163 Best Sights in Andalusia, Spain


Fodor's choice

Old Ronda—20 km (12 miles) north of Ronda—is the site of this old Roman settlement, a thriving town in the 1st century AD that was abandoned for reasons that still baffle historians. Today it's a windswept hillside with piles of stones, the foundations of a few Roman houses, and what remains of a theater. Views across the Ronda plains and to the surrounding mountains are spectacular. The site's opening hours vary depending on staff availability and excavations—check with the Ronda tourist office by phone before visiting.

Ronda, Andalusia, 29400, Spain
sights Details
Rate Includes: Free


Alhambra Fodor's choice

With more than 2.7 million visitors a year, the Alhambra is Spain's most popular attraction. The palace is an endless intricate conglomeration of patios, arches, and cupolas made from wood, plaster, and tile; lavishly colored and adorned with marquetry and ceramics in geometric patterns; and topped by delicate frothy profusions of lacelike stucco and mocárabes (ornamental stalactites).

Construction of the Alhambra began in 1238 by Mohammed ibn al-Ahmar, the first king of the Nasrids. The great citadel once comprised a complex of houses, schools, baths, barracks, and gardens surrounded by defense towers and seemingly impregnable walls. Today, only the Alcazaba (Citadel) and the Palacios Nazaríes, built chiefly by Yusuf I (1334–54) and his son Mohammed V (1354–91), remain.

Across from the main entrance is the original fortress, the Alcazaba. Its ruins are dominated by the Torre de la Vela (Watchtower); from its summit you can see the Albayzín to the north; to the northeast, the Sacromonte; and to the west, the cathedral. The tower's great bell was once used, by both the Moors and the Christians, to announce the opening and closing of the irrigation system on Granada's great plain.

A wisteria-covered walkway leads to the heart of the Alhambra, the Palacios Nazaríes, sometimes also called the Casa Real (Royal Palace). Here, delicate apartments, lazy fountains, and tranquil pools contrast vividly with the hulking fortifications outside, and the interior walls are decorated with elaborately carved inscriptions from the Koran. The Palacios Nazaríes are divided into three sections. The first is the mexuar, where business, government, and palace administration were headquartered. These chambers include the Oratorio (Oratory) and the Cuarto Dorado (Golden Room); gaze down over the Albayzín and Sacromonte from their windows. The second section is the serrallo, a series of state rooms where the sultans held court and entertained their ambassadors. In the heart of the serallo is the Patio de los Arrayanes (Court of the Myrtles), with a long goldfish pool. At its northern end, in the Salón de Embajadores (Hall of the Ambassadors)—which has a magnificent cedar door—King Boabdil signed the terms of surrender and Queen Isabel received Christopher Columbus.

The third and final section of the Palacios Nazaríes is the harem, which in its time was entered only by the sultan, his wives, the rest of his family, and their most trusted servants, most of them eunuchs. To reach it, pass through the Sala de los Mocárabes (Hall of the Ornamental Stalactites); note the splendid, though damaged, ceiling and the elaborate stalactite-style stonework in the arches above. The Patio de los Leones (Court of the Lions) is the heart of the harem. From the fountain in the center, 12 lions, thought to represent the months or signs of the zodiac, look out at you. Four streams flow symbolically to the four corners of the cosmos and more literally to the surrounding state apartments. The lions and fountain were restored in 2012 and the Court was paved with white marble as it would originally have been.

The Sala de los Abencerrajes (Hall of the Moors), on the south side of the palace, may be the Alhambra's most beautiful gallery, with its fabulous ornate ceiling and a star-shape cupola reflected in the pool below. Here Boabdil's father is alleged to have massacred 16 members of the Abencerrajes family—whose chief was the lover of his favorite daughter, Zoraya—and piled their bloodstained heads in the font. The Sala de los Reyes (Hall of the Kings, fully restored in 2017) lies on the patio's east side, decorated with ceiling frescoes thought to be the work of a visiting Christian Spaniard and painted during the last days of the Moors' tenure. To the north, the Sala de las Dos Hermanas (Hall of the Two Sisters) was Zoraya's abode. Its stuccoed ceiling is done in an intricate honeycomb pattern. Note the symmetrically placed patterned pomegranates on the walls.

The Baño de Comares (Comares Baths, aka the Royal Baths), the Alhambra's semi-subterranean bathhouse, is where the sultans' favorites luxuriated in brightly tiled pools beneath star-shape pinpoints of light from the ceiling above. The main rooms in the baths were fully restored in 2017 but are rarely open to visitors for conservation reasons, although you can glimpse their finery from the entrance.

The Renaissance Palacio de Carlos V (Palace of Carlos V), with a perfectly square exterior but a circular interior courtyard, is where the sultans' private apartments once stood. Designed by Pedro Machuca—a pupil of Michelangelo—and begun in 1526, the palace once was the site of bullfights and mock tournaments. Today its acoustics are perfect for the summer symphony concerts held during the Festival Internacional de Música y Danza de Granada.

A part of the building houses the Museo de la Alhambra (Museum of the Alhambra), devoted to Islamic art. Upstairs is the more modest Museo de Bellas Artes (Fine Arts Museum). You can visit the Palace of Carlos V and the museums independently of the Alhambra.

Over on the Cerro del Sol (Hill of the Sun) is the Generalife, ancient summer palace of the Nasrid kings. Its name comes from the Arabic gennat al-arif (garden of the architect), and its terraces and promenades grant incomparable views of the city that stretch to the distant lowlands. During the summer's International Festival of Music and Dance, stately cypresses serve as the backdrop for evening ballets in the Generalife amphitheater. Between the Alhambra and Generalife is the 16th-century Convento de San Francisco, one of Spain's most luxurious paradores.

Don't forget to visit the "Area of the Month"—each month one of the parts usually closed to visitors is open.

Allow a good half-day for your visit, a whole day if you have time. Note that if you book morning tickets for the Palacios Nazaríes, you must enter all parts of the Alhambra before 2 pm. If you book afternoon tickets, you'll not be able to access any part of the Alhambra (other than the museums) before 2 pm.

Buy Tickets Now

Baños Árabes

Fodor's choice

Explore the narrow alleys of old Jaén as you walk from the cathedral to the Baños Árabes (Arab Baths), which once belonged to Ali, a Moorish king of Jaén, and probably date to the 11th century. In 1592, a viceroy of Peru named Fernando de Torres y Portugal built himself a mansion, the Palacio de Villardompardo, right over the baths, so it took years of painstaking excavation to restore them to their original form. The palace contains a fascinating, albeit small, museum of folk crafts and a larger museum devoted to native art.

Pl. Luisa de Marillac, Jaén, Andalusia, 23001, Spain
sights Details
Rate Includes: Free, Closed Mon.

Recommended Fodor's Video

Bodegas Tradición

Fodor's choice

Tucked away on the north side of the old quarter and founded in 1998, this is one of the city's youngest bodegas, but it has the oldest sherry. The five types sit in the casks for at least 20 years—most for longer. Visits (book in advance by phone or email) include a tour of the winery, a lesson in how to pair each sherry type, and a tour of the unique Spanish art collection that includes works by El Greco, Zurburán, Goya, and Velázquez.

Calleja de las Flores

Judería Fodor's choice

A few yards off the northeastern corner of the mezquita, this tiny street has the prettiest patios, many with ceramics, foliage, and iron grilles. The patios are key to Córdoba's architecture, at least in the old quarter, where life is lived behind sturdy white walls—a legacy of the Moors, who honored both the sanctity of the home and the need to shut out the fierce summer sun. Between the first and second week of May—right after the early May Cruces de Mayo (Crosses of May) competition, when neighborhoods compete at setting up elaborate crosses decorated with flowers and plants—Córdoba throws a Patio Festival, during which private patios are filled with flowers, opened to the public, and judged in a municipal competition. Córdoba's tourist office publishes an itinerary of the best patios in town (downloadable from  patios.cordoba.es/en); note that most are open only in the mornings on weekdays but all day on weekends.

Buy Tickets Now

Casa de Pilatos

Fodor's choice

With its fine patio and superb azulejo decorations, this palace is a beautiful blend of Spanish Mudejar and Renaissance architecture and is considered a prototype of an Andalusian mansion. It was built in the first half of the 16th century by the dukes of Tarifa, ancestors of the present owner, the Duke of Medinaceli. It's known as Pilate's House because Don Fadrique, first marquis of Tarifa, allegedly modeled it on Pontius Pilate's house in Jerusalem, where he had gone on a pilgrimage in 1518. The upstairs apartments, which you can see on a guided tour, have frescoes, paintings, and antique furniture. Admission includes an audio guide in English.

Buy Tickets Now

Castillo de Santa Catalina

Fodor's choice

This castle, perched on a rocky crag 400 yards above the center of town, is Jaén's star monument. It may have originated as a tower built by Hannibal, but whatever its origins, the site was fortified continuously over the centuries. The Nasrid king Alhamar, builder of Granada's Alhambra, constructed an alcázar here, but Ferdinand III captured it from him in 1246 on the feast day of Santa Catalina (St. Catherine). Catalina consequently became Jaén's patron saint, so when the Christians built a castle and chapel here, they dedicated both to her. Guided tours are available twice daily.

Ctra. del Castillo de Santa Catalina, Jaén, Andalusia, 23001, Spain
sights Details
Rate Includes: €4 (free last 3 hrs Wed.)

Catedral de Sevilla

Centro Fodor's choice

Seville's cathedral can be described only in superlatives: it's the largest and highest cathedral in Spain, the largest Gothic building in the world, and the world's third-largest church, after St. Peter's in Rome and St. Paul's in London. After Fernando III captured Seville from the Moors in 1248, the great mosque begun by Yusuf II in 1171 was reconsecrated to the Virgin Mary and used as a Christian cathedral. In 1401 the people of Seville decided to erect a new cathedral, one that would equal the glory of their great city. They pulled down the old mosque, leaving only its minaret and outer courtyard, and built the existing building in just over a century—a remarkable feat for that time.

Highlights inside include the Capilla Mayor (Main Chapel) with a magnificent altarpiece (restored in 2014), the largest in Christendom (65 feet by 43 feet) and depicting some 36 scenes from the life of Christ.

At the south end of the cathedral is the monument to Christopher Columbus: his coffin is borne aloft by the four kings representing the medieval kingdoms of Spain: Castile, León, Aragón, and Navarra. At the opposite (north) end, don't miss the Altar de Plata (Silver Altar), an 18th-century masterpiece of intricate silversmithing.

In the Sacristía de los Cálices (Sacristy of the Chalices), look for Juan Martínez Montañés's wood carving Crucifixion, Merciful Christ; Juan de Valdés Leal's St. Peter Freed by an Angel; Francisco de Zurbarán's Virgin and Child; and Francisco de Goya's St. Justa and St. Rufina. The Sacristía Mayor (Main Sacristy) holds the keys to the city, which Seville's Moors and Jews presented to their conqueror, Fernando III. Finally, in the dome of the Sala Capitular (Chapter House), in the cathedral's southeastern corner, is Bartolomé Esteban Murillo's Immaculate Conception, painted in 1668.

One of the cathedral's highlights, the Capilla Real (Royal Chapel) is concealed behind a ponderous curtain, but you can duck in if you're quick, quiet, and properly dressed (no shorts or sleeveless tops): enter from the Puerta de los Palos on Plaza de la Virgen de los Reyes (signposted "Entrada para Culto," or "Entrance for Worship"). Along the sides of the chapel are the tombs of Beatrix of Swabia, wife of the 13th-century's Fernando III, and their son Alfonso X (the Wise); in a silver urn before the high altar rest the relics of Fernando III himself, Seville's liberator. Canonized in 1671, he was said to have died from excessive fasting.

Don't forget the Patio de los Naranjos (Courtyard of Orange Trees), on the church's northern side, where the fountain in the center was used for ablutions before people entered the original mosque.

The Christians could not bring themselves to destroy the tower when they tore down the mosque, so they incorporated it into their new cathedral. In 1565–68 they added a lantern and belfry to the old minaret and installed 24 bells, one for each of Seville's 24 parishes and the 24 Christian knights who fought with Fernando III in the Reconquest. They also added the bronze statue of Faith, which turned as a weather vane (el giraldillo, or "something that turns"); thus the whole tower became known as La Giralda. With its baroque additions, the slender Giralda rises 322 feet. Inside, instead of steps, 35 sloping ramps—wide enough for two horsemen to pass abreast—climb to a viewing platform 230 feet up. Don't miss the magnificent north facade of the cathedral, housing the Puerta del Perdón (Gate of Pardon) entrance to the courtyard. Restored between 2012 and 2015, the brickwork and white plaster on the huge wall strongly reflect the original 12th-century mosque. Admission also includes a visit to the Iglesia del Salvador.

Pl. de la Virgen de los Reyes s/n, Seville, Andalusia, 41004, Spain
sights Details
Rate Includes: €11, free Thurs. from 2:45 pm if you book via the website, Closed Sun. morning

Convento de Santa Paula

La Macarena Fodor's choice

This 15th-century Gothic convent has a fine facade and portico, with ceramic decorations by Nicolaso Pisano. The chapel has some beautiful azulejos and sculptures by Martínez Montañés. It also contains a small museum and a shop selling delicious cakes and jams made by the nuns.

Calle Santa Paula 11, Seville, Andalusia, 41002, Spain
sights Details
Rate Includes: €5, Closed afternoons

Doñana National Park

Fodor's choice

One of Europe's most important swaths of unspoiled wilderness, these wetlands spread out along the west side of the Guadalquivir estuary. The site was named for Doña Ana, wife of a 16th-century duke, who, prone to bouts of depression, one day crossed the river and wandered into the wetlands, never to be seen alive again. The 188,000-acre park sits on the migratory route from Africa to Europe and is the winter home and breeding ground for as many as 150 rare species of birds. Habitats range from beaches and shifting sand dunes to marshes, dense brushwood, and sandy hillsides of pine and cork oak. Two of Europe's most endangered species, the imperial eagle and the lynx, make their homes here, and kestrels, kites, buzzards, egrets, storks, and spoonbills breed among the cork oaks.

Buy Tickets Now


Fodor's choice

Once one of Roman Iberia's most important cities in the 2nd century, with a population of more than 10,000, Itálica today is a monument of Roman ruins. Founded by Scipio Africanus in 205 BC as a home for veteran soldiers, Itálica gave the Roman world two great emperors: Trajan (AD 52–117) and Hadrian (AD 76–138). You can find traces of city streets, cisterns, and the floor plans of several villas, some with mosaic floors, though all the best mosaics and statues have been removed to Seville's Museo Arqueológico. Itálica was abandoned and plundered as a quarry by the Visigoths, who preferred Seville. It fell into decay around AD 700. The remains include the huge elliptical amphitheater, which held 40,000 spectators; a Roman theater; and Roman baths. The finale for season 7 of Game of Thrones was filmed here in 2018. The small visitor center offers information on daily life in the city.

Buy Tickets Now


Barrio de Santa Cruz Fodor's choice

The twisting alleyways and traditional whitewashed houses add to the tourist charm of the Jewish Quarter. On some streets, bars alternate with antiques and souvenir shops, but most of the quarter is quiet and residential. On the Plaza de la Alianza, pause to enjoy the antiques shops and outdoor cafés. In the Plaza de Doña Elvira, with its fountain and azulejo benches, young Sevillanos gather to play guitars. Just around the corner from the hospital, at Callejón del Agua and Jope de Rueda, Gioacchino Rossini's Figaro serenaded Rosina on her Plaza Alfaro balcony. Adjoining the Plaza Alfaro, in the Plaza de Santa Cruz, flowers and orange trees surround a 17th-century filigree iron cross, which marks the site of the erstwhile church of Santa Cruz, destroyed by Napoleon's general Jean-de-Dieu Soult.

Madinat Al-Zahra

Fodor's choice

Built in the foothills of the Sierra Morena by Abd al-Rahman III (891–961) for his favorite concubine, al-Zahra (the Flower), the construction of this once-splendid summer pleasure palace was begun in 936. Historians say it took 10,000 men, 2,600 mules, and 400 camels 25 years to erect this fantasy of 4,300 columns in dazzling pink, green, and white marble and jasper brought from Carthage. A palace, a mosque, luxurious baths, fragrant gardens, fish ponds, an aviary, and a zoo stood on three terraces here; for around 70 years the Madinat was the de facto capital of al-Andalus, until, in 1013, it was sacked and destroyed by Berber mercenaries. In 1944, the Royal Apartments were rediscovered, and the throne room carefully reconstructed. The outline of the mosque has also been excavated. The only covered part of the site is the Salon de Abd al-Rahman III (due to open in mid-2023 after a decade of restoration work); the rest is a sprawl of foundations and arches that hint at the splendor of the original city-palace. Begin at the visitor center, which provides background information and a 3D reconstruction of the city, and continue to the ruins, around 2 km (1 mile) away. You can walk, but it's uphill, so consider taking the shuttle bus (€3, or included in the €10 bus ticket from the Paseo de la Victoria in the city center). Both services run frequently. The tourist office can provide schedule details. Allow 2½ to 3 hours for your visit. You can visit the ruins at night TuesdaySaturday between mid-June and mid-September.

Buy Tickets Now


Judería Fodor's choice

Built between the 8th and 10th centuries, Córdoba's mosque is one of the earliest and most beautiful examples of Spanish Islamic architecture. The plain, crenellated exterior walls do little to prepare you for the sublime beauty of the interior. As you enter through the Puerta de las Palmas (Door of the Palms), some 850 columns rise before you in a forest of jasper, marble, granite, and onyx. The pillars are topped by ornate capitals taken from the Visigothic church that was razed to make way for the mosque. Crowning these, red-and-white-striped arches curve away into the dimness, and the ceiling is of delicately carved tinted cedar. The mezquita has served as a cathedral since 1236, but its origins as a mosque are clear. Built in four stages, it was founded in 785 by Abd al-Rahman I (756–88) on a site he bought from the Visigoth Christians. He pulled down their church and replaced it with a mosque, one-third the size of the present one, into which he incorporated marble pillars from earlier Roman and Visigothic shrines. Under Abd ar-Rahman II (822–52), the mezquita held an original copy of the Koran and a bone from the arm of the prophet Mohammed and became a Muslim pilgrimage site second only in importance to Mecca.

Al-Hakam II (961–76) built the beautiful mihrab (prayer niche), the mezquita's greatest jewel. Make your way over to the qibla, the south-facing wall in which this sacred prayer niche was hollowed out. (Muslim law decrees that a mihrab face east, toward Mecca, and that worshippers do likewise when they pray. Because of an error in calculation, this one faces more south than east. Al-Hakam II spent hours agonizing over a means of correcting such a serious mistake, but he was persuaded to let it be.) In front of the mihrab is the maksoureh, a kind of anteroom for the caliph and his court; its mosaics and plasterwork make it a masterpiece of Islamic art. A last addition to the mosque as such, the maksoureh was completed around 987 by al-Mansur, who more than doubled its size.

After the Reconquest, the Christians left the mezquita largely undisturbed, dedicating it to the Virgin Mary and using it as a place of Christian worship. The clerics did erect a wall closing off the mosque from its courtyard, which helped dim the interior and thus separate the house of worship from the world outside. In the 13th century, Christians had the Capilla de Villaviciosa (Villaviciosa Chapel) built by Moorish craftsmen, its Mudejar architecture blending with the lines of the mosque. But that was not so for the heavy, incongruous baroque structure of the cathedral, sanctioned in the very heart of the mosque by Carlos V in the 1520s. To the emperor's credit, he was supposedly horrified when he came to inspect the new construction, exclaiming to the architects: "To build something ordinary, you have destroyed something that was unique in the world" (not that this sentiment stopped him from tampering with the Alhambra to build his Palacio Carlos V). Rest up and reflect in the Patio de los Naranjos (Courtyard of the Oranges), perfumed in springtime by orange blossoms. The Puerta del Perdón (Gate of Forgiveness), so named because debtors were forgiven here on feast days, is on the north wall of the courtyard and is the formal entrance to the mosque. The Virgen de los Faroles (Virgin of the Lanterns), a small statue in a niche on the outside wall of the mosque along the north side on Calle Cardenal Herrero, is behind a lantern-hung grille, rather like a lady awaiting a serenade. The Torre del Alminar, the minaret once used to summon the Muslim faithful to prayer, has a baroque belfry that reopened to visitors in late 2014. Views from the top are well worth the climb, but be aware that it's the equivalent of 12 flights of stairs.

Allow a good hour for your visit.

Buy Tickets Now

Museo de Bellas Artes

El Arenal Fodor's choice

This museum—one of Spain's finest for Spanish art—is in the former convent of La Merced Calzada, most of which dates from the 17th century. The collection includes works by Murillo (the city celebrated the 400th anniversary of his birth in 2018) and the 17th-century Seville school, as well as by Zurbarán, Diego Velázquez, Alonso Cano, Valdés Leal, and El Greco. You will also see outstanding examples of Sevillian Gothic art and baroque religious sculptures in wood (a quintessentially Andalusian art form). In the rooms dedicated to Sevillian art of the 19th and 20th centuries, look for Gonzalo Bilbao's Las Cigarreras, a group portrait of Seville's famous cigar makers. An arts-and-crafts market is held outside the museum on Sunday morning.

Museo de Bellas Artes

San Francisco Fodor's choice

Hard to miss because of its deep-pink facade, Córdoba's Museum of Fine Arts, in a courtyard just off the Plaza del Potro, belongs to a former charity hospital. It was founded by Fernando and Isabel, who twice received Columbus here. The collection, which includes paintings by Murillo, Valdés Leal, Zurbarán, Goya, and Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida, concentrates on local artists. Highlights are altarpieces from the 14th and 15th centuries and the large collection of prints and drawings, including some by Fortuny, Goya, and Sorolla.

Palacio de la Condesa de Lebrija

Centro Fodor's choice

This lovely palace has three ornate patiosincluding a spectacular courtyard graced by a Roman mosaic taken from the ruins in nearby Itálicasurrounded by Moorish arches and fine azulejos (painted tiles). The side rooms house a collection of archaeological items. The second floor contains the family apartments, and visits are by guided tour only.  It's well worth paying for the second-floor tour, which gives an interesting insight into the collections and the family.

Buy Tickets Now

Parque María Luisa

Parque Maria Luisa Fodor's choice

Formerly the garden of the Palacio de San Telmo, this park blends formal design and wild vegetation. In the burst of development that gripped Seville in the 1920s, it was redesigned for the 1929 World's Fair, and the impressive villas you see now are the fair's remaining pavilions, many of them consulates or schools. The old casino holds the Teatro Lope de Vega, which puts on mainly musicals. Note the Anna Huntington statue of El Cid (Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, 1043–99), who fought both for and against the Muslim rulers during the Reconquest. The statue was presented to Seville by the Massachusetts-born sculptor for the 1929 World's Fair.

Buy Tickets Now

Parque Natural Sierra de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas

Fodor's choice

For a break from man-made sights, drink in the scenery or watch for wildlife in this park, a carefully protected patch of mountain wilderness 80 km (50 miles) long and 30 km (19 miles) wide. Deer, wild boars, and mountain goats roam its slopes, and hawks, eagles, and vultures soar over the 6,000-foot peaks. Within the park, at Cañada de las Fuentes (Fountains' Ravine), is the source of Andalusia's great river, the Guadalquivir. The road through the park follows the river to the shores of Lago Tranco de Beas. Alpine meadows, pine forests, springs, waterfalls, and gorges make Cazorla a perfect place to hike. Past Lago Tranco and the village of Hornos, a road goes to the Sierra de Segura mountain range, the park's least crowded area. At 3,600 feet, the spectacular village of Segura de la Sierra, on top of the mountain, is crowned by an almost perfect castle with impressive defense walls, a Moorish bath, and a nearly rectangular bullring. Nearby are a botanical garden and a game reserve.

Early spring is the ideal time to visit; try to avoid the summer and late-spring months, when the park teems with tourists and locals. It's often difficult, though by no means impossible, to find accommodations in fall, especially on weekends during hunting season (September through February). Between June and October, the park maintains four well-equipped campgrounds. For information on hiking, camping, canoeing, horseback riding, or guided excursions, contact the Agencia de Medio Ambiente (Calle Martínez Falero 11, Cazorla, 953/720125), or the park visitor center. For hunting or fishing permits, apply to the Jaén office well in advance.

Plaza de la Asunción

Fodor's choice

Here on one of Jerez's most intimate squares you can find the Mudejar church of San Dionisio (open 10–noon, Monday–Thursday), patron saint of the city, and the ornate cabildo municipal (city hall) with a lovely plateresque façade dating to 1575.

Real Alcázar

Fodor's choice

The Plaza del Triunfo forms the entrance to the Mudejar palace, the official local residence of the king and queen, built by Pedro I (1350–69) on the site of Seville's former Moorish alcázar. Built more than 100 years after the Reconquest of Seville, this isn't a genuine Moorish palace but it's authentic enough—parts of the palace and gardens were recreated as a Dornish palace for the final seasons of Game of Thrones, which filmed here in 2015 and 2018.

Entering the alcázar through the Puerta del León (Lion's Gate) and the high fortified walls, you'll first find yourself in the Patio del León (Courtyard of the Lion). Off to the left are the oldest parts of the building, the 14th-century Sala de Justicia (Hall of Justice) and, next to it, the intimate Patio del Yeso (Courtyard of Plaster), the only extant part of the original 12th-century Almohad Alcázar. Cross the Patio de la Montería (Courtyard of the Hunt) to Pedro's Mudejar palace, arranged around the beautiful Patio de las Doncellas (Court of the Damsels), resplendent with delicately carved stucco. Opening off this patio, the Salón de Embajadores (Hall of the Ambassadors), with its cedar cupola of green, red, and gold, is the most sumptuous hall in the palace. Other royal rooms include the three baths of Pedro's powerful and influential mistress, María de Padilla. María's hold on her royal lover and his courtiers was so great that legend says they all lined up to drink her bathwater. The Patio de las Muñecas (Court of the Dolls) takes its name from two tiny faces carved on the inside of one of its arches.

The Renaissance Palacio de Carlos V is endowed with a rich collection of Flemish tapestries depicting Carlos's victories at Tunis. Upstairs, the Cuarto Real Alto (Royal Chambers, where the king and queen stay when they visit) are packed with antiques. In the gardens, inhale the fragrances of jasmine and myrtle, wander among terraces and baths, and peer into the well-stocked goldfish pond. From here, a passageway leads to the Patio de las Banderas (Court of the Flags), which has a classic view of La Giralda. Allow at least two hours for your visit.

Book your ticket online to avoid long lines and at least one month in advance to avoid disappointment. If you want to see the Cuarto Real Alto, reserve as far in advance as possible and plan to arrive at least 30 minutes before your allocated time slot.

Buy Tickets Now

Real Escuela Andaluza del Arte Ecuestre

Fodor's choice

This prestigious school operates on the grounds of the Recreo de las Cadenas, a 19th-century palace. The school was masterminded by Álvaro Domecq in the 1970s. At noon every Tuesday and Thursday (Thursday only in January and February), as well as each Friday August through October, the Cartujana horses—a cross between the native Andalusian workhorse and the Arabian—and skilled riders in 18th-century riding costume demonstrate intricate dressage techniques and jumping in the spectacular show Cómo Bailan los Caballos Andaluces (roughly, The Dancing Horses of Andalusia).  Reservations are essential.

The price of admission depends on how close to the arena you sit; the first two rows are the priciest. At certain other times you can visit the museum, stables, and tack room and watch the horses being schooled.

Buy Tickets Now

Sinagoga del Agua

Fodor's choice

This 13th-century synagogue counts among Úbeda's most amazing discoveries. Entirely underground and known as the "Water Synagogue" for the wells and natural spring under the mikvah, it comprises seven areas open to visitors, including the main area of worship, mikvah, women's gallery, and rabbi's quarters. During the summer solstice the sun's rays illuminate the stairway, providing the only natural light in the synagogue.

Torre Tavira

Fodor's choice

At 150 feet tall, this watchtower is the highest point in the old city. More than a hundred such structures were used by Cádiz ship owners to spot their arriving fleets. A camera obscura gives a good overview of the city and its monuments. The last show is held 30 minutes before closing time.

Abadía del Sacromonte


The caverns on Sacromonte are thought to have sheltered early Christians. In the 15th century, treasure hunters found bones inside and assumed they belonged to San Cecilio, the city's patron saint. Thus, the hill was sanctified—sacro monte (holy mountain)—and this abbey was built on its summit. Audio guides are available in English.

C. del Sacromonte s/n, Granada, Andalusia, 18010, Spain
sights Details
Rate Includes: €5

Alameda del Tajo

Beyond the bullring in El Mercadillo, you can relax in these shady gardens, one of the loveliest spots in Ronda. A balcony protrudes from the face of the cliff, offering a vertigo-inducing view of the valley below. Stroll along the cliff-top walk to the Reina Victoria hotel, built by British settlers from Gibraltar at the turn of the 20th century as a fashionable rest stop on the Algeciras–Bobadilla rail line.

Paseo de Ernest Hemingway s/n, Ronda, Andalusia, 29400, Spain


Once the residence of the caliph of Seville, the 12th-century alcázar and its small octagonal mosque and baths were built for the Moorish governor's private use. The baths have three sections: the sala fría (cold room), the larger sala templada (warm room), and the sala caliente (hot room) for steam baths. In the midst of it all is the 17th-century Palacio de Villavicencio, built on the site of the original Moorish palace. A camera obscura, a lens-and-mirrors device that projects the outdoors onto a large indoor screen, offers a 360-degree view of Jerez.

Buy Tickets Now
Calle Alameda Vieja s/n, Jerez de la Frontera, Andalusia, 11402, Spain
sights Details
Rate Includes: €5, free Mon. (1:30–2:30 pm Oct.–June; 4:30–5:30 pm July–Sept.), Closed after 2:30 pm Oct.–June

Alcázar de la Puerta de Sevilla

Not to be confused with the alcázar in Seville, this imposing structure is a Moorish fortification in Carmona that was built on Roman foundations. Maps are available at the tourist office, in the tower beside the gate. It's worth a short stop if you have time, but it's not a must-do.

Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos


Built by Alfonso XI in 1328, the alcázar in Córdoba is a Mudejar-style palace with splendid gardens. (The original Moorish alcázar stood beside the mezquita, on the site of the present Bishop's Palace.) This is where, in the 15th century, the Catholic Monarchs held court and launched their conquest of Granada. Boabdil was imprisoned here in 1483, and for nearly 300 years, this alcázar served as the Inquisition's base. The most important sights here are the Hall of the Mosaics and a Roman stone sarcophagus from the 2nd or 3rd century.

Buy Tickets Now

Alcázar del Rey Don Pedro

This Moorish structure was built on Roman foundations and converted by King Pedro the Cruel into a Mudejar palace. Pedro's summer residence was destroyed by a 1504 earthquake, and all that remains are ruins that can be viewed but not visited. However, the parador within the complex has a breathtaking view, and the café and restaurant are lovely spots to have a refreshment or meal.

Calle Los Alcázares s/n, Carmona, Andalusia, 41410, Spain