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Fascinating Facts

Do you want to find out some little-known interesting facts about Andalucia’s most famous towns, cities and pastimes? Which films were shot in Seville, why the Mezquita was built with its pillared arches, which Beatle loved Almeria, who brought golf to Andalucia?

Our Fascinating Facts series are five snippet-sized unusual pieces of information about well-known places you’re likely to visit while you’re in Andalucia.

Since 2002 Malaga´s major draw has been its Picasso museum. This 66-million euro project is housed in the 16th-century Palacio de Buenavista. The permanent collection - including 155 works donated by the artist´s daughter-in-law, Christine Ruiz-Picasso, and her son Bernard - is divided into periods, illustrating every stage of Picasso´s extraordinary career.

The city's name started out as "Xeres" in Roman times (though the Phoenicians were here before them), then became "Sherrish" under its Moorish rulers (giving its name to the fortified wine, finally ending up as "Jerez de la Frontera" in the late 14th century, due to its location on the border of the Muslim and Christian-ruled regions. In Catalan, Italian and French, sherry is still called "Xeres", harking back to the Roman/medieval Castillian word, "Xerez".

Jaen´s name comes from the Moorish word geen or jayyan, meaning stopping post on a caravan route. King Ferdinand III captured the city from Ibn-Nasr, who subsequently founded the Nasrid kingdom of Granada in 1246, and Jaen had a strategic position on the frontline between Christian Spain and Moorish Granada. It was used as the gateway for the armies in the Reconquest, and Ferdinand and Isabella launched their final assault on Boabdil´s Granada from here in 1492.

The British engineers and miners who worked in the 19th and 20th centuries wanted to make themselves a home-from-home. So they built English-style houses complete with front gardens, right in the middle of Huelva. The Victorian Barrio Obrero, also known as the Barrio Reina Victoria, which dates from 1916, is a microcosm of suburban England in Andalucia. Based on the concept of a garden city, it has avenues of mock-Tudor semis, with lawns, hedges and rose gardens.

Do you want to find out some little-known interesting facts about Andalucia’s most famous towns, cities and pastimes? Which films were shot in Seville, why the Mezquita was built with its pillared arches, which Beatle loved Almeria, who brought golf to Andalucia?

No Andalucian city is complete without its mighty Moorish fortress. Malaga´s Alcazaba is one of the mightiest and most extensive, and dates from the eighth century. It overlooks the recently restored Roman Amphitheatre just below, illustrating the city´s rich history. You can continue following the city´s fortunes over the centuries inside the Alcazabar, in the Archeological Museum, which houses Phoenician, Roman and Moorish artefacts.

Malaga´s astonishing reinvention of itself, from stopping-off point for beachgoers to artistic mecca of southern Spain, has been triggered by the Picasso museum and followed up by the  Centro de Arte Contemporaneo (CAC) de Malaga, Malaga´s Tate Modern. This has temporary exhibitions by cutting-edge international artists, such as Louise Bourgeois and Robert Mapplethorpe, as well as showing both up-and-coming and established Spanish artists (Chema Cobo), and a permanent collection.

Although its history dates back centuries, since the 1950s Malaga has been best-known as the gateway to the Costa de Sol. Many of the 16 million holidaymakers who arrive at the airport annually head straight for the beaches - all the better for those who come to enjoy this atmospheric city.

Fortified wines were first exported to England from Jerez as long ago as the 14th century; some British Catholics fled here in the 16th century and started up as wine-traders. Later, in the 17th century, others opened their own bodegas (Garvey, Duff-Gordon, Wisdom & Warter).

Well-known as the place where sherry that classic English tipple, is produced, Jerez is also equally famous both for its horses and its flamenco. Situated in the province of Cadiz, and larger than its capital city, it is only 20km from the coast, but has an aristocratic, anglophile atmosphere all of its own. A major event in Jerez's annual calendar is the colourful, lively Vendimia (Grape Harvest) Festival in September.

The Castillo Santa Catalina, one of Spain´s most magnificently-located paradors, is located on a spectacular site dating from the 10th century. The strategically crucial Moorish fortress was built by Ibn Al-Ahmar (Ibn Nasr, founder of the Nasrids of Granada).