Overview: Passionate, sophisticated and devoted to living the good life, Spain is at once a stereotype come to life and a country more diverse than you ever imagined.
Spain‘s diverse landscapes stir the soul. The Pyrenees and the Picos de Europa are as beautiful as any mountain range on the continent, while the snowcapped Sierra Nevada rises up improbably from the sun-baked plains of Andalucía; these are hiking destinations of the highest order. The wildly beautiful cliffs of Spain‘s Atlantic northwest are the scene for some of Europe‘s most spectacular drives, even as the charming coves of the Mediterranean are still the continent’s summer destination of choice; despite decades of overdevelopment, numerous unspoiled corners remain. And everywhere you go, villages of timeless beauty perch on hilltops, huddle in valleys and cling to coastal outcrops as tiny but resilient outposts of Old Spain. Spend as long as you can in places like these.
Spain‘s story is told with endless creativity through its arts and architecture. Poignantly windswept Roman ruins, cathedrals of rare power and incomparable jewels of Islamic architecture speak of a country where the great civilizations of history have always risen, fallen and left behind their indelible mark. More recently, what other country could produce such rebellious and relentlessly creative spirits as Salvador Dalí, Pablo Picasso and Antoni Gaudí and place them front and centre in public life? Here, grand monuments to the past coexist alongside architectural creations of such daring that it becomes clear that Spain‘s future will be every bit as original as its past. For all such talk, this is a country that lives very much in the present. Whenever it happens, you’ll find yourself nodding in recognition: this is Spain.
At a glance:
- Population: ~ 46.8 million
- Capital city: Madrid (pop. 3.3 million)
- Area: 504,900 sq. kms
- Currency: Euro (EUR)
- Time zone: UTC +1 / Summer UTC +2
- Religion: Christian (Roman Catholic).