From the Cordoba Mosque to the Alhambra of Granada, along the Route of the Caliphate.
There was a time when the city of Cordoba was a bright shining light of western civilisation. At its height, it had several hundred thousand inhabitants, and its court attracted the most brilliant thinkers and artists of the time, be they Muslim, Christian or Jew. The splendor of the Cordoba caliphate can still be glimpsed in the magnificence of its mosque, or the ruins of the sprawling city-palace of Medina Azahara nearby.
Now, travelers are encouraged to recapture the glory of those days by following the Route of the Caliphate, which connects Cordoba with the last of the great Moorish cities in Spain, Granada, home of the fabled Alhambra.
There are in fact two alternative routes connecting Cordoba and Granada, both of which take in key towns in the provinces of Cordoba, Granada and Jaen.
Heading south from Cordoba, the first route crosses the rolling farmland of the Cordoba Campiña, the wine country of Montilla, and the dramatic mountain landscapes of the Subbetica nature park.
The second route takes the traveler through the olive country of Cordoba to reach Alcala la Real.
From here, both routes reach the city of the Alhambra.
Along the way, the itinerary is rich in castles, museums, sweeping landscapes, tasty gastronomy and insights into history.
Conveniently sign-posted, the route is the first of several envisioned under the Legado Andalusi (Legacy of Al-Andalus) program. This project, which was launched in 1995, aims to promote awareness among both foreign travellers and Andalusians themselves of the rich cultural heritage left by the Moors during the centuries they dwelt in the Andalusia, a heritage which is not only to be seen in the monuments they built, but in the layout of villages, in traditions that are still very much alive, the cuisine, and even the character of the Andalusian people. To travel the Route of the Caliphate is not just a voyage through history: it can be the excitement of village fiesta, a sip of chilled wine with cured ham in a Montilla bodega, a close encounter with nature, or the magic of a sunset over the Alhambra.
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Copyright © 2000 An Andalusian Experience. Text by Mark Little. Photography by J. D. Dallet - A Freelance Spain production
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Copyright © 2000-2006 Mark and David Little & J.D. Dallet