From culture itinerary to olive groves in Cordoba

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If you enjoy combining cultural history, good food and good drink with a stroll through pretty old streets and some olive groves, then the province of Cordoba in Spain’s southern region of Andalusia offers the perfect itinerary. There is perhaps no region of Spain as rich in cultural history and diverse in geography as Andalusia, spread across a varied topography from the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts to dramatic mountain peaks and wide valleys of olive trees stretching as far as the eye can see.

The city of Cordoba is less than two hours from Madrid aboard the high-speed “Ave” train, which offers a comfortable ride with excellent waiter service. Founded by the Romans, Cordoba sits strategically on the Guadalquivir river linking the port of Cadiz to the interior. It was the heart of the Moorish (Arab) empire that ruled Spain for 800 years until the “reconquest” by the Christian forces of King Ferdinand V and Queen Isabella I in 1492. The cultural legacy of Moorish Spain is still much in evidence, even if the society around it today is emphatically Christian and westernised.

Visits to the oil mills, as well as olive oil tastings, can be organised. The Al Masara Virgin del Carmen, owned by Manuel Montes Marin, has won a host of international awards for its oil. The most famous is Portico de la Villa, sold at gourmet stores across Europe, including Harrods in London. The age of the olive trees varies from 40 to 200. The 16,000 trees are spread over 170 hectares (420 acres) and carefully spaced to provide enough soil to nourish each one, creating a dotted patchwork over the hillsides.

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