Flamenco music and dancing, bullfights, lots of sun and fantastic beaches… In fact, Spain has much more to offer tourists. Spain has been the cultural center of Europe for many centuries. In this country, a large number of monuments from the times of the Celts, Goths, Romans and Moors have been preserved. The Alhambra Palace in Granada, the Mesquite Cathedral in Cordoba and the Royal Palace in Madrid will be no less interesting to tourists than the beaches of the Costa del Sol or, for example, the Costa Dorada.
Geography of Spain
Spain is located on the famous Iberian Peninsula, in the south of Europe. In the west, Spain borders on Portugal, in the south – on Gibraltar (owned by Great Britain), in the north – on France and Andorra. In North Africa, Spain borders on Morocco (their common border is 13 km). In the south and east, Spain is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea, and in the west and northwest by the Atlantic Ocean.
Spain includes the small Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean, the “Isles of Dogs” (as the Canaries were once called) in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Africa, and two semi-autonomous cities – Ceuta and Melilla in North Africa.
The total area of Spain is 505,992 sq. km, including the islands, and the total length of the state border is 1,917 km.
Mainland Spain is a mountainous country dominated by plateaus and mountain ranges. The main mountain systems in Spain are the Pyrenees, the Cordilleras, the Cantabrian Mountains, the Catalan Mountains, and the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The highest peak in Spain is the extinct volcano Teide on the island of Tenerife (3,718 m).
Capital of Spain
According to itypejob.com, the capital of Spain is Madrid, which is now home to more than 3.3 million people. Madrid was founded by the Moors in the middle of the 10th century.
Spain is a multilingual country. Throughout Spain, the official language is Spanish (aka Castilian).
Other official languages:
- Basque language – common in the Basque Country and in Navarre;
- Catalan – common in Catalonia, as well as in Valencia and the Balearic Mountains;
- Galician – in Galicia.
About 96% of the population of Spain are Catholics belonging to the Roman Catholic Church. However, only 14% of Spaniards go to church every week (or more often).
In addition, about 1.2 million Protestants and more than 1 million Muslims now live in Spain (a lot of people from Morocco and Algeria).
According to computerminus.com, Spain is a constitutional monarchy in which the head of state, according to the Constitution, is the King.
The source of legislative power is the Cortes General, consisting of the Congress of Deputies (350 people are elected to it) and the Senate (258 people).
The main political parties in Spain are the right-wing People’s Party, the Spanish Socialist Labor Party and the Communist Party of Spain.
Spain consists of 17 communities (regions) and 2 autonomous cities (Ceuta and Melilla).
Climate and weather
In general, the climate of Spain can be divided into three main climatic zones:
- Mediterranean climate, which is characterized by hot summers and rather cold winters (central and north-central Spain);
- semi-arid climate (southeastern Spain, especially in Murcia and the Ebro Valley);
- maritime climate (in northern Spain, especially in Asturias, the Basque Country, Cantabria, and partly in Galicia).
The Pyrenees and the Sierra Nevada have an alpine climate, while the Canary Islands have a subtropical climate.
In Spain, in January, the average air temperature is 0C, and in July – +33C.
Seas and oceans
The Mediterranean Sea in the south and east washes the shores of Spain, and in the west and north-west of the country is the Atlantic Ocean. In the north of Spain is the great Bay of Biscay.
Average sea temperature in Spain in May:
- Costa Dorado – +17C
- Costa Brava – +17С
- Costa Calida – +17С
- Almeria – +18C
- Costa del Sol – +17C
- Costa Blanca – +17С
Average sea temperature in Spain in August:
- Costa Dorado – +25С
- Costa Brava – +25C
- Costa Calida – +25С
- Almeria – +24С
- Costa del Sol – +23C
- Costa Blanca – +25С
Rivers and lakes
Despite the fact that Spain is a mountainous country, a large number of rivers flow through its territory. The largest rivers in Spain are the Tagus (1,007 km), the Ebro (910 km), the Duero (895 km), the Guadiana (657 km) and the Guadalquivir (578 km).
According to scientists, there are several hundred lakes in Spain, and more than 440 of them are mountain lakes. The largest lake in Spain is Sanabria, whose area is more than 11 thousand square meters. km.
History of Spain
The ancient Greeks called the indigenous inhabitants of the Iberian Peninsula (the territory of modern Spain) Iberians. Iberian tribes, according to archaeological finds, came to the Iberian Peninsula from the eastern Mediterranean during the Neolithic.
Around 1200 B.C. Celts appeared in the Pyrenees, who began to mix with the Iberian tribes. Then the Phoenicians founded several of their cities in the Pyrenees – Gadir (Cadiz), Malaka (Malaga) and Abdera (Adra). Then the ancient Greeks built their colonies in southern Spain along the Mediterranean coast.
During the Punic Wars between Rome and Carthage, Roman legionnaires invaded Spain and conquered most of it. Then Spain fell completely under the rule of Ancient Rome.
In 409 AD The Goths invaded the Iberian Peninsula and established their kingdom there. However, in 711 AD. The kingdom of the Visigoths fell under the blows of the Moors from Africa. In the end, the Moors managed to conquer almost all of Spain. In the 10th century, Andalusia established its own Muslim Caliphate.
However, the Christians are trying to return the Spanish lands occupied by the Moors. This period in Spanish history is known as the Reconquista.
The very same kingdom of Spain was formed in 1469 (the wedding of Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon took place this year), but only in 1492 the last Arab emir fled from the territory of Spain (this happened after the fall of Granada).
After Christopher Columbus discovered America in 1492, Spain received tons of silver and gold from there, thus becoming one of the most influential and powerful countries of that time.
In 1808, the troops of Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Spain, but the Spaniards put up stubborn resistance to them. After the defeat of Napoleon in 1815 at the Battle of Waterloo, King Ferdinand IV was restored to the Spanish throne.
Due to the economic crisis and political instability in the 19th century, Spain lost almost all of its colonies. In 1895, after the war with the United States, Cuba, the last colony of Spain, was lost.
From 1936 to 1939, the Civil War continued in Spain, the winner of which was the nationalists, led by Franco. During the Second World War, which began in 1939, Spain remained neutral, although it sympathized with Germany.
Franco died in 1975 and a constitutional monarchy was established in Spain.
Spain joined NATO in 1985 and joined the European Union in 1992.
Culture of Spain
Spanish culture was greatly influenced by the ancient Greeks, as well as the ancient Romans. Until now, a large number of ancient Roman monuments have been preserved in Spain. After the Moors conquered Spain in the early 700s, the Arabs began to exert a decisive influence on Spanish culture. In general, the entire Middle Ages in Spain is a confrontation between Arab and Christian cultures.
It so happened that the Spaniards most notably showed themselves in literature and in painting, although, of course, in Spain there were talented architects, philosophers, doctors and philosophers.
The most famous Spanish writers and poets are Lope de Vega (years of life – 1562-1635), Francisco Quevedo y Villegas (1580-1645), Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (years of life – 1547-1616), Baltasar Gracian (1601-1658 ), Benito Galdos (1843-1920), and Camilo José Sela (life – 1916-2002).
The most famous Spanish painters are El Greco (life – 1541-1614), Francisco de Herrera (life – 1576-1656), Jusepe de Ribera (life – 1591-1652), Diego Velasquez (life – 1599-1660), Alonso Cano (life – 1601-1667), Francisco Goya (life – 1746-1828), and Salvador Dali (life – 1904-1989).
For many of us, Spain is flamenco and bullfighting, which has a long tradition.
The dance and song “flamenco” appeared in the Middle Ages in Andalusia. The emergence of this dance and musical style is associated with the gypsies, but since the end of the 18th century, flamenco has become a traditional Spanish dance.
Now every two years in the Spanish Seville, an international flamenco festival called Bienal de Flamenco is held. This festival gathers thousands of participants and visitors.
Another famous Spanish tradition is bullfighting, bullfighting, which was started by the Iberian tribes who lived in the Pyrenees around 3000 centuries BC. BC. At first, the killing of a bull was of a ritual nature, but over time, it became a real art. Since the middle of the 18th century, bullfighting has already existed in many Spanish cities.
Now in some Spanish cities there are bull races – “encierro”. During these races, the bulls try to catch up with the people running through the streets. Sometimes the bulls succeed. The most famous encierros are in Pamplona.
We advise tourists to pay attention to the fact that in Spain in the afternoon there comes a “siesta”, when life in the country literally freezes for a couple of hours.
Spanish cuisine is characterized by a wide variety of dishes. This is understandable, because in every region of Spain they carefully preserve not only their cultural, but also culinary traditions. In general, the cuisine of Spain can be attributed to the Mediterranean cuisine. Two characteristic elements of Spanish cuisine are olive oil and garlic.
In Mediterranean Spain (from Catalonia to Andalusia), seafood is often used for cooking. Cold soups (eg gazpacho) and rice dishes (eg paella) are traditional here.
Inland Spain is characterized by thick hot soups and stews. Ham and various cheeses are popular here.
For the northern coast of Spain (Atlantic Ocean), including the Basque Country, Asturias and Galicia, dishes with meat, fish and vegetables are typical.
We advise tourists not to leave Spain until they have tried the following 10 local dishes:
- Cochinillo Asado (roast pig);
- Gambas Ajiillo (fried shrimp with garlic and chili);
- Paella (rice dish);
- Pulpo a la Gallega (Galician octopus);
- Jamon Iberico & Chorizo (Iberian ham and spicy sausages);
- Pescado Frito (this is any fried fish);
- Patatas Bravas (these are fried potatoes cooked in a spicy sauce);
- Tortilla Espanola (Spanish omelet);
- Queso Manchego (Spanish sheep cheese);
- Gazpacho (This is a traditional cold tomato soup).
Sunny Spain is unimaginable without wine. The traditions of winemaking on the Iberian Peninsula were laid down by the ancient Greeks, who founded their colonies there. Spain now produces a wide variety of wines.
In our opinion, the Top 5 best red wines in Spain include:
- Wine Lopez de Heredia
- Bernya (Alicante)
- Vinyes josep – Sola Classic (Priorat)
- Tempranillo – Baron fernand (Valdepeñas)
- Divus – Bodegas Bleda (Jumilla)
Top 5 best white wines in Spain:
- Xarlel-lo – Clar de Castanyer (Penedés)
- Amalia – Rubicon (Lanzarote)
- Wine Mas Plantadera Blanco Roble – Celler Sabate (Priorat)
- Malvasia semidulce – Bermejo (Lanzarote)
- el copero (Utiel-Requena)
Sights of Spain
Perhaps Spain does not take the 1st place in terms of the number of attractions, but it is undeniable that tourists have something to see in this ancient country. The top ten attractions in Spain, in our opinion, include the following:
- Alhambra Palace in Granada
- Mosque-Cathedral of Mesquita in Cordoba
- Escorial Palace near the Sierra de Guadarrama
- Cathedral of the Holy Family in Barcelona
- Aqueduct in Segovia
- Royal Palace in Madrid
- Seville Cathedral
- National Prado Museum in Madrid
- Museum (or rather house-museum) of Salvador Dali (Costa Brava)
- Giralda tower in Seville
Cities and resorts in Spain
The largest Spanish cities are Madrid, Barcelona (1.7 million people), Valencia (850 thousand people), Seville (720 thousand people), Zaragoza (more than 610 thousand people), and Malaga (about 550 thousand people).
The total coastline of Spain is about 5 thousand kilometers. This means that in Spain there are a large number of beautiful beaches with clear water. Despite the fact that for some reason most tourists choose the Costa Blanca and the sunny Costa del Sol, Spain has beautiful beaches in other resorts.
Top 10 Spanish beaches, in our opinion:
- La Concha Beach – San Sebastian
- Playa de Las Catedrales – Galicia
- Playa del Silencio – Asturias
- Ses Illetes – located on the island of Formentera, Balearic Islands
- Beaches of Sitges – near Barcelona
- Nerja – Costa del Sol, Andalusia
- La Barrosa – This beach is located in Chiclana de la Frontera
- Tarifa – Andalusia
- Gandia – Costa Blanca
- Playa de los Peligros – Santander
When talking about the beach resorts in Spain, they immediately remember the Costa del Sol, the Canary Islands, and the island of Ibiza. But Spain still has the Costa Brava, Tenerife, Mallorca, Costa Dorada, the Balearic Islands, the Costa Blanca, the Costa del Maresme, and the Costa de la Luz.
Returning from Spain, tourists may simply not pick up their suitcases, as there may be so many souvenirs in them. Therefore, we advise tourists who have visited Spain to stop at the following best Spanish souvenirs:
- Olive oil, which is the best in the world (the opinion of Italians and Greeks on this matter does not count);
- “Bota” – a bag for storing wine made of leather (such a bag costs about 30 euros);
- Saffron and other spices;
- Funny T-shirts from Kukuxumusu;
- Spanish ham;
- Flamenco CDs;
- Spanish wine;
- Souvenirs of the Spanish national football team;
- Melee weapons from Toledo.
Banks are open:
Some banks are also open on Saturdays.
Shop opening hours:
Mon-Fri: from 09:00 to 13.30 (or 14:00) and from 16:30 (or from 17:00) to 20:00.
Every Saturday, Spanish shops are open until noon.
Large supermarkets are open all day.
Ukrainians need to get a visa to enter Spain.
Spain is a member of the European Union, which means that the euro is used as currency in this country.
American Express, MasterCard/Cirrus, Visa/Plus, Diners Club, etc. are accepted.
The import and export of currency in Spain is not limited, but if you want to import or export 10,000 euros or more, the money must be entered in the declaration.
Ukrainians can bring to Spain:
– 200 cigarettes (or 100 thin cigars, or 50 cigars, or 250 grams of tobacco);
– 1 liter of strong alc. drinks, or 4 liters of wine;
– Gifts with a maximum value of 430 euros per person.
Weapons and ammunition can only be brought into Spain with a special permit from the Spanish police.
There are no restrictions on the export of goods from Spain if they are intended for personal use.
Useful phone numbers and addresses
Embassy of Spain in Ukraine:
01901 Kiev, st. Khorevaya, 46
Phone: (044) 391-30-24
Fax: (044) 492-73-27
Embassy of Ukraine in Spain:
Address: España, 28043 Madrid, Ronda de la Abubilla, 52
T: (8 10 34 91) 748 93 60
F: (8 10 34 91) 388 71 78
E-mail: [email protected] ua
Police, ambulance and fire department telephone – 112
The difference with time in Kyiv in summer is -1 hour, and in winter -2 hours. Those. if in Madrid, for example, in the summer it is 9:00 am, then in Kyiv it is 10:00 am.
In almost all restaurants in Spain, tips are already included in the bill. However, all the same, in Spanish restaurants it is customary to leave 10% of the bill for tea. In taxis, the tip is also 10%.
Employees of cinemas or theaters in Spain are given 50 cents or 1 euro for “tea”. Luggage porters in hotels are given 1 euro for “tea”.
Tipping in cafes and bars is not obligatory, but if you leave 10-20 cents for “tea” for one glass there, you will be grateful.
No special vaccinations are required to enter Spain.
We advise tourists in Spain to beware of pickpocketing. This type of crime is quite common in Spain. In general, more than 95% of the crimes committed against foreign tourists in Spain are petty thefts.
Every year in Spain more than 30 thousand crimes are committed against foreign tourists. Therefore, we advise tourists in Spain to keep an eye on their bags, wallets and cameras. Remember that criminals in Spain often work in groups. One group distracts the attention of the tourist, and the rest pull out a wallet or purse from the bag.
Every year from June 30 to September 30, security measures are strengthened in Madrid (in addition, about 3 thousand police officers work there).