As the famous tourist slogan runs: Spain is different! Widely known for Flamenco music and dance, bullfights, fantastic beaches, lots of sunshine and amazing nightlife, Spain has much more to offer than that.
The history of Spain is one of the most passionate histories you may find. The modern world would not have been what it is today if the Spanish had not gotten in the way. A small territory sitting on the Western extremity of Europe, Spain has accrued a history so interesting, it greatly differs from the rest of the countries of the European continent.
The Iberian Peninsula became the target of various civilizations: the Carthaginians and the Romans fought for her control, the Arabs conquered and ruled for over 700 years, followed by the Christian Kings. The Catholic Monarchs were the ones who initiated the largest empire the world has ever seen with the conquest of the Americas. The empire grew with each ruling generation, reaching its peak with King Felipe II (Phillip II). He was ruler of various Spanish realms ranging from the islands of the Philippines (named in his honor)all the way to the Americas, the unified Spanish-Portuguese territories, the Netherlands, Italy and areas of today’s Germany.
Despite its glorious past, Spain eventually became victim of its own wealth and the empire that was once in expansion began to decline: the Spanish economical and political decadence era began with continuous exterior foreign wars and civil revolts. The independence achieved by the Spanish territories of the Americas and the 19th century loss of the last Spanish overseas colonies (Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines) ended up shaping the world into the one we know today.
Spanish cuisine is, without any doubt, one of its best attractions. Its quality and variety are amazing. In fact we cannot talk of a national cuisine but rather of a great variety of regional cuisines influenced in each case by the climate and local way of life.
One of the best ways to taste Spanish food is to try tapas, or snacks, which are served at any time of day in local bars.
As for the wine culture Spain is the world’s third largest wine producer; with an industry that most experts regard as the fastest improving viniculture of recent decades. Rioja is Spain’s best loved variety it’s a highly distinctive, full bodied wine available in both red and white.
Mealtimes are very important in Spain. Eating is not only about the delicious dishes typical of Spain but also about socializing ” a great way to get together with family and friends and enjoy their company. In Spain, friends and family always come first.