Things Spain is known for are as varied and diverse as the country itself. Spain is a nation renowned that has multiple cultures and rich history. From sumptuous cuisine to unique cultural customs, there’s an abundance of quintessential components that make up Spain’s identity. Whether you are looking to relax on sun-soaked beaches or explore centuries-old cities, there is no shortage of things to see and do in this vibrant country. In this article, we will go through a list of 14 things Spain is known for! So grab your passport and some comfortable shoes because you’re about to take an amazing journey through the best things Spanish culture has to offer.
14 unique things Spain is known for
Spain is a unique destination famous for its varied tourist attractions, culture, and cuisine. This country has plenty of vibrant streets in Barcelona and Madrid, which are full of life. Those cities have iconic architecture and Michelin-starred restaurants. Spanish food has certainly made its mark on the culinary world. It includes many well-known delicacies such as paella and sangria. Below are some of the most renowned Spanish offerings that make this country one of a kind.
1. UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Spain has been home to four of the most visited and celebrated UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Some of the most famous landmarks Spain is known for include The Alhambra in Granada, Seville’s Cathedral and Alcázar, Santiago de Compostela’s Old Town, and the Burgos Cathedral.
2. Spain is built on Catholicism
Spain is one of Europe’s catholic countries, meaning that religion plays an important role in the daily lives of many Spaniards. Since Queen Isabella I of Castile married King Ferdinand II of Aragon in 1469, Spain has been prominently immersed in the Catholic faith. Before this blessed union that would unite two nations and their religions, Catholicism had a difficult time flourishing due to 750 years of Islamic rule by the Moors. These iconic lovebirds established the famous Spanish Inquisition- enforcing severe policies on any individuals who failed to practice Catholicism. Today, Catholicism is the major religion in Spain and the Spanish population actively participates in religious activities such as attending mass.
3. It’s not just one landmass
People tend to think the larger region of Spain is just one country. However, there are actually two archipelagos that constitute the Spanish nation: The Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands. There is far more to Spain than meets the eye which is why travelers may even find themselves pleasantly surprised.
4. Meal times are very late
Do you like to boast about how late you eat dinner? Well, if your aim is one-upping the Spanish in that area, forget it- Spanish life is different. The Spanish tend to have lunch at 3 pm and dinner as late as 9 pm where you can sit down with friends and family over wine and conversation about life. The Spanish word for lunch, “la comida,” literally translates to “the meal.” And they don’t mess around here; lunch is typically the biggest and most important meal of the day.
5. Spanish Wine
Spanish wine is very famous too. Its wine making tradition dates from Phoenician and Roman times. With an astonishing three million acres of vineyards, it’s no wonder that Spain is the largest area-wise producer of wine in the world. Spanish wine is produced in various regions and has its unique taste in each region. Among the most popular Spanish wines are “Riberia”, ” Toro Ribera ” and ” Priorat “.
This country also creates some truly iconic and renowned wines such as smooth red Riojas or Cava sparkling wine. This bubbly beverage pairs perfectly with Spanish cuisine and people frequently enjoy it during celebrations and festivities. Furthermore, a distinct fortified beverage known as Sherry (or Jerez) originates from this European powerhouse—but can only be made around its namesake city near southern Spain.
Spanish football is one of the most popular sports in Spanish culture and La Liga is one of the best leagues in Europe. Real Madrid and FC Barcelona are two of Spain’s most successful teams and followers of the sport come from all over the globe to watch their games. Spain also became the first team to win three consecutive major tournaments after winning the FIFA World Cup making it a symbol of Spanish pride.
7. There are loads of holidays
Barely a week goes by in Spain without some form of fiesta to celebrate one religious patron saint or another. Fiestas bring people out onto the street to celebrate with food, wine, and music. Some famous festivals are the Pamplona Bull Run in San Fermi and Tomatina (the tomato-throwing festival in Valencia). The Carnival in Santa Cruz de Tenerife is also the second biggest in the world after Rio de Janeiro. These events typically include traditional Spanish music, dancing, and delicious Spanish cuisine.
8. It’s in the wrong time zone
Spain’s timezone confuses some travelers and expats alike. What many may not know, however, is that its current status dates back to the dark days of World War II. Francisco Franco shifted Spain’s timeline to be in line with Nazi Germany (GMT+1) as part of a temporary measure—but unfortunately, it never reverted back after the war. Portugal and Spain share a border but are still an hour apart due to this decision.
9. The Moors left their stamp on Spain
Although many may not know this, Spain was a Muslim country for centuries before it converted to Catholicism. According to Spanish history, in 711 AD, the Moors, a group of Arab and African Muslims, invaded the Iberian Peninsula from the Mediterranean. By 716 AD, they had conquered most of Spain, introducing their culture and language to the Spanish people. Although Spain Catholic forces eventually re-conquered Spain in 1492, Spanish culture today still bears the influence of the Moors. This is particularly evident in Spanish architecture, music, and cuisine. Without Moorish influence, the Spanish cuisine we know today would be unrecognizable, and Spanish music and architecture would not be the same.
10. Pablo Picasso
Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Mártir Patricio Clito Ruiz y Picasso—what a mouthful! was born in Málaga. He and his family later migrated to La Coruña and Barcelona before settling down in France. With a prolific artistic career that spanned painting, sculpture, printmaking, ceramics, and set making behind him; Picasso earned the reputation of being one of the 20th century’s most influential artists. Two of Pablo Picasso’s most important works are “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon,” which is currently held in the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and “Guernica,” which portrays the horrors of the Spanish Civil War.
11. Spanish Civil War
The Spanish Civil War (1936-39) had a tremendous impact on the rest of the 20th century, with General Francisco Franco’s fascist dictatorship ending only in 1975. This conflict attracted global attention and various celebrated artists, writers, and musicians chose to visit Spain to lend their support to Republican forces – like Ernest Hemingway, George Orwell, and Orson Welles. It was an era that marked one of Spain’s darkest moments in history but one which also facilitated worldwide recognition of its citizens’ struggles.
12. Spanish Cuisine
No trip to Spain is complete without sampling its delicious food. Rich in flavor and spiced with the secrets of its Roman and Moorish past, Spanish cuisine is a culinary experience unlike any other. People all over the world celebrate the exquisite taste of Spanish food eating tapas and paella. You may have tasted ham before, yet nothing compares to the extraordinary flavor of authentic “Jamón Ibérico”. Often referred to as “jamón de Pata Negra,” this type of ham comes from black Iberian pigs. Other dishes that locals recommend during travels to Spain include Gazpacho (a delicious cold soup), Tortilla de Patatas (an omelette made with potatoes, eggs, and onions), and Pimientos de Padron (fried peppers). If you’re looking to indulge your sweet tooth, try some Crema Catalan – a custard dessert that has cinnamon and lemon zest.
13. Late-night culture
Spain’s nightlife is a vibrant and diverse experience, offering something to satisfy everyone. Spain is awesome for those who are looking for an evening of relaxation in the best wine bars or cafes. Also it is a great alternative for those who want to catch up with friends at one of Spain’s world-class clubs boasting great music and dance venues. So go ahead and plan that Spanish getaway; after all when else will you have such an unforgettable opportunity?
Originating in Spain’s Andalusian region, flamenco music is an integral part of Spanish culture. While the style has its origins in the Romani gypsy music of Eastern Europe, the sound of flamenco is uniquely Spanish — and more specifically unique to Andalucia, Extremadura, and Murcia. Flamenco has six parts: singing, guitar, dance, vocals, hand-clapping, and finger-snapping. The passionate melodies and powerful movements of the dance have captivated audiences for centuries. In 2010, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) determined that Flamenco is a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage.
Spain’s most famous sites and places
Spain ranks almost every year (except during the Pandemic days) among the top 5 most visited countries in the globe. You may want to do some good trekking in the mountainous landscapes, enjoy a chilling holiday on the beach or see the architecture of the little towns and villages. Whatever your motivation is, here are some of Spain’s famous landmarks:
- The Royal Palace of Madrid (or Palacio Real de Madrid). It is a perfect example of the Spanish Baroque style.
- Park Güell in Barcelona. It is one of the most iconic works by Antoni Gaudí.
- La Sagrada Familia, also in Barcelona, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and still unfinished Roman Catholic church designed by Gaudí.
- The Alcázar of Segovia. It is an ancient castle located near the city of Segovia in Castile and León.
A word from SpainDesk
Spain is a diverse nation with much to offer in terms of culture and history. From the oldest monuments that are still standing in Europe to its vibrant nightlife, this fascinating country has something for everyone. Spain has become synonymous with beautiful beaches, stunning architecture, historical relics, and vibrant culture. With so much to offer visitors, you can’t go wrong with a trip to this wonderful country that is so full of life.