Spanish natural, cultural and historical heritage by the Spanish Team
SPAIN Spanish flag Spanishcoat of arms 19/01/12
Spain is a country and member state of the EuropeanUnion, located in southwestern Europe on the IberianPeninsula. Spanish territory also includes the Balearic Islandsin the Mediterranean, the Canary Islands in the AtlanticOcean off the African coast, and two autonomous cities inNorth Africa, Ceuta and Melilla, that border Morocco.Madrid is the capital of the country. 19/01/12
With a population of about 47 million people, living principally in big or mediumvillages (Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Sevilla, Bilbao, etc.) and around the coasts,Spain is a democracy organized in the form of a parliamentary government under aconstitutional monarchy, today under Juan Carlos I, composed of 17autonomous communities and two autonomous cities with varying degrees ofautonomy thanks to its Constitution. 19/01/12
Spain is member of the United Nations, European Union, NATO, OECD, and WTO.Mainland Spain is a mountainous country, dominated by high plateaus and mountain chains,such as the Pyrenees, the Sistema Ibérico, Sistema Central, Sierra Morena, whose highest peak,Mulhacén, located in Sierra Nevada, is the highest elevation in the Iberian peninsula, while thehighest point in Spain is the Teide, an active volcano in the Canary Islands. The Meseta Central isa vast plateau in the heart of peninsular Spain. There are several major rivers in Spain such as the Tagus, the Ebro, the Duero, the Guadianaand the Guadalquivir. 19/01/12
The Mediterranean climate is dominant in the peninsula, but asemiarid climate can be found in the southeastern quarter ofthe country, especially in the region of Murcia and in the Ebrovalley, the oceanic climate in the north quarter of the country,the alpine climate in the Pyrenees and Sierra Nevada, and atypical subtropical climate in the Canary Islands.Today, the climate of Spain, historical and cultural monumentsand its geographic position together with its facilities maketourism one of Spains main national industries. 19/01/12
Nevertheless, Spain is one of the worlds leadingcountries in the development and production ofrenewable energy, especially solar power and windenergy. 19/01/12
OUR ANCESTORS ROMAN SPAINIt took the Romans nearly two centuries to complete the conquest of the Iberian Peninsula, though they had control of much of it for over six centuries.The Romans gradually assimilated the new territory, imposing their laws and customs, while they proceeded to the systematic exploitation of its wealth. 19/01/12
Roman theatre. Mérida. Itálica Roman arch. Tarragona Emperor Trajan 19/01/12
Doñana National ParkDoñana National Park in Andalusia occupies the right bank of theGuadalquivir river at its estuary on the Atlantic Ocean. It isnotable for the great diversity of its biotopes, especially lagoons,marshlands, fixed and mobile dunes, scrub woodland andmaquis. It is home to five threatened bird species. It is one of thelargest heronries in the Mediterranean region and is thewintering site for more than 500,000 water fowl each year. 19/01/12
SIERRA NEVADA NATIONAL PARKThe Sierra Nevada National Park covers 86,208 hectares and is home to two of the Iberian Peninsula’s highest mountains - the Mulhacén (3,482m) and the Veleta (3,392m). The park stretches between the provinces of Granada and Almería. It is divided into two main areas - one that forms the high ridge of mountains clearly marked by glacial action and with little developed vegetation and the Mediterranean mountain range of less severe peaks that abound with flora and fauna of all types. The higher peaks are snow covered practically all year round and provide a much needed supply of water for the foothills below where more than 2,000 species of plants have been discovered and catalogued. Over 60 species of birds live in the sierra, not only the typical giants of the high mountains like the golden eagle and the griffin vulture, but also mountain birds like the golden oriole and the hoopoe. The easiest mammals to spot are the wild mountain goats as they hop nimbly up and down the most incredible precipices, and more patient observers will see foxes, badgers, wild cats and a great variety of snakes and lizards.
The Timanfaya National Park The Timanfaya National Park is one of four on the Canary Islands Declared a National Park in 1974, the Parque Nacional de Timanfaya covers an area of 5,107 hectares on the island of Lanzarote, and is one of four National Parks in the Canary Islands. This natural space is the land of volcanoes, Las Montañas del Fuego, or the Fire Mountains, which were born in the 18th century when more than 100 volcanoes rose up from the earthover six years of devastating eruptions which affected a quarter of the island’s surface. The ashand lava which continued to rain down between 1730 and 1736 buried eleven villages, in one of the world’s most devastating volcanic eruptions: scientists estimate that the volume of lava could have reached up to one cubic kilometre – in other words, 1,000 million m3.
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ATLANTIC ISLANDS OF GALICIA NATIONAL PARKLocation : Off the southern coast of Galicia. They are made up of four archipelagos,Cortegada and Sálvora in the Ría de Arousa, Ons, facing the Ría de Pontevedra and theCíes, closing the Ría de Vigo.Surface: 8,332.80 hectares (1,194.80 hectares of land and 7,138 hectares of sea).Specifically: Cíes (2,658 hectares of sea and 433 hectares of land), Ons (2,171 hectaresof sea and 470 hectares of land), Sálvora (2,309 hectares of sea and 248 hectares ofland) and Cortegada (43.8 hectares of land).Access: Regular passenger transport service by sea to the Cíes from the port of Vigo,Baiona and Cangas during the high season. There is the same service to Ons fromPortonovo, Sanxenxo, Bueu and Marín. Services of a guide to Cortegada from Carril(Vilagarcía de Arousa). Sálvora has no transport service by sea, and access to it isrestricted.
THE CAZORLA NATIONAL PARKThe Cazorla Natural Park, or the Parque Natural de las Sierras de Cazorla, Segura and La Villas, to give its complete name, is Spain’s largest national park and the second largest in Europe. Most definitely, one of Spain’s best kept secrets. An area of outstanding natural beauty, it was designated a UNESCO biosphere reserve in 1983 and created a natural park in 1989. Covering a total area of 214,000 hectares of extremely diverse terrain. The park covers almost a fifth of Jaen province. There are vast expanses of pine forests, river valleys, deep canyons, spectacular waterfalls, rivers, reservoirs and lakes. The sources of the Segura and the mighty Guadalquivir river are here. The Guadalquivir eventually flows through the cities of Cordoba and Sevilla before entering the Atlantic at Cádiz. Whereas the Segura eventually leads to the Mediterranean.By far the largest reservoir in the park, the Embalse de Tranco, is actually the first attempt at damming the river Guadalquivir just after its birth. It is also an important source of hydroelectric power for the area.Diverse landscapeAll of these areas are interspersed with jagged peaks of karst that can rise up to over 2000m. The highest peak in is the Pico Empanada at 2107m, with the lowest point of the park at 450m, nearly all of the area is above 600m. You couldn’t hope for more beautiful countryside. 19/01/12
THE MOST RELEVANT FESTIVITIES IN SPAIN LAS FALLAS CARNIVAL EASTER: HOLY WEEK SEVILLE APRIL FAIR SAN FERMÍN
LAS FALLASFrom 13 to 19 March, Valencia celebrates one of Spains best known festivals: Las Fallas.What started as a feast day for St. Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters, has evolved into a 5-day celebration involving fire. The focus of the fiesta is the creation and destruction of ninots (“puppets” or “dolls”), which are enormous models made out of papier mache or cardboard, wood and wax, and characaturing Spanish social and political current affairs n the year.The creation of ninots are crafted by neighborhood organizations which take almost the entire year to construct.The ninots remain in place until March 19th, the day known as La Cremá (the burning) when they are burnt exactly at 12 midnight in a festival of fire. Each year, one of the ninots is spared from destruction by popular vote. This ninot, the pardoned puppet, is exhibited in the local Museum of the Ninot along with the other favourite ninots from years before.
CARNIVALOf all the crazy Spanish fiestas that take place throughout the year, there is nothing wilder than the Carnival celebrations in late February. Originally conceived as the final day of permissiveness before the start of the long period of penance and privations that lead up to the commemoration of the death of Christ, which happens in Easter. Carnival soon evolved from a feast oriented towards the consumption of "forbidden" goods (such as meat and sweets) to a full fledged celebration of all things carnal. Ultimately it is a celebration of life itself. People have long dressed up for carnival, encouraging the free enjoyment of the occasion in the anonymity of a disguise.Carnival in Spain is celebrated nationwide though the most raucous festivities are in the Canary Islands and Cadiz.
EASTER: HOLY WEEKSpain celebrates Easter much more than most European countries. During the whole of Semana Santa, (Holy Week), street processions are organised in most Spanish towns each evening, from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday. To the solemn, persistent beat of a single drum, hundreds of men and children wearing pointed hoods that cover their faces parade through narrow streets bearing huge crucifixes, whilst women dressed in black walk silently behind the image of a Christ or a Virgin.To be in Spain at Easter is to witness a series of ancient rituals that go to the heart of a country with a fiercely religious history. Everywhere, processions (statues of saints on wooden platforms) make their way through the streets, carrying religious icons and symbols of their faith. In Seville alone there are over 100 of these such images. 19/01/12
SEVILLE APRIL FAIRSevilles April Fair is a huge annual event that takes place just two weeks after Easter.The fiesta officially begins at midnight on Monday with the “lighting test”, the illumination of the thousands of multi-coloured light bulbs in the fairground and adorning the main gateway, which is almost 50 metres high. Once inside the gate you come to the “casetas”, and it is here where you really experience the fair. These tents belong to groups of friends and associates, and are a family space where acquaintances, relations and guests are welcomed in and enjoy with delicious food and wine. There is singing and of course, "sevillanas", the local version of flamenco dancing.Throughout the fair, the men wear the typical outfit of the farmworker, and the women wear flamenco dresses. By day the fair is filled with horsewomen, riders and richly festooned carriages. Next to the fairground is the Hell’s Street, a lively recreational area with a host of attractions for children and adults. Another vital component is the bullfight: every afternoon people crowd into the Plaza de la Maestranza bullring to see the day’s bullfight.play the following Sunday, again at 19/01/12 midnight.
SAN FERMÍNFrom July 6th to 14th every year the word fiesta is written in capital letters in Pamplona. The Sanfermines have arrived. When the chupinazo (ceremonial rocket) is fired the city explodes into life. Thousands of people from all over the world descend on the city dressed up in red and white. For nine days the streets turn into a feast of friendship, joy and music, to the rhythm of the charangas and the peñas.The Encierro (Bull Run), the art of locking up all the streets so that there is only one main channel through which people run in front of a dozen bulls, is the only moment of the day when the party stops, and great tension descends on the route just a few minutes before the bulls start their race behind the mozos (young men). Thousands of people on the streets of Pamplona run like if there is no tomorrow-in order to stay safe from the bulls. The adrenalin is thick in the air. The Run goes through the many streets to the bull ring , where the bulls have to face the famous matadors. The distance they have to cover is roughly eight hundred and twenty five meters but is run through within the period of three short minutes. The surge of emotions culminates in the bullring at the end of the run. The fiesta continues with caldico (clear broth) chocolate with churros (long doughnuts), the Gigantes (ceremonial giants) and Cabezudos (carnival figures with big heads), the aperitif, the bullfight in the evening, or the fireworks at night. These, then, give way to all-night partying. 19/01/12
SPANISH CULTURESpanish culture is widely known for Flamenco music and dance, bullfights, fantastic beaches and lots of sunshine. But what is Spain known for? It has much more to offer than that. It is - and has been for thousands of years, one of the cultural centers of Europe. 19/01/12
Spain has an extraordinary artistic heritage. The dominantfigures of the Golden Age were the Toledo-based artists ElGreco and Diego Velázquez. Francisco de Goya emerged inthe 18th century as Spains most prolific painter and heproduced some wonderfully unflattering portraits of royalty.The art world in the early 20th century was influenced by aremarkable group of Spanish artists: Pablo Picasso, JuanGris, Joan Miró and Salvador Dalí, ambassadors of theartistic culture in Spain. 19/01/12
In the Baroque of the 17th century important topics are the proseof Francisco de Quevedo and Baltasar Gracián; the theatre isnotable (Lope de Vega, Pedro Calderón de la Barca, and Tirso deMolina); and poetry with Luis de Góngora (who is a Culteranist)and Francisco de Quevedo (who is a Conceptist). In the worksof Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra notable novels are LaGalatea and Don Quixote de la Mancha. The Baroque style usedexaggerated motion and clear, easily interpreted detail to producedrama, tension, exuberance, and grandeur in sculpture, painting,literature, dance, and music. 19/01/12
Authors use language as a tool to create art, and when westudy a language, it is inevitable we come across the importantworks of arts that have molded the language. The Spanishlanguage would not be what it is today if Cervantes hadn’twritten Don Quijote de la Mancha, as this novel hascontributed a large amount of proverbs and sayings which arestill used in everyday language today!Here you have a list of Spanish and Latin American writers whohave made an impact in the Spanish speaking world. Enjoy! 19/01/12
Miguel de CervantesGabriel García Márquez Miguel Hernández Vargas Llosa Isabel Allende Camilo José Cela Arturo Pérez Reverte Carlos Ruíz Zafón Federico García Lorca Javier Marias Eduardo Lago Vicente Aleixandre Miguel Delibes Juan Ramón Jiménez Octavio Paz Francisco de Quevedo Francisco Ayala Spanish Love Poems 19/01/12
MOST VISITED SIGHTS IN SPAIN1. Alhambra Palace and Generalife Gardens in Granada2. Sagrada Famila Church in Barcelona3. Prado Museum in Madrid4. Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid5. Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia (MNCARS) in Madrid6. Cathedral and Giralda in Seville7. Cathedral / Mezquita in Cordoba8. La Pedrera (Casa Mila) in Barcelona9. City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia10. The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao11. The Roman City of Mérida in Extremadura 19/01/12
GASTRONOMY : SPANISH COUSINESpanish pantry is a result of the contributions of all the people who havevisited us throughout history. For instance, the Greeks, Phoenicians andCarthaginians introduced olive oil, almonds, grapes and boiled food, the firststep of the well known “cocido” (a typical stew, based on boiling legumes,meat and vegetables). We owe the Arabs various other fundamentalelements, such as rice, sugar, vegetables, fruits like oranges and exoticspices such as saffron, cummin or nutmeg. It is also part of their legacy theuse of almonds in many dishes and desserts, as well as in pastry and biscuit.The American contribution was also important for our cuisine, seeing as theintroduction of some of their products became the base of Spanish cuisine,as it is the case of tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, beans, pumpkins, avocados,corn or chocolate. 19/01/12
If we had to list the singularities of traditional Spanish cuisine, we couldsynthesise them into four points:1. It is based on a seasonal cuisine. We elaborate different dishes accodingto the season of the year we are living in. 2. It is very varied depending on the geographical situation. Because ofSpain has very distinct geographical regions, settled by different ethnic andcultural groups, and because the weather varies from province to province,the regional cuisines are very diverse.3. It feeds on fresh products.4. The variety of dishes cooked with a base of legumes, vegetables, olive oiland cold cuts is what stands out the most in all the regional cuisine. 19/01/12
Ingredients and typical foodFish and Seafood- Because Spain is located on the Iberian Peninsula and is surrounded on three sides by water(the Atlantic, Cantabrian and Mediterranean seas), the Spanish cuisine has a great variety of recipes where the main ingredients are fish and seafood. Meat and Ham - Though the inland also has its substantial treasures, such as lamb, pork, veal, game and poultry. All these meats are common and can be roasted, grilled over the coals or sautéed in a sauce. But , without any doubt, ham (or as we say “jamón”) is our more prized food. We obtain it from a native pork: the Iberian pork which is feed with acorn. We take our ham as seriously that we will pay a high price for a top quality ham. Eggs - They are eaten frequently either fried or in a Spanish omelette, called tortilla española in Spain. They are also an essential part of many recipes, including desserts and salads. 19/01/12
Legumes - Beans of all types are eaten regularly in our country. Beans and chickpeas(garbanzo beans) have been a staple of the Spanish cuisine for centuries and rivaledbread as the most commonly eaten food! Rice – It is very popular among the villages and towns along the coast, being themain ingredient for the wellknown paella. Although it is also an important ingredientin the inland. Fruits and Vegetables – Spaniards eat lots of fresh fruit as snacks or as dessertbecause we have a big production in our field of fruits. A fresh fruit bowl sits in everykitchen. The same happens with vegetables; in our diet we consume lots of differentvegetables in salads or sautéed vegetables. Cheese – Wonderful cheese of every type can be eaten in our cuisine. Spanishcheese are made from sheep, cow, goat milk and mixed and we have a large varietyof cheese (creamy, soft, medium or hard) from the hard manchego variety to thesoft creamy cheese such as tetilla from Galicia and everything in between. There areeven blue cheese such as Cabrales. 19/01/12
Dessert - Spain is one of the top producers of almonds, hazelnuts andwalnuts. Almond-based and milk-based desserts are very common. Manyrecipes of Arabic origin contain crushed almonds. Turron, an almond nougatcandy eaten at Christmas is probably the best-known of these sweets. Eachregion has got a typical dessert made with ingredients of their area. Herbs and Spices - Garlic, onions and herbs such as oregano, rosemary andthyme are typical ingredients in our recipes. Olive oil – It is, without any doubt, the brighest star for our recipes. It isthe “chief of our cuisine” as Spain is a leading producer of olive oil andolives are grown all over the south of our country. 19/01/12
As accompaniments, we have got wines from the largest vineyard in the world which provide white, rosé, red, cava, Sherry, Manzanilla and sweet wines, all of which come from high quality grapes. 19/01/12
To sum up, we will say that all these ingredients are the groundof a Mediterranean Diet (it is proved it is really healthy for thehuman beings), which is mainly based on consuming bread,pasta, rice, cereal, potatoes, fruit, dried nuts, beans andlegumes, vegetables, olive oil, yogurt, and wine, in moderation,daily; a weekly intake of chicken, fish, sweets and eggs and amonthly consumption of red meat. 19/01/12