor patio called the Court of the Oranges. Also in Cordoba’s Old City, you can find ancient Roman bridges, synagogues in the Jewish quarter and lavish Arab palaces.
A short 30-minute drive out of Seville will bring you to Carmona, a town perched in a spot overlooking a lush valley. Carmona once served as a Roman settlement, and later it was ruled by Muslims as well as Christians. All of these influences are clearly visible in the local architecture. The Roman Necropolis and the Archaeological Ensemble of Carmona date back a full millennia, and the Alcazar de Arriba, or Upper Fortress, is a clear hallmark of Moorish design. Perhaps the most fascinating attraction is the Alcazar de la Puerta de Sevilla, an extravagant royal palace.
About 240 km (150 miles) east of Seville is Granada, one of Spain’s most popular tourism destinations. It is easy to see the appeal of Granada: It is located close to the Sierra Nevada Mountains, there is no end to the historic architecture and you can explore Moorish and Roma districts bursting with culture. However most tourist go to Granada to see the amazing Alhambra. This complex is a palace, a fortress and a government building all rolled into one, not to mention stunning gardens. The oldest parts of the Alhambra are found in the Alcazaba, which also offers the best views over Granada.