Spain, a country on Europe’s Iberian Peninsula, includes 17 autonomous regions with diverse geography and cultures. Capital city Madrid is home to the Royal Palace and Prado museum, housing works by European masters. Segovia has a medieval castle (the Alcázar) and an intact Roman aqueduct. Catalonia’s capital, Barcelona, is defined by Antoni Gaudí’s whimsical modernist landmarks like the Sagrada Família church.

Spain is a developed country, a secular parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy, with King Felipe VI as head of state. It is a high-income country and an advanced economy,with the world’s fourteenth-largest economy by nominal GDP and the sixteenth-largest by PPP. Spain has one of the longest life expectancies in the world at 83.5 years in 2019. It ranks particularly high in healthcare quality, with its healthcare system considered to be one of the most efficient worldwide. It is a world leader in organ transplants and organ donation. Spain is a member of the United Nations (UN), the European Union (EU), the Eurozone, the Council of Europe (CoE), the Organization of Ibero-American States (OEI), the Union for the Mediterranean, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the World Trade Organization (WTO) and many other international organisations.

The grandeur of a caliph’s palace, sybaritic sun-drenched Mediterranean beaches, the staccato stamp of a flamenco dancer’s heels, the awed hush of pilgrims entering the cathedral at Santiago de Compostela after weeks of walking El Camino. You can find the soul of Spain in tourist attractions such as these, which represent the country’s tumultuous history, rich culture, and enchanting natural beauty.

From the sunlight playing endlessly off the “scales” of Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum and the throbbing street life of La Rambla and Plaza Mayor to the forest of columns and Moorish arches disappearing into the silent expanse of Cordoba’s Great Mosque, Spain exudes a vibrant energy and a captivating blend of past and present.

In 2017, Spain was the second most visited country in the world, recording 82 million tourists which marked the fifth consecutive year of record-beating numbers. The headquarters of the World Tourism Organization are located in Madrid.

Spain’s geographic location, popular coastlines, diverse landscapes, historical legacy, vibrant culture, and excellent infrastructure has made the country’s international tourist industry among the largest in the world. In the last five decades, international tourism in Spain has grown to become the second largest in the world in terms of spending, worth approximately 40 billion Euros or about 5% of GDP in 2006.

Castile and Leon is the Spanish leader in rural tourism linked to its environmental and architectural heritage.

 

1.The Alhambra and Generalife Gardens, Granada

The Alhambra and Generalife Gardens, Granada

The most commonly cited etymology for the name “Generalife” is that it derives from jannat al-‘arīf (Arabic: جَنَّة الْعَرِيف) which may variously mean “Garden of the Architect”, “Garden of the Artist”, “Garden of the Gnostic”,or even “Garden of the Flautist”. According to Robert Irwin, however, this traditional etymology is unlikely and the true origin of the name is not clearly known.An earlier version of the name recorded in the 16th century by Marmol was Ginalarife, which J.D. Latham suggests is evidence that the first word was originally jinan (Arabic: جِنَاْن; a plural version derived from the same root), not jannat.

The original name of the Generalife may have simply been the equivalent of “Principal Orchard”. An ornamental inscription by Ibn al-Yayyab inside the palace names it as the Dar al-Mamlakat as-Sa’ida (“House of the Felicitous Kingdom”)

Description of the Garden

As an inseparable part of the Alhambra and Generalife palaces and enclosures, the gardens and cultivated spaces, elements of adornment, perfection, symbolism, follow each other in every corner of the monument, providing a transcendent component, in the territory and in time, to the landscape of this place.

The trace that the passage of the centuries has left in the Red Hill has multiplied and enriched the variety of the gardens with diverse forms and gardener tastes, at the same time a reflection of epochs and different sensibilities.

The medieval gardens, created in the Nasrid stage, are the ones with the greatest fame and importance, due to their remote origin, the refined character with which they integrate the vegetation, the water and the buildings that frame them, and because of the close relationship they awoke in their conception with the desired Quranic paradise. Thus the Alhambra has medieval gardens (Patio Arrayanes, Lions and Patio de la Acequia), Renaissance XVI – XVII (patios of the Reja or Lindaraja, modified this one in the 19th century), from the 17th century (Garden of the Adarves, in the Alcazaba), 19th century (from the XIX High Gardens of the Generalife) and Contemporary Gardens of the 20th century (Jardines del Partal and Nuevos del Generalife) or even 21st century (Theater environment).

 

2.The Great Mosque of Cordoba (Mezquita)

The Great Mosque of Cordoba

Visigothic church

According to traditional accounts, the present-day site of the Cathedral–Mosque of Córdoba was originally a Christian church dedicated to Saint Vincent of Saragossa, which was divided and shared by Christians and Muslims after the Umayyad conquest of Hispania. As the Muslim community grew and this existing space became too small for prayer, the basilica was expanded little by little through piecemeal additions to the building.: 136  This sharing arrangement of the site lasted until 785, when the Christian half was purchased by Abd al-Rahman I, who then proceeded to demolish the church structure and build the grand mosque of Córdoba on its site. In return, Abd al-Rahman also allowed the Christians to rebuild other ruined churches – including churches dedicated to the Christian martyrs Saints Faustus, Januarius, and Marcellus whom they deeply revered – as agreed upon in the sale terms.

Once the principal mosque of western Islam and still known as the Mezquita, Cordoba’s mosque is one of the largest in the world and the finest achievement of Moorish architecture in Spain. In spite of later alterations that carved out its center to build a Catholic cathedral at its heart, the Great Mosque ranks with the Alhambra in Granada as one of the two most splendid examples of Islamic art and architecture in western Europe.

 

3.San Lorenzo de El Escorial

San Lorenzo de El Escorial

San Lorenzo de El Escorial is a town in the Guadarrama mountains of central Spain. The Monastery of El Escorial is a complex of Renaissance buildings, courtyards and fountains. Its Royal Library contains 15th- and 16th-century manuscripts. Infante’s House was once a royal hunting lodge. North, near Mount Abantos, a basilica and stone cross in the Valley of the Fallen honor those who died in the Spanish Civil War.

San Lorenzo de El Escorial is located on the southern slopes of the Mount Abantos (elevation 1753 m). The average altitude of the municipality is 1,032 metres (3,386 ft), and most of the urban area is above 1,000 metres (3,300 ft). The hamlet initially sprang up around Monastery of El Escorial, gradually extending up the mountain. In the 20th and 21st centuries, the town underwent a strong urban expansion, particularly towards the southeastern side of Mount Abantos.

Economy

Tourism, hospitality and trade are the main economic activities of San Lorenzo de El Escorial. The municipality is one of the most important tourist destinations in the community of Madrid. Visitors usually make day trips with Madrid tourism as a starting point. The number of tourists staying overnight are insignificant as in other historical cities in the region, such as Alcalá de Henares, Aranjuez or Chinchón.

In recent years, the town has attempted to consolidate hotel tourism, trade fairs, conventions and cultural and educational nature courses. The Universidad Complutense holds summer courses to promote San Lorenzo de El Escorial as a Euroforum installations. The municipality has 10 hotels with a total of 611 rooms (year 2006).

 

4.Seville Cathedral and Alcazar

Seville Cathedral and Alcazar

The Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See, better known as Seville Cathedral, is a Roman Catholic cathedral in Seville, Andalusia, Spain. It was registered in 1987 by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, along with the adjoining Alcázar palace complex and the General Archive of the Indies.

Seville Cathedral was the site of the baptism of Infante Juan of Aragon in 1478, only son of the Catholic Monarchs Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile. Its royal chapel holds the remains of the city’s conqueror Ferdinand III of Castile, his son and heir Alfonso the Wise and their descendant king Peter the Just. The funerary monuments for cardinals Juan de Cervantes and Pedro González de Mendoza are located among its chapels. Christopher Columbus and his son Diego are also buried in the cathedral.

The Archbishop’s Palace is located on the northeastern side of the cathedral.

The monumental tomb of Christopher Columbus is held aloft by a quartet of larger-than-life figures. La Giralda, the emblem of Seville, began life as a minaret and is all that’s left of the city’s Great Mosque, destroyed to build the cathedral.

The Alcazar opposite was begun by the Moors in 712 and continued after the Christian re-conquest by King Pedro in the 1300s in the ornate neo-Moorish style called Mudejar. The rooms and salons are breathtaking, and the gardens a joy to stroll in, shaded by fragrant orange and lemon trees. Adjoining on the east is Santa Cruz, the former Juderia (Jewish Quarter), a neighborhood of whitewashed homes, iron balconies, and flower-filled courtyards.

 

5.Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao

Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao

The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao is a museum of modern and contemporary art designed by Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry, and located in Bilbao, Basque Country, Spain. The museum was inaugurated on 18 October 1997 by King Juan Carlos I of Spain, with an exhibition of 250 contemporary works of art.

One of the most admired works of contemporary architecture, the building has been hailed as a “signal moment in the architectural culture”, because it represents “one of those rare moments when critics, academics, and the general public were all completely united about something”, according to architectural critic Paul Goldberger.The museum was the building most frequently named as one of the most important works completed since 1980 in the 2010 World Architecture Survey among architecture experts.

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation selected Frank Gehry as the architect, and its director, Thomas Krens, encouraged him to design something daring and innovative. The curves on the exterior of the building were intended to appear random; the architect said that “the randomness of the curves are designed to catch the light”. The interior “is designed around a large, light-filled atrium with views of Bilbao’s estuary and the surrounding hills of the Basque country”. The atrium, which Gehry nicknamed The Flower because of its shape, serves as the organizing center of the museum.

 

6.Santiago de Compostela Cathedral

Santiago de Compostela Cathedral

The Santiago de Compostela Archcathedral Basilica is part of the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Santiago de Compostela and is an integral component of the Santiago de Compostela World Heritage Site in Galicia, Spain. The cathedral is the reputed burial place of Saint James the Great, one of the apostles of Jesus Christ.

The archcathedral basilica has historically been a place of pilgrimage on the Way of St James since the Early Middle Ages and marks the traditional end of the pilgrimage route. The building is a Romanesque structure, with later Gothic and Baroque additions.

Bell Towers

The early towers in the main façade of the cathedral were Romanesque (current façade of the Obradoiro). They are called the Torre das Campás, which is situated on the side of the Epistle (right) and Torre da Carraca, to the side of the Gospel (left). The two have a height of between 75 and 80 metres.

The first part of the tower was built in the 12th century, but in the 15th century several modifications were made and King Louis XI of France donated in 1483 the two largest of the thirteen bells.

Due to a tilt that was detected in its structure between the 16th and 17th centuries, the towers had to be reinforced with buttresses, between 1667 and 1670. The towers housing the bells were made by José de la Peña de Toro (1614–1676) in a baroque style, and completed by Domingo de Andrade. The architecture of the towers has a great effect in perspective with its vertical lines and the sequencing of its floors.

 

7.Plaza de España and Parque de María Luisa, Seville

Plaza de España and Parque de María Luisa, Seville

The Parque de María Luisa is a public park that stretches along the Guadalquivir River in Seville, Spain. It is Seville’s principal green area.

The Plaza de España was a principal building built on the park’s edge to showcase Spain’s industry and technology exhibits in 1929, being built over a period of 19 years. It happened to be that the US stock market crashed when the complex was being completed. The complex is a huge half-circle with buildings continually running around the edge accessible over the moat by numerous beautiful bridges. In the centre is a large fountain. By the walls of the plaza are many tiled alcoves, each representing a different province of Spain. Today, the plaza buildings are mainly used for government offices.

he Fountain of the Lions (Fuente de los Leones), based on a concept by the park designer Jean Claude Nicolas Forestier, was sculpted by Manuel Delgado Brackembury in 1913. It consists of four stone lions, each carrying a shield, placed on four of the eight sides of the octagonal fountain into which they spit water. The fountain is decorated with tiles from the workshop of Ramos Rejano. The lions were installed in 1928. Badly damaged by vandals, in 1957 they were replaced by copies made by the Sevillian sculptor Juan Abascal Fuentes. The fountain was restored in 1992.

 

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