Route No. 9: “Historic Spain”


As a continuing feature we will be highlighting a selected route from our guidebook ‘Europe by Rail’ written by Nicky Gardner & Susanne Kries, every week.  Below is an extract from the book. To find out more, the guidebook can be purchased through our website for £15.99.

This week we are looking at: Route No. 9: “Historic Spain” which begins in Barcelona, passing through Valencia and Seville and ending in Cadiz.

Spain’s high-speed rail network was inaugurated in 1992 with the opening of a fast link from Madrid to Seville. Since then, the network served by super-fast trains (known as Alta Velocidad Española or AVE services) has been progressively extended. With a little planning you can enjoy a Catalan breakfast in Barcelona, stop off for a leisurely lunch in Madrid and still be in Málaga in time for tapas. Route 10 in this book describes that fast route south from Catalonia to Andalucía.

Not everyone favours such speed, and Route 9 is a real slow travel experience. When the early Scottish traveller Henry David Inglis headed south from Madrid to Andalucía in 1830, he bemoaned the fact that the regular stage carriage took merely a week – too fast, he felt, to really do justice to the landscapes along the way. The old roads to Andalucía all converge on a single natural defile that strikes a huge gash through the mountains. The Sierra Morena may not tower to great heights, but the rugged demeanour of these mountains creates a formidable barrier to travellers bound for the south.

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