Throw away your stereotypes of Spanish culture and delve into this diverse country. There’s something for everyone to click with whether it’s food, music, architecture, history, art, festivals or people with different lifestyles.
You love the sound of the guitar
The guitar came into being when a sixth string was added to the Moorish lute. Since then, this instrument has spread to many countries and is played in various styles, but in Spain, especially Andalusia, there’s a revival of traditional styles. Flamenco comes from the gypsies’ cante jondo (deep song). One of its best-known players was Paco de Lucia, who died this year.
You appreciate buildings with history
Spain is full of towns with powerful history and artistic architecture. In fact, Spain has 44 UNESCO world heritage sites – the third highest number in the world. In Seville, the Cathedral, Archivo de Indias, and the Alcázar form a UNESCO site in the city centre. The cathedral is the largest Gothic building in Europe and has Christopher Columbus’ tomb.
There are also several national parks in Spain. The largest of them is the stunning Sierra Nevada National Park in Andalusia.
You like quirky festivals
For a wild festival, there’s La Tomatina: ‘The World’s Biggest Food Fight’. During La Tomatina, over 150,000 tomatoes are thrown. It’s held in Buñol, near Valencia, on the last Wednesday in August.
For a more cultural celebration, Seville holds the Feria de Sevilla just after Easter. It has everything Andalusia is known for: sherry, flamenco, horses and bullfighting. In the town there’s a mix of private and public marquees, which are used for everything from spreading political messages to drinking sherry. Andalusia is very proud of its history of festivals and fairs – they just love a good party.
Besides fiestas, there’s a lot more to discover in the rich cultural region of Andalusia. Whether you’re on a gap year or you’re 50+ years young and looking for an adventure, it’s well worth going to explore. You could even take a course that goes deeper into Andalusian culture and language with wine tasting and flamenco lessons.
You can find more than one use for olive oil
Good news for olive lovers: Spain produces 44% of the world’s olives. Spanish cooking varies through the regions, but ones of the staples is olive oil. It’s full of health benefits: the oleic acid reduces bad cholesterol and increases good cholesterol, while the Vitamin E reduces blood pressure as well as taking care of your skin.
You enjoy cultural differences, even within the same country
Spanish cooking isn’t the only thing that changes from region to region. There are Basque and Catalan movements that demand statehood. These areas have their own languages. Galician added to the list makes four official languages. The reason these areas are so different is because during the Reconquista (when Christian groups took over areas that were previously Muslim) the Kingdoms formed independently. These kingdoms coexisted with Muslim states and formed their own identities, which carry on until today.