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Travel Info: Spain's Tour

Spainish Culture

» Spain was occupied by Napoleon in the early 1800s , but the Spaniards rose in arms. After the War of Independence ( 1808 1814 ), a series of revolts and armed conflicts between Liberals  and supporters of the ancien regime  lasted throughout much of the 19th century. Mainland Spain is dominated by high plateaus and mountain ranges such as the Pyrenees  or the Sierra Nevada .

Running from these heights are several major rivers such as the Tajo, the Ebro , the Duero, the Guadiana  and the Guadalquivir . Alluvial plains are found along the coast, the largest of which is that of the Guadalquivir in Andalusia , in the east there are alluvial plains with medium rivers like Segura , Jucar  and Turia. Spain is bound to the east by Mediterranean Sea  (containing the Balearic Islands ), to the north by the Bay of Biscay  and to its west by the Atlantic Ocean , where the Canary Islands  off the African  coast are found. Roman Catholicism is, by far, the most popular religion in the country. According to World Fact Book 2005, 94.0% self-identify as Catholics, whereas 6% indetify with either other religions or none at all. It is important to note, however, that many Spaniards identify themselves as Catholics even though they are not very religious at all. According to recent surveys (New York Times, April 19, 2005) only around 18 percent of Spaniards regularly attend mass. Of those under 30, only about 14 percent attend.

Capital of Spain: Madrid
Offical Language:
504,784 SQ KM
Calling Code:

:: Spain Populous Metropolitan Areas

•  Madrid
•  Barcelona
•  Valencia  
•  Sevilla
•  Malaga

» Spain's natural surroundings have helped shape the culture of the nation. The success of the Basques in maintaining a separate culture over a period of millennia has doubtless been aided by the mountainous geography of their region. Several separate parts of Spain have strong maritime traditions, including inland ports on rivers: Seville , for example, was a major port until the Guadalquivir  silted up. Since the availability of mass air transport, Spain's Mediterranean beaches, especially those along the Costa del Sol , have drawn millions of tourists, providing considerable revenue (and enormous contact with the outside world) to a long-depressed and isolated area of the country.

Except for the subtropical Canary Islands , Spain can be divided into areas experiencing, respectively, a Mediterranean climate; a climate dominated by the Atlantic Ocean ; and (in the inner areas) a rather extreme climate with hotter summers and colder winters than nearer the coasts. The generally warm and relatively dry summers have led to a culture in which a lot of life is lived outdoors, whether on a patio  in the courtyard of a building or on a public plaza. In Madrid, many of the most popular nightclubs move for several months in the summer to an outdoor terraza much farther from the city centre than their indoor winter location, continuing in a way the older tradition of the verbena (fair) . In the Mediterranean areas (and in the Canary Islands), outdoor meals can be a nearly yearround phenomenon.

» Historically, various regions of Spain had quite distinct regional dress. Today, most people in Spain dress in a manner comparable to most other contemporary Europeans, although some regional variations persist. Dress in Extremadura and in the smaller cities of Castile remains relatively austere, even on festive occasions, while Andaluz dress on festive occasions is elaborate and ostentatious. Barcelona  is one of the most stylish cities in Europe, though more restrained and with a more determinedly timeless style than Paris  or Milan.

» Architecture: Spain is home to several fine examples of medieval architecture ; outside of the areas that were under Muslim  control, these are primarily in the Romanesque  and Gothic  styles. Spain is also home to several examples of Cathedral architecture . The Drassanes in Barcelona, originally a facility for building ships and now a maritime museum, is the largest and most complete medieval secular structure in the world.

The architecture in southern Spain reflects its Moorish  history. The Alhambra  is probably the most famous example, showing a mixture of Islamic architecture  and European influences. Significant Moorish buildings survive as far north as Zaragoza . Throughout Spain, many former mosque  and synagogue  buildings survive as Christian churches or, occasionally, converted to other uses. Good examples of this are the Church of Corpus Christi in Segovia  and the Church of Santa María la Blanca in Toledo, both former synagogues, and the Mezquita  (Spanish for "mosque"), a 10th century mosque in Cordoba , reconsecrated in 1236  as a Christian Church. The influence of Moorish architecture did not end with the reconquista: there were many prominent mudejar architects, Muslims living and working in Christian Spain.

»  Food and Drink: Spanish cuisine  is made of very different kinds of dishes due to the differences in geography, culture and climate. It is heavily influenced by the variety of seafood available from the waters that surround the country. As Spain has had a history with many different cultural influences, the richness and variety of its cuisine is overwhelming, but all these ingredients have made up a unique cuisine with thousands of recipes and flavours. Much influence on Spanish cuisine has come from the Jewish and Moorish  traditions. The Moors were a strong influence in Spain for many centuries and their food is still eaten in Spain today.

» Music: Spain's musical output includes a long history of innovation in Western and Andalusian classical music , as well as a domestic popular music  industry, and diverse styles of folk music . In addition, modern Spain has a number of performers in the fields of rock and roll , heavy metal , punk rock  and hip hop.

The most well-known variety of Spanish folk music is probably flamenco , a diverse genre created by Andalusian Roma . Flamenco has been known since at least the 1770s , and has been through several cycles of dwindling popularity and rebirth. The style has produced many of the most famous Spanish musicians, including singer Camarón de la Isla  and guitarist Carlos Montoya.

» Sports: Famous International Spanish sporting events Bullfighting Football (soccer) Pelota ( jai alai )

:: Spain 's climate  can be divided in four areas;

The Mediterranean : mostly temperate in the eastern and southern part of the country; rainy seasons are spring and autumn. Mild summers with pleasant temperatures.

The interior: Very cold winters (frequent snow in the north) and hot summers.

Northern Atlantic coast: precipitations mostly in winter, with mild summers (slightly cold)

The Canary Islands subtropical weather, with mild temperatures


Spain Travel Links   S p a i n  T r a v e l   L i n k s

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