Guadalquivir is the most important river in southern Spain. The watershed passes through mountains, plains, forests, swamps, and other different landforms, and finally flows into the ocean. The sights along Guadalquivir are rich and varied, including some of the most ecologically preserved nature reserves in the country, the most famous historical sites, and large cities with a mix of different cultures.
The Guadalquivir is the second-longest river with its entire length in Spain, the river is the only major navigable river in Spain.The river is 657 km long and drains an area of about 58,000 km2. It rises at village of Quesada in the Cazorla mountain range in Jaén, flows through Córdoba and Seville and reaches the sea between the municipalities of Almonte and the fishing village of Bonanza, in Sanlúcar de Barrameda, flowing into the Gulf of Cádiz, in the Atlantic Ocean.
The valley of Guadalquivir has always been the great artery of Andalucía. The plains rolling north and south from the river as far down as Seville are known as La Campiña. From around Córdoba downstream, the valley is referred to as the lower Guadalquivir basin. From its lower end, a broad plain stretches west across Huelva province and southeast into Cádiz province. Near its mouth, the Guadalquivir splits into a marshy delta known as Las Marismas del Guadalquivir which includes the Parque Nacional de Doñana. The marshy lowlands at the river’s mouth are known as “Las Marismas”. The river borders the Doñana National Park reserve.
The Guadalquivir’s natural environment is one of the richest and most varied areas of plant and animal life in Europe. The drainage basin of the Guadalquivir encompasses one of the greatest floral resources of Europe, containing representatives of half of the continent’s species of plant life, together with nearly all those of the North African region. The surrounding mountains are covered largely by forests of pine and oak, but more than a third of the total surface is olive groves. In addition, cereals (wheat and barley) and viticulture support the regional agriculture.
Fauna is as varied as the plant life, with animals representing a great variety of European and North African species. In the mountains wild boar, goat, fallow deer, chamois, partridge, and many other animals are found, making the area one of the great European hunting regions. Fish, notably trout and barbels, are found throughout the Guadalquivir, its reservoirs, and its approximately 800 tributaries. Its main tributary, the Genil River, originates in the Sierra Nevada and flows into the Guadalquivir River at Palma del Río.
Guadalquivir’s irrigative capacity, particularly in its wide and fertile plain, supports the rich agriculture of Andalusia, and engineering improvements have aided the industrialization of towns along its course. After passing the city of Córdoba, the Guadalquivir irrigates the fruitful regions of Posadas and Lora del Río before reaching Sevilla. The valley of the Guadalquivir is the most fertile area in Andalucia, broadening out from east to west.
The Phoenicians established the first anchorage grounds and dealt in precious metals. The Romans settled in Hispalis (Seville), in the 2nd century BC, making it into an important river port. By the 1st century BC, Hispalis was a walled city with shipyards building longboats to carry wheat. In the 1st century AD the Hispalis was home to entire naval squadrons. Ships sailed to Rome with various products: minerals, salt, fish, etc. During the Arab rule between 712 and 1248 the Moors built a stone dock and the Torre del Oro (Tower of Gold), to reinforce the port defences.
In the 13th century Ferdinand III expanded the shipyards and from Seville’s busy port, grain, oil, wine, wool, leather, cheese, honey, wax, nuts and dried fruit, salted fish, metal, silk, linen and dye were exported throughout Europe. A reconstructed waterwheel is located at Córdoba on the Guadalquivir River. The Molino de la Albolafia waterwheel, originally built by the Romans, provided water for the nearby Alcázar gardens as well as being used to mill flour.
After the discovery of the Americas, Seville became the economic centre of the Spanish Empire as its port monopolised the trans-oceanic trade and the Casa de Contratación (House of Trade) wielded its power. As navigation of the Guadalquivir River became increasingly difficult, Seville’s trade monopoly was lost to Cádiz. The construction of the canal known as the Corta de Merlina in 1794 marked the beginning of the modernisation of the port of Seville.
Guadalquivir has historically been subject to frequent flooding, a natural hazard that has been greatly reduced following the completion of the river diversion project. More recently, the Guadalquivir River is suffering from the consequences of climate change. The long-term drought in the basin has caused the water level to drop or even dry up for many years. The ecological environment along the river has also suffered serious impacts. After five years of work (2005–2010), in late November 2010 the new Seville lock designed to regulate tides was finally in operation.
The river plain, with its fertile lands, its surprising urban landscape featuring beautiful ancestral houses, and its strong-willed, friendly and sociable locals, offers the chance to visit archaeological sites left from ancient cultures, as well as a whole range of outdoor activities to be enjoyed in the coolness of the waters in its streams and reservoirs. This region includes the towns of Alcalá y Alcolea del Río, Cantillana, La Puebla de los Infantes, Lora del Río, San José de la Rinconada, Tocina and Villaverde del Río.
The Guadalquivir used to be navigable from the Atlantic as far upstream as Córdoba city, and is today still navigable up to Seville city. The source of the Guadalquivir was in the Sierra de Cazorla. The Guadalquivir runs its course from east to west, turning south in the province of Seville. Most of the 657 km in length run through flat terrain called the Guadalquivir depression. The width of the river is about 10 m in Úbeda, 60 m in Córdoba and 330 m in its final stretch. It crosses the Cerrada de los Tejos, El Raso del Tejar, La Espinareda, the Cerrada de los Cierzos and the Herrerías bridge.
After passing by the Vadillo Castril, it pools briefly in the small reservoir of the Cerrada del Utrero at about 980 m. It loses height in the Cerrada del Utrero and passes next to Arroyo Frío (La Iruela), crosses the bridge of Hacha and La Herradura to border the Cabeza Rubia hill and downstream receive the Borosa river on the right bank and the river a little further down Aguamulas. It pools again in the extensive reservoir of the Tranco de Beas reservoir at 650 m., where it turns to the west crossing the Sierra de Las Villas, next to Charco del Aceite it receives the María stream on the left and about three kilometers further down the Chillar stream on the left, shortly after leaving the natural park of the Sierras de Cazorla, Segura and Las Villas.
After leaving this mountainous area, it reaches plains of olive groves 15 km from Úbeda. In this area it receives water from the Guadiana Menor and Jandulilla rivers. The Guadiana Menor flows into the Doña Aldonza reservoir and the Jandulilla between it and the Pedro Marín reservoir, next to the village of El Donadío (Úbeda). Upstream is the Puente de la Cerrada reservoir. These three reservoirs, the mouth of these two tributaries and the Guadalquivir are part of the Alto Guadalquivir Natural Area, which covers 663 hectares. This Natural Area also covers part of the Sierra de San Pedro and some agricultural land. The wetlands of this Natural Area are close to the Laguna Grande. It continues bordering La Loma to the south, and after the Puente del Obispo district (Baeza) it receives the Torres River on the left bank and further down to the right to the Guadalimar river.
The Alto Guadalquivir Natural Area forms an extensive wetland located in the northeastern plain of the province of Jaén, nestled between the hills of Baeza and Úbeda and the Sierras de Cazorla and Mágina. It is made up of the Puente de la Cerrada, Doña Aldonza and Pedro Marín reservoirs, practically filled with sediment, and the river and riverside sections between the swamps. In this natural area, a natural system (river, gallery forest, riverside copses) and an artificial one (filled reservoirs, emergent marsh vegetation) merge, giving rise to two aquatic dynamics and a very high biological richness. The confluence of such environments makes this place a space of great diversity, where many species of aquatic birds coexist, which has earned it its declaration as a Special Protection Area for Birds.
The vegetation that develops in this environment is formed mainly by bulrush, reeds and reeds, together with rushes, bayuncos and tarajes. On the banks, however, poplars, willows and ash trees abound, which refresh and envelop the place with their airy soundtrack. The biological richness is reflected in the varied and numerous representation of birds linked to aquatic environments, among which the marsh harrier and purple swamp hen stand out as nesting populations, a bird of atypical beauty, with especially striking color and morphology. In addition, there is a presence of white-headed duck, wintering and passing through. Other species of birds that can be observed in this natural area are mallards, shovelers, pochards, coots, moorhens, common teals, purple herons and gray herons.
Turning northwest, it passes next to Mengíbar, where it receives the Guadalbullón River on the left and next to Espeluy, after which it receives the Rumblar River on the right. Bordering Sierra Morena to the south, it passes next to Villanueva de la Reina and Andújar, after which it receives the Jándula river on the right. It passes next to Marmolejo and on the border of the province with Córdoba it receives the river Yeguas on the right. To the north of the river is Sierra Morena. The fertile plains and countryside are much more extensive to the south and end in the Betic cordilleras.
Subsequently, the Guadalquivir meets Villa del Río and Montoro, after which it receives the Arenoso, Pedro Abad, El Carpio and Alcolea rivers on the right. Shortly before the latter, it receives the Guadalmilla River on the left, crosses Córdoba and receives the Guadajoz River on the left. In Almodóvar del Río it receives the Guadiato River on the right, passes through Posadas and receives the Bembezar River on the right. In Palma del Río it receives the Retortillo rivers, on the right, and the Genil rivers, on the left.
As soon as this region enters the Córdoba province via Villa del Río until it leaves it via Palma del Río, it forms a green corridor more than 100 km long. Many rivers and streams flow into it and there is typical riverside woodland teeming with poplars, ash trees, white poplars and a wealth of fauna. Due to the abundance of water, the area’s reservoirs are ideal for water sports. The river also features two nature reserves: Cardeña-Montoro and Hornachuelos, which are joined by the Montes Comunales de Adamuz and the peri-urban parks in Villafranca de Córdoba, Posadas, Guadalcázar and Palma del Río. The local historical and cultural heritage includes the Almodovar del Río castle, which offers views of the Vega, Campiña and Sierra (fertile land, countryside and mountains), the three areas that form the Valle del Guadalquivir region.
With its rich agricultural, forestry and game-hunting resources, Doñana, designated a Biosphere Reserve, has a unique marsh ecosystem populated by an amazing variety of birdlife, and offers a wide range of options for ecological tourism: horse-riding routes, cycle touring, hot-air balloon flights, hiking… The southernmost area of this region, the Bajo Guadalquivir, with its fertile agricultural areas and spreading rice paddies, is internationally renowned for horse breeding and training.
The river plain La Vega, with its fertile lands, its surprising urban landscape featuring beautiful ancestral houses, and its strong-willed, friendly and sociable locals, offers the chance to visit archaeological sites left from ancient cultures, as well as a whole range of outdoor activities to be enjoyed in the coolness of the waters in its streams and reservoirs.
The Guadalquivir river enters the province of Seville and passes through Peñaflor, Lora del Río, Alcolea del Río, Tocina and Cantillana, next to which it receives the Viar river on the right. It goes through Villaverde del Río, Brenes, Alcalá del Río, La Rinconada and La Algaba, under which it receives the Rivera de Huelva river on the right and the artificial Tamarguillo riverbed on the left.
It passes through the west side of Seville. To the east, the river has a large basin where the Port of Seville is located and, at the end of it, there is a plug of land in the San Jerónimo neighborhood. It continues through Aljarafe, where it leaves Camas, San Juan de Aznalfarache and Gelves on the right, a town where there is a marina, and later on, it receives the Guadaíra river on the left.
Leaving Coria del Río and La Puebla del Río to the right, it is divided below these into several arms and semi-swampy areas called the Guadalquivir marshes, through which it passes through the last city in the province of Seville: the town of Lebrija. It enters the province of Cádiz through Trebujena, where the Esteros del Guadalquivir have been declared an Ecological Reserve. To the west is the Doñana National Park. Forming the dividing line between the provinces of Cádiz and Huelva, it flows into the Atlantic Ocean next to the municipalities of Almonte and Sanlúcar de Barrameda.
The Guadalquivir Marshes are a natural region of marshy lowlands on the lower Guadalquivir River. The Las Marismas zone forms a large part of the province of Huelva, province of Seville and province of Cádiz in Andalucia, Spain. The area includes parts of the municipalities of Isla Mayor, Los Palacios y Villafranca, La Puebla del Río, Utrera, Las Cabezas de San Juan and Lebrija.
Doñana National Park is an area of marshes, shallow streams, and sand dunes in Las Marismas, the delta where the Guadalquivir River flows into the Atlantic Ocean. Doñana National Park has a biodiversity that is unique in Europe, the park features a great variety of ecosystems and shelters wildlife, including thousands of European and African migratory birds, fallow deer, Spanish red deer, wild boars, European badgers, Egyptian mongooses, and endangered species such as the Spanish imperial eagle and the Iberian lynx.
Due to its strategic location between the continents of Europe and Africa and its proximity to the Strait of Gibraltar, Doñana’s large expanse of salt marsh is a breeding ground as well as a transit point for thousands of European and African birds (aquatic and terrestrial), and hosts many species of migratory waterfowl during the winter, typically up to 200,000 individuals. Over 300 different species of birds may be sighted there annually. Considered the largest nature reserve in Europe, the area was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1994.
Throughout the Guadalquivir basin, the southern holm oak (Quercus rotundifolia), the black pine (Pinus nigra), and the white poplar (Populus alba) are common. On the right bank and in the Betic mountain ranges, the strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo) is common. The cork oak (Quercus suber) is a tree present throughout Andalusia, although the large forests of this variety become more frequent from the middle channel and they extend over large areas of Western Andalusia. In the upper riverbed, the cherry tree of Santa Lucía (Prunus mahaleb), the ash tree (Fraxinus angustifolia) and the chestnut tree (Castanea sativa) are common. In large areas of Andalusia, the miera juniper (Juniperus oxicedrus) is very common. Hackberry (Celtis australis) is a common tree around the Guadalquivir as it passes through the provinces of Córdoba and Seville. Jacaranda (Jacaranda mimosifolia) is a common species throughout the Guadalquivir basin. Cinnamon (Melia azedarach ) is a very frequent species in the Guadalquivir basin from the middle channel.
The wild olive (Olea europaea silvestris), the stone pine (Pinus pinea), the black poplar (Populis nigra), the false pepper tree (Schinus molle), the ficus (Phicus macrophylla), the palm (Phoenix dactilifera), The acacia (Acacia dealbata), the false acacia (Robinia pseudoacacia), the plane tree (Platanus hispanica) and the banana tree (Platanus) are trees that are present throughout Andalusia, including the Guadalquivir basin. The olive tree is present throughout Andalusia. The orange (Citrus × aurantium) is present in Andalusia in the provinces of Huelva and Seville (sometimes next to the Guadalquivir) and in the province of Granada.
In Andalusia, and therefore in the Guadalquivir basin, the following species are common: common jackfruit (Cistus ladanifer), rosemary (Salvia rosmarinus), pit coriander (Adiantum capillus-veneris), veronica (Veronica filiformis), marjoram (Thymus mastichina), mallow (Crataegus monogyna) dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), woodpecker (Rhamnus alaternus) bramble (Rubus fruticosus), sunflower (Helianthus annuus) gayomba (Spartium junceum), yellow jasmine ( Jasminum fruticans), lantana (Lantana camara), viper (Echium plantagineum), nighting (Cestrum nocturnum), and carnation (Dianthus caryophyllus).
The matagallo shrub is very common in the basin of the Guadalquivir from the middle watershed, as well as throughout the Andalusian littoral. Although the cowboy jaguar (Cistus salviifolius) is present in several places in Andalusia (such as Sierra Morena), as far as the Guadalquivir basin is concerned it is only frequent in the sierra of its upper reaches. Wild garlic (Allium suaveolens) is present in the Guadalquivir basin from the middle catchment.Durillo shrub (Viburnum tinus) is present in several places in East Andalusia, and in the Guadalquivir basin it is present in the upper and middle cavities.
The cornicabra shrub (Pistacia terebinthus) is present in the provinces of Jaén, Córdoba, Malaga and Grenada. Its presence in the provinces of Jaén and Córdoba is located in the upper and middle courses of the Guadalquivir. It is also present in the mountains of Huelva and Málaga.On both sides of the middle and lower courses, and away from the watercourse, there are spaces where murages (Anagallis arvensis) are common the low catchment and extends along the Gaditan and onubense littoral. The heather (Erica arborea) is present throughout Andalusia, with the exception of the higher mountainous areas. The common mallow (Malva sylvestris) is present throughout Andalusia, except in the mountainous and littoral areas.
Bindweed (Convolvulus althaeoides) is present throughout the Guadalquivir basin, except in the areas closest to the mouth. In Andalusia, the spring grass (Primura vulgaris) and saxifraga (Saxifraga biternata) and the rascavieja shrub (Adenocarpus decorticans) are present in the mountainous areas of the upper and middle sections of the Guadalquivir and, outside of these environments, they can also be found in the Sierra de Málaga.
In Andalusia, the blue flax (Linum narbonense) is found far from the course of the river in the upper and middle sections, as well as in the east of the province of Almería. The common violet (Viola odorata) is present in the most mountainous areas which remain on the sides of the Guadalquivir and in the Sierra de Málaga. The tamarisk (Tamarix africana) can be found throughout the river basin and throughout the Andalusian coast, with the exception of the coast of the province of Granada.
The oleander (Nerium oleander) grows in Andalusia in the upper and middle channels of the Guadalquivir, as well as in Sierra Morena and in the Sierra de Huelva. It has been a species widely used in gardening. Chicory (Cichorium intybus), meadow clover (Trifolium pratense), and honeysuckle (Lorichera perychemenum) can be found throughout Andalusia, excepting only the eastern province of Almería.
The tufted hyacinth (Muscari conosum) can be found south of the middle channel of the Guadalquivir and in the province of Almería. The rock bell (Campanula velutina) can be found throughout the north of Andalusia and throughout the east of the province of Jaén (which includes the upper riverbed of the Guadalquivir), the north of the province of Granada and the west of the province of Almería. Cow grass (Vaccaria hispanica) is present in a wide strip that covers the north of the provinces of Seville, Cádiz and Málaga, the southeast of the province of Huelva, and the south of the province of Córdoba and the southwest of the province from Jaen. In addition to the named species, other shrubby or herbaceous species typical of the Mediterranean climate can be found in the Guadalquivir basin.
In the Doñana National Park and in the entire mountainous environment of the north of the Guadalquivir there are specimens of the Iberian lynx. In mountainous areas of the upper course and in the Sierra Morena the ibex lives. In the upper course the mouflon coexists with it. In the entire northern area of Andalusia, including the part of the upper channel, there are weasels. In the upper and middle channel, as well as in the mountainous areas of northern Andalusia, the genet is present. The otter has its habitat throughout the channel, although there are few specimens. In the upper channel the wolf is present. In the middle and upper channel the squirrel is present. In Doñana and in the upper and middle riverbeds roe deer, fallow deer and wild boar are present.
The Guadalquivir basin is a common place for observing different species of birds. There are some species that, in this basin, can practically only be found in Doñana, such as the imperial eagle, the Malvasia, the flamingo and the stilt. The basin also includes endangered species, such as the aforementioned imperial eagle, the marbled teal, the coot, the squacco heron, and the brown pochard. The griffon vulture, present in the basin, was in danger of extinction over the years, but its population seems to have recovered throughout the peninsula.
Among the best known fish are the barbel and the river boga. In Andalusia we can find the barbel in the Guadalquivir and Guadiana basins. The shad is also found in the Guadalquivir and the Guadiana, although it is less frequent in the latter river. The river boga is a fish that can be found in many rivers and reservoirs of Andalusia and can reach about 24 centimetres. The fartet, the saltpeter, the sturgeon, the sea lamprey and the jarabugo are practically extinct in this river.
Guadalquivir’s hydrographic basin covers territories of the provinces of Almería, Jaén, Córdoba, Seville, Huelva, Cádiz, Málaga, Granada, Murcia, Albacete, Ciudad Real and Badajoz. It flows into the Atlantic Ocean in a wide estuary between Almonte (Huelva) and Sanlúcar de Barrameda (Cádiz province). Between Seville and the estuary there is a large wet area, the Guadalquivir marshes; Part of these marshes are within the Doñana National Park.
Province of Almería
Almería, thanks to its strategic situation on the Mediterranean, has been home to different civilisations throughout its history. Significant traces of their presence can be seen in the archaeological remains scattered all over the province. Caliph Abd al-Rahman III founded the city in 955. The city grew wealthy during the Islamic era, becoming a world city throughout the 11th and 12th centuries. Long exposed to border conflicts and the need to defend itself, the province of Almería has a large number and variety of castles which comprise a heritage known to few. The mining industry brought about an economic recovery in the 19th century.
The sea and the desert coexist alongside the most fertile and productive agricultural lands on the continent. Arid terrain, where survival becomes a permanent challenge, and saltwater lakes which are home to a variety of animal and plant species, unique on our planet… this is what awaits visitors to this province, which is blessed with a subtropical Mediterranean climate, warm and dry. The Sierra María-Los Vélez Nature Reserves with their castle, their caves and their rich fauna, and the Cabo de Gata-Níjar Nature Reserve, with its deserted beaches, wild cliffs and transparent sea beds, bring alive a landscape which offers the traveller the magic of snow, the Mediterranean forest, the desert and the sea.
Almería city, also called “the Hollywood of Spain”. The province of Almería offers pleasures which are hard to come by in the Mediterranean: over 100 Km. of untamed coastline, and landscapes of outstanding beauty. The peculiarities of the landscape and the bountiful Almerían climate have made this province the perfect place to locate a substantial film industry, and the region has played host to some of the most famous stars of the screen. Its untouched beaches in the east with their emerging complexes and the larger tourist centres in the west offer a quality destination for the more demanding traveller. Its exceptional coastline borders the Cabo de Gata-Níjar Nature Reserve, with long sandy beaches and secluded coves bathed by the warm waters of the Mediterranean.
Province of Cadiz
The province of Cadiz is very diverse and contains numerous places which are well worth a visit, from the countryside around Jerez de la Frontera to the villages in Campo de Gibraltar, or you can take a tour of the white villages and stop to relax somewhere along the coast between Tarifa and Sanlúcar de Barrameda. Its 260 kilometres of Atlantic coastline feature long beaches with fine sand, many of them undeveloped and not excessively exploited for tourism. The whole coast is part of the Costa de la Luz. From first-rate urban beaches like La Victoria in the city of Cadiz or La Barrosa in Chiclana, through to virgin beaches such as the Levante in El Puerto; Los Caños de Meca and Zahora in the Barbate area, Bolonia in Tarifa and El Palmar in Vejer. Places worth visiting inland include the vineyards of Jerez or the White Villages Route and the Bullfighting Route.
Cadiz city is the capital of the Cadiz Province, a typically Andalusian city with a wealth of attractive vistas and well-preserved historical landmarks. Situated on a narrow slice of land surrounded by the sea‚ Cádiz is, in most respects, a typically Andalusian city with well-preserved historical landmarks. The older part of Cádiz, within the remnants of the city walls, and represents a large area of the total size of the city. It is characterized by the antiquity of its various quarters (barrios), among them El Pópulo, La Viña, and Santa María, which present a marked contrast to the newer areas of town.
Among the many landmarks of historical and scenic interest in Cádiz, a few stand out. The city can boast of an unusual cathedral of various architectural styles, a theater, an old municipal building, an 18th-century watchtower, a vestige of the ancient city wall, an ancient Roman theater, and electrical pylons of an eye-catchingly modern design carrying cables across the Bay of Cádiz. The old town is characterized by narrow streets connecting squares, bordered by the sea and by the city walls. Most of the landmark buildings are situated in the plazas.
While the Old City’s street plan consists of narrow winding alleys connecting large plazas, newer areas of Cádiz typically have wide avenues and more modern buildings. In addition, the city is dotted with numerous parks where exotic plants flourish, including giant trees allegedly brought to Spain by Columbus from the New World.
Province of Córdoba
The historic quarter of Córdoba is a beautiful network of small streets, alleys, squares and whitewashed courtyards arranged around the Mezquita, which reflects the city’s prominent place in the Islamic world during medieval times. Córdoba is home to notable examples of Moorish architecture such as the Mezquita-Catedral, which was named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984 and is now a cathedral. The UNESCO status has since been expanded to encompass the whole historic centre of Córdoba, Medina-Azahara and Festival de los Patios.
The land in the province of Cordoba spreads between olive groves and grapevines and is bathed by the tributaries of the Guadalquivir river which runs through it from one side to the other and separates it in two: the mountain area of Sierra Morena and the flat countryside of the Guadalquivir. To the south there is another area which is not as extensive, but higher: the Subbética mountain ranges. This mountainous landscape is home to a varied fauna. The province of Córdoba, which still bears traces of its Iberian, Roman and Muslim past, is rich in traditions; it has an outstanding architectural heritage, and its gastronomy has undergone a considerable resurgence with the revival of a range of dishes from the traditional cooking of the region.
Córdoba city, capital of Muslim Spain, is the main city in a territory located in the centre of Andalusia. A city having been the capital of a Roman province (Hispania Ulterior), also the capital of an Arab State (Al-Andalus) and a Caliphate. A great cultural reference point in Europe, this ancient city has been declared a World Heritage Site and contains a mixture of the diverse cultures that have settled it throughout history. Córdoba also has much to offer in terms of art, culture and leisure, thanks to a myriad of cultural events that are organized here throughout the year: Flamenco festivals, concerts, ballet and other activities. These events are complemented by a number of museums and a good nightlife scene.
Province of Granada
Granada is music and poetry, monuments which are pure art, and ancient culture. This province reaches towards the skies from the craggy summits of the Sierra Nevada mountains; cities with breathtaking architecture which reside serenely in the Altiplano region; white villages scattered across hills and valleys which slope down to the cliffs and beaches of the Costa Tropical. The province of Granada, tourist destination par excellence, offers travellers the chance to ski in the Sierra Nevada mountains, discover hidden villages in the Alpujarra region, explore the last frontier of the Al-Andalus empire in eastern Granada or stay in caves and experience a troglodyte’s lifestyle.
The whole province is full of incentives for those who love architecture and culture. The district of Santa Fe was where the discovery of America was planned by Christopher Columbus, and Fuente Vaqueros is the birthplace of Federico García Lorca, one of the most important poets and playwrights to grace Spanish literature. In history, Granada was conquered in 1492, means the success of the Reconquista of Spanish. As it was that same year that Christopher Columbus made his first voyage to the Americas, bringing back reports of the wealth and resources that could be gained there.
Granada city is a very worthwhile city with a rich multicultural history, the Alhambra and other monuments, nightlife and skiing and trekking in the nearby Sierra Nevada. The Alhambra, a medieval Nasrid citadel and palace, is located in Granada. It is one of the most famous monuments of Islamic architecture and one of the most visited tourist sites in Spain. Islamic-period influence and Moorish architecture are also preserved in the Albaicín neighborhood and other medieval monuments in the city. The 16th century also saw a flourishing of Mudéjar architecture and Renaissance architecture, followed later by Baroque and Churrigueresque styles.
Province of Huelva
From the westernmost foothills of Sierra Morena to the Atlantic coast, travellers exploring the province of Huelva will enjoy bountiful and delicate natural landscapes beneath bright blue skies. The mountain climate is warm and mild, and tempers the high summer temperatures and the rigours of winter. The centre is cooled in the evening by sea breezes. The temperate climate on the coast is perfect for enjoying the sun and the sea all year round, in a landscape dotted with inviting white villages, equipped with all modern amenities.
The province of Huelva is rich in traditions, and its scenic and cultural heritage goes back to the times of the Tartessian civilisation, of which traces can be found around Andévalo and the mining region. The shady forests in the mountain areas, the holm oak pastures and the ancient mines offer a chance to enjoy large expanses of unspoilt scenery. The fertile countryside of el Condado, with large agricultural towns and characteristic architecture, extends to the coast, with its mild climate and endless beaches against a backdrop of pines and junipers. The coast reaches the boundaries of the Doñana National Park, where the Guadalquivir river flows into the sea.
Huelva is the capital of the province of Huelva in the autonomous community of Andalusia. It is between two short rias though has an outlying spur including nature reserve on the Gulf of Cádiz coast. The history of this province, with its maritime tradition, goes back to the first millennium BC. At the end of the Middle Ages, the Atlantic ports in Huelva experienced a period of great splendour. Christopher Columbus’ first expedition set sail for the New World from the dock of Palos de la Frontera in 1492. Columbus’ heroic deed marked a watershed in Huelva’s history. Major attractions include its historical sites connected to Christopher Columbus, and for its historic pier, the Muelle de Rio Tinto.
Province of Jaén
The varied geography of the province of Jaén offers the beauty of its natural landscapes and the architecture and monuments in its villages and cities which keep alive the memory of a past of great splendour. Large expanses of gentle landscapes with olive groves stretching to the horizon. And among the olives and the lush vegetation of its nature reserves you will find outstanding examples of Iberian art, churches, cathedrals, palaces and castles built in the Gothic, Renaissance or Baroque style. Jaén is a land of excellent olive oil, and offers a dreamlike landscape for anyone passing through the Despeñaperros ravine which leads to the south.
The province of Jaén has had a significant historic role since ancient times. You can still see important remains dating from the time of the Phoenician, Greek and Carthaginian settlers. The battle of Navas de Tolosa in 1212 marked the end of five centuries of Muslim domination. The geographic profile of the province of Jaén, in which flat areas of fertile countryside with gentle contours alternate with zones of ridges and craggy mountain ranges, offers a landscape of imposing natural beauty, in which olive groves occupy two thirds of the cultivable land. In the mountain areas, with their rich and varied fauna, the typical Mediterranean vegetation can be seen in all its splendour.
Jaén city is called the world capital of olive oil, because the province produces 200,000 tons of oil annually. Around it, there are olive groves as far as the eye can see. Located on the hills of the Santa Catalina mountains, with steep, narrow streets, in the historical central city district. The city of Jaén is the administrative and industrial centre for the province. Industrial establishments in the city include chemical works, tanneries, distilleries, cookie factories, textile factories, as well as agricultural and olive oil processing machinery industry.
Province of Malaga
The province of Malaga is located in the south of the Mediterranean coast, Aancient and cosmopolitan Malaga in the past still retains its historic roots intact. Maritime Malaga on the coast where winter never comes; and with a mountain vocation inland, where nature is displayed in all its splendour. White villages with their attractive architecture, wrapped in romantic legend, bring points of light into secluded valleys where life goes by peacefully. And from the peaks of the mountains you can watch the horizon until it becomes lost in the immense blue of the sea. Malaga is today the primary force in the Andalusian tourist industry, keeping alive its tradition of a welcoming and creative land.
The province of Málaga has over 160 kilometres of coastline. A total of 14 districts are located directly on the Mediterranean Sea. You can find secluded enclaves set in unspoilt nature, as well as more established tourist resorts. The beaches in both the eastern and the western part of the province are so attractive they have made the Costa del Sol one of the top international destinations. Also a must is the landscape inland, with more than 15 officially protected areas classified as nature reserves, natural spaces or natural landmarks. Places that may be either in the depths of the Mediterranean or on the highest peaks. Magical forests and rivers where you can still find foxes, golden eagles and Spanish ibex.
Málaga city is the largest city on the Costa del Sol, with a typical Mediterranean climate and is also known as the birthplace of the artist Picasso. The city offers beaches, hiking, architectural sites, art museums, and excellent shopping and cuisine. Málaga is the centre and transport hub for the hugely popular Costa del Sol region, with lots of new construction as well as hotels and facilities geared to tourists. Málaga also offers some genuinely interesting historical and cultural attractions in its old city and its setting on the coast is still beautiful. Each year millions of citizens from all over the world choose this idyllic land to relax on its sun-drenched beaches, discover its rich architectural heritage or explore the wild beauty of its mountain geography.
Province of Seville
The province of Seville is a mosaic of cultures whose roots are buried in the remote past. The towns and cities on the shores of the river are living testimony to its historic and cultural past. The great river basin of the Guadalquivir, the Sierra Morena mountains and the marshes of the Doñana Nature Reserve offer visitors a scenic map of extensive wetlands, and a sanctuary for a variety of birdlife; you can explore mountain paths among lush Mediterranean vegetation, contemplate the fighting bulls grazing in pastures dotted with ancient holm oaks, or lose yourself in gently sloping lands with inviting villages and monumental cities which are living testimony to a historic past of unparalleled splendour.
The settlement of Julia Romula Hispalis, founded by Julius Caesar, was the hub of spectacular commercial activity. Major settlements were established throughout the territory, whose buildings and monuments can still be seen in the present day. The Arabs left an indelible mark on the culture and monuments of these lands. In the 16th century, Seville experienced its period of maximum splendour. The port of Seville received goods from all over Europe, as well as precious metals from the New World, which contributed to the development of western Europe. The Enlightenment saw a revival of trade, agriculture and industry. The Universal Exhibition of 1992 promoted and enhanced even more the reputation of Seville.
Seville city is Andalusia’s capital, the city is buzzing with festivals, color and a thriving nightlife scene. Its old town contains a UNESCO World Heritage Site comprising three buildings: the Alcázar palace complex, the Cathedral and the General Archive of the Indies. Seville has been a busy port from Roman times, under Muslim rule, and exploding during the Age of Discovery. With heritage from the Arabs and from the Age of Discovery, as well as the flamenco scene, Seville is a diverse destination. In the 19th century Seville gained a reputation for its architecture and culture and was a stop along the Romantic “Grand Tour” of Europe.
The Guadalquivir River has become an ideal place for practising all kinds of sports. In addition to various sightseeing and water activities around the river, more and more historical, cultural and ecological routes have been developed, stroll and hike, golf, winter sports, equestrian sports, outdoor sports…
Guadalquivir River Cruise in Seville City
Guadalquivir boat trips are a great highlights to Seville sightseeing, one of the most exciting sightseeing tour through several centuries of history of Seville. Get a complete perspective of both riversides, confronting the old part of town with the most modern one. See Seville from a unique position and enjoy privileged views of the city. Feel the history of Seville from the magical perspective of the water, go with the river current under the bridges and gaze at the beautiful skyline of an unique and incredible city.
The river became a strategic point of vital importance to Seville in terms of access to the New World. This was the place where the merchant ships berthed, at the Port of Seville, loaded with gold, silver, tobacco and other valuable goods in high demand. On the Guadalquivir banks, where great works are located, such as the Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza, the old bridges, the mythical Barrio de Triana, the pavilions of international exhibitions celebrated in Seville, the towers of the Plaza de España and numerous buildings that, in the past, chose to settle on the banks of the big river. Seethe Monastery of Santa Maria de las Cuevas, located on a small island in the Guadalquivir known as Isla de la Cartuja, where Christopher Columbus planned his trip across the ocean looking for India.
Cruise along the city’s main river and enjoy the wonderful views of Seville’s most beautiful panoramas, including the historical center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site for some years now. Observe the picturesque 19th century popular houses of Triana, and the enchanting bridges. You will also sail around the Parque de Maria Luisa to get a view of the 1929 Ibero-American Exhibition.
While on board you get a wide perspective of both riverbeds. It’s amazing the number of famous Seville landmarks you can see from a boat on the Guadalquivir and how close together they truly are. From the awe-inspiring Giralda to the ancient Torre del Oro (with its mysterious past) and onto the Barrio de Triana, experience the best views the city has to offer while enjoying a relaxing cruise along the River Guadalquivir.
On one hand there is a large part of the sights starting with the Torre del Oro itself, the Maestranza bullring and some of the pavilions of the 1929 Ibero-American Exhibition. On the other hand, you’ll see a much modern Seville with a panoramic of the Remedios neighborhood and part of the Cartuja Island. The most beautiful stretch is the Calle Betis (Betis Street), one of the most picturesque landmarks of Seville. This street is part of Triana, a very popular neighborhood where you can truly sense the deep Andalusian culture.
Furthermore, the boat will go under nine bridges being the Quincentenary Bridge the closest to the sea and the Alamillo Bridge the furthest. Out of these bridges, I would like to point out two of them. Both were built for the Universal Exposition that was held in Seville in 1992 (Expo’92). This Exposition was organized to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus.
The first one is the Barqueta Bridge, popularly known as “the basket”. It was built as part of the infrastructure improvements accomplished for the Expo’92. Actually, it is the main entrance gate or access to the Cartuja Island where the Universal Exposition site was. Today, most of the island has been transformed into offices but there are some place worthwhile a visit such as the Cartuja Monastery where the Contemporary Art Centre (CAAC) is, the Pabellon de la Navegacion and to Isla Mágica, an amusement park.
The other one is the Alamillo Bridge. Designed by the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, it provides access to the Cartuja Island, where the most of the Expo’92 pavilions were. It is probably the most beautiful bridge in Seville because of the contrast it gives between its modern design and the colonial architecture of the city.
Canoeing and rowing
For Seville, the Guadalquivir is part of the city’s identity. A good place to sail, stroll and play sports while enjoying spectacular views. Canoeing and rowing are great options to get to know the city from its main artery. With calm water, a wide riverbed and wonderful views of the city, the river is an iconic place for lovers of water sports. On many occasions, the river is bursting with colour: the shirts of the regional, national and international sportspeople who take part in the numerous events and competitions on the river, or the traditional Seville-Betis Regatta, among many others. The river has become a must for international rowing teams, as it is common to see canoeists and rowers of other nationalities in the Cartuja High Performance Rowing and Canoeing Specialised Centre which, in addition, is a place of permanent training for the Spanish teams of both sports.
You can enjoy canoeing not only in the Seville city, in Cazorla, going down the course of the Guadalquivir River becomes one of the star activities of the Summer, enjoying this aquatic activity is one of the best experiences you can have in the Cazorla, Segura y las Villas Natural Park. The environment in which this activity takes place is in the place known as the Cerrada del Utrero. This descent is carried out a few kilometers from the source of the Guadalquivir River and throughout the journey you will appreciate that it is an authentic natural wonder within the Cazorla, Segura y las Villas Natural Park. Throughout our tour we will have numerous waterfalls, small caves formed by the water, jumps into pools of crystal clear water and slides that will make the activity very fun for any age. Even, with luck, you will be able to see some animals that come to drink water from the river such as deer or fallow deer or spot the griffon vultures that inhabit the steep walls of this section of the Guadalquivir River.
Learn all about the history of Seville and the Guadalquivir river with us by kayak, a different way of discovering the city. Once you are in the water, the monitor will guide you along the river so you can enjoy the views and learn about the different buildings and bridges that you will see during the tour. The tour starts in the Barrio de Triana neighbourhood and includes the EXPO 92 facilities, the Barrio de El Arenal neighbourhood and the María Luisa Park area.
A Walk along the Guadalquivir: The route along the old road between Cordoba and Seville begins after crossing the old bridge over the Guadalquivir, near the Guadalquivir River Visitor Centre and in the lower part of the Chapel of Belén. The path passes near the Palma del Río railway station and continues towards the west along a dirt track where we’ll be able to see the Guadalquivir. Before going up a small hill, you can reach the banks of the “great river”, in an area dominated by dark stones, a place that offers magnificent panoramic views of the area.
The route ends at the Retortillo River, where you’ll see three bridges over the tributary which separates the provinces of Cordoba and Seville. The most interesting bridge is the one of Roman origin between the railway bridge and the main road bridge. All that remains of this old bridge along the Roman road connecting Cordoba and Seville, the Via Augusta, is an arch on the far bank of the Retortillo, in the district of Peñaflor.
Electric motorbike route
On this electric motorbike route you will ride on the road that connects two evocative Andalusian capitals that were ports of departure to the Americas, which, as such, have marked its monuments and idiosyncrasy. A relaxing and pleasant route that runs through open country and visits agricultural villages and cities steeped in history. A journey from the interior to discover its origins in the open ocean, in the always shimmering city of Cadiz.
Structured around the River Guadalquivir, the route commences in the iconic city of Seville, which is brimming with monumental buildings and gardens, amidst slender palm trees and the scent of orange blossom. After Dos Hermanas you will enter the open fields that accompany you throughout the route. You then ride along the wide, modern Southern highway to Los Palacios y Villafranca, where you leave the road and go through the town, enjoying its well-tended streets. You then take a narrow, straight, lonely, bumpy road, which meanders through endless rice fields recalling the lacustrine origins of these lands.
Arrive at Las Cabezas de San Juan, a splendid white village perched gracefully on a hill, overlooking the vast plain. From this point on, the road widens and the traffic becomes heaver. It will lead you to Lebrija, which is also notable as a hillock on the marshy plain. The homeland of the humanist Antonio de Lebrija, a mythical city founded by the god Bacchus, its farmsteads extend around its castle and Phoenician lighthouse, which provided light and guidance to the Tartessians and Punics at the beginning of time. The number of illustrious buildings in the historic centre is daunting, but, even so, Lebrija is a friendly, quiet, generous town, with deep agricultural roots.
Continue along wide, straight roads, which are typical of the Bajo Guadalquivir plain, to El Cuervo. There, take the broad and clear national road IV to enter the province of Cadiz. Fields of cotton and cereal and vineyards will escort you to the stately Jerez de la Frontera. The nerve centre of horses, wine and flamenco, it is also the motorcycling hub. It is a good place to stop and sample its gastronomy, or archaeogastronomy, since some daredevils are trying to revive the products and production techniques of the Roman period. Characterised by its emphasis on tapas culture.
Jerez is the capital of the El Marco de Jerez Protected Designation of Origin region, visiting a solera bodega or sampling a wild grape juice in a tabanco (a sherry bar) while listening to a palo flamenco (a kind of flamenco music). After touring the historic centre, most of which is classified as a Historic-Artistic Site, head for the bodegas in El Puerto de Santa María. Enjoy the view of the Bay of Cadiz and the marshes in the natural park, a place with a long history of salt production and the most modern estuary fishing.
The splendid beach of Valdelagrana is well worth visiting. Overlooking the bay, you cross it via the modern 1812 Constitution Bridge, taking care due to the strong and frequent winds. In silence, and almost as the crow flies, you will arrive at the fascinating, three-thousand-year-old city of Cadiz. Santa Cruz Cathedral, also called Santa Cruz over the Sea, although the people of Cadiz call it the New Cathedral in contrast to the Old Cathedral (church of Santa Cruz). It was built in the 18th and 19th centuries. Its distinctive domes have made it one of the symbols of Cadiz. From its Clock or Levante tower, you can admire an impressive panoramic view of the central district of El Pópulo, the Atlantic Ocean and the city’s port.