Flamenco is one of the most famous Spanish art forms and something most tourists try to experience when in Spain. But it has also suffered from its own popularity and its not uncommon to find flamenco ‘tablaos‘ bringing people in by the coach-load each night. However, spend some time in Granada or Seville – flamenco is only native to the south of Spain – and you’re more than likely to come across a heartfelt outburst of flamenco in a bar or public square. There might not be an colourful dresses but the sound of clapping hands, the melancholy singing and the vocal encouragement of those gathered around are what give the moment its magic.
You’ve not really experienced fireworks until you’ve experienced Las Falles. Added to UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage of humanity list back in 2016, Las Falles is an unbelievable celebration which involves the burning of hundreds of papier-maché figures stuffed full of fireworks. Groups of neighbours spend the entire year preparing these elaborate characters which are usually quite satirical. If it sounds terrifying, it can be. But it’s also one of the most incredible public celebrations you’re ever likely to encounter.
Think you’ve been to some pretty impressive nightclubs in your life? Unless you’ve been to Privilege in Ibiza then you’ve still got some partying to do. Entering in its own category of ‘superclubs’, Privilege can hold a whopping 10,000 guests – something it regularly manages to do on busy nights during the party season. The biggest DJs on the globe fly to Ibiza each summer and the parties seemingly just get wilder each year.
The Sagrada Família in Barcelona has been under construction since 1882 and in the more than 100 years of its lifespan it has managed to become the most talked about church in history. The art critic Rainer Zerbst said of it that ‘it is probably impossible to find a church building anything like it in the entire history of art’. While some adore it, others despise its unusual architecture. The anarchists tried to destroy it during the Spanish Civil War and more recently it was said to be targeted by the perpetrators of the 2017 Barcelona attack. Check it out and make your own mind up.
Didn’t think you could travel back in time? LimiteZero is the world’s first international zip-line, allowing you to travel from Spain to Portugal – and hence travel back an hour in time. The zip-line starts in the small village of Sanlúcar de Guadiana in Huelva and crosses the Guadiana river to arrive across the border in the Portuguese village of Alcoutim. Travel for a minute, gain an hour.
There’s football, and then there’s the El Clásico. One of the biggest and most viewed football games of the year, El Clásico is the name for any game in which FC Barcelona play their rivals, Real Madrid. Possibly the most intense game of football you’ll ever watch, the rivalry between both teams goes deeper than just football and reflects political and cultural tensions as well. Regardless of which side you choose, just make sure you’re sat in the correct stands and get the chanting right.
The Moors ruled the Iberian peninsula for over 800 years in some parts and so it’s no surprise that they left their mark. Part of their legacy includes some of the most magnificent buildings in Spain such as the world famous Alhambra in Granada. After the Spanish Reconquista in the 15th century, many Islamic architects remained in Spain and developed their own style known as Mudéjar art. This blending of Christian and Islamic architecture is unique to Spain and can be seen especially in the provinces of Aragon and Castille.
Wine is one of Spain’s most popular exports and some its best ‘Denominación de Origen’ labels are growing increasingly popular abroad. While La Rioja is one of Spain’s most famous wine-growing regions, Priorat is a lesser-known but equally reputable area found in Catalonia. For something with a little more fizz, why not visit a Cava – Spanish sparkling wine – winery around Vilafranca de Penedes, the Cava producing capital of Spain.
Every year on July 29th the residents of the small Galician village of Las Nieves come together to celebrate those who during the year survived a near-death experience. Officially known as La Fiesta de Santa Marta de Ribarteme, this somewhat morbidly themed celebration involves those who survived to tell their tale being carried around the village in tombs. Fortunately, there are also fireworks and music to add a little light-heartedness to the affair.
This historic pilgrimage route starts in many places across Europe but comes to an end in the Spanish city of Santiago de Compostella in Galicia. On the Spanish side, common starting points include Jaca and Roncesvalles, although one of the most historic routes starts in the city of Oviedo and will take you across some 300km to reach your destination. Whether you embark on the walk as a spiritual journey or simply a sporting endeavour, hiking any distance of this historic route is sure leave you with some lasting memories.
One of the most famous of Spain’s many festivals, La Tomatina is also increasingly controversial. Some question whether the hundreds of thousands of kilos of tomatoes which are thrown each year couldn’t be put to better use. But if you’re ready to get a little dirty and brave the crowds, then La Tomatina is probably the craziest thing you can do in Spain.