Andalucia is a land whose name conjures up vivid images of brave 'toreros' strutting across the sand, dark-eyed gypsies exploding into passionate dance, blood-red geraniums spilling from balconies in white-washed villages, and the sensuous sound of guitar music drifting through jasmine-scented patios on summer nights.
It is also the land of superlatives. It is the largest, most southern and, many say, the most beautiful of Spain's 17 regions. Within its 87,000 square kilometres, an area larger than Austria or Ireland, are the highest mountains in mainland Spain and the highest villages in Europe. Andalucia produces the best bullfighters and flamenco artists, and has some of the country's biggest and most colourful fiestas. Its towns and monuments are world-famous: Granada and its Alhambra, Cordoba and its Great Mosque, Jerez and its sherry bodegas, Seville and its old Santa Cruz quarter, Ronda and its spectacular gorge.