Spain is officially known as Reino de España, or the Kingdom of Spain. It is located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula and is one of the only three European countries fortunate to have both Mediterranean and Atlantic coastlines. It occupies about 85% of the Iberian Peninsula which it shares with Portugal. Now a member of the European Union, Spain used to utilize the peseta currency before adapting the Euro currency.
Spain is one of the top travel destination choices among new and seasoned travelers. It welcomes millions of tourists and guests in its shores all year round. The rich and colorful heritage, the many UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the beautiful idyllic beaches, and the warm people are but a few of the reasons why it has become a major tourist spot over the years.
Here are a number of fascinating facts about Spain that anyone who plans or dreams of visiting the beautiful archipelago ought to know:
Spain is a UNESCO World Heritage Site Country.
Did you know that Spain is a country that has the second largest number of Heritage sites in the world? It is second only to Italy for the impressive collection of World Heritage Sites. A tour of these treasures will leave anyone in awe and will give them a bird’s eye view of what this stunning country is all about. Among the most famous of these heritage sites are Alhambra in Granada, the Monastery and Royal Site of El Escorial in Madrid, the architectural masterpiece of Anton Gaudi in Barcelona, the Aqueduct and the old town of Segovia, the Garajonay and Tiede National Parks in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, the historic City of Toledo, the old town and city of Caceres and Salamanca, the prehistoric Rock art sites found in Coa Valley and Siega Verde, the Romanesque Churches of the Vall de Boi in LLeida, the Vizcaya Bridge in Biscay, and the Renaissance monuments found in Jaen, among others. A single day will not suffice if one plans to visit each of these heritage sites.
Spanish Holidays and Festivals.
Did you know that each municipality in Spain is entitled to declare as much as 14 public holidays each year? There are many festivals and festivities in Spain. In fact, these are a beautiful mixture of religious, national, as well as regional celebrations. One of the most celebrated of these holidays and festivals is Spain’s National Day on October 12, which commemorates the Discovery of America. Our Lady of the Pillar feast, on the other hand, commemorates the patroness of Aragon. Some of these Spanish festivals have gone on to be famous worldwide and tourists from different parts of the globe flock to the country each year to witness a number of these celebrations, like the festival of San Fermines celebrated in Pamplona in July. The events of which are depicted in the famous Ernest Hemingway novel. The Sun Also Rises, which has paved the way for this festival to cater to more than a million guests attending each year. The event that draws the most attention during this festival is the encierro, the running of the bull which occurs at 8am for the entire week.
Other festivals that are sure to be worthy of anyone’s time are the Feria de Abrl in Sevilla, the Semana Santa or the Easter festivals of Sevilla and Malaga, Arde Lucus that takes place at the walled city of Lugo, the August Fair of Malaga, the Festival de Patios where local folks will open their houses to showcase their age old patios adorned with a sea of flowers, the wine tasting and festivities of Cata del Vino Montilla-Moriles, Fiesta de San Isidro that celebrates the patron saint of Madrid. And, as if those were not enough, one can also partake in the carnivals held in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Cadiz, or Las Palmas de Gran Canaria or visit the Basque Country in September to participate in the San Sebastian International Film Festival.
World Famous Spanish Personalities.
Spain is also home to a number of notable personalities known in different fields. Among the world renowned Spanish include the famous painters Pablo Picasso, Francisco de Goya and Salvador Dali, the playwright and author of Don Quixote Miguel de Cervantes, opera singer and one of the Three Tenors Placido Domingo, balladeer singers Julio Iglesias and his son, Enrique, Hollywood actors Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem, and Antonio Banderas.