When we think of Spain very often what comes to mind are bullfights, flamenco dancers, and castanets, and for most holidaymakers, Spain means lazy beach days with palm trees gently moving in the breeze. But although these stereotypical pictures of Spain are quite real, there is so much more to Spain than a straightforward beach holiday with a floor show. With its diverse historical and cultural heritage, glorious countryside and delicious foods, this fascinating country has much up its sleeve for you to discover.
The beauty of Spain
As those living in Spain know, it is a country of the most beautiful and diverse landscape, and if you add a Mediterranean coastline to the snowcapped mountain ranges and the arid desert-like terrain of Andalusia, the country offers a glorious mix of endless destination possibilities and activity choices. There is skiing in winter on the Sierra Nevada and many hiking destinations for those who love to explore on foot. No matter where you go, you will find picturesque villages either high up on the mountainsides, deep within the valleys or precariously perched along the coastline cliffs where the old traditions still play an important part in everyday life. The very best beaches in Europe are along the long Spanish Mediterranean coast where quiet beaches, known only to the locals, are still to be found.
The architecture of Spain
The architecture of Spain is a heady mix of historic and modern buildings. The great engineering prowess of the Great Roman Empire is evident in the ancient remains of aqueducts and the many Roman baths of which some are open for you to enjoy today. The grand palaces of the ruling Moor Emirs of the 14th and 15th centuries stand side by side with surreal 20th-century structures created by the famous Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi whose love of dragons makes for some startling and colourful discoveries. Throughout Spain the awe-inspiring cathedrals are testament to its long-standing religious fervour which is celebrated in the many annual colourful and lively Spanish fiestas.
The Culture of Spain
Spain is justly proud of its long-held top position in the world of art, with sculptures and paintings on display in the many art galleries throughout the country. There are works from Francisco Goya and El Greco as well as more modern and controversial pieces by Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí. Literature also plays a significant part in the cultural heritage of Spain so one should not forget the ‘Man of La Mancha’ – Don Quixote (Don Quijote) created by the great literary genius Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. Status of this great fictitious character and his side-kick Sancho Panza stand proudly in Madrid and also in the La Mancha town of Consuegra, where windmills dating from the 16th century abound.
The food of Spain
The people of Spain are warm and out-going with an exuberant love of life which quite naturally includes the love of food. If you think Paella is ‘The’ Spanish dish, you are quite wrong, as Spain is a country that adores food – there are the delights of cured meats and tangy cheeses and unique dishes, the recipes for which are closely guarded family secrets. Every meal in Spain is accompanied by excellent wines all from hillside vineyards some of which date back hundreds of years. No matter your status as a foodie, a Bacchanalian feast awaits whether you choose an informal tapas, a meal at a friendly family run restaurant or a menu at a Michelin-starred top-end restaurant. Living in Spain either for a short time as a visitor or for the long term as an expat you will be spoilt for choice.
Warmth, the sunshine, beaches, mountains and vales, great art and history, are all to be found in one single word – SPAIN!
If you are contemplating a holiday in Spain why not make a plan to add a little more to your itinerary than just a main center and a beach resort. There is so much to be enjoyed and so much to explore.