|The Crystal Palace in Madrid|
The History of Spain is a Summary of influences from the different cultures that have lived in the country.The first settlers on the Peninsula were the Celts and the Iberians. The first testimonials written about the country date back to this period. It is said that Hispania (the name the Romans used to describe the Peninsula) is a word of Semitic origin from Hispalis (Seville). From the year 1100 A.D. and until the middle of the 3rd century A.D., commercial and cultural contact with high Mediterranean civilisations was held with the Phoenicians and Greeks. At the end of this era, both civilisations were taken over by the Carthaginians and Romans, respectively. The Roman presence in Hispania lasted for seven centuries, during which time the basic borders of the Peninsula in relation to other European towns were set up. In addition to territorial administration, many more institutions were inherited from Rome such as the concept of family, Latin as a language, religion and law. At the start of the 5th century new settlers from the North arrive and settle on the Peninsula: the Visigoths in the interior and the Swabians on the West.
The conflict between liberalists and absolutists, or in other words, between two different ways of perceiving the establishment of the state, would be one of the longest Spanish conflicts throughout the 19th century. The brief reign of Amadeo de Saboya, the first republican experience and the subsequent restoration of the monarchy, under the rule of Alfonso XII, take Spain to the beginning of the 20th century with a series of serious unresolved problems that intensify following the definitive loss of the last strongholds of the colonial empire: Cuba and the Philippines. Despite the interruption of the First World War in which Spain remained neutral and following the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera, the monarchical crisis returns, resulting in the exile of King Alfonso XIII. The ballot box is introduced into Spain and with it the first democratic experience of the 20th century: the second Republic, a brief attempt to introduce the reformations the country needed, frustrated by General Franco's military rising and the outbreak of the Civil War in 1936.
Spain covers an area of 505,955 square kilometres, which places it amongst the fifty largest countries in the world.The largest part of the territory is located in the Iberian Peninsula, the remainder, approximately 12,500 square kilometres, are islands, -Balearics and the Canary Islands- plus 32 square kilometres that are accounted for by the cities of Ceuta and Melilla, situated on the coast of Africa. The situation of the Iberian Peninsula in the extreme south west of Europe and only 14 kilometres away from the African continent, endows Spain with a great strategic value: projecting into the Mediterranean on one side and acting as an intersection on the path to Africa and America on the other. The fact that a large part of Spain is peninsular also explains the length of its coastline, which runs along the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. As a result of its position, between 36 and 43 degrees North latitude, the climate ranges from the mild oceanic climate in the North, to the continental Mediterranean in the centre and the Mediterranean in the East and South, factors which combine to create a wet Spain in the North and mountainous areas, green Spain with luxuriant forests and a dry Spain in the Mediterranean.
Paella is probably the most popular dish to come out of Spain. A Valencian rice dish, typical ingredients consist of white rice, green vegetables, meat (rabbit, chicken, duck) or seafood, land snails, beans and seasoning. Made into a stew-like consistency, paella is rich and hearty as a standalone meal or as a side dish.
Jamón ibérico (Iberian cured ham) also called pata negra, is a type of rare cured ham produced mostly in Spain. Consisting of at least 75% black Iberian pig found in the south and southwestern areas of Spain, this meat is a delicacy only recently was available in the States.
Jerez (also known as Xérès or sherry) is a staple of Andalusia. Served in both bars and taverns cold, it is intense, smooth and light on the palate. Sip and swoosh to appreciate the delicate almond notes.
Penedes - El Vendrell sits in the large wine-growing region of Penedès , where cavas, high-quality sparkling wines, are produced. Cava is the wine chosen for toasts and celebrations with Sant Sadurní d'Anoia being the world capital for this product.
How to Get Around Spain
|Spainish National Railway|
Plane- The Largest airports in Spain are Barajas in Madrid, and El Prat in Barcelona , which offer the greatest number of international flights daily. With recent expansions and revamps, they make traveling in and out a breeze. Terminal 4 in Madrid was a recent addition in 2006 and is the world's largest terminal by area. Designed by Antonio Lamela and Richard Rogers and TPS Engineers, they collectively won a Stirling Prize and IStructE Award for their innovative and modern design utilizing glass panes instead of walls and domed ceilings to let natural light in, aimed to give travelers a stress-free journey. It's also fairly easy to island hop between Gran Canaria, Tenerife Sur and Tenerife Norte in the Canary Islands via smaller regional carriers for a very reasonable fee.
Famous Festivals in Spain
The Tomato Fight:-
Whilst there are very few rules at La Tomatina it is important to follow the following rules outlined by the city council so the event runs smoothly without incident, as it has done to date.
- It is compulsory to squash the tomatoes before throwing them.
- This is a tomato lover's festival so strictly no other projectiles are allowed
- Be careful of the lorries going through the village
- You must not rip t-shirts
- Tomatoes must stop being thrown once the second incendiary device is fired.
After the tomato fight has concluded, the town is transformed back to its former self. Shopkeepers take down their tarpaulins and everyone chips in to hose down the town and each other. Fire Trucks are also used to spray down the streets, with water provided by a Roman aqueduct. It is best to look for locals with hoses to wash up after the fight. The river is also a popular spot to go after the fight but the water is of questionable cleanliness and there are loads of people queuing up for a chance to wash.
Bull Running Fiesta:-
|Bull Running Festival|
After the daybreak of July 7th, runners (mainly young men) gather at the bottom of Santo Domingo, which is the starting line. They crowd together and sing to the image of San Fermin which is placed in a niche on a wall. The song goes: "A San Fermín pedimos, por ser nuestro patrón, nos guíe en el encierro dándonos su bendición" ("We ask San Fermín, as our Patron, to guide us through the Bull Run and give us his blessing.")
Then, as a rocket goes off, a number of fighting bulls are let out onto the streets. A second rocket is then let off to make sure everyone knows the bulls are loose in the street. The bulls run along the narrow street 825 metres (half a mile) to a bull ring. The runners dash along in front of the bulls, aiming to feel the breath of the bull on their backs, getting as close as possible - all whilst trying to avoid getting gored by their sharp horns.
The supposed way to do this is to start off slowly when the bulls are quite a distance behind. Then as they get nearer start running like hell! You can then go near them for a short time, as near as you are prepared to risk it, and then quickly get out of the way. Runners look for a gap in the fence to slip through or jump over, or a space against the wall of the street.
When the bulls finally reach the end of the street, they go into pens and are kept until later that day they are killed in a bullfight.
The tradition is said to have come from practicality when, in 1591 residents merely had to herd the bulls to the bull-fighting arena. At first only the drovers were used to lead the bulls. But it seems that at some date, the butchers guild, who had the responsibility of buying the bulls, began to join in with the drovers and began to chase behind the bulls and heifers up to the bull-ring from Santo Domingo street - the starting point of the run.
As time passed the event became more and more popular and some people began to run in front of the bulls and not behind them, as the drovers do. In 1852, a new bull-ring was built and a new route - becoming much shorter also, because as from 1899, it was decided to bring the bulls up to a small corral in Santo Domingo street the night before they fight in the ring.
Originally only a few daring souls ran with the bulls but the adrenaline rush of running in front of a 1500lb bull has since caught on. People now journey from all around the world to run with the bulls.
Others Cities And Regions In Spain
While some may say Madrid is the heart of Spain as the capital and largest city, and it does get far and away the greatest number of tourists a year, there are a number of other regions worth exploring. The lifelines of Spanish culture are apparent throughout the country's pulsing cities with distinct personalities, attractions and history. An eclectic melting pot, Spanish cuisine, architecture and influence vary greatly across the diverse country so pack a punch into any visit by stopping at a couple of these different destinations.
|Plaza Mayor, Madrid|
|Barcelona , Spain|
|Andalucia , Spain|
|Valencia , Spain|
Way of St. James:-
|St. James , Spain|