Spain

The land of the Fiesta, Spain has a fascinating history, great food, and incredible natural beauty.

Travel-worthiness verdict: Well worth visiting, one of the highlights of this region.

Unique Cultural Icons: Fiestas, tapas, flamenco, great arts and architecture, bullfighting, paella, Moorish influence

Top Destinations: Barcelona, Madrid, Galicia, the Basque Country, Andalucia

Prices: Moderately cheaper than other Western European nations

You’ll love: The gorgeous architecture and museums of Madrid and Barcelona; the fiestas; the fascinating history; the food

You’ll hate: The pickpockets who steal from tourists

Language(s): Spanish, Galician, Basque, Catalan

Language makeup: Castilian Spanish (official) 74%, Catalan 17%, Galician 7%, and Basque 2%

Food: Spanish food is a varied and fascinating cuisine. It’s one of my favorites in Europe. Tapas, a fun aspect of Spanish dining are small plates, typically not costing more than a few euros, that you can eat various foods from, sort of like a European version of Chinese Dim Sum. Tapas are not the only option, however. What especially interests many about Spanish cuisine is the wide variety of local and regional specialties. Madrid, the capital, is a great place to sample these specialties, as Madrid features many restaurants specializing in one region’s cuisine.

Literature: Like many Western European nations, Spain has a rich and fascinating literary history. The first written Spanish literature existed around the Middle Ages, but it was in the late Middle Ages that the country’s literature truly began to flourish and define itself. Works such as  “La Celestina” (Fernando de Rojas) are examples of great literature from this period.

The golden age of Spanish literature was undoubtedly the baroque period. “Don Quixote”, the masterpiece by Miguel de Cervantes is considered the most iconic work of Spanish literature. It follows the tales of a knight on a journey to revive Chivalry.

In the Enlightenment period, reason was considered to be far more important than emotions. The influence of Enlightenment-era thought can be seen on Spanish literature. Very little poetry was produced during the enlightenment era.

Romanticism and Realism were the two movements that dominated Spanish literature doing the 19th century.

In the 20th century and so far in the 21st century, no central movement has defined Spanish literature. Novels are the most popular genre, and a large variety of authors have written many types of novels. The literature of Spain has continued to be influenced by events in the country, most notably the Spanish civil war.

Visual Arts: Spain has a very rich history of visual arts. The early Iberians left many remains of sculptures throughout the Iberian peninsula. When the Romans conquered Iberia, their styles came to dominate Iberian art. After the Roman Empire fell, the visigoths moved in. The surviving art from the visigoths’ rule is largely art in the form of metalwork, such as jewelry and crowns.

More to come

Architecture: Coming soon

Music: Coming soon

Religion: Coming soon

Local Customs and Traditions: Spain is known for having a more relaxed take on time and punctuality than the rest of Europe (unlike Germany or Scandinavia, for example). The Tapas dining style is also a uniquely Spanish institution. It’s also known for its many fiestas, or festivals, which vary depending on the region.

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