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Europe

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Spain Travel Guide

Brief history of Spain:

Spain’s history dates back to the ancient Middle Ages. Habsburg Spain unified numerous disparate predecessor kingdoms in the year 1516. Later in the year 1813, the constitutional monarchy was introduced as its modern form. The current democratic constitution of the country dates back to the year 1978.

Post the completion of the Reconquista, Habsburg rule united the kingdoms of Spain, namely the Crown of Aragon, the Crown of Castile and various other smaller kingdoms. The Spanish Empire marked its beginning since the discovery of America in the year 1492 and this is when the Golden Age of Spain came into inception. During the early 1500s and 1650s, Habsburg Spain was considered to be the most powerful state in the world.

During the same period, the country involved itself with all the important European wars that included the Eight Years’ War, the Thirty Years’ War, the Franco-Spanish War as well as the Italian Wars. Soon, the Spanish power started to decline and post the death of last Habsburg ruler, the War of Spanish Succession met with a relegation of Spain. This was now taken over by the Bourbon rule. The reforms introduced under this rule tried to renew the state institution. However, as the century ended, instability as a result of Peninsular War and French Revolution never helped Spain to regain its real strength.

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War after war, the country was fragmented. During the beginning of the 19th century, Spain was de-established as various political parties that represented reactionary, liberal and moderate groups fought for and soon won a short-lived control over it. Their rule, too wasn’t strong to bring back the country into its previous power. The former Spanish Empire was then disintegrated with the Latin American wars of independence. As a result, the loss of what old colonies sustained in the Spanish-American War that took place in the year 1898.

A flimsy balance in between the conservative and liberal forces was struck as to the establishment of a constitutional monarchy during the period of 1874-1931. However, it didn’t bring any lasting solution, and eventually the country was descended into a Civil War in between the Nationalist and Republican factions.

The war was eventually ended in a nationalist dictatorship that was led by Francisco Franco. The ruler controlled the entire Spanish government until the year 1975. After the demise of Franco, the country returned to the Bourbon constitutional monarchy that was directed by Prince Juan Carlos and to the democracy.

The country also surfaced a financial loss of 2007-08 which was soon ended a decade of the economic boon and Spain then entered a recession and debt crisis.

Map of Spain:

Spain is situated at the Iberian Peninsula and the country occupies around 80 percent of its total area, in the southwest of Europe. The north Spain borders are surrounded by Andorra and France, whereas Pyrenees acts a natural frontier. The Spanish territory occupies the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea.

Spain is considered to be the third largest country in Europe in terms of its extension as well as fifth largest country in terms of its population. Five huge mountain ranges cross the country and around 50 percent of them are situated at an elevated plain here.

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The landscapes of Spain are highly varied. Some of them are green and fertile, while others are desert-like. The country embraces long coasts in the eastern area along the Mediterranean Sea from Pyrenees to Gibraltar and in the western area along the Cantabrian Sea and Atlantic Ocean.

Best cities in Spain:

Following are considered to be the best cities of Spain:

  1. Madrid:

Madrid is the capital city of Spain and the same is considered to be an amazing destination for a short weekend mini-break or a fulsome vacation. This city is classy and elegant possessing an ornate architecture and perfectly decorated gardens as well as parks. For all the fine art lovers, Madrid is a must visit place. This city is a home to the Prado that is filled with some of the most noteworthy works, dating back to the 12th century.

  1. Barcelona:

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Barcelona is the second largest city of Spain. This place was found in the Catalunya region and is considered to be the perfect blend of history and culture with the modernity. The city is full of bright and colorful vibes which makes it all the more pleasing and photogenic. Barcelona is also a home to the popular Barcelona FC and the city offers the excellent Camp Nou for all the football fanatics to watch their Barca boys to create magic on the field. The nightlife of Barcelona is worth experiencing.

  1. Seville:

Seville is the third largest city of Spain and is also known as the capital of Andalusia region. This place is a home to classic flamenco dancing which has gained popularity throughout the world today. Seville offers a number of beautiful and attractive sights to the visitors such as the Seville’s Gothic cathedral as well as the Alcazar Castle complex. The latter is considered to be constructed within the dynasty of Moorish Almohad and the same entertains an interesting history.

  1. Bilbao:

With a small population of 350,000 people only, Bilbao is one of the most beautiful cities of Spain. This small port city rests in the Northern Spain region and the same is considered to be a great location for a relaxing vacation. Bilbao is an industrial city of Spain which is surrounded by green mountains as well as rugged countryside. This capital of Basque Country in Spain embraces some of the most traditional and beautiful Spanish architecture along with towering skyscrapers in the downtown area as well.

  1. Valencia:

The beautiful Valencia city of Spain is a home to Spain’s Mediterranean side. This place is a vibrant city which possesses a great deal of art and culture. The very own international airport of Valencia flies to various domestic fights as well as European destinations. Valencia is known as the City of Arts and Sciences and the city is a home to some of the most impressive as well as futuristic buildings such as the oceanarium and planetarium as well as the interactive museum. The city also boasts some of the most beautiful and pristine beaches.

  1. Granada:

Granada is one of the most beautiful places of Spain which is sedate and possesses an authentic Spanish experience for the people. A laid back city, Granada boasts some of the most beautiful and breathtaking views of the Sierra Nevada and Alhambra mountains. The city also has a noteworthy nightlife. The BoogaClub is considered to be a great night time spot as it organizes various wild parties as well as live music every night of the week.

  1. Salamanca:

Salamanca is an old city of Spain which has also been granted the status of UNESCO World Heritage Site in the year 1988. Salamanca is located in the northwestern Spain and forms a part of the Leon and Castile region. The city of Salamanca is a home to a number of international students and is considered to be a very lively and welcoming city. The beautiful destinations such as the Plaza Mayor and Case de lasConchas are considered to be the popular places of the city. Also, the New Cathedral of Salamanca is a must visit place.

Population:

The current population of Spain extends up to 46,386,920 respectively. According to various surveys, the population of Spain contributes 0.61 percent to the total world population. Spain ranks as number 30 in the list of the countries and dependencies by its population. The density of population in Spain is 93 per square kilometers and the total land area occupied the people extends up to 498,800 square kilometers. Out of the total population of Spain, 82.3 percent is considered to be the country’s urban population. The median age of the country is 43.6 years respectively.

Currency:

The currency of Spain is the Euro. The exchange rate of the currency of Spain is approximately €0.77= $1.

Tourism:

As of the year 2017, Spain is considered to be the second most visited country in the world. The country recorded around 82 million tourists that marked the fifth consecutive year of the record-beating numbers as far as tourism of Spain is concerned. The climatic conditions of the country, geographic location, diverse landscapes, popular coastlines, historical legacy, excellent infrastructure, vibrant culture, etc. have together contributed as to the increase of international tourism in the country. In the last five decades, Spain’s international tourism as grown only to become the second largest tourism in the world in terms of spending.

Historical Buildings:

The historical sites and buildings in Spain are worth a visit. Some of these sites are a home to a number of fascinating stories of roman conquests and Moorish kings. Spain embraces various UNESCO World Heritage Sites which are the places of natural and cultural importance. These sites are 45 in number. Following are considered to be the best historical buildings that the country has:

  1. Mezquita, Cordoba:

Mezquita is the provincial capital of Cordoba and is considered to be one of the best historical sites of the country. This place was once considered to be the largest Roman city in Spain and was also a great caliphate of the Moors. The charming old town and fascinating mosque are worth a visit. The mosque Mezquita is one of the most beautiful sites of Cordoba. This beautiful building is nothing but a testament of the beautiful Moorish architecture. There are various amazing monuments and historic tales of Arabic, Romans and Christian conquests depicted here.

  1. Alhambra:

This place has been named after its reddish wall and it records its history which dates back to the 9th century. Alhambra is located in Granada and is considered to be one of the best historical sites in Spain. It entered into the history of Spain as a result of Moorish rule in the 13th century. This place had various old buildings that were later rebuilt into lavish Arabic designs by the then-rulers. Post the Christian Reconquista, the complexes were ordered to be demolished in order to meet more catholic tastes. Alhambra was soon abandoned in the 18th century, however the later was repaired in the 19th century.

  1. Alcazar Seville:

The Alcazar in Seville fetches a small dose of sight-seeing to all the visitors and travelers. Of all the old and historical sites in the country, Alcazar of Seville is considered to be the prettiest. This site is surrounded by beautiful tranquil gardens as well as pavilions which date back to 9th century respectively. The beautiful Moorish architecture of this place is praiseworthy. Alcazar Seville is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful historic buildings of Spain.

  1. SagradaFamilia and Park Guell:

The SagradaFamilia and Park Guell are the contribution of Antoni Gaudi who took part in designing and building seven different properties around the city of Barcelona. His work is now a UNESCO world heritage site and the same defines his creative and unique contributions to the architecture. The La SagradaFamilia is an iconic cathedral which is still in construction today. The beautiful Park Guell is considered to be a remarkable instance of the beautiful architecture. This public park has beautiful mosaic architecture and stunning gardens. A mosaic lizard guards its magnificent staircase.

  1. Tarragona:

Tarragona is located in Costa Dorada region and is considered to be one of the most beautiful historical buildings of Spain. This place was once the capital of the Roman Empire in the country. Today, it has transformed itself into a historical as well as cultural city. This place blends the ancient city of Tarraco with the new seaside town, thereby giving its visitors a pleasant sight. The beautiful city walls, the amazing amphitheater and the magnificent cathedral of this place are the sites worth exploring. Not only this, the city also provides a series of excellent restaurants and a jovial culture.

Time Difference:

Spain is two hours ahead of the Greenwich Mean Time (+2 Hours) respectively.