For some years now, when we are not backpacking worldwide, we base ourselves in a small Almeria village close to Cabo de Gata.
And we love it, to be honest. Andalusia is one of our favorite places globally, either for its cities full of history, for its charming villages, or its tables full of delicious things.
And today, we bring you on a trip to our adopted community in a different way, with these 15 curiosities of Andalusia that, perhaps, you didn’t know.
Disclaimer: We promise not to talk about Easter, nor Cruzcampo, nor the siesta, nor the Feria de Abril, and we will not call you Pisha or Quillo.
15 Interesting Facts About Andalusia, You Didn’t Know About
1. Two seas bathe it
Andalusia is the only autonomous community in Spain with coasts bathed by the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.
And they are not precisely few: in total, there are about 1,000 km of coastline, divided into 4 sections: Costa de Almeria, Costa Tropical, Costa del Sol, and Costa de la Luz.
2. Only 14 km separate it from Africa.
If you jump into the water at a specific point of this coastline, you will only have 14 kilometers ahead to reach Africa. You will be swimming across the Strait of Gibraltar.
It may seem that this achievement is only within reach of very few swimmers (such as the famous David Meca), but in reality, many people have achieved it since the British Mercedes Gleitze did it for the first time in 1928.
An Association for the Swimming Crossing of the Strait of Gibraltar (ACNEG) supports those who want to try it.
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3. The coat of arms of Andalusia
And by the way, this place has a lot to do with the coat of arms of Andalusia, in which appears the figure of Hercules taming two lions between the two columns of Hercules.
And here comes the curiosity: according to legend, these columns were located on either side of the Strait of Gibraltar, marking the boundary of the known world (and were one of the seven wonders of the ancient world).
At the feet of Hercules, an inscription reads: “Andalusia for itself, for Spain and Humanity.”
4. Land of Castles
Another curiosity of Andalusia is that throughout the length and breadth of the Community, there are hundreds and hundreds of castles. Still, it is in Jaén where things get out of hand.
This province has the highest concentration of fortresses and castles in Europe! Some of the most beautiful are the Castillo de La Guardia, the Castillo de La Mota, the Castillo de la Yedra, the Castillo de Segura de la Sierra, and the Castillo de Santa Catalina.
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5. And the only desert in Europe
Andalusia offers spectacular scenery, supports and it is not surprising that it has been used as a location for numerous films.
Although if you had to stay with one, it would undoubtedly be the Tabernas Desert (Almeria). It was the only European desert and the setting of countless films (from spaghetti westerns to hit series like Game of Thrones).
Desert of Tabernas Almeria
6. The second-largest Geode in the world
In Pulpí (Almería), there is one of the most curious places in Andalusia and Spain.
We are talking about the geode of Pulpí, characterized by the huge selenite crystals that make it the second-largest geode in the world (the first is in Mexico).
This is the only one that, due to its environmental conditions, can be visited without equipment.
Don’t you think it is one of the coolest curiosities of Andalusia?
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7. Olive oil, Andalusia’s liquid gold
Spain is the world’s largest producer of olive oil. Andalusia produces 80% of the total. Located in the province of Jaen, the liquid gold capital of the world.
Well, maybe you already knew that, but did you know that another Andalusian record has to do with golf courses?
Yes, it is the area with the highest concentration of golf courses in Europe! We had no idea, to be honest.
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8. Andalusian Legacy
For no more and no less than 800 years, Andalusia was home to the Arab people, and the Andalusian legacy of this time is immense.
It is everywhere: in music, language, food, and, of course, architecture. The Alhambra in Granada, the Reales Alcazares in Seville, the mosque in Cordoba, the Alcazaba in Almeria are just some of the best examples.
The Arabs are also responsible for such essential contributions as irrigation systems, the Spanish guitar, advances in medicine, anatomy, mathematics, physics… and the modernization of Cordoba and Granada, which became famous in Europe. Oh, and nougat!
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9. Walt Disney, an Andalusian?
And from the Arabs to Walt Disney. Walt Disney? What does he have to do with the curiosities of Andalusia?
Well, everything points to a mere urban legend. Still, some claim that Walt Disney himself was born in Mojacar, and his supposed mother (Isabel Zamora) decided to emigrate to the United States in search of a better life.
Unfortunately, things did not work out well for her, and she had to give her son up for adoption. Rumor has it that Elias and Flora Disney were the adoptive parents. True or false? Who knows…
10. Flamenco, a worldwide symbol of Andalusia
There are many theories about the origin of flamenco, that style of singing and dancing so peculiar and symbolic that it is already a symbol of Spain in the world.
It seems clear that it originated in Andalusia due to the perfect symbiosis of Muslims, gypsies, Castilians, Andalusians, Africans, and Jews.
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Flamenco in Andalusia
11. The highest mountain in the Peninsula
Surely you know that the highest mountain in Spain is Tenerife: the Teide takes the gold medal with 3,718 meters.
The silver medal was awarded to the Mulhacén, located in the Sierra Nevada (Granada), measuring 3,482 meters.
There are several peaks above 3,000 meters in this mountain range, and a hiking route runs through them (the “HI TREK” of 114 km that we will soon do).
Curiosity: The name comes from Muley Hacén and refers to Mulay Hasan, a Nasrid king of the fifteenth century.
12. The rainiest place, or not?
Meteorology has always been clement with Andalusia, and for that reason, perhaps, it has been popularized the belief that the Sierra de Grazalema is the rainiest place in Spain.
But the numbers do not lie and, although it is true that the 2,103 liters/year per square meter are an exceptional case in southern Spain, they do not reach the 2,959 mm of some areas of A Coruña. So, the saying “it always rains in Galicia” is true.
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13. A sea of white houses
Because what it does in Andalusia is hot, and very hot! So to combat the sun’s rays, many Andalusian villages decided to paint their houses white…
The objective was to make them less desirable and withstand the summer in the best possible way.
Tip: If you have not yet made a route through the white villages of Cadiz, you are already late!
14. White garlic, one of the most curious Andalusian dishes
White garlic is one of the most curious Andalusian dishes. Typical, especially in Malaga, this cold soup is a perfect alternative to Gazpacho or Salmorejo.
It is prepared with bread, olive oil, vinegar, garlic, salt, and almonds.
15. Cadiz Carnival
And finally, we could not forget the Carnival of Cadiz, one of Spain’s most famous and funniest.
The highlight is the Official Competition of Carnival Groups, in which the Chirigotas compete with their funny songs, which seek to provoke laughter thanks to their humor and satirical character.
One of its rules is that only these instruments can be used: bass drum, snare drum, guitar, and the characteristic carnival whistle.
There are 15 curiosities of Andalusia so far, but there are 1500 more. Can you tell us more about them?