Above: The pool at Hacienda de San Rafael in Seville, Spain

Andalusia is as close as Europe gets to Africa, and the region’s capital, Seville, embodies Spain’s rich blend of Latin and Moorish traditions. Its name originated as Al-Andalus, Arabic for “land of the West.” From 711 to 1492,Andalusiawas part of the Moorish world. Situated on the Guadalquivir River, Seville is Spain’s fourth-largest city, with a population of 700,000 people. A compact low-rise metropolis, it is a place of vibrant plazas, whitewashed residences festooned with scarlet geraniums and a pedestrian culture that invites exploration. (Although some parts of the city — I’m thinking of the barrios, with their narrow, winding streets — require good map-reading skills and attention to where you are going.)

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Above: The pool at Hacienda de San Rafael in Seville, Spain

Read More from Our Trip:

Sampling Andalusian Cuisine in the Restaurants of Seville The Jerez Horse Fair A Primer on Sherry, Spain’s Most Underrated Wine