A Spaniard, Manuel Jalón Corominas, invented the mop. The country did not participate in either world war. The Spanish language is the second most spoken language on Earth, with an estimated 450 million native speakers. It has the third most World Heritage Sites of any country and is the third most visited country on Earth. The country has the highest organ donation rate in the world. They are the largest producer of olive oil in the world. And it is home to La Tomatina, a festival held here each year in Valencia, believed to be the largest tomato fight in the world. Today, we’re in Spain.
The Kingdom of Spain is a country in southwestern Europe bordered by Andorra, France, Gibraltar and Portugal, plus the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. It is the 52nd largest country at just over 195,000 square miles, with the 30th largest population of any country, with just over 46 million people. Nobody knows where the name of the country comes from. At the time the flag was created, many countries that were at war with one another used predominantly white flags, making it confusing to work out who was who in the heat of battle. So Spain chose a flag that was colourful and distinctive. The country also has a motto, ‘Plus Ultra’, which, to me, sounds like a brand of sanitary towel…
Spaniards are friendly, patriotic, artistic, cultured and somewhat eclectic. They like a slower pace of life and enjoy football, dancing and singing. The country is famed for its cuisine, drink, historic cities, vibrant nightlife, rich folklore and many festivals, fairs and markets. It’s the meeting point of Arabic, Latin, Mediterranean and Roman cultures, bubbling away in a pot of Spanish eccentricity. Each region is like its own country, with their own culture and history. And this diversity is also present in the landscape, with great beaches, gorgeous meadows, snowcapped mountains, huge marshes and deserts to enjoy. Oh yes, there is more to Spain than coastal resorts…
There are cities to marvel at such as Granada, full of fine examples of Moorish and Morisco architecture, possibly the greatest examples of such on Earth. A delightful wonder standing proud. Then there’s the amazing rustic medieval treasure that is the municipality of Toledo, an ancient beauty preserved in time, nestled in a landscape of luscious green. It’s like a painting from the most fantabulous artist. And then there’s the wonderfully named Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park. An empyrean landscape covered with an aura of heavenly grace. Draped with a haze that elevates one to an indescribable place.
I know I often pick less well-known sights as my favourite, but not picking La Sagrada Família as my favourite sight of Spain would be ludicrous. It’s a wondrous orgy of Spanish Late Gothic, Catalan Modernism, Art Nouveau and Catalan Nouscentisme architectural styles. All mashed together in one of the most ethereal, alien and stunning things humankind has ever and will ever produce. A true feat of human ingenuity, craftsmanship and stamina. Construction started in 1882 and it won’t be complete until 2026 at the earliest, but as it stands, it is an Elysian monument to the oneiric chaos that enraptured the mind of its architect, Antoni Gaudí. A true legend at the heart of a legendry structure.
Spain. The country of culture, beautiful vistas and mops.
Images: The flag of Spain (credit: wikimedia.org), 2) La Sagrada Família exterior (credit: archdaily.com), 3) La Sagrada Família interior (credit: skyscrapercity.com)
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