the second largest country in Europe (France is the biggest) is
located in southwestern Europe in an area known as the Iberian Peninsula.
The country is surrounded by the Mediterranean to the east and to
the south, Portugal to the west, the Atlantic to the southwest,
and France, Andorra, and the Bay of Biscay to the north. The Balearic
Islands located in the Mediterranean and the Canary Islands situated
in the Atlantic are also part of Spain.
is a fascinating country, rich in art and culture. The legacy of
the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Visigoths, Muslims and Christians
have all left their mark throughout the country.
the visitor, the question becomes how much can I see in the limited
time I have in this country. The best place to start any exploration
should be Madrid, capital of Spain. This city is one of the liveliest
cities on the European continent. At just about any hour of the
day or night, there is always some type of activity going on. The
city, and Spain in general, is very well know for the night life.
Bars, discos, and restaurants do not even start to get busy until
10 or 11 pm, and the former stay open all night long!
From Madrid, a network of roads and high speed
rail lines extend throughout the country, making it easy to quickly
get to any destination of interest to you.
In the sunny southern part of
Spain you will find Andalusia, former cultural and power center
of the Moors. Throughout this region you will see examples of Moorish
architecture and arts. The most famous of which are the Alhambra
in Granada and the Mezquita in Cordoba. The Alhambra, the high point
of Muslim architecture in Spain, is an exquisitely decorated palace/fortress
compound located on a hill overlooking Granada. The palace and its
grounds are absolutely stunning! The intricate sculptures, arches,
columns, and pools are combined in such a way as to leave even the
most jaded visitor awestruck. You will enjoy wandering through the
vast palace wondering what beauty you might encounter just around
the next corner.
In Cordaba, visitors will enjoy
the splendor of the Mezquita, once the 3rd most important religious
site in the Muslim world. Throughout the temple, rise close to 900
intricately carved columns and arches. Gazing upwards, it is possible
to see the intricately worked wood that makes up the ceiling. If
you close your eyes, it is not hard to imagine the Muslim population
heeding the exotic songs of the imams (Muslim clerics) beckoning
them to their daily prayers.
Close by Madrid, discover the
remnants of Spain's Medieval and Renaissance past. Wander through
the narrow streets and fortifications of Toledo and Segovia, catching
glimpses of old churches and palaces. In Toledo, stop by the church
that today houses "The Burial of the Count of Orgaz" one of the
finest works produced by the Renaissance master "El Greco". Outside
of Segovia, visit the beautifully preserved, mile long Roman aqueduct.
In the city itself, explore the Alcazar, mighty fortress of the
former kings and queens of Spain.
Want something a little different,
try Cataluna and Barcelona. This region of Spain is distinct both
in its culture and its language, Catalan. Barcelona is a bustling
port city, vibrant and alive, a feeling that causes most visitors
fall in love with the place. Stroll down La Rambla, the city's most
famous street, and sample the various markets, bars, and top notch
restaurants you will encounter. For unusual architecture, visit
the houses and buildings produced by the "Modernists". The best
example of this architectural movement is the impressive, though
still unfinished, La Sagrada Familia church, designed by Antoni
For those of you who just want
to relax, spend some time on the beautiful sun-drenched beaches
of the Costa del Sol, located in the southern part of Spain. You
may also want to consider just driving through some of the large
wine growing regions, sampling the distinctive wines of Spain.
Finally, from Spain it is fast
and easy to get to other destinations in Europe. Current favorites
include quick trips to Portugal, France, and Italy.
Wherever you decide to go, you will fall
in love with Spain!