Madrid is Spain’s capital and its largest city. It is known for sunshine, art, and culture. Madrid is a beautiful city with varied architectural styles such as Arabic, Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque and Contemporary. Art lovers will enjoy Madrid’s well-known museums: the Prado, Reina Sofia and Thyssen. It offers visitors historic places, World Heritage sites, world class cuisine, fashion, shopping, and lively nightlife.
Located at the base of the western Pyrenees, the Basque Country borders both Spain and France.
The Basque Country boasts one of the best gastronomies in the world, beaches surrounded by nature, historic old towns, and examples of avant-garde architecture. San Sebastian is known for its beautiful coastline, beaches, panoramic views over Mt Igueldo, and its old town. Bilbao offers the UNESCO listed Vizcaya Suspension Bridge, the amazing Guggenheim Museum, and the Biosphere of Urdaibai. While in Basque country, taste the famous “pintxos”, small bite sized culinary delights served in many bars and visit the charming village of la Rioja and taste of the well-known wine.
Seville is in the southwest of Spain on the River Guadalquivir. Settled originally as a Roman city, it has had many influences over its history and architecture. Seville boasts three sites listed on the UNESCO World Heritage list. The Cathedral is the second largest in the Catholic world after St Peter’s in Rome. This beautiful cathedral is the burial site of Christopher Columbus. The Alcazar palace has a mix of Hispanic and Muslim architectural styles. The Metropol Parasol is the world’s largest wooden structure. Visit Santa Cruz quarter where the myth of ‘Don Juan’ developed.
Galicia located in northwestern Spain is north of Portugal and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. This region of Spain has its own dialect and unique culture. Galicia is one of Spain’s most scenic areas with marvelous Rias Bajas (Spanish fjords), beaches, fishing villages, monasteries, and vineyards. The most popular place is Santiago de Compostela. This is the final stop for many who follow the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route. This city will delight you with its stone architecture, arcaded streets, and impressive Cathedral. While in Galicia, enjoy the numerous restaurants and bars that specialize in fine Galician food, fresh seafood, and local wines.
The third largest city in Spain, Valencia is the city to visit for culture, food, and nightlife. It is located on the Mediterranean coast. The old city has many prominent buildings including the Gothic Cathedral. Its tower, ‘el Miguelete’ is one of the symbols of Valencia. Built on the old riverbed of the Turia, is the ‘Cuidad de las Artes y las Ciencias’ (City of Arts and Sciences). It is one of the largest cultural and scientific complexes in Europe with avant-garde architecture. Valencia is the birthplace of the world-renowned culinary delight, Paella. Do not miss the chance to taste this authentic dish.
Barcelona is world famous for its architecture, museums, and its traditional and modern cuisine. Located on the Mediterranean coast in northeast Spain, it is the second largest city in the country. Barcelona inspired many artists; visit the Picasso Museum. Gaze in wonder at Gaudi’s architectural designs such as the Sagrada Familia, Vicens House, Park Guell, and Casa Mila. Other areas of the city worth a visit is the city’s Gothic Quarter, Cathedral Square, the Old Jewish Quarter, and the Olympic Village. Ride the aerial tram on Montjuic Mountian for panoramic views of Barcelona.
Toledo is located in central Spain, south of Madrid. The city was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site for its monuments and cultural history. Toledo is known as the ‘City of Three Cultures’ because of the Christian, Muslim, and Jewish influences on its history. In the historic quarter, you will see synagogues, mosques, and churches next to each other. This imperial city was home to the court of Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor in Spain. Toledo’s skyline is dominated by the four towers of the fortress, the Alcazar.
Cordoba is located in Southern Spain. It was once the second largest city in Europe, the greatest city West of Constantinople, and home to Europe’s first university. The highlight of Cordoba is the amazing Islamic building, the Mezquita. Wander down the winding streets of this medieval city to discover Cordoba’s charms.
Granada is in the Andalucia region, where four rivers meet in the shadow of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Granada was the last stronghold of the Moorish Kingdoms up to 1492. This city still retains its Moorish culture and heritage. The highlight of the Granada is the Alhambra, a fortress with palaces and courtyards. Another must visit is the beautiful Generalife Gardens. For more Arabic sights and sounds, wander the cobblestone streets and twisty lanes in Albayzin or Arab Quarter.