In an effort to highlight places of interest in countries across the world, their varied culture, economy and history. Know all about Spain.
Capital: Madrid, Currency: Euro, Ethnic groups: Composite of Mediterranean and Nordic types, Languages: Castilian Spanish (official nationwide) 74%, Catalan 7%, Galician 7%, Basque 2%, Aranese (Small number), Religion: Roman Catholic 67.8%, atheist 9.1%, other 2.2%, non-believer 18.4%, unspecified 2.5% (2016 est.)
Many of Spain’s major festivals have a dual quality, whereby essentially secular festivals are enacted at times that have religious meaning as well. Some of the events that take place on specified religious holidays have a distinctly secular quality like bullfights on fiesta days.
Weather and climate
Spain’s climate varies from temperate in the north to dry and hot in the south. Overall, the coastal regions in the South and Eastern parts of Spain are excellent to visit all year round thanks to the Mediterranean climate (mild temperatures and long days). Northern Spain generally experiences colder temperatures than the South, while Central Spain stays hot and dry due to its location on a plateau. The shoulder season for travel in Spain is usually late spring and autumn: from April to end of May and October to November.
Food and Drink
Spain’s eating and drinking culture is one of its greatest attractions, and a very sociable one too, with people rubbing shoulders in tapas bars and cafés. Food is generally dictated by the seasons and freshness, whichever corner of Spain you go to. An excellent way to understand different facets of Spanish cuisine is to sample tapas (pintxos in the Basque Country) ~ small snacks served with drinks in local bars across the country. Spanish drinks have also brewed up quite a storm worldwide from the thirst-quenching Sangria to bubbly Cava to the sophisticated Rioja wine. Some of the specialities include Paella, Croquetas, Cocido, Tortilla Espaniola, Gazpacho, Jamón, Pulpo á feira, Chorizo, Bacalao al pil, Sherry, Fino and Manzanilla, amontillado, Oloroso and sweet sherries such as Pedro Ximénez. Rioja, Cava and Albondigas.
Machu Picchu: This is one of the most beautiful and impressive ancient sites in the world. The “Lost City of the Incas” is invisible from the Urubamba Valley below and completely self-contained, surrounded by agricultural terraces and watered by natural springs. Although known locally, Machu Picchu was largely unknown to the outside world before being rediscovered in 1911 by historian Hiram.
Alhambra: The Alhambra and Generalife Gardens, Granada. The Nasrid dynasty’s royal palace is the artistic highlight of Spain’s Islamic period, when Al-Andalus, as they called Andalucía, represented the epitome of culture and civilisation in Europe’s Middle Ages. Generalife’s terraced gardens offer a peaceful respite from the grandeur and splendid views back at the rest of the Alhambra.
Mezquita of Cordoba: The Mezquita (Spanish for mosque) of Cordoba is a fascinating building famous for the forest of pillars and arches inside the main hall. The site was originally a Roman temple, then a Visigothic church, before the Umayyad Moors built the Mezquita. After the Spanish Reconquista, a cathedral was built into the centre of the large Moorish building.
Sagrada Familia: The Sagrada Familia is a large Roman Catholic church in Barcelona and one of Spain’s most visited tourist attractions. It’s a design by Antoni Gaudí, a Catalan architect, who worked on this project for almost 40 years until his death in 1926. The construction of the basilica began in 1882 and as yet not finished.
Other attractions include The Prado and Paseo del Artes, Madrid (The Prado alone ranks among the world’s top art museums for the richness of its collection); Cuenca (Medieval City), Ibiza, Plaza Mayor, Madrid; San Lorenzo de El Escorial; Guggenheim Museum; La Giralda tower; Seville Cathedral and the Alcazar (UNESCO World Heritage Site); Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias, Costa del Sol Beaches, Toledo’s Old City, The White Towns of Andalucía, El Teide, Tenerife (The highest peak in Spain).