Spain is a diverse, multilingual country that has been invaded by many different peoples over the course of its history. A combination of Roman, Arab and Christian influence makes the peninsula a fascinating place to visit.
Whether you’re in the capital city of Madrid or the beach resorts along the Mediterranean, you can explore the cultural diversity that makes Spain so special. You’ll find everything from medieval palaces to futuristic architecture, plus plenty of great food and drink.
Catholicism is the country’s official religion, and there are countless churches throughout the nation. Most of them are adorned with religious artefacts that make it easy to trace Spain’s long history as a Christian nation.
The church has also had a strong influence on Spanish culture, with its doctrine of the ’Holy Trinity’ being the basis for much of Spanish life and society. There are a variety of different rituals that people practice, from daily prayers to religious celebrations at Easter and Christmas.
It’s a great idea to take part in local traditions when you visit Spain. In the north, it’s common to go on a romeria (pilgrimage) to Santiago de Compostela, a pilgrimage that ends at the shrine of the Apostle Saint James the Great.
In the south, you can discover the fusion of Islamic and Roman Catholic heritage in places like Cordoba or Seville. You can even dance flamenco in a historic Moorish castle.
Wildlife is plentiful in Spain, with many species of animals adapted to living in the country’s rugged terrain. Among the most notable are the wild boar, ibex (wild goat) and red and fallow deer. There are also a number of African-type species, including the European wolf and brown bear, that are rare in the wild, but survive in protected areas.
Climate is also quite varied across the peninsula, with a maritime climate in the northern and northwest, and a continental one in the central and southern regions. The climatic complexity of the country is due in large part to its proximity to North Africa and Atlantic Ocean influences.
As a result, the weather in Spain is usually characterized by warm, humid or semi-arid conditions. This climatic contrast is accentuated by the peninsula’s mountainous relief, which exaggerates aridity and produces rain shadows in the mountains.
Travelling to Spain can be done by plane, train, boat or bus. Several major airlines offer reasonable flight options, but you can save money by booking your tickets ahead of time with Iberia and Vueling.
You can also hop aboard a cruise ship that will stop at a variety of popular destinations in Spain, such as Barcelona, Valencia, Ibiza and the Canary Islands. The cruise line experience isn’t as luxurious or glamorous as flying, but it’s a great way to see the country’s best sights in a fraction of the time.
If you’re looking for something a bit more off the beaten path, there are plenty of small towns and villages where you can take in some spectacular scenery and get away from the crowds. Some of these villages are famous for their beaches and lively pintxo bars, while others are just as beautiful, but have a much more traditional feel.