The name Andalusia is derived from the Arabic “Al-Andalus,” the name of the Islamic kingdom that once occupied much of the Iberian Peninsula. For nearly 800 years, the Moors (North African Arab/Berber Muslims) lavished affection on their conquered territory, leaving a glorious legacy of architecture and gardens. When they were finally expelled in 1492, Andalusia entered a new golden age with the discovery of the Americas. Today, the charm of cities such as Córdoba, Seville and Granada is complemented by excellent roads and fast trains from Madrid. We also recommend a visit to medieval Arcos de la Frontera, one of the so-called “pueblos blancos” (white villages), which caps a crag above the Guadalete River. Carmona is perched on a steep, flat-topped hill and has a quietly aristocratic character. The handsome city of Jerez de la Frontera is renowned for its sherry bodegas. And 75 miles east of Jerez, picturesque Ronda is situated on either side of “El Tajo,” a dramatic 390-foot gorge.