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Why I love Spain?

“The life that courses relentlessly through the streets here always produces in me a feeling that this is a place where anything can happen. Here, the passions of Spain's people are the fabric of daily life; this is a country with music in its soul, a love of fine food and wild landscapes, and a special talent for celebrating all the good things in...”

Anthony Ham - Writer

Spain Country Information


Cities of Spain

Madrid


Madrid has been the capital of Spain since the 17th century.The name Madrid comes from the arabic "magerit" which means 'place of many streams'.The population of Madrid was 950 000 in 1900 now it is over 3 million. Madrid is 300 km from the sea.Madrid is located on a plateau 650 metres above sea level.It is the highest capital city in Europe. Madrid  is home to the Spanish Royal family as well as the Spanish Government. It is a modern metropolitan city and an economical and industrial center of Spain. It is also the biggest city in Spain. It is located in the centre of the Iberian Peninsula, and is surrounded by mountains and natural parks. Although it is located in the centre of the country, it has traditionally been the hub between different areas of Spain and is therefore connected to all major Spanish cities by train, road or air. Madrid has a lot of interesting attractions that offer both culture and amusement. The city is full of great monuments, like the royal palace, the Plaza Mayor or the many statuettes, and for people interested in art, the museums Del Prado, Reina Sofia or Thyssen have some of the most fantastic collections of famous Spanish painters like Velazquez, Goya, Picasso or Miro. If you like to be entertained, Madrid has two big amusements parks (including the new Warner Bros park) and there are regular international concerts, big flea markets, parades and other activities going on. To sport enthusiasts Madrid can offer everything from skiing (only 1 hour away by bus) during the winter, to golf all year round, as well as international sporting events and the possibility to practice nearly any sport at the University facilities. If you like going out at night, Madrid has a very interesting nightlife throughout the whole week and which is available all year round. You can either go out for a tapa (Spanish snack), eat at a very nice restaurant, go to the cinema or one of the many theatres, or find nearly any type of bar or disco.

Places to visit in Madrid:

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.

Mercado de San Miguel
The Mercado de San Miguel is an historic and monumental market infused with literary retrospect located in the heart of Madrid’s old quarter, an area with genuine personality and endless shopping, cultural and entertainment options. They are now writing a new page in their history with the aim of convening the finest shopkeepers, professionals, experts and enthusiasts in their respective specialities.  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.

Temple of Debod

Discover the Debod Temple, one of Madrid's most unusual monuments. This construction dates from the 2nd century BC, and, after centuries on Egyptian soil, was brought to Spain as a gift from Egypt. Transportation of the temple, which was originally built by order of king Adikhalamani, began in 1960, coinciding with the start of works at the Aswan Dam. It finally arrived in Madrid in 1968, and can be seen in La Montaña Park, very close to Plaza de España. This is one of the few sites where you can view a complete set of ancient Egyptian archaeological remains far from Egypt itself. The monument is surrounded by beautiful gardens with a fountain, and is Madrid's oldest. It has a hall, several chapels and a terrace on the upper floor, and conserves its original decoration inside.

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.

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.

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.

Retiro Park

Madrid's main park, El Parque de Retiro, is not far from the city's main tourist attractions such as the Prado Museum, and is a popular and magnificent place for a stroll. Home to several sculptures, monuments, and a boating lake, it also presents an annual book fair, and there are free concerts throughout the summer. Many local families spend their Sunday afternoons here, renting a horse-drawn carriage or paddling a rowboat in the pond. But it wasn't always this democratic, as in the 17th century only the royal family was allowed to use it privately, hosting pageants, bullfights, and mock naval battles. Only a century later did it open to the public, but even then visitors had to be formally dressed to enter.

Prado Museum

The Prado Museum is Madrid's top cultural sight, and one of the world's greatest art galleries. Located in the eponymous street, El Paseo del Prado, its dazzling display of works by the great European masters such as Velázquez, Goya, Raphael, Rubens, and Bosch (among other major Italian and Flemish artists), is housed in an 18th-century Neo-Classical building that opened as a museum in 1819. Its name derives from the district where it is located, formerly an area of market gardens known as the "prado" or meadow. The Spanish queen at the time had been impressed with the Louvre in Paris and wanted to showcase an enormous collection in her own country. The result is several thousand works at the present time, with a recent modern extension allowing more of them to be displayed.

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.

Palacio Real

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.


City View

Plaza de Cibeles

Barcelona

Barcelona, located at the Mediterranean sea in the very north of the Spanish coast, is certainly the most cosmopolitan and economically most active city in this country.  It has always proved its will to be modern, to follow the latest international tendencies or be ahead of them. To the tourist, this is evident especially in its architecture, which so well reflects the general approach to life in this always pulsating city. Of course, Barcelona has an old history, and there are monuments of Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance periods or still before, but most characteristic is what has been built during the last, say, 100 years.  Barcelona has been a center of Modernist architecture and is distinguished especially by the works of genial Antoní Gaudí, who together with his great contemporaries gave new and exciting looks to it, but has remained since then at the top of modernity. 

Places to visit in Barcelona:

La Sagrada Familia church

Number 1 place to visit in Barcelona is the fabulous unfinished church of La Sagrada Familia designed by Antoni Gaudi. This unique and unusual construction is Barcelona's most famous tourist attraction and and the most visited. It is free to see the Sagrada Familia church from the outside. La Sagrada Familia welcomes over 3 million visitors a year, so there are long queues to see the church inside. The mornings and mid-day usually have long lines. This unfinished basilica is one of the most famous buildings in the world and a top must-see sight in Barcelona. Your ticket to the Sagrada Família is actually a donation to help finish the construction which is privately funded. It was designed by famous Catalan architecht Antoni Gaudi over 100 years ago and the foundation stone was laid in 1882, when the surrounding area was just fields. The splendid Sagrada Familia interior was opened to the public in 2012. The outside is still being built and was at 65% completion in 2013. Only 8 towers of the 18 spires are finished. The plan is to complete the Sagrada familia church in 2026 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Gaudi's death in 1926. When it is finished it will be 144 years since construction began. Gaudi knew that it would take a long time to finish the temple and he famously once said, "My client is not in a hurry."  Gaudi died tragically in 1926 after being hit by a tram. At the time of his death only the nativity facade was completed.

Magic Fountain show

The Font Mágica Fountain. You have never seen a fountain like this. It really does feel magic to experience the beautiful show of water, light and music. The Magic fountain was built in 1929 as one of the main attractions for the Barcelona World Fair and the Font Magica is still one of the most famous spots in Barcelona with an estimated 2.5 million visitors annually. There are evening water and light shows in the winter on Friday and Saturdays only. In the summer, the evening light and music show is open from Thursday to Sunday. Admission is free all year.

Picasso Museum Barcelona

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.

Las Ramblas street

La Rambla is another must-see. Also called Las Ramblas The Spanish poet Federico García Lorca said about La Rambla, "It is the only street in the world which I wish would never end." La Rambla starts at Plaza Catalunya and ends at the Monument of Columbus at the Port Vell harbour of Barcelona. La Rambla it is not a spectacular sight, but very pleasant to stroll down and enjoy the human heartbeat of Barcelona. If you have not strolled down it, you cannot say you have been in Barcelona. Also called Las Ramblas as it is really a collection of various stretches of streets with different names. During the day and early evening completely safe and free to visit.


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!


Gothic quarter

Strolling around the old city, and especially the Gothic quarter – next to the popular La Rambla – is a great way to get a feel for the town. Every corner is full of history and, from the old Jewish quarter, el Call, to the secluded medieval alleyways that define the neighbourhood, you’ll find charming little squares, streets or patios in many buildings that are open to the public, such as the historical archive of the city or the Roman Temple of Augustus. Squares not to miss are Plaça del Rei and Plaça Sant Felip Neri, a hauntingly silent spot with an emblematic fountain and church, in the walls of which can be seen the scars of heavy bombing from the Spanish civil war.

Modernist Park Guell by Gaudi

The pressure to revamp Spain's banking industry was, therefore, very great. Mergers were undertaken with the government's encouragement in order to create large Spanish financial holdings that could adequately compete with their European rivals. Although an attempted merger of the Banco de Bilbao and Banesto fell through in 1987, in early 1988 a successful union took place between the Banco de Bilbao and the Banco de Vizcaya. This merger resulted in the creation of Western Europe's thirty-second largest financial institution, the Banco Bilbao-Vizcaya. In 1988, the planned merger of the two largest private banks, Banco Central and Banesto, fell through, but analysts expected that before 1992, the Big Six of the Spanish banking industry might, through various mergers, become the Big Three or the Big Four.

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.

Modernist buildings

Modernisme was a Catalan cultural movement centred in Barcelona and Catalonia from 1888 to 1911. It is most famous for its architectural expression, in particular the many works of Antoni Gaudí. There are a handful of modernist buildings in Barcelona that are outstanding. Three of them are in the one Barcelona city block called the “Illa de la Discòrdia” - the "Block of Discord" on the street Passeig de Gracia. They are "Casa Amatller" designed by Josep Puig i Cadafalch, the magical "Casa Batlló" by Antoni Gaudi and the "Casa Lleó-Morera." A little further up the street Passeig de Gracia on the opposite site is one of Gaudi's most famous buildings in Barcelona named "Casa Mila" - and nicknamed "La Pedrera" (the Quarry). which is pictured above. In the summer months, you can enjoy rooftop terrace jazz concerta at La Pedrera. At Casa Batllo you can tour the builiding and also enjoy summer concerts in the modernist courtyard. Another modernist treasure is the beautiful Palau Guell town house near Las Ramblas, also by Antoni Gaudi. For modernist art and furniture visit to the Barcelona Modernist museum. A popular way to see top modernist buildings is on foot on Passeig de Gracia or by taking hop-on-hop-off tourist buses.

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.

Tibidabo hill

A visit to Tibadabo is a fun thing to do in Barcelona and great for kids. The views of Barcelona are fantastic and there is a small and fun vintage amusement park at the top, which is open in the summer from March to September. You can reach the top of Tibadabo via a vintage Blue Tram which connects to a mountain railway or take the bus from the Plaza Catalunya directly to Tibidabo. The fun-fair is closed in winter, open at weekends in spring and autumn and generally open from Wednesday to Sunday in summer, but check before visiting. The Skywalk where you can enjoy views of Barcelona is free and open all year except a few weeks in February for annual maintenance. The Sagrat Cor church at the top of Tibidabo is open all day and is free to visit.

Montserrat Mountains & Monastery

Open all year. Free to visit. 1 hour from Barcelona. Montserrat mountains, monastery and basilica are one of Barcelona and Spain's biggest tourist attractions. You can see and touch the 12th century Black Virgin of Montserrat, enjoy the breathtaking scenery of amazing rock formations and panoramic views. Montserrat mountain is just one hour from Barcelona and is visited by 3 million travelers and pilgrims every year.

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.

Girona - City of Sieges

Girona is a historic jewel just over an hour north of Barcelona by tour, bus or train. It's a city full of legends and beauty and recently the location for new episodes of TV show Games of Thrones. Girona is famous for its colourful hanging houses over the River Onyar, for the well preserved Medieval Jewish quarter and the walled Old Quarter (Barri Vell) with history dating back to Roman times.


City View

One of Gaudi's Masterpieces

Valencia

Spain’s third-largest city is a magnificent place, content for Madrid and Barcelona to grab the headlines while it gets on with being a wonderfully liveable city with thriving cultural, eating and nightlife scenes. Never afraid to innovate, Valencia diverted its flood-prone river to the outskirts of town and converted the former riverbed into a superb green ribbon of park winding right through the city. On it are the strikingly futuristic buildings of the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias, designed by local boy Santiago Calatrava. Other brilliant contemporary buildings grace the city, which also has a fistful of fabulous Modernista architecture, great museums and a large, characterful old quarter. Valencia, surrounded by its huerta, a fertile fruit-and-veg farmland, is famous as the home of rice dishes like paella but its buzzy dining scene offers plenty more besides.

Places to visit in Valencia:

 La Lonja de Seda

This magnificent Gothic structure was built in the 15th century to house the city's Silk Exchange, the marketplace where the famous Valencian silk was traded with merchants (to be sold all over Europe). One of the finest examples of Gothic civil architecture in Europe, the building resembles a medieval castle with its crenellated exterior and formidable tower. The facade features richly decorated doorways, decorative windows, and gargoyles (the grotesque carved creatures that function as waterspouts). The main hall has rich stellar vaulting borne on twisted columns. Visitors may climb the 144 stone steps of the tower's helical staircase. From the top of the tower, the views of the town are stunning. This attraction is open to the public daily. On Sundays, La Lonja is used as a venue for coin and stamp exhibitions.

Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias

Tourists can experience a cutting-edge world of arts and sciences at this futuristic complex on the outskirts of Valencia. The Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias is one of Europe's most impressive centers dedicated to cultural and scientific exhibitions. In a two-kilometer space along the Turia River, the complex includes several stunning examples of avant-garde architecture designed by architects Santiago Calatrava and Félix Candela. The Ciudad complex has six main areas: the Hemisfèric IMAX Cinema that screens digital films; the Umbracle landscaped area with excellent views; the Príncipe Felipe Science Museum, an interactive science museum; theOceanogràfic aquarium; the Reina Sofía opera house, and the Agora concert space. The City of Arts and Sciences also hosts conferences, exhibitions, and workshops related to science and art topics.


Palacio del Marqués de Dos Aguas (Ceramics Museum)

The Ceramics Museum is housed in the Palacio de Marques de Dos Aguas, a luxurious palace that combines rococco, neo-classical and oriental elements. The unbelievable baroque entrance to the building never fails to impress the visitors. The rich ornament of the building is enough incentive to come here even if you don't intend to go inside. Inside, however, more marvel awaits you - the fully furbished interior of the palace and the best of ceramics that Valencia had to offer through the centuries. The palace dates from as far back as XV century, although it has been fully re-shaped since then. Home to a Valencian noble family - the Marquis de Dos Aguas, it was originally a Gothic building. In 1740 it was re-shaped to Baroque by Hipolito Rovira, and it is then that the famous entrance was added. The last modification took place in 1850s-60s, when the entire facade was redesigned to a hybrid of newer elements. In 1949 the palace was bought by the Ministry of Education to house the collection of ceramics donated by Dr. Gonzalez Marti.


Museo de Bellas Artes

The Valencia Museum of Fine Arts is set in a 17th-century Baroque building. The gallery mainly comprises the work of Valencia artists, such as Vicente López, Juan de Joanes, los Ribalta, Pinazo and Joaquín Sorolla. There are also, however, paintings by other artists such as Sarto, Van Dyck, Murillo, Velázquez and Goya. In addition to this, there is an interesting collection of contemporary art, along with valuable archaeological remains, such as "The Lion of Bocairent" and the Palaeo-Christian tomb of Saint Vincent Mártir. The complete collection of Gothic panels also stands out because of its quality. In the museum, there is also one of the most important 16th century Renaissance courtyards: the courtyard of the Vich ambassador.

Catedral de Valencia

The Cathedral of Valencia is a glorious Gothic church with its emblematic Miguelete Tower soaring above the city. Built on the site of an old Moorish mosque, the cathedral was built in the 13th century and renovated in the 17th century. The exterior combines original Romanesque, Gothic, and Baroque architectural elements. Vibrant azure-hued tiles adorn the domes, which are a distinctive feature of Valencia's skyline. Before entering, spend time admiring the facade. The splendid Puerta del Palaudoorway dates to the Romanesque era, while the Puerta de los Apóstoles (Apostles' Doorway) dates from the 15th century. The interior has an inspiring ambience with its majestic domed ceiling and a rose window illuminating the space. The various chapels are adorned with masterpieces of art, including paintings by Goya and a crucifix by Alonso Cano. A highlight of the sanctuary is the Chapel of the Holy Grail, with delicate vaulting and star motifs. This chapel illustrates a scene of the 12 apostles in Heaven and the coronation of the Virgin Mary. The most sacred object is a relic of the Holy Grail, an artifact from the first century AD said to be the goblet that Jesus used to perform the Holy Eucharist.

Colegio del Patriarca (Museum of Religious Art)

Built between 1586 and 1610, the Colegio del Patriarca is an exquisite Renaissance building with an elegant arcaded courtyard. The Colegio del Patriarca was originally founded by Juan de Ribera, the Archbishop of Valencia, as a seminary to train priests. The seminary buildings, with their exceptional works of art, have been converted into a museum. The Capilla de la Concepción displays valuable 16th-century Flemish tapestries. In the former rector's lodging are many wonderful paintings by the great masters including Dierick Bouts, Rogier van der Weyden, Juan de Juanes, Francisco Ribalta, Luis de Morales, and El Greco as well as fine Brussels tapestries. In the seminary's Iglesia Corpus Christi, a superb painting of the Last Supper by Ribalta graces the high altar.

Iglesia de Santo Tomás y San Felipe Neri

This church is also known as "The Congregation". It was built in 1725 and it stands out for the simplicity of its design. The building was declared a National Historic and Artistic Monument in 1982. The church's architectural model corresponds to the "Il Gesú" church in Rome which had enormous repercussions throughout Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries. It consists of a central nave divided into three parts and various side chapels. It really is an interesting church to visit, though you may do so only during mass.

Fallas Festival (Fiesta de San José)

Valencia welcomes the spring with its Fallas festival. Monumental yet transitory cardboard statues are carefully built over the course of months, to then be devoured by fire in a unique spectacle. Las Fallas is Valencia's most international festival. In the week of 19 March, the city fills with gigantic cardboard monuments, called ninots, for a competition that is marked by art, ingenuity and good taste. The origin of the celebration goes back to the carpenter's parot: these were wooden lamps used to light their workshops in winter, which they would burn out in the street on the night before the feast of San José. At first, they would make them look like human forms by decorating them with old clothes and fabric. In the mid-19th century, however, they began to increase in size and height and to improve their forms, becoming huge decorative statues.

Institut Valencia d'Art Moderne

Housed in a surprising Space-Age building, the Valencia Institute of Modern Art is dedicated to the avant-garde art of the 20th century. The permanent collection covers all movements of modern art including Abstract and Pop Art, Informalism and New Figurative. The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions, lectures, and workshops. In striking contrast to the modern building, an underground room of the museum reveals ruins of Valencia's medieval city wall. The archaeological remains were uncovered during construction of the museum.

Torres de Serranos (Ancient Town Gate)

This impressive landmark is a symbol of Valencia. The Torres de Serranos represents an ancient gate of the Old Town and recalls an era when the town was surrounded by defense walls. The town ramparts were built in the 14th century on top of Roman foundations. In 1930, the Serranos Towers were restored to their former glory. From these massive towers, visitors can take in sweeping views of the cityscape. The archway of the entrance gate features decorative Gothic details and two shields of the city.

Mercado Central

When most tourists come to the city of Valencia, one of the places they are always directed to is the historic central market, built between about 1915 and 1928, the 8000 square metre building provides city dwellers, and of course the tourists, with some of the area's freshest and finest food. The modernist style of building is impressive to say the least. Local legend has it that there has actually been a market of some sorts on this very site since about the 14th century. Upon entering the building, the first thing to notice is the sheer scale and size of the market itself, with ornate iron vaulted beams, hand painted patterned tiles of all hues, and so much light streaming in, with huge overhead fans up in the gods, and a massive and very intricate glass dome 30 metres high with stained glass patterns depicting Valencian fruit, the mainstay of the areas produce and international exports for hundreds of years.


Sunset in Valencia

Valencia Aquarium

Murcia

This region boasts over 3,000 hours of sunshine a year, and its coastline is bathed by the warm waters of two seas.  Murcia Spain with its about 300 000 inhabitants lies about 75 km south of Alicante about 30 km west of Torrevieja. The mild climate with very little precipitation year round and the diversified ecological landscape draws you into an incredible state of well-being. Its coast, with over 200 beaches, shares two different bodies of water: the Mediterranean and the Menor Sea, which has an outstretched piece of land called La Manga. Murcia is the capital of the province and got its own University. The Mediterranean bathed region of Murcia, is not only known for its beautiful beaches, but also for a great number of natural beauties still to be discovered. It is precisely its natural charms and contrasts that makes Murcia outstanding from other regions. Natural open spaces that look like the most desolate deserts share common ground with lush fertile green lands like the valley of Segura and the valley of Guadaletin: modern residential neighborhoods reaching out to connect with small medieval towns.

Places to visit in Murcia:

Murcia cathedral

Murcia Cathedral has many Renaissance and Baroque elements, although its interior is fundamentally Gothic. Created in 1394 on the site of a former mosque. It was bishop Fernando de Pedrosa who placed the cornerstone. The interior is Gothic. The façade is Baroque and was built according to a design by Jaime Bort. It has a 95-metre tower that took more than two hundred years to build with the involvement of many different architects, of whom Ventura Rodríguez stands out especially. Los Vélez Chapel is Flamboyant Gothic and has a vaulted ceiling with star-shaped skylights while Los Junterones Chapel is in Renaissance style.

Murcia Cathedral museum

The museum was reopened in 2007 after full refurbishment and is set in the old Cathedral cloister, built in the 14th century. Its permanent exhibition contains a broad array of religious objects and many archaeological remains that have come to light during successive reformation works on the building. The museum has Moorish remains, mural paintings, part of a residence from the 11th and 12th centuries and one part of the prayer room from the 13th-century mosque.

Monteagudo Castle

The castle sits on top of a hill and is in excellent condition. The archaeological remains that have been found date from the Moorish period. After the city of Murcia was founded in 825, the castle was used as a fortification and probably also a prison. Farmers stored grain there and it had large wells for the garrison. The walls are made of solid rammed earth and mortar, and the floor adapts to the terrain and is divided into two terraces at different heights. On the southern flank we can see several wells, granaries and other rooms. When the castle was taken over by the Christians, it kept its strategic nature and was included as part of the Crown of Castile. After the Kingdom of Murcia was established, it became a border castle between the kingdoms of Aragon and Castile, until the 15th century.

The Museum of Fine Arts

The museum offers a journey into the history of art from the 15th century, and includes canvasses from different periods and styles . The Museum of Fine Arts has a major pictorial collection, which includes canvasses dating from the Middle Ages through to Costumbrist and decorative painting. In its rooms you can admire pictures by Joaquín Sorolla and Romero de Torres, amongst other Spanish painters from different periods and origins.

Cartagena

Cartagena is Murcia’s second largest city. Cartagena is located along La Costa Calida and is the regions most important port. Due to its ideal location, Cartagena has been the capital of the Spanish Navy’s Maritime Department since the 18th century and has played an important role in Spanish industry and naval duties since as far back as the 16th century. Cartagena has a beautiful old town with numerous tourist attractions and beautiful Art Nouveau buildings. The Roman Theater and the Conception Castle are the two highlights. The Conception Castle offers immaculate views of the port and the city below. The Roman Theater was recently restored and gives great insight into Roman times.

Saint Nicholas Church

It is in the Baroque style, and dates from the Muslim period. It stands on the site of a mosque, which after the reconquest was converted into a church. The new building was begun in 1736 under the direction of the architect Fray Antonio de San José. The church has a floor plan in the shape of a Latin cross, with side chapels and two doors. The main façade is a treasure of Baroque art, thanks to the diagonal arrangement of its pilasters and the arching of the cornice and the mouldings. The two doors are decorated with capitals and wreaths, and crowned by two medallions representing the Apotheosis of San Nicolás and the Saint in a mystic trance, both attributed to Francisco Salzillo. Highlights include the octagonal vault, the tower with the square floor plan, and the stucco decoration on the interior, typical of the Baroque style. It houses the religious image of the Santísimo Cristo del Amparo y la Dolorosa, attributed to Salzillo.

The Floridablanca Garden

The Floridablanca Garden is in one of the city's most typical neighbourhoods. The garden is a result of the romantic style of the 19th century, whose last remaining vestiges are the large ficus specimens that border the central path. The garden is currently an avenue that leads from the entrance nearest to Camachos Square to the statue of José Moñíno, Count of Floridablanca, the work of the Italian S. Baglietto, which was placed in its present location in 1849.

Real casino of Murcia

The casino of Murcia is declared a national historic monument and is a private entity that has social and cultural character. The casino is one of the most iconic building of Murcia, located in the center near the cathedral. The building dates back to the nineteenth century and combines different architectural and decorative styles, highlighting the Arab courtyard, library, powder room, dining room, patio Pompeian and dance halls and pool. It was recently restored.

Bolnuevo´s sandstone formations

Bolnuevo is a small fishing village, located 2km south of Puerto de Mazarron. It is famous for its "enchanted city" sandstone formations that are situated next to the beach. Over a period of thousands of years the wind has eroded the soft sandstone rocks to create some weird and wonderful shapes.

Murcia bullring

The bullring (Plaza de Toro) in Murcia has history that dates back to the Celt-Iberian temples, although it's the Greeks and Romans who first presented bullfighting as a great spectacle. Viewing a bullfight in Murcia is one of many activities available when vacationing in La Manga (the region of Murcia on the Costa Calida in Spanish).

Aledo Castle

The castle is located 9 km's from Totana, and stands on a small ridge beside the Sierra Espuña mountains. It is Muslim in origin, and is built of tamped earth which gives it its reddish colour. The outstanding feature of the castle is its defensive character, and the way it adapts to the unevenness of the terrain. It has several underground spaces with different channels and corridors which lead to the area beside the river. Particularly significant are the tower and other structures which were used to defend some of the areas near the castle. Today only the keep, dating from the 11th century and with a square floor plan, remains in a good state of conservation. It has three floors; the third still conserves the ribs of pointed arches; while there are small arrow slits on the other floors. It is crowned with battlements.


Cathedral of Murcia

Monteagudo Castle

Spain City Guide

Restaurants

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The best restaurants in Spain, including address and telephone numbers.

Hotels

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Hotel Information of Spain with description and contact details.

Things to do

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There are lots to do in Spain. Here you can find a detailed guide.

Beaches

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Unspoilt beaches of Northern Cyprus.

Wild Life

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Every corner of Spain is blessed with natural beauty.