25 Top Tourist Attractions in Barcelona

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25 Top Tourist Attractions in Barcelona

Category : Barcelona , Europe , Spain

Barcelona is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, attracting millions upon millions of visitors each year. So why is it so popular? Well, it has almost everything any holidaymaker would desire. Easy access, favorable weather conditions, attractive beaches and surrounding mountains, a buzzing nightlife, tasty local cuisine and it’s steeped in culture and history.

It’s also a sight-seeing wonderland, housing many recognizable monuments. Variety’s the word with Barcelona and the city has something for everyone; families, couples and singletons alike. There are the tourist attractions in Barcelona travelers shouldn’t miss if they ever decide to visit the Catalan capital:

25. Monastery of Pedralbes

Monastery of Pedralbes

 

The quiet beauty of the Monastery of Pedralbes provides a safe harbor for travelers who want to escape the hustle and bustle of Barcelona. This gothic monastery was built in 129y by Queen Elsenda who sought forgiveness for her sins. It is considered an outstanding example of Catalan gothic architecture. Arched outer corridors overlook swaying palm trees. Its original occupants were Poor Clares, nuns from mostly noble families; they were charged with protecting the city. Some nuns still live in the monastery, which today houses the city museum.

24. Palau Guell

Palau Guell

 

Barcelona is filled with significant buildings designed by noted architect Antoni Gaudi. A good place for visitors to begin their appreciation of his work is Palau Guell or Palace Guell. It’s one of his first major works, and sets the tone for his designs to follow. Gaudi designed Palau Guell for an extremely wealthy resident. Because the tycoon entertained a lot, the house was designed around a central hall, with other rooms designed to fit the family’s needs. Gaudi’s use of space and lighting in the Palau Guell was innovative for its time.

23. Poble Espanyol

Poble Espanyol

 

Built in 1929, Poble Espanyol is a huge open-air museum four times the size of FC Barcelona’s football pitch. The complex is composed of various sections, each of whom represent a specific Spanish region. There is also a flourishing handicraft market which is perfect for souvenir shopping. Here you can wander from Andalusia to the Balearic Islands in the space of a couple of hours, visiting surprisingly good copies of Spain’s characteristic structures. The village also hosts the Fondation Fran Daurel, where you can enjoy an interesting collection by artists like Picasso and Miró.

22. Fundacio Joan Miro

Fundacio Joan Miro

 

Joan Miro was one of Barcelona’s most famous artists, a master who created works known around the world. Usually foundations are set up after a person dies to honor their ideas, but Miro created his own legacy by setting up the Fundacio Joan Miro himself. It was designed to be a place where younger artists could explore contemporary art, with Miro’s own works providing the nucleus for this study. The foundation opened in a modern building in 1975 and is a good place to see a great collection of Miro’s work in one place.

21. Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya

Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya

 

Sitting atop a hill, the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya looks more like a massive castle than an art museum, a museum that holds a king’s ransom in treasures. It is here, however, that visitors will find the greatest Catalan art from the 10th century to the 20th century. Here visitors will find impressive Romanesque murals that graced church apses, and Gothic art from the era when Catalonia was expanding across the Mediterranean. The gallery also contains paintings by the great Spanish artists El Greco and Velasquez.

20. Arc de Triomf

Arc de Triomf

 

The Arc de Triomf was constructed in 1888 to welcome international visitors to Barcelona’s Universal Exhibition, the world’s fair of its day. The massive decorative arch is located on the Passeig Lluís Companys, a promenade. The classical style arch, now a famous Barcelona landmark, is noted for its sculptural decorations that are symbolic of Barcelona at that time. One frieze welcomes visitors to the exhibition, while reliefs extol agriculture, industry and commerce. The top of the arch features shields from Spain’s 49 provinces; they are topped by Barcelona’s coat of arms.

19. Sant Pau Recinte Modernista

Sant Pau Recinte Modernista

 

Travelers who are fond of art nouveau will definitely want to put Sant Pau Recinte Modernista on their Barcelona bucket. The former hospital, with a façade that resembles a church, is the top-ranked art nouveau site in Europe. Sant Pau Recinte Modernista was built in the first third of the 20th century as a hospital and healthcare research center. It served this purpose for 100 years, and today houses a variety of international organizations. The complex, with underground tunnels connecting the building has a pavilion that is devoted to the history of medicine in Barcelona.

18. Placa de Catalunya

Placa de Catalunya

 

Every city has a big square where people congregate to celebrate, mourn or just see each other. NYC has Times Square, Beijing has Tiananmen Square and Barcelona has Placa de Catalunya. The city’s nerve center is a place to meet friends, sit on the grass or take a break from shopping at nearby stores. Integral to the square are six sets of sculptures that represent the four capitals of Catalonia, labor and wisdom. The plaza opened in 1927 on land that once fronted the gates to a walled Barcelona.

17. Palau de la Musica Catalana

Palau de la Musica Catalana

 

People don’t go to the Palau de la Musica Catalana just to hear music, they go to see the concert hall’s over-the-top ornate interior. While the exterior is impressive, it just can’t compare to the main concert hall with its glass-top ceiling. Built in the early 1900s, the Palau de la Musica Catalana is a tourist attraction in itself, with its stained glass windows and massive chandeliers. The inside of the old hall has been compared to the interior of a Faberge egg. A smaller hall is more modern and subdued, but still opulent.

16. Tibidabo

Tibidabo

 

Travelers who collect panoramic views should go to the top of Tibidabo, at 512 meters (1,880 feet) high the highest mountain overlooking Barcelona. The easiest way to get there is via Spain’s first funicular. But there’s more than just stunning views on this mountain top. There’s the Sagra Cor church that took 60 years to build and is topped with a sculpture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Sharing space with this impressive church are an amusement park and a telecommunications tower. All three are visible from Barcelona below.

15. Parc de la Ciutadella

Parc de la Ciutadella

 

The Parc de la Ciutadella is a lot happier place today than when it was founded in 1714. After Philip V conquered Barcelona, he ordered a citadel – the largest in Europe – to be built by forced labor so he could maintain control over the Catalans. Over the centuries it transformed into peaceful uses, becoming a major oasis of green in the city. Citadel Park was the site for the 1888 Universal Exhibition. Today it is home to a zoo, a small lake, the Museum of Natural Science, and Als Voluntaris Catalans, a sculpture honoring Catalans killed in World War I.

14. Barcelona Cathedral

Barcelona Cathedral

 

Add Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia, as it’s officially known, to the list of beautiful Gothic buildings in Barcelona. The church also known as Barcelona Cathedral or La Seu because it’s the seat of the archbishop. The cathedral dates back to the 14th century and honors St. Eulalia, co-patron saint of Barcelona, who was killed by Romans by putting her in a knife-studded barrel and rolling her down the street. The entire church is ornate, with towers and spires reaching into the sky. It is a major tourist attraction and now boasts a gift shop that caters to visitors.

13. Gothic Quarter

Gothic Quarter

 

Old is good, especially when it’s the Gothic Quarter, located in the oldest part of Old Town Barcelona. Some say the quarter dates back 2,000 years, but what travelers will see today isn’t that old: a maze of narrow streets flanked by buildings from medieval times to the 19th century. Travelers will see the Jewish Quarter, considered the Gothic Quarter’s prettiest section; walk the paths where a young Picasso went to school; eat at Can Culleretes, the oldest restaurant in Barcelona, dating to 1796, and shop at the colorful Boqueria market.

12. La Boqueria Market

La Boqueria Market

 

Foodies may think they’ve died and gone to heaven when they visit La Boqueria Market, a colorful market (and tourist attraction) in the old town. Located just off La Rambla, the market dates back to 1297 when meat was sold at the city gates. More than meat is sold there today. There’s an array of foods, from farm-fresh produce, seafood, spices and candies being sold by more than 200 stalls. Buy the fixings’ for a picnic lunch or eat at one of the many restaurants before continuing sightseeing.

11. Santa Maria del Mar

Santa Maria del Mar

 

The beautiful Santa Maria del Mar (Saint Mary of the Sea) is an icon for Catalan Catholics. Construction of this massive church began in 1329 when Aragon King Alfonso IV laid the foundation cornerstone. It was finished in 1384, a prime example of Catalan Gothic architecture. Though the outside seems severe, the inside more than compensates for this. Beautiful stained glass windows, high narrow columns and simplicity of design invoke feelings of spaciousness and serenity. Over the centuries, the cathedral has been damaged by earthquakes and fire, yet always regains its beauty.

10. Camp Nou

Camp Nou

 

One for the sports fans, yet still one of Barcelona’s most popular attractions. This stadium is home to formidable European football champions F.C. Barcelona. With a capacity of 99,000 people, this breathtaking sporting arena is Europe’s largest. A tour of the ground is definitely worthwhile and you never know, you might be lucky enough to catch a game!

9. Museu Picasso

Museu Picasso

 

With over 4,000 works by the painter, the Museu Picasso houses one of the most extensive collections of artworks by the 20th-century Spanish artist Pablo Picasso. In particular, the Museu Picasso reveals Picasso’s relationship with the city of Barcelona, a relationship that was shaped in his youth and adolescence, and continued until his death. The museum is housed in five adjoining medieval palaces in Barcelona’s La Ribera.

8. Montjuïc

Montjuïc

 

Montjuïc is a broad shallow hill with a relatively flat top to the southwest of the city center. The eastern side of the hill is almost a sheer cliff, giving it a commanding view over the city’s harbor immediately below. The top of the hill was the site of several fortifications, the latest of which remains today. Another interesting sight is the Palau Nacional (National Palace), originally built as the central pavilion for the International Exhibition. The majestic building in neo-Baroque style is home to the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC). Montjuïc is also home to a number of sports facilities built for the 1992 Olympics.

7. Font Màgica

Font Màgica

 

Font Màgica is a fountain located below the Palau Nacional on the Montjuïc hill and near the Plaça d’Espanya and Poble Espanyol de Barcelona. The fountain, like most of the surrounding developments, was constructed for the 1929 Barcelona International Exposition. On selected evenings, when the fountain is activated, it attracts hundreds of visitors who watch the spectacular display of light, water and music. At the same time, the Palau National is illuminated, providing a beautiful background.

6. Casa Batllo

Casa Batllo

 

It’s hard to find the words to describe Casa Batllo, perhaps because it looks like a carnival gone insane. One of architect Antoni Gaudi’s most famous buildings, Casa Batllo is a mish-mash of colors, building materials and what-have-you styles. There’s a large onion-like dome that’s reminiscent of a mosque; a colorful wavy tiled roof line and lots of sculptures. Gaudi turned an nineteenth century building into Casa Batllo, sometimes called the “house of bones” because of the many jaws on one sculpture. It was a home without equal, but not one most people would feel comfortable living in.

5. Parc Guëll

Parc Guëll

 

With other major works in the city including La Casa Batlló and La Pedrera, this has to be one of Antoni Gaudí’s most celebrated and it is certainly one of the most emblematic of Barcelona. The area was originally meant to be a residential property development with Gaudi doing much of the planning and landscape design. Only two houses were built and the land was later sold to the city of Barcelona and turned into a park. It is home to the famous Salamander sculpture, as well as other buildings and structures designed by the architect. With stunning views of the city, this is a magical experience.

4. Barceloneta

Barceloneta

 

Out of Barcelona’s seven different beaches, stretching over 4.5 km (2.8 miles) of coastline, Barceloneta probably tops them all. It is one of the most popular and is closest to the city center. Along the 1,100 meter (3,600 feet) sandy beach runs a walkway popular with joggers and cyclist. Not surprisingly this place can get crowded, especially during the summer months when the beach bars open up and the beach quickly fills up with locals and tourist.

3. Casa Milà

Casa Milà

 

Built between the years 1906 and 1910, Casa Milà (La Pedrera) was the last civil work designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi. The colorful building is considered one of the artist’s most eccentric and enticing architectural creations with not one straight edge on the exterior. Tours of the interior and the incredible roof structures are available. It also hosts a large exposition of Gaudi works, covering Sagrada Familia and Casa Batlio, not only La Pedrera itself.

2. La Rambla

La Rambla

 

This is probably the city’s most famous street and is a bustling hive of activity. It is often called Las Ramblas, because it is actually a series of several different streets that all have a distinct feel. Located just off Plaza Catalunya and leading right down towards the port and beach, visitors will find street performers, lots of bars and restaurants and the fabulous Boquería Market, a true feast for the eyes.

1. Sagrada Familia

#1 of Tourist Attractions In Barcelona

 

La Sagrada Familia is the most popular attractions in Barcelona, attracting nearly 2.8 million visitors each year. Construction began in 1882 and continues through today, making it the largest unfinished Catholic church in the world. Antoni Gaudi took over as architect the following year and worked on it until his death in 1926. It’s just over 70 percent finished now. Current architects are following Gaudi’s design, which is based on Gothic and Byzantine styles, with 18 towers of varying heights, each dedicated to a different biblical figure. Visitors will be captivated by the design elements and the religious symbolism built into all the spaces of the church. The church was consecrated in 2010, allowing services to be held onsite.


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10 Top Tourist Attractions in Valencia

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Category : Europe , Spain

Valencia, Spain’s third largest city, sits on the East coast of the Iberian Peninsula along the Mediterranean. While the larger Spanish cities have a distinctly urban, high-energy feel, this port city has a more laid-back atmosphere and a commitment to celebrating its natural attractions. Old meets new here, as you can find remnants of a 100BC Roman colony and ultra-modern architecture.

Every March, Valencia hosts the Fallas Festival where each neighborhood displays papier-mâché figures of all sizes and colors for a whole week. At the end of the week, the “fallas” are ceremoniously burned, and the communities party into the night. However, March isn’t the only time to party in Valencia. Every night, the city vibrates with lively bars and nightclubs in every neighborhood. Additionally, it is home of the famed Spanish paella, intricate ceramics and several world-renowned music schools. Here is a look at some of the must-see attractions in Valencia:

10. Bioparc Zoo

Bioparc Zoo

 

Created in 2008, the Bioparc is owned by the city of Valencia, but managed by a for-profit zoological company. It lies along the Turia gardens, and has a modern concept of having designated habitats for animals that are visited by people, instead of the other way around. Instead of separating animals from people by railings and cages, they use natural landforms like large rocks, ditches, and rivers to keep them separate. The African animals are the highlight of the zoo, though there are a number of examples of other world ecosystems as well.

9. National Ceramic Museum

National Ceramic Museum

 

The National Ceramic Museum (Museo Nacional de Ceramica Gonzalez Marti) is housed in a 15th century palace that was refurnished in the rococo architectural style. The front entrance is crowned by a statue of the Virgin Mary, pouring twin fountains from her hands. Named after the collector who set it up, the museum houses ceramic pieces from several different locations, including Greek, Roman, Arab, and prehistoric times. Traditional Spanish pieces from regions like Manises, Paterna and Alcora are on display, as well as a number of contemporary pieces. These include some works by Picasso.

8. Malvarrosa Beach

Malvarrosa Beach

 

Valencia’s main city beach, Malvarrosa is a wide and open beach with fine sand along the Mediterranean waters. Next to the beach is the Paseo Marítimo, a magnificent sea-front promenade, where visitors can enjoy walking, roller skating, jogging, or stop at a restaurant for a delicious paella and a glass of wine. The house of the famous Valencian writer Vicente Blasco-Ibáñez is located at Malvarrosa Beach and has been converted into a museum with an exhibition of his personal belongings and literary works.

7. Turia Gardens

Turia Gardens

 

These gardens, the largest urban gardens in all of Spain, were created when the flood-prone Turia river was rerouted around the city. The old riverbed that remained was formed into the Turia garden, and includes a bike path across the city, along with several attractions. The gardens are not only well landscaped, they have a number of fun attractions for others, including sports courts and fields, giant chess boards, skateboard parks, fountains, and much more. It is a great way to walk to the city of arts and sciences, the Serranos towers, Bioparc, and much more.

6. Plaza de Ayuntamiento

Plaza de Ayuntamiento

 

The city’s central urban square (actually a triangle) is flanked by many of the city’s important buildings. These include City Hall and the main post office, the Cinemographic Institute and the Teatro Rialto. Decorating the plaza are a circular fountain, a wall of flower stands and a statue of the hero of Valencia, Francesc de Vinatea. The Falles festival has several main events that happen in the plaza, which make it the must-see location in the Spring. Tours of the many historical events here are available, and include tours of several of the main buildings.

5. Valencia Cathedral

Valencia Cathedral

 

This ornate, hexagonal cathedral is the largest Church in the city, and dates back to the thirteenth century, though it took almost two centuries to complete. It is a combination of several architectural styles, and the inside is decorated with many fifteenth-century paintings. Of special note is a chalice in the collection of this cathedral, which has been defended by many as the genuine holy grail. Whether true or not, the chalice has made a name for itself as the official papal chalice, most recently by pope Benedict. The first century goblet was a gift from the Spanish king in 1438.

4. L’Oceanografic Aquarium

L'Oceanografic

 

This highlight of the city of arts and sciences is a tribute to the spectacular Mediterranean ocean life off the coast of Valencia. It is the largest of its kind in Europe, with over 11 million gallons of water, and 45 thousand individuals of 500 different species. This includes a massive dolphin area, shark and ray tank, and much more in nine huge underwater towers. The aquarium is divided by geographic region into ten sections, covering everything from arctic to equator, with special note played to the local Mediterranean sea life.

3. La Lonja de la Seda

La Lonja de la Seda

 

Built between 1482 and 1533, La Lonja de la Seda was once used for trading in silk (hence its name, the Silk Exchange). The three-part Gothic building and attached orange garden remains a major tourist attraction in Valencia today. The center building, Sala de Contratacion, was used for signing contracts and has rich decorations with spiral columns. One side-wing hosted the merchant tribunal, and features a ceiling mural that was a tourist attraction for royals. The second side-wing contains the holding cells for debtors that were sentenced by the tribunal.

2. Valencia’s Central Market (Mercado Central)

Valencia's Central Market

 

This public market is considered one of the oldest European markets still running. It is open six days a week, and closed on Sundays. The modernist roofed building that houses the market was built in 1914, and contains a number of beautiful stained-glass windows and room for over 400 merchants. Shoppers here can find gifts, souvenirs, and food items. Of special note are the fish and offal annexes. For those who just want to soak up the ambiance, a large tapas bar sits in the center of the market in full view of many of the shops.

1. City of Arts and Sciences

#1 of Tourist Attractions In Valencia

 

This modern architectural wonder sits at the end of the rerouted Turia river. Along the water sit a number of futuristic and unique buildings, including the well-known Oceanografic Aquarium. They also include L’hemisferic, which resembles a giant eye that can open and close, and contains a planetarium and IMAX theater. The museum of principal sciences is a natural history museum designed to look like a whale’s skeleton. The Agora is a tall covered sports arena, and the Palau Opera house has four theaters, an opening roof, and moving platforms to connect between floors. The city is connected by a landscaped walk featuring Valencia’s native vegetation, and a beautiful suspension bridge.


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10 Top Tourist Attractions in Spain

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Category : Europe , Spain

Spain is a surprise to those who have the image of having to fight for towel space at one of its crowded beaches or sipping sangria while watching a bull fight or flamenco. From the ancient monuments left by the Romans and Moors, the medieval castles of the interior, the white villages in inland Andalucía or the vibrant cities of Barcelona and Madrid, there is a great mixture of cultural attractions in Spain.

The landscape varies just as widely. The evergreen estuaries of Galicia could hardly be more different from the deserts of Almería or the rugged mountains of the Sierra Nevada. And then there are the countless glittering beaches that dot the Spanish coast. Although busy in summer even along the coast of the big tourist Costas some enjoyable beaches can easily be found.

The top tourist attractions in Spain:

10. Palacio Real

Palacio Real

 

The Palacio Real (Royal Palace) of Madrid is the official residence of the King of Spain although it is only used for state ceremonies. The Royal Palace was built between 1738 to 1755 and King Carlos III took up residence in the palace in 1764.

9. Running of the Bulls 

Running of the Bulls

 

Pamplona is a city in Navarra, famous for its San Fermín festival held each year from July 6th – 14th. At the heart of the festival is El Encierro, the Running of the Bulls, an activity that involves running in front of a dozen bulls that have been let loose, on a course of the town’s streets.

8. La Concha

La Concha

 

Protected from strong winds by steep cliffs and islands, La Concha in San Sebastian is said by many to be one of the best city beaches in Europe, let alone Spain. Here you can go surfing, walk along the promenade in search of good restaurants and enjoy the beautiful views of the beach.

7. Aqueduct of Segovia 

Aqueduct of Segovia

 

The Aqueduct of Segovia is one of the best-preserved monuments left by the Romans in Spain. The ancient aqueduct carries water 16 km (10 miles) from the Frío River to Segovia and was built of some 24,000 massive granite blocks without the use of mortar. Probably constructed around 50 AD it still provided water to the city in the 20th century.

6. Cuenca

Cuenca

 

Situated between Madrid and Valencia, Cuenca is a marvelous example of a medieval city, built on the steep sides of a mountain. The many “hanging houses” are built right up to the cliff edge, making Cuenca one of the most striking towns in Spain, a gem in the province of Castilla La Mancha.

5. Ibiza

Ibiza

 

Ibiza is one of the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea, off the coast of Spain. The island is one of the most popular party destinations in all of Europe. During summer, the island’s population doubles as tourists flock to Ibiza to enjoy the night clubs, beach bars and restaurants.

 

4. Sagrada Familia

Sagrada Familia

 

The Sagrada Familia is a large Roman Catholic church in Barcelona, and one of Spain’s most visited tourist attractions. It’s a design by Antoni Gaudí, a Catalan architect who worked on this project for almost 40 years until his death in 1926. The construction of the basilica began in 1882 and still as yet not finished.

3. El Escorial

El Escorial

 

Nestled in the foothills of the Sierra de Guadarrama, El Escorial was the political center of the Spanish empire under King Philip II. Philip appointed Juan Bautista de Toledo as the architect in 1559 and together they designed El Escorial as a monument to Spain’s role as a center of the Christian world. Today it functions as a monastery, royal palace, museum, and school.

2. Mezquita of Cordoba 

Mezquita of Cordoba

 

The Mezquita (Spanish for “Mosque”) of Cordoba is a fascinating building famous for the forest of pillars and arches inside the main hall. The site was originally a Roman temple, then a Visigothic church, before the Umayyad Moors built the Mezquita. After the Spanish Reconquista a cathedral was built into the center of the large Moorish building.

1. Alhambra 

#1 of Tourist Attractions In Spain

 

Part fortress, part palace and part garden the Alhambra is situated on a plateau overlooking the city of Granada in southern Spain. The palace was constructed in the 14th century by the Nasrid sultans. The Alhambra is now one of Spain’s major tourist attractions and many visitors come to Granada just to see the Alhambra.

 


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10 Most Beautiful Castles in Spain

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Category : Europe , Spain

For the most part, Spanish castles weren’t built to be pretty, though there are a couple of exceptions. They are solid, serious and scary. They were designed to withstand sieges from everyone from Moorish invaders to the king in the next province. Sometimes royalty lived in them for brief periods, but more often their residents were political prisoners of the reigning ruler. To visit the castles in Spain is to understand medieval military might.

10. Lorca Castle

Lorca Castle

 

Located in Murcia Province, Lorca Castle was designed to be a defensive fortress. This concept worked well as it was never forcibly taken by invaders since its construction in medieval times. Ironically, one of the castle’s exhibits today deals with storming a castle. The castle sits on a site of a former Muslim citadel, and is a heritage center, known as Fortress of the Sun, that offers various cultural events. The castle and its exhibits are spread over a large area, which could create some obstacles for visitors with mobility problems.

9. Coca Castle

Coca Castle

 

Coca Castle is unique among Spanish castles: It has only three sides since it is built into a hillside that provides a defense from invaders who attack from the rear. Coca Castle also is unique because its architecture was influenced by the Moors though it was built by Christians in the mid-15th century .Much of the castle’s interior was destroyed in the last century, but the exterior still retains Moorish touches, such as the turrets. Coca Castle is doable as a day trip from Segovia; the castle is open to the public though only by guided tours.

8. Castle of La Mota

Castle of La Mota

 

Castle of La Mota is a reconstructed fortress with roots dating back to the 11th century. Over the centuries, the kings of Castile and Aragon fought over it, but it has been a Castilian holding since the 15th century. The castle dominates the surrounding area as it sits on a hill at Medina del Campo in Valladolid Province. In olden times, people entered the castle over a drawbridge. This medieval fortress has been reconstructed. At one time it was a well-known prison, housing such people as Hernando Pizarro, a conqueror of Peru, and Cesare Borgia.

7. Bellver Castle 

Bellver Castle

 

Travelers who want to visit Bellver Castle must first get themselves to Majorca, an island off the coast of Spain. The castle is unique among not only those in Spain but in the rest of Europe because it is circular in shape. Not only in the wall around the castle circular, but so are the towers and the castle itself. King James II of Majorca built the castle in the 14th century. It later was used as a military prison for political prisoners and today houses an historical museum. Surrounded by forests, the castle today hosts various cultural events such as concerts and is the symbol of the city of Palma.

6. New Castle of Manzanares el Real

New Castle of Manzanares el Real

 

The New Castle of Manzanares el Real presents an imposing picture as this 15th century fortress is one of the best preserved castles in the Madrid area. Its other claim to fame is that it featured in a scene in the epic movie, El Cid. The castle is also known as the Castle de los Mendoza because it was a presidential palace for this family. Built entirely of granite, The six-floor castle is a good example of Spanish military architecture. Today it houses a museum on Spanish castles.

5. Alcazaba of Almeria

Alcazaba of Almeria

 

Located in southern Spain, the Alcazaba of Almeria is a fortress that sits on a hill overlooking the city of Almeria. The word “alcazaba” derives from an Arabic word that means “walled fortification, and this is what the Alcazaba of Almeria is. Houses and shops could be found inside the structure. Initially built by Muslims in the 10th century, it was added on to by the Catholics in later years. Moviegoers may find portions of the alcazaba look familiar, especially if they’ve seen Conan the Barbarian or Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

4. Penafiel Castle 

Penafiel Castle

 

As castles go, Peñafiel Castle is long, about 150 meters (490 feet), as it sits on a hill in the town of Peñafiel in Valladolid Province. Some say its long lines resemble a ship, with a keep that is nearly 30 meters (100 feet) high. This fortress, constructed between the ninth and 15th centuries, evokes an imposing presence when lit up at night. Today, one wing of Peñafiel Castle houses a wine museum; the other wing can only be viewed on guided tours.

3. Olite Castle 

Olite Castle

 

A trip to Olite Castle is to experience a different royalty culture in Spain, that of the kingdom of Navarre in the northern part of the country. Also known as the Palacio Real de Olite, the castle was built on first century Roman ruins, though the castle’s construction did not take place until several centuries later. Various monarchs added to it over the years, using a variety of architectural styles, with towers, courtyards and gardens. The castle fell into disrepair, though the Spanish government has been restoring it since 1937.

2. Alcazar of Segovia

Alcazar of Segovia

 

The Alcazar of Segovia doesn’t fit the mold of most castles in Spain, which were constructed as fortresses. This castle fits the fairy-tale mold of European castles and is reported to be the inspiration for the Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World. The castle sits on a hill and gives visitors the impression it is like a ship sailing toward them. Royalty lived here, including Isabella I who was crowned here in 1474. The castle is a museum today with paintings and an armory.

1. Alhambra

Most Beautiful Castle in Spain

 

Travelers who have time to visit only one castle in Spain should make it the Alhambra in Granada. It is by far the most well-known structure in Spain. There is nothing quite like it that compares to this ancient fortress, with a name that translates as ‘Red Castle” in Arabic. The architectural details are stunning and intricate, and represent the influence of the Moors who inhabited it for several centuries. Because this is such a popular attraction, the number of visitors is restricted; Alhambra officials recommend booking tickets in advance.


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10 Best Spanish Islands

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Category : Europe , Spain

Spain has some of the most beautiful islands in Europe. The most popular Spanish Islands are equally divided between the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands. All have unique features along with their warm, clear water and unspoiled beaches. From the glamour and glitz of Ibiza to the windswept volcanoes of Tenerife there is something for every traveler on the islands of Spain.

10. La Gomera 

La Gomera

 

One of the smaller of the Canary Islands, La Gomera was the place from which Christopher Columbus started his voyages of discovery. The island can be reached by ferry from Tenerife and is a good place for walking holidays. It has excellent climate and a huge variety of unique plants and a beautiful forested area, rock outcroppings and waterfalls. The island is not developed for tourism, so there are not the crowds found on other islands.

Where to Stay in La Gomera?

 

9. Minorca

Minorca

 

Minorca (also Menorca) is a less developed island and a good place for a beach holiday away from the crowds. It has more beaches than any other Spanish island, so there is a good chance visitors can find a secluded one to themselves. Along with the unspoiled scenery are prehistoric monuments which date from 1300 BC.

Where to Stay in Minorca?

 

8. Formentera

Formentera

 

Formentera is a small island south of Ibiza and well known for nude sunbathing on many of its pristine, white sand beaches. It can be reached from Ibiza by boat and there is regular passenger service from mainland Spain. This is the place families and nature lovers go for a relatively isolated beach holiday. However, in the peak season of July-August, the island draws huge numbers of tourists. There is a dramatic cliff, La Mola with a lighthouse that is worth seeing.

Where to Stay in Formentera?

 

7. Fuerteventura

Fuerteventura

 

Fuerteventura is famous for its strong winds and is a popular place for kite surfing and windsurfing. Parts of the island are well developed for beach holidays and other places are untouched. It is also famous for its broad sand dunes and over 150 beaches. Corralejo, a town on the northern tip of the island, is considered to have the best beaches.

Where to Stay in Fuerteventura?

 

6. Lanzarote

Lanzarote

Lanzarote has a stark volcanic landscape on a quarter of the island from a volcanic eruption in 1730, which is the Timanfaya National Park. The park has a bar and restaurant where the meat is cooked over underground heat. Other attractions are the Whales and Dolphins Museum and the Mirador del Rio a lookout point with a spectacular view.

Where to Stay in Lanzarote?

 

5. La Palma

La Palma

 

La Palma is called The Beautiful Island and is the closest to Morocco of the Canary islands. It has an international airport and ferries to Tenerife. La Palma has spectacular countryside and is also a good place for walking tours and hiking. The largest crater in the world is in the center of the island and guided hikes are available to the area. There are other paths to stunning volcanic scenery and forests.

Where to Stay in La Palma?

 

4. Gran Canaria

Gran Canaria

 

Gran Canaria has one of the largest cities in Spain. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is on the northeastern coast of the island and is a well-developed beach holiday destination. The island has many different types of landscapes including majestic sand dunes, mountains with biking trails, beaches and a densely populated underwater world. There are excellent diving spots, golf, surfing schools and hiking to the remarkable cave villages in the center of the island.

Where to Stay in Gran Canaria?

 

3. Majorca

Majorca

 

Majorca is the largest of the Spanish islands. It is well developed for beach tourism on the southern shores, but also has some magnificent scenery in the northern part of the island. The Alcudia area also has beach resorts, mainly for families, and beautiful biking trails along the cliffs and mountain paths. There is an annual Jazz Festival on the east coast as well as smaller beaches and golf courses. The small mountain towns and hidden monasteries in the northern Tramuntana Mountains are charming and surrounded by spectacular scenery and views of Majorca.

Where to Stay in Majorca?

 

2. Tenerife 

Tenerife

 

The largest of the Canary Islands, Tenerife is well developed for tourism and a very popular beach holiday destination. It is renowned for it exciting nightlife and excellent dive sites. There are also many watersports available including surfing, wind surfing, parascending and jet-skiing. For those who love mountains, there are scenic drives along rocky cliffs and a cable car to the top of the highest peak in Spain. Hikers can also climb the mountain, but it is a challenging adventure.

Where to Stay in Tenerife?

 

1. Ibiza

#1 of Best Spanish Islandsflickr/ST33VO

Ibiza is famous for its nightclubs, parties and beaches. Ibiza Town and San Antonio are the most popular places for nightlife. They don’t get started until after 7 p.m. and stay open until early morning. During the day, there is a carnival-style market where fresh food and handicrafts can be purchased as well as some beautiful natural scenery. The Cova de Can Marca is a huge natural cave worth seeing and visitors can take a boat to the nearby island of Formentera.

Where to Stay in Ibiza?

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10 Top Tourist Attractions in Madrid

Tags :

Category : Madrid , Spain

Spain’s sunny summers make it a magnet for travelers seeking a laid-back relaxing holiday, but the country’s capital and largest city is no place for lazing about. Whether exploring the Madrid’s world-class art museums, gazing at architectural marvels while sipping a café con leche at a sidewalk café or rollicking the night away at tapas bars along on the Gran Vía, the many attractions in Madrid are simply too captivating to miss.

Fortunately, Madrid’s most popular destinations are centrally located. The heart of the city is Puerta del Sol, a large plaza serving as the scene of festivals, important gatherings and street performers as well as a hub for the public transportation network. Another important square is Plaza Mayor, known for its many souvenir shops, cafes and the lively San Miguel Market. Visitors won’t want to pass up the opportunity to see these top sights.

10. Museo Reina Sofia

Museo Reina Sofia

 

The Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía was designed as a modern complement to the historical Prado Museum. It was officially inaugurated by Queen Sofia in 1992. Originally built as a hospital, the museum was expanded in 2005 with a structure designed by French architect Jean Nouvel. The Museo Reina Sofia is home to a broad array of works created by Spanish artists, including extensive collections of artwork by Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí. Picasso’s masterpiece, El Guernica, which conveys the horrors of the Spanish civil war, is alone worth the price of admission.

9. Mercado de San Miguel

Mercado de San Miguel

 

Situated within walking distance of the Plaza Mayor, the Mercado de San Miguel is a popular shopping destination for local foods and delicacies. Its intricate cast-iron architecture features glass walls that showcase goods ranging from salted fish and oysters to fresh pasta and cakes. Because the market stays open as late as 2 a.m. on weekends, it’s become a popular nightspot where visitors and locals gather to enjoy drinks and tapas, or appetizers. The site also plays host to events like concerts, cooking classes and private parties.

8. Temple of Debod

Temple of Debod

 

The Temple of Debod is one of the most unusual sights in Parque del Oeste, a park near the Royal Palace. The temple to the Egyptian goddess Isis once stood on the banks of the Nile. The construction of Egypt’s Great Dam of Aswan meant that several historical monuments had to be moved in order to preserve them from flooding. Spain stepped in to assist, and as an expression of gratitude, the Egyptian government gave the Temple of Debod to Spain in 1968. The four-thousand-year-old building is etched with bas-reliefs depicting the gods Ammon and Isis.

7. Plaza de Cibeles

Plaza de Cibeles

 

One of the most beautiful plazas in Madrid the Plaza de Cibeles is surrounded by several buildings constructed in the Neo-Classical style, including the stunning Palacio de Cibeles, formerly known as the Palacio de Comunicaciones, which was designed by architect Antonio Palacios. At the center of the plaza is a statue that is also considered a symbol of the city: the Fuente de la Cibeles. The magnificent fountain depicts the Roman goddess Cybele on a chariot drawn by lions. Sculpted in purple-colored marble by Francisco Gutiérrez and Roberto Michel in 1780, the fountain once served as a source of domestic water for nearby houses.

6. Puerta del Sol

Puerta del Sol

 

Located in the center of Madrid, the Puerta del Sol, or “Gate of the Sun,” is a crossroads where thousands gather each New Year’s Eve to welcome in the new year. Recent improvements to the square have limited car traffic and transformed the square into a spot where visitors can stroll and admire the architectural wonders. Central to these is the clock that chimes in the new year at Casa de Correos, the city’s governmental headquarters. In front of the building is Kilometer Zero, a plaque showing the point where the measuring of the national highway system begins. The statue of the Bear and the Strawberry Tree standing on one side of Puerta del Sol is considered a symbol of Madrid.

5. Gran Via

Gran Via

 

The Gran Vía is known as the Broadway of Madrid because it’s “the street that never sleeps.” The grand boulevard runs through central Madrid from the Plaza de España to Calle de Alcalá. Although the street now seems integral to the bustling capital, it’s actually a fairly recent addition to the city. Completed in 1910, the Gran Vía is lined with hundreds of shops, restaurants and businesses. The most famous building on the boulevard is the Telefónica Building, which was the tallest building in Europe when it was completed in 1929. The clock at the top of the Baroque-American style structure is a local landmark.

4. Retiro Park

Retiro Park

 

Known as the Parque del Buen Retiro or El Retiro, the park is a 350-acre spread of gardens, fountains and buildings located at the edge of the city center. Retiro Park began as a monastery in the 1500s. It was expanded into a royal park when Phillip II moved his court to Madrid in 1561. It’s been part of the public domain since 1868. A favorite spot for tourists and locals alike, the park features a large artificial pond where people can rents kayaks and canoes. An arcing colonnade structure on the east shore is the Monument to Alfonso XII. The Paseo de la Argentina, known as the Statue Walk, is ornamented with statues from the Royal Palace depicting Spanish kings through the ages.

3. Prado Museum

Prado Museum

 

The Museo del Prado is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Madrid. The 18th century structure designed by architect Juan de Villanueva houses one of the world’s finest art collections. A 2007 expansion has made the famed museum easier to navigate. With more than 7,000 works of art representing culture and history from the 12th century to the early 19th century, however, it’s impossible to see everything in a single visit. Visitors may wish to focus on the museum’s collection of Spanish artists, including Goya, El Greco, da Ribera and Velázquez, which is inarguably the best collection of Spanish paintings in the world.

2. Plaza Mayor

Plaza Mayor

 

The most famous of Madrid’s many stately plazas, the Plaza Mayor dates back to 1619, when it lay outside the city’s bounds and was used to host bullfights. During the Spanish Inquisition, many accused heretics met their death there. Three sides of the rectangular cobblestone plaza are bordered by block-long rows of three-story apartments completed in the late 18th century. The structures are decorated with frescoes, ornamented with balconies framed with wrought-iron railings and topped with elegant slate spires. A statue of Philip III on horseback stands in the middle of the plaza. Facing the plaza is the Casa de la Panadería, which houses a tourist information center.

1. Palacio Real 

#1 of Tourist Attractions In Madrid

 

The massive size of the Palacio Real is its most imposing feature. Madrid’s Royal Palace boasts more than 2,500 ornately decorated rooms. Built in 1764, the palace served as the royal residence beginning with Carlos III. The last royals to reside there were Alfonso XIII and Victoria Eugenie in the early 1900s. Although the palace is still used for official ceremonies, 50 of the structure’s elegant rooms are open to the public, including an armory, pharmacy and the palace’s lavish throne room, or “Salón del Trono,” which features a ceiling painted by the Baroque artist Tiepolo. A fresco in the grand dining hall depicts Christopher Columbus presenting gifts from the New World to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella.


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14 Most Amazing Churches in Spain

Tags :

Category : Europe , Spain

Spain is known for many things, just some of which includes Flamenco dancing and paella. Spain is also a country with a strong Catholic background, and some of Spain’s churches are among the best in the world. Whether or not you’re religious, your next trip to Spain should definitely include a few stops at the nation’s most beautiful and historic religious structures. This list includes the top churches in Spain and what makes each unique.

14. Malaga Cathedral

Malaga Cathedral

 

The Malaga Cathedral was constructed between the 16th and 18th centuries, using Renaissance plans to create what is now a focal point of the city. Originally located within the Moorish walls of Malaga, the cathedral is filled with an amazing art collection. Enter through the Baroque facade, which is different from the rest of the cathedral, and admire medallions carved from stone, an enormous Gothic altarpiece and countless sculptures and paintings. Surprisingly, the south tower is still unfinished, because the congregation used its funds to support the United States in its war against the British back in the 18th century.

13. Zamora Cathedral

Zamora Cathedral

 

On the banks of the Duero River is Zamora Cathedral, a 12th century cathedral built in the Romanesque style. Over the last 900 years, several additions have been made to the structure, including Gothic apses and a Herrera cloister. The exterior of Zamora Cathedral is incredible, but what is within is just as fascinating. A large art collection is open to visitors to admire, including embossed images right on the architecture.

12. Avila Cathedral

Avila Cathedral

 

Avila Cathedral stands out from other religious structures on this list because it did double duty as a fortress. Construction began in the 11th century, with one of the turrets of the city walls serving as the apse to the church. The style has strong influences from French cathedrals built in the years prior, and it serves as the earliest example of Gothic architecture in Spain. Since the cathedral is still connected to the walls surrounding Avila, it is a stunning destination and a picture-worthy attraction.

11. Santa Maria la Real de Covadonga

Santa Maria la Real de Covadonga

 

Looking more like a palace from a fairy tale than an ordinary church, the Basilica de Santa Maria la Real de Covadonga is truly a unique and impressive structure. The neo-Romanesque cathedral was built toward the end of the 19th century, and it is entirely pink thanks to the natural hue of the limestone used in its construction. With towering twin spires and a background of green hills, the Basilica de Santa Maria la Real de Covadonga is definitely a bucket-list destination in Spain.

10. Segovia Cathedral

Segovia Cathedral

 

The final Gothic-style cathedral built in Spain was Segovia Cathedral. Construction on the church began in the 16th century, according to the plans of the architect Juan Gil de Hontañón. The cathedral is located right in the center of the Plaza Mayor in Segovia, making it an iconic part of the city’s history and identity. There are three major vaults and entrances to the cathedral, but the highlight is the incredible altarpiece from the 18th century that is made with bronze and marble.

9. Cathedral of Santa Maria of Palma

Cathedral of Santa Maria of Palma

 

On the island of Mallorca, just off the coast of Spain, is the stunning Cathedral of Santa Maria of Palma. Known to locals as La Seu, the cathedral was started in the 13th century but only finished in 1601. The cathedral was built on the site of a Moorish mosque, and it stands as one of the tallest cathedrals in all of Spain, and indeed even in all of Europe. The design is a distinct combination of Catalan and Gothic, but in the early 20th century some cosmetic changes were made by Gaudi, refreshing the style.

8. Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor

Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor

 

The magnificent Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor, known in English as the Expiatory Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, is found in Barcelona, right at the summit of Mount Tibidabo. This is one of the newer cathedrals in Spain, and it was only consecrated in the 1950s after a lengthy construction process. The church is made from stone in a Romanesque design, although there are plenty of embellishments and neo-Gothic touches worth admiring as well.

7. Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar

Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar

 

In Spanish tradition, it is said that the Virgin Mary appeared to the Apostle James as he was praying at the Ebro River in Zaragoza. For that reason, the Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar has long been a historically significant structure, and one that is revered both throughout Spain and throughout the Christian religion. The architectural style of the basilica is a blend of rococo, Baroque and neoclassical styles, and the interior is home to a staggering display of works by painter Francisco Goya.

6. Toledo Cathedral

Toledo Cathedral

 

Perhaps the most famous Gothic church in Spain is the Toledo Cathedral, a fairy tale building that represents the height of Spanish design and architecture. Built with white limestone, the cathedral is almost otherworldly, reflecting light and impressing even those without an interest in religion or architecture. Natural light streams in through open vaults, adding to the effect. The Cathedral Treasury is a must-see part of the structure, thanks to its impressive collection of precious stones far larger than any you could ever see in a jewelry store.

5. Burgos Cathedral

Burgos Cathedral

 

Although the Burgos Cathedral was commissioned in the 13th century, it wasn’t completed until the 16th century. That long construction and design process was worth the wait, however, because the final result is a magnificent Gothic cathedral. Dedicated to the Virgin Mary, Burgos Cathedral boasts unusual octagonal spires, setting it apart from most other Gothic churches in Europe. From the exterior, you can admire the facade and its hundreds of sculptures of saints and Biblical figures.

4. Santiago de Compostela Cathedral

Santiago de Compostela Cathedral

 

The site of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is steeped in history. Legend tells of the Apostle James having his remains brought to the site by angels, and then in the eighth century this burial place was discovered by a hermit. A small church was built to mark the site, and by the 11th century there was an enormous cathedral. The Romanesque architecture of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is remarkable, and marks the traditional end on the Way of St. James pilgrimage since the Middle Ages.

3. Seville Cathedral

Seville Cathedral

 

Also known as the Cathedral of Saint Mary by the Sea, Seville Cathedral is a stunning Gothic structure that is currently also the largest Cathedral in the world. Built in the 16th century, the cathedral is sprawling and occupies a prime position in the center of the city of Seville. Along with the gorgeous spires and embellishments, Seville Cathedral is worth a visit because it is the final burial place of famed explorer Christopher Columbus.

2. Sagrada Familia

Sagrada Familia

 

The Sagrada Familia is without a doubt the most famous church in Barcelona, thanks in part to its creator, Antoni Gaudi. Begun in 1882, this cathedral is still an ongoing project, although it is nearing the end of construction. Different from many of the classic Spanish churches, the Sagrada Familia is built with elements of the Art Nouveau style. Today, the Sagrada Familia is one of the most popular tourism attractions in the city of Barcelona, and it is open to the public for tours as well as religious services.

1. Mezquita of Cordoba

#1 of Churches In Spain

 

The Mezquita, also known as the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba, has one of the most fascinating history of all the churches in Spain. Parts of the structure date back to the seventh century, when it served as a Visigoth church. Later, the Mezquita was a Muslim mosque, and only in the 13th century did it revert back to Catholicism. The building is a prime example of Moorish architecture, boasting countless arches and tall domes. A Renaissance nave was added in the 16th century, blending architectural styles and showcasing harmony between design ideas as well as religions.

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Hotels in Barcelona: 5 stars

Hotel Stars Discount Price per night, from Choose dates

Hotel The Serras

★★★★★

-6%

330310

View Hotel

El Palace Barcelona

★★★★★

-7%

309286

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The Wittmore - Adults Only

★★★★★

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268210

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Monument Hotel

★★★★★

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368344

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Hotel DO Plaça Reial G.L.

★★★★★

-30%

444309

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272250

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384337

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720464

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187162

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307289

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★★★★★

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276238

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Mercer Hotel Barcelona

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353326

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257230

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179154

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323285

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MAJESTIC HOTEL & SPA

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341290

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302280

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239192

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10 Best Places to Visit in Spain

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Category : Europe , Spain

 Splendid beaches, delicious cuisine, vibrant nightlife and lively fiestas all make Spain one of Europe’s best getaways. Because Spain encompasses several autonomous regions and islands, the country boasts one of the most widely diverse cultures and landscapes on the continent. An overview of the top places to visit in Spain:

10. Santiago de Compostela

Santiago de Compostela

 

The capital city of the Galicia region in northwestern Spain, Santiago de Compostela is famous as the final destination of the traditional pilgrimage known as Camino de Santiago. This pilgrimage is important to many Christians because it is believed that Santiago de Compostela is where St. James, an Apostle of Jesus Christ, is buried. Today, the city attracts thousands of visitors every year for both its religious tradition and history. The arriving point for most pilgrims is the main square, Praza do Obradoiro. Situated in the heart of the city, this bustling plaza is the scene of many important landmarks, particularly the Santiago Cathedral where the tomb of St. James is located.

9. Toledo

Toledo
Rerched on a mountaintop in central Spain, Toledo served as the Spanish capital until the 16th century. Because it was inhabited by Jews, Christians and Muslims for many centuries, the city is sometimes called the “City of Three Cultures.” Today, Toledo is a popular destination for its wealth of historic art and architecture that dates back to the Roman Empire. The best thing to do in Toledo is to get lost amid the medieval streets and admire the old architecture that includes a stunning cathedral, synagogue and mosque.

8. Cordoba

Cordoba

 

Cordoba is the capital of the Cordoba province in the Andalusian region of southern Spain. The historic quarter of Cordoba is a maze of tiny medieval streets, plazas and whitewashed courtyards all situated around the star attraction, the Mezquita. Initially built as a mosque, the Mezquita is now a glorious cathedral retaining most of its original architecture. Its forest of columns topped with Islamic-style red and white striped arches serves as a reminder of the glory and importance Córdoba held in medieval times. Other places of interest include the Fortress of the Christian Monarchs, the Street of Flowers, and the Old Jewish Quarter with its charming patios and souvenir shops.

7. San Sebastian

San Sebastian

 

San Sebastian is the capital of the Gipuzko province, located in the Basque country of North Spain off the coast of the Bay of Biscay. This beautiful seaside city is well-loved for its excellent beaches and outstanding culinary tradition. The Old Town features many historic buildings reconstructed in the 19th century after the city was nearly destroyed during the Napoleonic Wars. San Sebastianboasts also some of the best beaches in Europe with the most popular of these being Playa de la Concha, which offers sunbathing and water activities like swimming, kayaking and water skiing.

6. Valencia

Valencia

One of the largest and most important cities in Spain, Valencia is located in the eastern part of the country in the region of Valencia. After redirecting the Turia River, the city constructed its most impressive landmark, a massive cultural and entertainment complex known as the City of Arts and Science. Contained within this complex are several buildings such as a science museum, planetarium and aquarium that are each artistic marvels in and of themselves. Every March, Valencia hosts the Fallas Festival where each neighborhood displays papier-mâché figures of all sizes and colors. At the end of the week, the figures are ceremoniously burned, and the communities party into the night.

5. Seville

Seville

 

Exceptional tourist attractions, lively festivals and buzzing nightlife all make Seville one of the best places to visit in Spain. As the capital city of Andalusia, Seville is also the region’s financial and cultural capital. The city is home to many beautiful and important historic landmarks, chief of which is the grand Cathedral of Seville, where it is believed that Christopher Columbus is buried. Another significant building is the Real Alcazar, an extravagant Moorish palace with luxurious gardens.

4. Madrid 

Madrid

 

Spain’s capital and largest city, Madrid, is widely known for its sizzling nightlife scene. The city constitutes a diversity of ethnic groups, making it one of Europe’s most colorful cosmopolitan cities. Located within the city center are most of Madrid’s most popular tourist attractions such as the Royal Palace, the residence of Spain’s monarch. The heart of Madrid (and Spain) is Puerta del Sol, a large plaza serving as the scene of festivals, important gatherings and street performers as well as a hub for the public transportation network. Another important square is Plaza Mayor, known for the lively San Miguel Market.

3. Spanish Islands

Spanish Islands

 

Spain has some of the most beautiful islands in Europe. The largest Spanish Islands are equally divided between the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands. East of the Spanish mainland, the four chief Balearic Islands (Ibiza, Formentera, Mallorca and Menorca) maintain a character distinct from the rest of Spain and from each other. Mallorca is the largest and best-known Balearic island while Ibiza is famous as a party destination. The Canary Islands, also known as the Canaries, are located just off the southern coast of Morocco in the Atlantic. They are popular for their beautiful beaches, mild climate and important natural attractions, especially the Maspalomas Dunes in Gran Canaria and the Teide Volcano in Tenerife.

2. Granada

Granada

 

Located at the base of the Sierra Nevada mountains of southern Spain, Granada is the capital of the Granada province. Granada offers a perfect blend of traditional cultures, an animated nightlife and spectacular attractions including the world famous Alhambra, a pinnacle of Moorish art that encapsulates Andalusian history. This medieval complex overlooking Granada is one of the great architectural sights of Europe, with many visitors coming to Granada expressly to see the Alhambra. The last Moorish stronghold in Europe, the Alhambra offers the visitor splendid ornamental architecture, spectacular and lush gardens, cascading and dripping water features, and breathtaking views of the city below.

1. Barcelona 

#1 of Best Places To Visit In Spain

 

Located in northeastern Spain, Barcelona is one of the country’s top travel destinations because it offers everything tourists look for in a European city from historic architecture to lively shopping, vibrant culture and buzzing nightlife. Unique to Barcelona are the architectural marvels of Spain’s famous architect, Antoni Gaudi, which include the Casa Batllo and the famous Sagrada Familia church. Both of these extraordinary structures feature combinations of fascinating designs, shapes and colors. Popular activities in Barcelona include strolling along La Rambla, a tree-lined pedestrian avenue, and sunbath on Barceloneta, one of the city’s most popular beaches.


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Italy vs Spain: Which Trip Should You Take?

Tags :

Category : Europe , Visit Europe

Sun, sea, siestas, mouthwatering food, unspoiled landscapes, beautiful towns and easy Mediterranean living is what you can expect on a holiday in Spain and Italy. Both of them make for wonderful getaways from the daily hustle thanks to their idyllic styles of living. But if you can only visit one it can be hard to choose between Italy or Spain so allow us to make this easier for you.

Both Italy and Spain are Food Heavens

Let’s start with the food as this is one of the main reasons why people travel to Italy and Spain. They are food paradises, each different but equally delicious!

Italy

Everyone loves wine, pizza and pasta and Italy happens to be the world’s headquarters for these delicious culinary experiences. Italian cooking is an art that we try but fail to replicate at home. Pure, basic ingredients such as fresh tomatoes, basil leaves, oregano, pine nuts, pesto and parmesan cheese are used to serve up high-quality Italian cuisine, cooked to perfection. It doesn’t get better than this!

pasta

But wait, we can’t forget dessert! Chocolate mousse and Italian homemade tiramisu will make those with a sweet tooth go wild. Of course, any good meal deserves a good glass of wine, which will be no problem in Italy. Don’t forget to try the local aperitivo as well; classics like a glass of the almond-flavored amaretto, limoncello or the world-famous sambuca are can’t miss liquid treats. Do remember, that it is a no-go to order a latte or cappuccino after dinner – this is something you only drink for breakfast. Mamma Mia!

Spain

No one can resist the tapas heaven that is Spain. Take a seat at one of many charming Spanish restaurants (but not before 8:00pm) and spend a lovely long evening tasting all of the delicious flavors of Spain. Your table will be filled up with little bowls of delicious traditional food such as patatas bravas (potatoes), albondigas (meatballs in tomato sauce), deep-fried calamari rings, garlic shrimp, stuffed olives and bread served with aioli.

Also be sure to try the Spanish gazpacho soup, best enjoyed for lunch with a carafe of homemade sangria – the delicious fruit punch wine that was invented here. Or how about a big portion of home cooked paella with freshly caught gambas, topped off with some squeezed lemon juice? For breakfast, you can have a slice of tortilla de patatas, the traditional Spanish omelet. Yes, it is all mouthwatering and you won’t get enough of it!

spanish food

Spain is a very large country with many things to see and do, so I recommend focusing on a specific region rather than ‘doing’ the whole country in a couple of weeks. Galicia, Costa Brava and Andalusia are some of my favourite parts of Spain, perfect for road-tripping and enjoying foodie experiences!

Food is definitely a highlight of any Spanish experience – for instance, Costa Brava has some of the best restaurants in the world and lots of exciting local eateries, while the seafood in Galicia is second to none. Spain also has some wonderful nature – hiking in the Pyrenees is one of my favourite activities.

Any time of the year is a good time to travel to Spain, depending on where you want to go. Summer is lovely in northern Spain, but it can be unbearably hot in the south – winter is a much better time to visit Andalusia. Fall and spring are wonderful pretty much anywhere! – Margherita & Nick, The Crowded Planet

Italy vs Spain: Culture

Both Italy and Spain have a rich culture that you will love!

Italians are all about food and family with the mother sitting at the head of the table – every Italian’s greatest pride. The heart is on their tongues and they speak with passion, both in their verbal and body language. It may not be surprising to discover that Opera originated in Italy?

Spain is all about sangria, siestas, and music. The Spanish guitar was obviously invented in Spain, you can enjoy Flamenco music and dances everywhere, food is shared with strangers and there are tons of colorful street festivals waiting to be discovered.

Italy vs Spain: Highlights

Enjoy the food every day during your stay, but be sure to see some of the highlights of these Mediterranean beauties as well:

Italy

Rome, Milan, Florence & Venice

Italy is the Roman epicenter and it is home to some of Europe’s most amazing cities with a rich history, archaeological sites, stunning architecture, and museums. You can expect to walk the streets of cities that exude an ancient charm and soulfulness as well as fashion and modern sophistication.

You can see world-famous places like the Colosseum and the Vatican, spot celebrities and get your Gucci shopping done all on the same day. Rome and Florence feature the most beautiful Roman architecture, while Milan is Italy’s fashion capital and Venice, the one and only ‘floating city’, is one of the most romantic tourist destinations of Europe ruled by endless canals, ancient bridges, and traditional Gondola boats.

Pompeii

Don’t miss out on a cultural trip to Pompeii – the sprawling Roman city that got struck by the devastating volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius 79 years AD, covering it in layers of ash. Pompeii is an impressive archaeological site, reminding travellers of ancient times and the unstoppable force of nature.

Pompeii

Adriatic coast and Italy’s Islands

We all love the sea and Italy’s rugged rocky eastern coastline, bordering the deep blue Adriatic is breathtakingly beautiful! With the golden sun shining down on you, go explore the picturesque coastal towns such as Lecce, Polignano a Mare, Trani, Rimini, and Alberobello and dive into the sea as much as you like. You can even go island hopping in Italy, visiting beautiful places such as Sardinia, Sicily, and Capri with their pristine beaches, towns and raw unspoiled landscapes.

Lake Garda 

This is the biggest lake in all of Italy and it’s truly scenic! A great place to spend a few days, relaxing with your loved ones, enjoying good food and swimming in the lake, taking a break from all the buzzing city centers.

For anyone looking to travel to Italy, be flexible about your city of arrival because it’s extremely easy to travel around the country once you’re there (the high speed trains are the best!). Also, remember to bring an empty stomach, an insatiable curiosity and comfortable walking shoes. There is so much to see, do and eat in Italy – and you will love it all!

What are the experiences one cannot miss? (foodwise, places to see, events, culture etc.) Everyone should visit Rome and Vatican City at some point. While in Rome, eat cacio e pepe and wander the streets without a destination in mind. For those looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, my favorite destinations in Italy are the Amalfi Coast, Lake Como, Franciacorta, Tuscany and Puglia. Some of these places are on the beaten path and touristy for a reason, while others feel like hidden gems and are well worth discovering.

I have traveled to Italy at three different times of the year (January, July and September) and would say that September is my favorite time to travel to Italy. The restaurants are open again after closing down temporarily in August, the air starts to take on a crisp quality as the humidity goes down, and the sea is still warm enough to take advantage of in case you want to go for a swim. – Tausha, The Globe Getter

Spain

Barcelona, Madrid, Seville, Granada and San Sebastian

Yes, Spain also has beautiful cities that make you stick around for their charm, liveliness and impressive architecture. Barcelona is a favorite city of Europe and is where you get to admire the stunning lifework of famous artist Antonio Gaudi. Madrid is a real artistic city and hometown of the Spanish painter Francisco Goya.

In Granada, you get to enjoy tapas at almost every restaurant or café you stop at for drinks, really giving you a taste of the heartwarming Spanish culture. Seville is another magnificent city and the birthplace of Flamenco music while San Sebastian features a beautiful bay, charming restaurants, and impressive nature.

Do not travel to Spain with a set conceived notions about the country. Spain is much more than the sangrias and tapas. You’ll find out as you travel that Spain is also not all about Sun, Sand and Sea. Beyond the stunning Mediterranean coastline, Spain has a lot more to offer including historic heritage of the Romans in Tarragona, wine trails on the countryside, and plenty of hiking options in the norther mountains of the country.

Some of my most special moments in Spain, have come while walking the narrow alleys and exploring the hidden neighborhoods. Exploring street art of Barcelona, taking a walking tour and interacting with some of the artists on Las Ramblas, learning about the architectural god- Antonio Gaudi’s birthplace in Reus, watching Flamenco dancers at  one of Seville’s dancing schools are all must on itinerary.

Spain is good to visit all time around, but personally I would feel just after Summer (from September to late October), is the right time, when it’s not too cold not to warm. – Deepika, Feet on the Map

Costa del Sol
The lively and vibrant Costa del Sol is home to famous beach towns such as Salou, Blanes and Lloret del Mar, much-loved among youngsters because it is all about beaches, the sun, and parties.

Malaga Andalucia

The Pyrenees

The rocky mountains of the Pyrenees are a natural majestic border between France and Spain.  They are also home to amazing hiking trails, national parks, and ski resorts, thrilling any nature lover and adventure enthusiast.

The Islands

Spain boasts many beautiful islands, an attraction to travelers all year round. The Canary Islands, Ibiza, Palma de Mallorca, all are appealing for those seeking nature, as well as for those seeking cultural charm and a busy nightlife.

Italy vs Spain: Getting around

Both Italy and Spain are very tourist friendly when it comes to getting around. There are frequent buses, trains and even planes getting you from one place to another. Prices are affordable and you can get monthly public transport passes as well. Sometimes taking a plane from one city to another is even cheaper than taking the train.

italy trains

Italy vs Spain: Budget

Both countries have the Euro as their local currency. Spain tends to be a tiny bit cheaper than Italy when it comes down to food, accommodation, and alcohol, but overall both countries make affordable holiday destinations, allowing you to see many of the highlights Europe has to offer.

Ciao!
or
Adiós!


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A Perfect Day in San Sebastian

Category : Spain , Visit Europe

If you haven’t been to San Sebastián, or perhaps you’ve never heard of it, now is the time to add it to your bucket list. Whether you make it there during the peak of summer with the sun shining brilliantly, or on a quieter grey day, you will be equally blown away by its beauty and charm.

San Sebastián is an absolute Basque paradise, located on Spain’s northern coast in the dramatic Bay of Biscay, 20 km from the French border. Though small is size the coastal city boasts with culture, the arts, magnificent scenery and culinary delights. Situated along pristine beaches with rolling green hills setting the backdrop, the landscape and views here cannot be beat.

The city is laid-back during the day and hopping with excitement in the evenings. Whether you’re looking to unwind on the beach, catch some barrels surfing, indulge in Basque pintxos (tapas), or simply wander and marvel at its loveliness, San Sebastián has something for you. The city is easily walkable, perfect for exploring, chilling and indulging.

La Concha Beach

San-Sebastian-La-Conca-Beach

La Concah Beach, named after its resemblance to a scallop shell shape, is considered to be one of Europe’s hottest city beaches. The waters are warm, calm and safe, and the beach is expansive, with room for plenty of beach lovers. Off in the distance is a massive statue of Christ atop Monte Urgull as pictured below, watching over the city.

The beach is rather quiet and solemn when the clouds loom overhead, perfect for a stroll along the shore to soak in its beauty in peace. You may be lucky enough to catch a squash match on the beach, where the locals use the beach retaining wall as their opponent.

But be prepared, as soon as the clouds part, within 30 seconds the beach goes from empty to completely filled with beach goers ready to get their relax and tan on. So have your beach bags packed, and be ready to bolt as soon as the sun reveals its pretty rays.

Monte Urgull

San-Sebastian-Monte-Urgull

When you’re ready to stretch your legs, put on some comfy shoes and make your way up to the summit of Monte Urgull where you’ll find a grand statue of Christ surrounded by the ancient castle walls of Castillo de la Mota and fabulous views of the city, beaches and surrounding hills. Monte Urgull is located at the east end of Concha Beach, accessible from the Parte Vieja (old town). Begin your trek along the sea boardwalk pictured below, and then wind your way up to the top surrounded by striking sea views and peaceful park land. The walk is a bit steep yet leisurely, and takes around 30 minutes.

Once you reach the top, have your cameras out and ready to capture the beauty that surrounds.

Monte Igueldo & Combs of the Winds

CIMG1534

Once you’ve explored the views from the east end, it’s time to make your way to the west end of the beach, and perhaps stop for a coffee or snack along the way at one of the beachfront cafes. From the peak of Monte Igueldo pictured on the righthand side of the photo below, you can find equally amazing views of San Sebastián, simply from a different perspective.

As you make your way along the west end of the beach before reaching the base of Monte Igueldo, you’ll come across Playa de Ondarreta on your left, a ritzy area which is home to fabulous holiday homes.

My favourite part of this trek is the Combs of the Winds statues which can be found at the base of the rocks along the far west end of the sea path. You may find yourself sitting and reflecting for quite some time, captivated by the contrast of the sea and iron combs created by Basque artist Eduardo Chilled Juantegul.

Playa de Gros

San-Sebastian-Beach-Spain

While less popular than La Conca Beach, Playa de Gros is a surfer’s paradise, found on the east side of the river in the Gros district, donning a chill surfer’s vibe. If you’re here on the right day, you may get lucky and catch an epic barrel rolling across the sea. If you’re extra lucky, you may catch a sculpture exhibit displayed along the beach’s promenade.

Parte Vieja

vieja (1)

The Parte Vieja (old town) district is the heart and soul of San Sebastián, situated at the base of Monte Urgull, east of La Concha beach. Get lost wandering through the maze of narrow streets, do a bit of shopping, check out the baroque Roman Catholic parish church Basilica of Saint Mary, and finally, scope out a restaurant or bar for some delectable pintxos.

 Pintxos & Gelato

Gelato-San-Sebastian

Over the decades San Sebastián has evolved into a food Mecca. It is considered one of the best gastronomic destinations in Europe and is home to half of Spain’s Michelin-star restaurants. But the city may be even more popular for its array of beloved stand-up tapas bar serving mouth watering pintxos (the Basque version of tapas). These are bite sized delicacies where you can find baguette slices topped with countless creative assortments of seafood, meats, cheeses and other treats. You may even find yourself drinking a gourmet soup out of a sea urchin.

The popular pintxos bars are lively and crowded. You order drinks and eats while you go, standing inside our out on the street. You’ll have to strike a nice balance between patience and assertiveness as you wait in line drooling. Be careful to hold your ground and don’t let anyone cut in front of you or you’ll be waiting all night! One of the deep rooted traditions of pintxos is to throw your napkin on the floor when you’ve finished. So you can basically tell which bars are well loved by the amount of napkins they accumulate on the floor. Many bars operate on an honor system, so when you are ready to go, you simply tell the bartender what you ate and drink, and pay accordingly.

Once you’ve eaten all the pintxos you can possibly endure, it is highly advisable to make your way to one of Gelateria Boulevard’s two locations and load up on the best gelato you will ever feast your eyes on. The flavours are labeled in both Spanish and Basque and the options are endless.

Grab your ice cream cone, walk to the beach, and watch the sun set behind sculptures and sailboats.


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