The country possesses an intertwining story that pulls the country from all directions highlighting the singularity of this country in Europe, from the Moorish Muslim Golden ages, the Spanish Civil War, the horrors of the dictatorship and recently the democracy of the recent decades. Spain has a rich legacy that can be traced across it’s surviving history through architecture, art, and especially music and even dance that fills the streets in the numerous yearly festivals.
North of Spain
Spain possess awe inspiring landscapes, with the northern Pyrenees separating Spain from France and acting as the natural barrier which led to distinguished French and Spanish cultures. Whilst, the north is less visited than Barcelona, Madrid and the Southern sunny coasts, they offer tourists the chance for a myriad of hiking paths, extinct volcanic landscapes that leave for enticing mysterious experiences and medieval towns that preserve their singularity throughout the ages. The Spanish Pyrenees are an ideal holiday location in the extreme winter but also in the active summer. Winter sports and ski resorts can be a quieter option compared to Switzerland and France. Girona has four main ski resorts including La Molina, Vallter 2000, Vall de Nuria and Masella which are very high tec and structured for simplicity of use.
Medieval cities in Catalonia, preserve the Iberian culture of Spain in a way unfound across the rest of the peninsula. Besalú in La Garrotxa celebrates a Medieval Festival in September, and historical places like the Monastery of Sant Pere, the old Jewish Quarter and Sant Julià church and hospital, transport visitors into history. In the Cerdanya region you can visit Romesque stone buildings like the Església Nostra senyora dels Àngels attached to castle ruins and the old convent of Sant Dominic reached by the Bridge of Sant Marti.
Cities of Spain
Madrid the beating heart of Spain, is the huge pedestrian city that encapsulates numerous cosmopolitan neighbourhoods, all with their own bustling pace and exciting nightlife vibes. Madrid homes numerous iconic artists work like Picasso, Dali and Velázquez in what some may consider the three of the world’s most important museums; the Museo del Prado, Reina Sofía and Thyssen-Bornemisza. CaixaForum Madrid is a sociocultural center that is a statement within itself but also a hub for music, poetry and visual arts.
Madrid and Barcelona are great places to try the regional countries food as people from all over the country bring over their town secrets and regional specialities.
Barcelona presents the vibrancy of a big city with the treat of a beachside holiday. The city itself is an incredibly complex and a savory experience of art from all perspectives. Gaudi’s architecture and art such as the Sagrade Familia stand at the centre but incredible street art inspired by modern social isses stand alongside the past of the Gothic Quarter which keeps the past alive. This city of artistry breathes spirit into the city. Visit the MACBA, the contemporary art museum, leading its kind in Europe. FC Barcelona fans can marvel at the Camp Nou stadium, with a capacity of about 100,000. At night, live music, bars and restaurants hum alive with endless choices.
South of Spain
As a continuation but also an opposite to the North, Andalucia has a mixture of scenery including Europe’s only desert, the Seirra Nevada mountain range, ancient oak forests and southern coastlines of inviting beaches. Andalucia is also a timecapsule of the continuity and disunity of a multi-cultural and religious history. The UNESCO sites of Alhambra in Granada, the mosque adapted to Cathedral in Cordoba post the Reconquista and the Alcazar Palace, Seville are all life-standing examples of Moorish influence in Spain. Visitors are also urged to visit the quaint old towns of Úbeda and Baeza, which protect exquisite examples of golden Renaissance palaces and churches. If nature is more your calling the Caminito del Rey, in Malaga is considered one of the most dangerous hikes. This 7.7km walkway is against a narrow gorge at dizzying heights on suspended bridges.
Whilst Spain has almost 5000km of coastline, some of the best beaches are considered to be along the South- Western sides including in the Balearic Islands, Costa Brava, Marbella and on the Canary Islands. The islands provide unspoilt beaches that trace back to pre-historic ages. Pristine waters and golden sands on mainland Spain are often surrounded by beautiful nature and architecture built to protect the land and people.
Festivals and Entertainment
Festivals include the La Tomatina, a day where people of all ages enjoy the thrill of a food fight by throwing tomatoes. The importance of Bulls as a Spanish symbol is commemorated in the Boloencierro, the tradition of Running with the Bulls, yet it should be noted, today most places have replaced the bulls with a giant ball. Other festivals include the Cordoba Patios Festival, which leads to people decorating their patios as the most beautiful, allowing a feast for the eyes. Feria Del Caballo, honours the most elegant horses, but is also an opportunity for an immersion of flamenco and eating genuinely good food.
Things that cannot be missed across Spain is the Flamenco style of entertainment that comprises of footsteps dance, heartfelt singing and guitar that all combine to create a passionate display of art that is not only heard and seen but felt deeply. The rich cultural tradition is closely linked with the Spanish gypsy community as is seen in the style of clothes donned but the story is more complex originating in Andalusia (South of Spain) thus highlighting influence of the excluded Jews and Arab of Spain.
Visitors are urged to explore the many sides and flavours of Spain.