Every year, more than 50 million people visit Spain, which has the second-most United Nations Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Sites of any country. Located on the Iberian Peninsula, Spain was part of the Roman empire until the Muslim invasion of 711. In the 15th century, the Reconquest reestablished Christian rule. This storied past has left a tangible multicultural heritage that makes Spain a world-famous tourist destination.
Barcelona is located in the northeastern part of the Mediterranean coast of the Iberian Peninsula. It is the second largest city in Spain in both size and population: more than 4million for the Barcelona metropolitan area. It is also the capital of Catalonia, one of the Spain autonomous regions. There are two official languages spoken in Barcelona: Catalan, generally spoken in all of Catalonia, and Castillian Spanish.
Barcelona will be always associated the powerful and splendid Modernisme architecture (Catalan Art Nouveau) of Antoni Gaudi. But Barcelona is also the city of Picasso and Miro. It’s also a home for gorgeous beaches, serene parks and gardens, uniquely preserved medieval historic quarter Barri Gotic, fine museums and elegant restaurants with gastronomical delights.
Your trip to Barcelona will most likely be a journey of discovery. Barcelona and the rest of Catalonia are very different from the rest of Spain. For centuries, the Catalans were fighting for their cultural identity. Here is your chance to learn something new about the Catalan language, people, history and traditions you may have known very little about.
The capital of Spain, located in the heart of the peninsula and right in the centre of the Castillian plain, Madrid is a vibrant and cosmopolitan city, which is home to both the Spanish Parliament and the Spanish royal family. Madrid is a bustling business and banking centre and is also famous for its cultural and artistic places of interest, with an array of museums and art galleries, including priceless works from Renaissance masters and Picasso and Dali.
The nightlife here is loud and boisterous, and doesn’t often really get going until the sun sets for the evening, when holidaymakers and locals dine on tasty tapas and enjoy fine Spanish wines. Madrid is a city of fun and excitement and is a favourite for a European weekend getaway, tailor made for those fascinated with history and artistic pursuits. With narrow streets, Belle Epoque architecture, historic squares, pretty parks, an amazing flamenco, restaurant and club scene, as well as great shopping, no one could help but fall madly in love this with this multi-faceted city.
Exceptional tourist attractions, lively festivals and buzzing nightlife all make Seville one of the best places to visit in Southern Spain. As the capital city of Andalusia, Seville is also the region’s financial and cultural capital. The city is home to many beautiful and important historic landmarks, chief of which is the grand Cathedral of Seville, where it is believed that Christopher Columbus is buried.
Spain’s third largest city basks on the sun-saturated coast three hours south of Barcelona. Surrounded by dramatic rugged mountains and glorious orange groves, the city boasts its own fantastic scenery- impressive futuristic architecture, neon-accessorised fountains, a colourful and characterful old town, energetic nightlife and bustling beach. There are flurries of bars, restaurants galore and a laid back Mediterranean attitude. Visitors to Valencia used to be solely from other corners of Spain – English-speakers gravitated to nearby high-rise resorts but things have changed over the past few years as Valencia’s fame has spread. Signs and street names can be confusing, as they may appear in the local dialect, Valencian, in the language of surrounding Catalonia, or in classical Castillian Spanish. This unruly non-conformist behavior is not limited to linguistic matters. Streets brim and surge with parades and fiestas. On a saunter through the city, visitors might encounter saints and virgins and their entourages, armies of raucous blue-rinse pilgrims marching purposefully from church to church, fire-eaters and giant effigies, depending on which fiesta or saint’s day it happens to be.
The city of Granada is located in the country of Nicaragua and is the oldest city in Central America.
Granada is situated on the north western shores of Lake Nicaragua and is surrounded by three beautiful volcanic lagoons. The picturesque setting of this city makes it one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The climate is tropical; temperatures range from 22°C to 27° C.
The city has a population of about 116,000 people. A majority of the population comprises Spanish speaking Mestizos. There is also a significant population of European descent.
The culture of the city is deeply influenced by the Iberian Peninsula and enriched with the sounds and flavours of Amerindian traditions. This unique culture is best expressed through its rich folklore, vibrant music and delightful local cuisine.
Bilbao, Bilbo in Basque, is famous the world over for its stunning titanium Museo Guggenheim, an instantly-recognizable iconic masterpiece, at once seductive and fascinating with its bulging curves and layered, sweeping lines. It is the centerpiece of Bilbao, and the highlight of any visit to the city. Bilbao itself is relatively young by Spanish standards, established in only 1300 AD. Still, it is a major shipping port, a financial hub, and a city that is reinventing itself as a center of high culture, drawing well-heeled patrons of the arts, architecture aficionados, and curious international tourists and Spaniards by the bus load.
Málaga, the capital of the famous Costa del Sol (Coast of the Sun).
If it’s the hot, sunny Andalusia that you want to get to know, there’s no better starting point than Málaga. It’s located right on the shores of the Mediterranean and not far from other well-known cities like Marbella, Granada, Córdoba and Sevilla.
Even if Málaga isn’t quite as well known as some of its Andalusian neighbors, it’s just as packed with history and culture. In the city you can, for example, discover a Roman amphitheater from the 3rd century, a Muslim strong hold from the 6th century and a beautiful 8th-century cathedral where a mosque was found. The city is marked both by its long-time Islamic heritage as well as its coastal location.
Moreover, art lovers will revel in the recently-opened Picasso Museum. Málaga is actually Picasso’s birthplace and in this museum you can trace Picasso’s works from the very beginning.
Cordoba was founded by the Romans and due to its strategic importance as the highest navigable point of the Guadalquivir River, it became a port city of great importance, used for shipping Spanish olive oil, wine and wheat back to Ancient Rome. The Romans built the mighty bridge crossing the river, now called “El Puente Romano”. But Cordoba’s hour of greatest glory was when it became the capital of the Moorish kingdom of El-Andalus, and this was when work began on the Great Mosque, or “Mezquita”, which – after several centuries of additions and enlargements – became one of the largest in all of Islam.
When the city was reconquered by the Christians in 1236, the new rulers of the city were so awed by its beauty that they left it standing, building their cathedral in the midst of its rows of arches and columns, and creating the extraordinary church-mosque we see today.
As well as the unique mosque-cathedral, Cordoba’s treasures include the Alcazar, or Fortress, built by the Christians in 1328; the Calahorra Fort, originally built by the Arabs, which guards the Roman Bridge, on the far side of the river from the Mezquita, and the ancient Jewish Synagogue, now a museum. Cordoba’s medieval quarter, once the home of the Jewish community, is called “La Judería”, a labyrinth of winding, narrow streets, shady flower-filled courtyards and picturesque squares such as La Plaza del Potro. In early May, homeowners proudly festoon their patios with flowers to compete for the city’s “most beautiful courtyard” contest.
Toledo has a population of approximately 3,600. Toledo City Hall is approximately 58 feet above sea level. Toledo, situated on a bend of the Yaquina River and surrounded by wooded hills, is just seven miles inland from the Central Oregon Coast and the only inland coastal community with a deep water channel. The historic town cascades over the hillsides to the river.
Toledo is one of the few cities in Oregon which has a downtown on a city street, not on a throughway or highway. Toledo’s Main Street retains its historical flavor, the waterfront and moored fishing vessels visible at the end of Main Street.
When the winds start to blow on the beach, Toledo is often warm and sunny with a small town atmosphere and beautiful river, estuary, and rural vistas. Antique shops, art galleries, gift shops selling the work of local crafters, a glass blowing studio, and restaurants make Toledo an interesting place to visit.
Home to the oldest university in Spain, Salamanca is known for its beautiful historic architecture and traditional buildings as well as its authentic Spanish charm. There is no wonder why the historic centre of the city was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988 as Salamanca is a picturesque, customary example of Spanish heritage.
As a university city, Salamanca has a classic atmosphere which makes it feel familiar and welcoming yet at the same time as having an endless supply of interesting places to see and visit. Charm is woven into its cobbled streets and squares and its central Plaza Mayor hums with the hustle and bustle of student life and the beauty of past times.