Travel to Spain

Travel to Spain

Life is a fiesta in Spain - a flash of flamenco, a temptation of tapas, a sun-soaked center of Moorish architecture, bullfighting, and art.

The sun-splashed anchor of the Iberian Peninsula and once a mighty seafaring power, Spain spread its influence all over the globe. Today it’s a fascinating destination for both history buffs and epicureans. Spain’s great cities—the perfect places to explore the country’s ornate architecture and mouthwatering food scene—include sophisticated Madrid (full of art galleries, grand cathedrals, performance centers, and other attractions) and hip Barcelona, where you can appreciate some of the evocative masterworks of Antoni Gaudí firsthand: the Sagrada Familia church, for example, and the Park Güell. Grab tapas in Seville to experience one of the legendary traditions of Spanish cuisine: roaming from bar to bar, feasting on delectable small plates amid lively socializing. Strolling the tree-lined streets of Valencia, meanwhile, exposes you to historic monuments such as the Valencia Cathedral as well as the vibrant Plaza del Ayuntamiento. Other top destinations include the snowcapped Pyrenees, the Roman Aqueduct of Segovia, and the Moorish palace of Alhambra.

Spain is one of Europe's main cultural centers and the reasons are obvious; for example, in Bilbao you have the ultra-modern and world-famous Guggenheim museum, but then in Madrid you have the Prado, often referred to as the world's number one art museum. In Barcelona there are museums dedicated to the art of Picasso, Miro and Dali.

Flamenco performances are popular inside and outside of Spain. Literary enthusiasts appreciate the writings of Miguel de Cervantes and Federico Garcia Lorca. Cinema fans appreciate the films of Pedro Almodovar and actors such as Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz and Antonio Banderas who have achieved worldwide fame.

Visitors and Spaniards alike enjoy starting the day by dipping churros (similar to a fried donut) in hot chocolate or coffee. Paella and gazpacho, from the Mediterranean region of Spain, are dishes known around the world. The famous Spanish ham and Manchego cheese are from the middle regions. However, to enjoy all the wonderful Spanish cuisine, visitors will have to get used to the later Spanish timetable for meals!

Bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the east and Portugal to the west, Spain is one of the largest countries in Europe. Its size is reflected in its geographic diversity including mountains, deserts and beaches. Today Spain is criss-crossed with a well-run high speed rail network, so travel is a lot easier than it used to be. Regardless of which airport you enter the country in; you'll find day tripping from cities into the countryside for sightseeing and hiking is quite easy. Of course this means you can also travel to Spain and design an itinerary that allows you to see several locations in one trip.

The country is divided into a number of different regions, and each couldn't be more different. Coastal towns like Barcelona have a sea-orientated lifestyle. The Basque region and Catalonia have unique languages and strong cultural traditions. Southern Spain is touched by Moorish influences and its inhabitants have the carefree attitude of people who live near beaches. Castile is known as the Kingdom of Spain due to its rich royal heritage and many castles.

Much of Spain's legacy was shaped by its alternating role of conqueror and conquered. Ruled by the Romans, then later conquered by the Moors, Muslim invaders, eventually Christian rulers gained control and began building a global empire. Spain became a leading world power in the 16th and 17th centuries. In more recent centuries Spain survived a civil war and authoritarian government until democracy was restored in the late 1970's. Spain joined the European Union in 1986.

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