Did you know that…
1 – It rains. Especially in Asturias and the Basque Country in the north.
2 – There’s snow, too. In fact, you can ski in the Pyrenees and also take to the slopes down south near Granada.
3 – Not everyone eats paella. It’s a Valencia based dish (that, properly done, takes all day to make.)
4 – While we’re on the subject of food, Spain has some of the best restaurants in the world. According to Spaniards, of course, but influential outsiders tend to agree.
5 – It takes over 100 years to make fino sherry in the stacked black barrels of Andalucia.
6 – And the heart of the sherry region, Jerez, also specialises in dancing white horses.
5 – No one speaks Spanish. Castellano refers to what most of us think of as Spanish, while more than five other languages flourish across the rest of Spain.
7- Come Christmas, children wait til January and the procession of the Three Kings (or Reyes Magos) to open their presents.
8 – While naughty children receive lumps of black coal (it’s a sugary treat called carbon dulcé)
8- Pointed hats and self-flagellation mark the run up to Easter in Seville; polka dot dresses and fiestas take place afterwards.
9 – Spain has a Royal Family.
11 – People drink tinto de verano rather than sangria, especially in the summer
12 – And eat twelve grapes at midnight when New Year’s Eve rolls around (try it one day, it’s harder than it sounds.)
13 – You can find papier maché models the size of houses in Barcelona’s Festival de Gracia
14 – And aerial rotten tomatoes at the ludicrous Tomatina.
15 – The world’s “first true novel” hails from Spain, through Don Quixote written by Cervantes
16 – So too, does the first large scale civilian bombing, via Franco and the Nazis, embodied by the painting Guernica from Malaga born artist Pablo Picasso
18 – Gustave Eiffel (of the tower of the same name) made his mark here in Girona before letting loose on the skyline of Paris.
19 – While an ex boxer has made it his mission to create the world’s most creative pizzeria.
20 – Students spot the frog in Salamanca to wish for good luck in their exams.
21 – And waiters pour cider from a great height in Asturias.
24 – And the world’s largest olive oil region still gathers its produce by hand.
25 – Spain has more festivals than there are days in the year.
26 – And specialises in innovative architecture like the lollipop building in Avilés.
27 – And the shark fins in Valencia.
28 – You can stay in a castle.
29 – Or on a vintage-inspired train
31 – A deserted Wild West film set lives in the sands of Andalucia
32 – Along with a bandit museum
33 – And the original cigar factory building that inspired the opera Carmen
35 – And talk on mobile phones during solemn religious processions
36 – There’s an outpost of Spain on mainland Africa
37 – And a diverted riverbed in the heart of Valencia (it’s now a park you can walk though – or Segway if you’re feeling brave.)
38 – Siestas are real. At least in the south.
39 – So are the late nights, late lunches and flamenco
40 Bullfighting, too, though it’s a pastime that splits the nation
41 While flamingoes flock to the water’s edge at the Doñana National Park.
43 – Salvador Dali built a fantasy castle in Figueres to showcase his eccentric taste (look out for melting clocks and a golden statuettes looming overhead.)
44 – Bull heads without an ear mark the sign of a good fight (traditionally, the victorious matador slices it off and offers it to a beautiful woman as a token of romance.)
45 – On the night before marriage, the groom must serenade his bride at her window
46 – People live in caves in the foothills of the Alpujarras
47 – And tapas comes for free in the bars around Granada
48 – A river flows gold in Andalucia
I’ve visited Spain many times and lived there for years as well. Some of my time there was hosted, most of it was not. Either way, it really doesn’t matter when it came to writing this list. I write what I like here. As ever, as always. Even when it comes to interesting facts about Spain*
Abigail King is an award-winning writer and author who swapped a successful career as a hospital doctor for a life on the road. With over 60 countries under her belt, she's worked for Lonely Planet, the BBC, National Geographic Traveller and more. She is passionate about sustainable tourism and was invited to speak on the subject at the EU-China High Level summit at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.Here she writes about food, travel and history and she invites you to pull up a chair and relax. Let's travel more and think more. Welcome!
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