Five Reasons Why We Love Spain

An intoxicating culture, a superb Mediterranean climate and a landscape dotted with whitewashed villages and medieval towns – Spain has it all. And what’s more, its tempting tapas bars and sun-kissed costas are just a short flight from home. That means you can be sipping a sherry in Jerez, or gaping at the grandeur of the Alhambra Palace in under three hours.

A diverse history

Spain’s position, on both the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean and just a stone’s throw from Africa, means many cultures have left a lasting legacy here over the centuries. As you travel this diverse country you’ll see evidence of the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans and Moors, not only in its architecture but in its cuisine and traditions. Spanish influence has, of course, spread far beyond Europe too, and many people living in the Americas today have roots firmly in Spanish soil.

Amazing architecture

Renowned for both its architecture and its architects, thousands of years of ingenuity are reflected in Spain’s magnificent buildings. The Moorish heyday in the 13th and 14th centuries produced the iconic Alhambra Palace, a magnificent pink-stone complex that stands high on a hill overlooking the Andalucian city of Granada. Then there’s the pioneering work of Antoni Gaudi whose distinctive Sagrada Familia brings visitors flocking to Barcelona. Treasures of a more recent era have also made their mark, and include Seville’s vast semi-circular Plaza de España, built in 1929.

Lovely landscapes

From the wild, beautiful cliffs of the North Atlantic coast to the sun-soaked plains and glorious beaches of the south, Spain’s landscape is extraordinary. Take a rail journey with views of the Pyrenees, or peer down 600ft into Ronda’s El Tajo Gorge. Head to Andalucia to admire the charming white towns, or pueblo blancos, scattered on the hills, where a stroll through cobbled streets leads straight to a long, lazy lunch. And for a touch of sophistication, look no further than Catalonia and its glamorous capital, Barcelona.

Food for thought

Whether you choose a rustic bar or a Michelin-starred restaurant, there are plenty of gastronomic experiences waiting for you in Spain. In Andalucia you should breakfast on Serrano ham with olive oil and tomatoes, while the chilled soup gazpacho is the perfect way to cool down on a hot day. Seville is credited with the invention of tapas, and although paella’s origins are in Valencia, each Spanish region has its own variation. In Jerez, start your meal with a chilled glass of sherry, and ensure nights out go with a bang as you enjoy a glass of sparkling cava.

The art of flamenco

Traditionally the dance of Andalucian gypsies, flamenco is an emotional art form. Its essence is in the song, which can deal with profound emotions such as anguish and despair. Accompanying guitar music developed in the 19th century but before this, hand-clapping, finger-snapping and shouting were more common. The men’s dance is characterised by toe and heel clicks, while the women, in flirty, swirly polka-dot dresses, also display graceful body and hand movements. Head to Seville for an authentic and soul-stirring flamenco performance.