Spain … there are so many things that pop up in your mind when you think about Spain – colors, sun, food, music, dance, art, history, vacation. There is so much to explore in Spain that you can so easily get lost in this country’s vibrant identity. But let’s start from the beginning …
Spain is situated in the western part of Europe on the Iberian Peninsula, along with Portugal and Andorra. It covers an area of more then 500,000 km². This is the fourth-biggest country on the continent after Russia, Ukraine and France. Because of its location, the territories of Spain have been an object of interest from the time of the Greek and Roman Empires. It has even been conquered by the German tribes and the Moors. After the Catholic marriage of the first Spanish monarchs, the country became one of the first colonial empires dividing the New World territories. Today Spain is still a monarchy, ruled by King Felipe VI. Its history, culture, and landscapes have turned it into one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.
To visit Spain in one breath is almost impossible. So, one step at a time is better then rushing from city to city and spending your time on the road. Depending on what kind of a tourist you are, you can make a wonderful schedule of the places to visit.
History and art
From the Middle Ages and the Renaissance Period, Spain has played a huge role in European and world history. Every area of this lovely country has its own story to add to the county’s historical heritage. As a result, Spain has 45 sites included in the UNESCO World Heritage list. Along with whole cities like Segovia, Cordoba, Avila, Toledo, Salamanca, the islands and many more. You will find even bigger areas like the Garajonay and Donana National Parks, the Santiago de Compostela route and Pirineos mountain chain. Smaller sights on the list include the world famous Cave of Altamira, which unfortunately is still closed for visitors due to conservation problems, but a very good replica nearby is worth visiting. Alhambra – a magnificent memory from Spain’s Moorish period – a huge palace-fortress, described by the poets as “a pearl set in emeralds.” A few “newer” heritage sites are also a must in every tourist list – the still-unfinished Sagrada Familia Basilica by Antoni Gaudi (construction began in 1882) and the Vizcaya Bridge from 1893.
Along with the sightseeing Spain has given the world a lot of unique artists like Goya, El Greco, Mutillo, Zurbaran, Ribera, Velazques, Picasso, and Dali, to name a few. Some of them have changed the course of art history both during their life and even to this day. Their original artworks can be seen in the art galleries, museums and some cathedrals: Museo Nacional del Prado (popularly called El Prado), The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum and The National Museum in Madrid; The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao; Catalan National Art Museum and Picasso Museum in Barcelona; El Greco’s altarpieces in Toledo. Visiting those galleries can take you most of the day, so schedule them accordingly. And yes, to save time, book your tickets in advance.
Spain has given Europe not only art, but literature as well. The works of Miguele de Cervantes, Lope de Vega, Federico Lorca and many more are considered world classics. Two of the greatest literary characters that Spain presented to the world include Don Quixote and Don Juan. In the world of music, Spain is considered to be the birthplace of the guitar. Flamenco, and energetic yet elegant dance form, originated in Spain.
Due to the influence of many cultures, Spanish architecture has a unique form which is simple and graceful. However, some Mujedar, Gothic, and Modernism influences produced a few very distinct monuments. The Sagrada Familia Basilica in Barcelona being one of the best and most popular examples.
Beaches and Islands
If you are visiting Spain just for a vacation and want to avoid the fuss of the big cities, you have a great variety of islands and beaches to choose from. Some of the most famous ones are the Canary Islands, Tenerife, Majorca, Ibiza, Casa Brava, Lanzarote, and Fuerteventura. Scuba diving, whale watching, swimming, cycling, or golf are the different kind of activities that you can mix with leisurely beach walks, or sunbaths. The weather in Spain’s islands allows you to visit them all year round. You can even spend your Christmas holidays there! The temperature varies between 15 and 30 C, due to the subtropical and desert climate. Every island has its own magnifying magic, which will make you wish to stay there forever.
Landscapes and mountains
Because of its territories Spain has a great variety of landscapes and scenery to offer. Even if you are not a mountain-trekking lover, the beautiful wild views are worth a glimpse. The Pyrenees form a natural borderline between Spain and France. Montserrat is hiding some of Spain’s most famous abbeys and even the Holy Grail – or at least the legend says so! This mountain is a home for pilgrims from all over the world. If you are looking for skiing near the sea, Sierra Nevada is your place. Picos de Europa, Serra de Tramuntana, Sistema Iberico, Sierra de Cuenca, Montes de Toledo, Serrania de Cuenca, Cordillera Betica – Spain has a variety of mountain resorts, small villages and big city accommodation – just pick a place.
Culture and food
Spanish culture is influenced by so many eras, that is has become a colorful mix of Roman, German, Muslim, Catholic and African traditions, art and way of life. Language, clothes, holidays and even lifestyle are different in each place you visit. Almost every city and village in Spain speaks a different dialect of Spanish language. So don’t get discouraged if you know Spanish, but do not understand a thing! People everywhere are so friendly that they will help you in any situation. And the best situation that you can find yourself in is being hungry. Foods like tapas, gazpacho, paella, olive oil, ham, cheese and so many kinds of sea food and wine have made Spanish cuisine world known. So, when in Spain, do not discount the culinary surprises every restaurant has to offer. If you want to soak in the culture, just ask for something traditional and you will not leave hungry.
Spain is one of those tourist destinations which is suitable to backpackers, honeymooners, and families alike. There is something on offer for every age and interest. It is also a place which you can visit any time of the year. Even in the coldest of winters, the warmth of the locals will melt your heart. So why wait? Make Spain the next destination in your bucket list.
Originally posted 2017-05-08 07:54:21.