The smell of freshly fried croquettes and sizzling garlic shrimp. The strum of a guitar, the spire of a Gothic tower, the chatter of friends enjoying a bottle of Rioja on a sunny patio.
Spain is truly a special place. In Madrid, where many of National Geographic’s expeditions to the country begin, you’ll be captivated by the city’s grand architecture and infectious vida callejera, or street life. The cobbled alleyways of Toledo and the glint of steel in a sword shop will transport you to the pages of a medieval romance. And as you start winding down south—the plains of Castilla-La Mancha giving way to rolling hills and olive groves—you’ll begin to feel the draw of Andalucía, the last bastion of Moorish civilization in Western Europe. Here, the scent of orange blossoms and rustle of flamenco skirts fills the air; churches, mosques, and pagan temples coalesce into one; and legends of Moorish princesses linger in the carved alcoves of exquisite hilltop citadels.
This resonance of cultures—from Roman to Gothic, Jewish to Muslim to Catholic—is perhaps the secret of Andalucía’s irresistible charm, reflected in an arch there, the name of a street here, the vibrato of a voice in song. Get a glimpse of this romantic region through the eyes of a traveler.