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Max Abroad : The Best of Spain

Quite simply writing about the best things Spain has to offer and anything that might crop up along the way. Spain is a lot more than just sun, sand and sea...

Forget the Beach and Hit the Desert
Tuesday, October 19, 2021

       
 
Who would ever have thought that this landscape could be found in Northern Spain, A land of green pastures, valleys, vineyards, lakes and mountains? A terrain more akin to the wild west or a scene with Peter O’Toole blazing his way to glory in the “Arabian” desert of Almeria. But this wonderfully mysterious land is just 70km from the ski slopes of the Pyrenees and holds the title of the largest desert in mainland Europe. 
 
 
 
 Bardenas Reales Natural Park is a place of wild beauty declared a Biosphere Reserve by the United Nations. It is a semi-desert landscape covering 42.500 hectares that is breathtaking and surprises anyone who might cast their eyes over it. A surreal spectacle in southeast Navarre, despite its bare and inhospitable appearance, is an oasis of natural assets.
 
The erosion of its clay, chalk and sandstone soils has sculpted capricious forms in the landscape to create almost lunar effects, full of gullies, plateaux and solitary hills. It has inspired painters and writers and has been the scene of TV adverts, music videos and films. A unique setting that seems out of place in Northern Spain and leaves nobody indifferent. You can visit this barren land on foot, by bicycle, on horseback or even with 4X4 motor vehicles. Specialist guides are available to help you to discover unforgettable spots with echoes of legends such as the famous highwayman Sanchicorrota, who used to fool his pursuers by putting his horse's shoes on backwards so they couldn’t follow him!
 
 
 
 
 
 
Bardenas Reales is a landscape sculpted over millions of years due to erosion. There are three distinct zones in the natural park which are, from north to south: El Plano, croplands characterised by very gentle slopes; the Bardena Blanca, the most photographed and visited area, where the main rock formations can be found in Castildetierra and Pisquerra. Also in this area, defined by its eroded crags, dry gullies and steppe-like appearance - in its lower part is a Firing Range used by the US Military, which explains the fighter planes; and the Bardena Negra, where the land darkens, giving way to the only Aleppo pinewoods in the area, accompanied by thicket.
 
 
 
 
 
Exceptional viewpoints show the differences between its different zones. From the Alto de Aguilares, you get the best panoramic view of the Bardena Blanca. The Balcón de Pilatos ('Pontius Pilate's Balcony') is an exceptional observatory of birds of prey. These high points show the wealth of this territory, which contain three Nature Reserves: the Vedado de Eguaras, an oasis to the north of the area where the ruins of the Castle of Peñaflor still stand; the Rincón del Bu (in Bardena Blanca), occupying 460 hectares, where the eagle owl breeds; and the Nature Reserve of Caídas de la Negra (in Bardena Negra), which covers 1,926 hectares and has altitude drops of 270 metres.
 
 
 
 
 
The Bardenas Reales Natural Park also offers more than 700 kilometres of paths, tracks and gullies that can be followed by hiking and cycling enthusiasts. Nevertheless, it is advisable to use specialist guides in your first incursion into the natural enclave. Apart from avoiding the risk of getting lost in the desert, they will help you to interpret the landscape with a flora and fauna more appropriate to an African desert than the north of the Iberian Peninsula. In the remote past, it was even inhabited by crocodiles and turtles. Eagles, vultures, owls, great bustards, foxes, mountain cats, genets, amphibians and reptiles range between scrubland, sisal thickets, salt marshes and reed beds.
 
Due to the extreme temperatures and the special conditions of the land, it is recommended that one avoids going when it is raining. The best time to visit Bardenas is between September and June. On 18 September, if you have the opportunity go to the "Sanmiguelada", the day when thousands and thousands of sheep from the Pyrenean valleys make their way to this vast extension along El Paso to graze during the winter. To do this, follow the Cañada Real (royal livestock trail) of the Roncaleses which links up the pastures of the Roncal Valley with the Bardenas. 
 
Places like this are what makes Spain such a special country. One could even consider Spain to be a small continent as it offers almost every terrain you could possibly imagine, the choice and wealth of nature is far beyond
what most people can even imagine, but wander away from the coastline and you can discover a world that will leave its mark forever.
 
 
                               
 
 
 

           
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Spain's Most Dangerous Animals
Friday, October 15, 2021

Knowing the most dangerous animals in a place is essential, whether you want to go camping, follow tourist routes or enjoy hiking. For this reason, it is important to know the most lethal species in Spain and where to find them, in order to avoid a quick visit to the hospital.

If you are going to travel through Spain, you may be interested in knowing the fauna of those places you plan to go to. Especially if you are in the countryside, being aware of which are the most dangerous animals in the area could save you from an urgent visit to the hospital.

Although going for a walk or exercising in the countryside may seem very safe, accidents do happen. Therefore, the more people know our whereabouts, and the better we know the way, the more likely we are to be found quickly in the event of an incident.

Although this is something that many people already take into account before going to the forest or the countryside, there is an issue that still few people pay attention to, the fauna. Knowing the animals that we can encounter, especially the most dangerous, is almost as important as knowing the route. These are the ones you can find in Spain:

 

 

1. The snakes

Although most species of snakes in Spain are harmless to humans, five of them are poisonous. We are talking about three types of vipers, the asp, the Seoane and the snout; and two types of snakes, the bastard and the Manto.

Although they do not come anywhere near the most dangerous snakes on the planet, the bite of any of them does require an antidote and immediate treatment. Therefore, be careful when stepping on the ground, because although they feed on mice, birds and insects, if they feel threatened they can attack you.

Specifically, the asp viper, the most dangerous, measures less than 70 centimetres, lives for about 18 years and inhabits forests and grasslands. It can be found in the region of Catalonia, the province of Burgos, the Ebro valley and in the northern Iberian System.

 

2. The Centipede,

The centipede is a species of myriapod, also known as centipedes, black and yellow in colour. It is about 8 inches tall, has 21 pairs of legs, and its sting is extremely painful. They are found throughout the Spanish territory, including urban areas, but they are more common on the Mediterranean coast. Although they are not lethal, if this animal bites you, you will probably have to go quickly to the hospital.

 

3. Spiders

One of the most common phobias in society is arachnophobia. However, among all the species of spiders out there, few are poisonous, and even less lethal to humans. Specifically, in Spain, there are about 1,500 types of arachnids, of which only two are very dangerous.

The first of these is the Iberian black widow, Latrodectus tredecimguttatus in Latin. It receives this name because the female eats the male after mating. It measures approximately 15 millimetres, is black in colour and has red spots on top. Although its bite is rarely fatal to a human being, its high dose of venom can cause serious problems in children and the elderly. They can be found in the Levante peninsular and in Almería.

The second most dangerous spider in Spain is the Yellow Sac spider, Cheiracanthium punctorium in Latin. It measures about 10 millimetres and, as its name suggests, it is yellow in colour. It is not lethal, but it can cause severe pain and itching.

 

4. Scorpions

These animals are among the most dangerous in Spain. They are found in the countryside, under rocks or in shady places, and a sting from them implies a quick visit to the emergency room. The yellow scorpion is the most frequent scorpion in the country. It is small and yellow in colour, and it is rarely lethal. The black scorpion is also very common, especially in northern Spain.

 

5. The tiger mosquito

According to the World Health Organization, the animal that takes the most lives in the world is the mosquito, due to all the diseases that it can transmit with its bite. Specifically, the tiger mosquito infects yellow fever, dengue and Zika. It is found in hot and humid areas, such as the Mediterranean coast, but it is increasingly present in the rest of the provinces.

 

6. Wild boars

In recent years, urban areas have seen how these wild pigs increased in number, and they got closer and closer especially during the pandemic. In doing so, they can be threatened by our proximity, so we must be very alert in the presence of any wild boar, due to their aggressiveness. They have been sighted on beaches in Barcelona and also wandering through villages in the countryside. 



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Astorga...the small, monumental city
Thursday, September 30, 2021


Astorga is the place where two of Spain's most important cultural routes converge: the Way of Saint James and the Silver Route. With over 2,000 years of history, this city in Castile-León is home to a surprising monumental site, where Renaissance cathedrals and Roman baths jostle with the modernism of Gaudí.

To discover Astorga you have to head for the province of León, in northwestern Spain. It is located just 45 kilometres from the city of the same name, León, in a region known as La Maragatería. After being conquered by the Romans, the town became an important strategic centre, mainly on account of the area's wealth in deposits of gold. The heritage of that period and the remains of the mines themselves are some of the attractions you will find in Astorga, but not the only ones.

 

 

The first thing you will notice when you get to the town is the view of two of its most important monuments, Santa María Cathedral and the Episcopal Palace. The two buildings are set side by side and are surrounded by a Roman defensive wall which is in an excellent state of conservation. Take a close look, because the Cathedral is a beautiful synthesis of styles, with elements ranging from Florid Gothic to Baroque and Renaissance. This is because construction work began in the 15th century and was not completed until the 18th. Another unusual aspect is the difference in colour of the two towers that flank the main entrance - one of them was affected by an earthquake in 1775 and took longer to be finished. Inside, be sure to admire the stunning main altarpiece and choir stalls.

 

 

Beside the Cathedral is the Episcopal Palace, designed by the famous modernist architect Antonio Gaudí. It is a neo-gothic building that looks like something out of a fairy tale. In the garden outside you will be welcomed by three angels in zinc, and inside you can visit the Los Caminos Museum, which has an interesting collection of items related with the Way of Saint James. Astorga is home to other interesting buildings, such as Casa Granell House and San Andrés Church.

Next, head for Plaza Mayor Square where you will find the baroque Town Hall and a traditional street market held every Tuesday morning. A visit to the town's Roman remains is also not to be missed. You will find remains of the forum, thermal baths, "domus" (houses), the imperial temple, the camp of the legion and the drainage network. In the ancient Ergastula (prison) you will now find the Roman Museum with statues, amphorae, jewellery and reliefs. To make sure you see everything, it is best first to visit the town's Tourist Office.

 

 

If you have more time, head out to one of the surrounding villages and discover the charm and character of the traditional architecture of the La Maragatería region. Castrillo de los Polvazares, for example, just 5 kilometres from Astorga, is home to a good representation, and we would also recommend you try the typical dish of the region: maragato casserole. You can also do the “Gold Route”, that will take you to different villages around the region in search of ancient Roman mines. Be sure to make a stop to discover Astorga. You will be pleasantly surprised.

 



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The Oldest Synagogue in Europe
Tuesday, September 21, 2021

The Ancient Synagogue of Barcelona is located in the centre of the city. It is believed to be the oldest synagogue in Europe. Archaeological investigations show that the original structure of the building was built in the third or fourth century; whether this structure was the synagogue cannot be said with certainty. After many centuries of use for other purposes, the building was re-opened as a synagogue and museum in 2002. No congregation prays regularly at the Sinagoga Major, but it is used for festive occasions. The building was significantly expanded during the 13th century. Medieval Barcelona is known to have had several synagogues, and the main synagogue was certainly in the immediate area. King James, I visited the synagogue in 1263 at the conclusion of the Barcelona Disputation. Shlomo ben Aderet served as the rabbi of the Sinagoga Major for 50 years.  

  

It is believed that the original building was freestanding. To the north, it adjoined with what was then Escola Mayor Street and to the east with Marlet Street. The building ran southerly along “de Les Dones” Street, where, in the 19th century a narrow edifice was built. To the west, there was probably an atrium, the site where later, around the 17th century, the stairs to the present-day building were erected. In the northern exterior wall, there is an effigy of Santo Domingo. Emblematic buildings in the Jewish Quarters were Christianized with the effigy of a saint. The bloodiest day in the history of Barcelona’s Jewish community was August 5, 1391. On that day, the day celebrated as Santo Domingo, the Quarters were attacked.

 

After the uprising, the street name was changed to Sant Doménec. The building, along with all of the community’s belongings, passed into the hands of the king.

We find ourselves before a building whose foundations date back to Roman times. In addition, there are superimposed high-medieval constructions and a central structure from the 13th century. Also visible are 17th-century modifications made when the upper-level apartments were built.

At the end of 1995, the former owner put the property up for sale. The space was to be utilized as a bar. Before this lamentable eventuality, Mr Laffa decided to purchase the property with the hope of bringing to light its historic past and preserving it from use that would not dignify its extensive past.

Thus began the collaboration between Mr Riera and Mr Laffa, with a common objective: to salvage a significant period of Catalan history from oblivion through the rehabilitation of the former Major Synagogue space.

 

 



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Seville - One of the finest cities in Spain
Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Seville is one of the most spectacular cities in Spain for architecture, a City that possesses an unparalleled wealth of history and art. Together the Cathedral, Alcázar (Arabian fort) and Archivo de Indias (The New World Trade Archive) form a remarkable monumental complex in the heart of Seville. They perfectly epitomize the Spanish "Golden Age", incorporating vestiges of Islamic culture, centuries of ecclesiastical power, royal sovereignty and the trading power that Spain acquired through its colonies in the New World.

Founded in 1403 on the site of a former mosque, the Cathedral, built in Gothic and Renaissance style, covers seven centuries of history. With its five naves it is the largest Gothic building in Europe. Its bell tower, the ‘Giralda’, was the former minaret of the mosque, a masterpiece of Almohad architecture and now is an important example of the cultural syncretism thanks to the top section of the tower, designed in the Renaissance period by Hernán Ruiz. Its "chapter house" is the first known example of the use of the elliptical floor plan in the western world. Ever since its creation, the Cathedral has continued to be used for religious purposes.

  

 

The original nucleus of the Alcázar was constructed in the 10th century as the palace of the Moslem governor, and is used even today as the Spanish royal family's residence in this city, thereby retaining the same purpose for which it was originally intended: as a residence of monarchs and heads of state. Built and rebuilt from the early Middle Ages right up to our times, it consists of a group of palatial buildings and extensive gardens. The Alcázar embraces a rare compendium of cultures where areas of the original Almohad palace - such as the "Patio del Yeso" or the "Jardines del Crucero" - coexist with the Palacio de Pedro I representing Spanish Mudejar art, together with other constructions displaying every cultural style from the Renaissance to the Neoclassical.

 

 

The Archivo de Indias building was constructed in 1585 to house the Casa Lonja or Consulado de Mercaderes de Sevilla (Consulate of the merchants of Seville). It became the Archivo General de Indias in 1785, and since then it has become home to the greatest collection of documentation concerning the discovery of and relations with the New World. The Archivo de Indias, designed by the architect responsible for completing El Escorial, Juan de Herrera, is one of the clearest examples of Spanish Renaissance architecture. An enormous influence on Baroque Andalusian architecture and on Spanish neoclassicism, it symbolizes the link between the Old and the New World.

Seville owes its importance during the 16th and 17th centuries to its designation as the capital of the Carrera de Indias (the Indies route: the Spanish trading monopoly with Latin America). It was the "Gateway to the Indies" and the only trading port with the Indies from 1503 until 1718.

The Conjunto Monumental, or group of historic buildings encompassing the Cathedral/Giralda, the Alcázar and the Archivo de Indias, constitutes a remarkable testimony to the major stages of the city's urban history (Islamic, Christian, and that of Seville with its associations with the New World), as well as symbolizing a city that became the trading capital with the Indies for two centuries - a time during which Seville was the hub of the Spanish monarchy and played a major role in the colonization of Latin America following its discovery by Columbus.

 

 

Each one of these monuments is associated with the colonization process. The tomb of Columbus is preserved in the Cathedral. The Sala de los Almirantes (Admirals' hall) in the Alcázar was the headquarters of the Casa de Contratación (House of Trade), from which the monopoly with the Indies operated, and where, as a seat of learning, it spawned some of the most important expeditions of exploration and discovery of that period. And the Archivo de Indias has, since the 18th century, housed the most valuable and important documents, which provide an insight into this historical event.

 


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BEST TIME TO VISIT : ALL YEAR ... except maybe for August - too hot for most!



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The Last Roman Lighthouse
Tuesday, August 31, 2021

 

 

The Tower of Hercules is an ancient Roman lighthouse on a peninsula about 2.4 kilometres (1.5 mi) from the centre of A Coruña, Galicia, in northwestern Spain. It is easily the most well preserved lighthouse remaining from the classical Roman age. According to myth, it also marks the resting place of one of Hercules' greatest conquests. As part of one of the mythic Twelve Labours of Hercules, the super strong son of Zeus is said to have killed the giant Gerylon with an arrow dipped in Hydra's blood. Then in a gesture that is more Celtic than Roman, the legend says that Hercules buried the giant with his weapons and ordered a city built atop the burial site. While the area where the tower is built was rather barren when it was originally built, the surrounding city of Corunna has sprung up around it across the millennia. While there are not actually titanic bones beneath the tower, the legend is so pervasive that an image of the tower atop a skull and bones is the centrepiece of the city's coat of arms.

Until the 20th century, the tower itself was known as the "Farum Brigantium" or “Brigantia Lighthouse”. The Latin word ‘farum’ is derived from the Greek pharos for the Lighthouse of Alexandria. The structure is 55 metres (180 ft.) tall and overlooks the North Atlantic coast of Spain. Almost 1900 years old and rehabilitated in 1791, it is the only Roman lighthouse still in use today. 

The Tower of Hercules is a National Monument of Spain, and since June 27, 2009, has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is the second tallest lighthouse in Spain, after the Faro de Chipiona.

The tower is known to have existed by the 2nd century, is thought to be modelled after the Lighthouse of Alexandria. At its base is preserved the cornerstone with the inscription MARTI AUG.SACR C.SEVIVS LUPUS ARCHTECTUS AEMINIENSIS LVSITANVS.EX.VO, permitting the original lighthouse tower to be ascribed to the architect Gaius Sevius Lupus, from Aeminium (present-day Coimbra, Portugal) in the former province of Lusitania, as an offering dedicated to Mars. The tower has been in constant use since then. The earliest known reference to the lighthouse at Brigantium is by Paulus Orosius in Historiae adversum Paganos written around 415-417.

 

 

In 1788, the original 34 metres (112 ft), 3-storey tower was given a neoclassical restoration, including a new fourth storey.(an additional 21 metres) The restoration was undertaken by naval engineer Eustaquio Giannini during the reign of Charles III of Spain, and was finished in 1791. Within, the much-repaired Roman and medieval masonry can still be appreciated.

The Romans who conquered this region of Spain believed it to be, in a figurative sense, the end of the earth, as described in "Finisterra". This region is notorious for shipwrecks, earning the name Costa da Morte, "The Coast of Death".

The positioning of the lighthouse is not very clear since it strongly favours an approach from the northwest. It does not provide a  true guide to safe harbour to vessels approaching either up the West coast of the Iberian peninsula, nor along the Rias of the north coast, as one might expect. This would imply that the lighthouse was built to satisfy the needs of regular traffic coming in from the Atlantic, perhaps taking a westerly route from the Côte d’Opale area to avoid the Bay of Biscay or direct from Ireland or even South West England.  Whatever its purpose was, the only thing that really matters now is that we have this wonderful example of Roman architecture to enjoy on what is one of Spain’s most stunning coastlines.



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The Most Spectacular Hike in Spain
Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Mountains, rivers and canyons are right at the top of anyone's list of features most closely associated with natural beauty. But they alone don't constitute an ideal spot for nature lovers. For that, you need a diverse ecology as well as beautiful surroundings.

 

 

Luckily, Congost de Mont-rebei in the region of Huesca-Lleida in the Sierra de Monsec, offers it all. The Mont-Rebei area is so special because of the lush flora and abundant animal species that live in and around the mountains, which are crisscrossed by the shimmering blue waters of several rivers. This creates a near-infinite range of environments for all types of creatures to find their home: high rocky peaks scraping the sky, lush forests spilling down the mountainside and ending in the cool river waters below with endless rockpools.

 

   

 

 

 

Perhaps the most famous part of the mountain, Congost de Mont-Rebei, is a steep canyon cut into the rocky peaks, with sheer rock faces plunging down 500m at some points leaving a gap of only  20m from side to side. Narrow walking paths carved into the sides of the canyon provide adventurous tourists and hikers with breathtaking views and spellbinding glimpses directly down onto the canyon floor. It is the only natural region in Catalunya that has no tarmac roads, railroads, electrical pylons or anything as it happens that could disturb nature in the slightest.

 

       

 

 

Popular with mountain bikers and hikers, in particular, the canyon offers as much of a challenge as it does a scenic view of the landscape. The paths are steep, rocky and frightfully narrow, making you feel like a mountain goat on occasions. It truly is a wonderful area and a unique opportunity to explore nature from a  different perspective. But it is certainly not for the faint-hearted.

 

          

 

 
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The Most Beautiful Cities in Spain - according to me!
Thursday, August 19, 2021

I decided to prepare an article with a list of the most beautiful cities in Spain based on all my trips throughout the country, to date. Barcelona, Seville or San Sebastián are obviously some of the chosen ones. But with much difficulty, I finally selected 'my' top 10 of the most beautiful cities in Spain which I have visited. So if you have visited a city that you think is even more beautiful than any of these 10, please post it in the comments section!


So without further ado let's see the ranking of the most beautiful cities in Spain - each with its own special quality - that you should visit at least once in your life:


1. Seville - The most beautiful city bar none

Seville is, for me, the most beautiful city in all of Spain. Monumental, colourful, 'instagrammable', welcoming. As Los Del Rio said "The world falls in love with Seville because of its way of being, because of its warmth, because of its fairs ... It has to be Seville" and they were not wrong. One of the most important attractions to see in Seville is its wonderful Plaza de España that was built in 1929. Absolutely stunning.

Among other recommended places in the capital of Andalusia are the Alcazar, the Santa Cruz neighbourhood, the Triana neighbourhood, the Macarena, the cathedral and its Giralda, the Torre del Oro, the Maria Luisa Park and the Wooden Mushrooms of Seville (Setas de Sevilla) - the largest wooden structure in the world, if I am not mistaken, constructed to give shade to the square.

 

 


2. Barcelona - the most monumental city in Spain

Barcelona has it all! Culture, viewpoints, sea, good weather, good gastronomy, and it is another of the cities that dispute the title of the most beautiful city in Spain. Gaudí's wonderful works of art, such as the Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, La Pedrera or Casa Batlló, make it an open-air museum.

Its Mediterranean beaches, such as the famous Barceloneta, are visited by thousands of tourists every year. All this added to its many tourist attractions such as Montjuic, Tibidabo or El Born and its lively nightlife make the Catalan capital one of the cities preferred by foreigners.

 

 


3. Córdoba, the most charming city in Spain

Córdoba, although it is one of the smallest on the list, is one of the most beautiful and important cities in the country. Several of its monuments have been declared a World Heritage Site such as the Mosque-Cathedral or the Medina Azahara.

But what makes it really attractive is its patio festival where every May the Cordovan houses cover their walls with pots full of colourful flowers to compete for the award of the most beautiful patio in Córdoba.

 

 


4. San Sebastián, the jewel of the Basque Country

Strolling along Playa de la Concha, reaching the Peine del Viento, contemplating the beautiful Miramar Palace, or walking aimlessly through the streets of its historic centre are some of the best things to see and do in San Sebastián, considered one of the most beautiful cities in Spain and undoubtedly the Basque Country for its extreme elegance. No surprise that Donostia (in Euskera) was the city chosen by monarchs and aristocrats of the 19th century as the ideal location to spend their summer holidays.
A gastronomic route through the Basque capital is essential and rest assured that San Sebastián will also conquer your stomach.

 

 


5. Granada, the city with the most visited monument in Spain

Granada is one of the most visited cities in Spain thanks to the Alhambra, the most visited monument in the country, which looks over the city from above. This wonder deserves a special mention and without a doubt, you will need to dedicate at least half a day to visit each of its areas: the Alcazaba, the Nasrid Palaces and the Generalife gardens.
In addition to this historic place, there are other things you can do in Granada such as visit the Albaicín, the Cathedral of Granada, walk through the Carrera del Darro, enjoy its tapas, go shopping in the Alcaicería, attend a flamenco show in one of the Sacromonte Caves or see a beautiful sunset from one of its viewpoints.

 

 


6. Valencia, the city with the best climate

Valencia has become the most visited city in Spain every March because, in addition to its magnificent climate, the Fallas are also celebrated there, a massive party where you can attend fireworks such as the mascletás and the burning of the ninots.
Other reasons why Valencia is included on the list of the 10 most beautiful cities in Spain are the modern and avant-garde City of Arts and Sciences, its old town, the Turia gardens, its beaches ... And when it comes to gastronomy, few dishes are more famous in the world than the Valencian paella.

 

 


7. Salamanca, the historic city of excellence

Salamanca is also included in my list of the 10 most beautiful cities in Spain because I believe that this city should be on all itineraries when travelling through the country. In addition to being declared a World Heritage Site in 1988, reason enough to include it on the list, its beautiful old town full of architectural jewels will make you fall completely in love. 
The main places you can see in Salamanca are its magnificent Cathedral, the House of shells, the Plaza Mayor, the University of Salamanca (don't forget to find the frog and the astronaut!) and the wonderful views of the old town from the Tormes bridge make it one of the most beautiful places in Spain.

 

 

 

8. Madrid, the city with the best entertainment
There are endless things to see in Madrid. The Spanish capital has a wide cultural offering which makes it one of the most requested cities by tourists.
The Plaza Mayor, the Prado Museum, the Royal Palace, strolling through the Retiro Park, the Debod Temple, the Puerta de Alcalá, its infinite museums or simply walking along the Gran Via are some of the places that will amaze you in the city. No matter how many days you stay, there will always be something new to do.

 

 

 

9. Cáceres, the best-preserved medieval city in Spain

Cáceres is one of the cities with the most beautiful medieval old town in Spain. Walking through it is like travelling back in time. It is as if you were in medieval times with the feeling of being immersed in a movie set, surrounded by palaces, stately homes and cobbled streets. This is why Cáceres has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
The city has also been the scene of several films and series of great international success such as Game of Thrones and Romeo and Juliet. Here while wandering around, you can visit the Plaza Mayor, the Plaza de San María, the Palacio de Carvajal, the Aljibe and tour the Barrio de San Antonio, the old Jewish quarter.

 

 

 

10. Toledo, formerly the capital of Spain

Toledo, the capital of the country between 1519 and 1561, is also known as the city of the three cultures because Arabs, Christians and Jews lived together for centuries within the same city walls. This city completes the list of the 10 most beautiful cities in Spain.
Located just one hour from Madrid, it is one of the most beautiful medieval cities in the country. Its cobbled streets and its sword shops and knights' armour will make you feel like you're in the Middle Ages. The main things to see in Toledo are the Puerta de la Bisagra, the Plaza de Zocodover, the Catedral Primada, the church of Santo Tomé and the wonderful views of the city from the viewpoint of the Valley.

 

 

There we have it, if you think you have visited a more beautiful city than one of these, please mention it in the comments section!



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6 Nature Spots in the Province of Alicante that must be visited
Friday, August 13, 2021

The province of Alicante not only offers us great beaches in which to enjoy the summer but also beautiful natural spaces to explore its trails, observe its fauna and flora and practice all kinds of outdoor activities, as well as various adventure sports.

If you are on holiday in Alicante, do not miss some of the most beautiful places in this Autonomous Community. Take note of these 6  nature spots that really must be visited.

 

1. Clot de Galvany

Clot de Galvany (Av. Del Carabasí, 82, 03195 Port Marí, Alicante) is located in the municipality of Elche, catalogued as a Municipal Natural Area and Biological Station, as well as a Site of Community Interest (SCI) and Special Protection Area for las Aves (ZEPA) in a large part of its 336 hectares.

In this space, not only flora and fauna are of interest but you will also be able to see fossils and geological formations, as well as ethnographic and archaeological heritage. So be sure to explore its routes and take the opportunity to discover its 7 viewpoints and bird observatories. The visit can begin in the Aula de la Naturaleza, an interpretation centre where you can find out about the surroundings, visit the garden and the recreational area. Free guided tours are offered on Sundays and holidays and special activities are usually organised the rest of the week.

 

2. Carrascal de Font Roja Natural Park

 

Declared a Natural Park in 1987, Font Roja is located in the municipalities of Alcoy and Ibi and is another of the nature enclaves that you cannot miss if visiting Alicante. It spreads for 2,298 hectares, north of the Sierra del Menejador, with an impressive oak forest.

It is only 11 kilometres from the centre of Alcoy. Essential places to visit are the Font Roja Natura Centre and the Sanctuary, and there are 3 hiking trails (no bikes allowed): the climb to the Menejador - about 6.5 kilometres, the Barranc del Infern - about 5 kilometres and then a small stretch of less than 2 kilometres which will only take about 45 minutes.

 

3. Salinas de Santa Pola Natural Park

With about 2470 hectares, the Salinas de Santa Pola Natural Park is a wetland included in the RAMSAR list (most important wetlands in the world) and catalogued as an Area of Special Importance for Birds (ZEPA). It is located in the bay of Santa Pola and is a beautiful example of conservation and traditional use of the environment since the main economic activity in the area is the extraction of salt.

The Salt Museum and Visitor Interpretation Center of the Salinas de Santa Pola Natural Park (Av. Zaragoza, 45, 03130 Santa Pola, Alicante) is open every day and offers all the information you need to get to know the salt flats and tour the park, in addition to routes and guided tours.

 

4. Natural Park of the Lagunas de La Mata and Torrevieja

 

The Natural Park of the Lagunas de la Mata and Torrevieja, declared as such in 1996, is located by what many know as the Valencian Dead Sea, although you have to remember that bathing in its waters is prohibited. In fact, you have almost certainly seen a photograph of its pink lagoons, with a concentration of 350 grams of pinkish pigment per litre of water, which is produced by bacteria. The lagoon is located very close to the Torrevieja salt flats.

Its 3700 hectares are distributed within the municipalities of Torrevieja, Guardamar del Segura, Rojales and Los Montesinos. There you will find a visitor centre, numerous viewpoints and bird observatories, parking for cars and bicycles and a recreational area, as well as interpretive routes and conveniently marked trails.

 

5. Serra Gelada Natural Park

Next to the Mediterranean Sea, there is a beautiful mountain range that you will just love to explore, perfect for hiking and mountain biking. In the Serra Gelada Natural Park (Camí Vell del Far, 18, 03581, Alicante) you can follow a simple route to the beautiful Faro de l’Albir, descend to the old ocher mines and contemplate the views from its cliffs. It is the first land maritime park in the community where you can enjoy a wonderful landscape of sea and mountains at the same time.

 

 

6. El Hondo Natural Park

The El Hondo Natural Park is currently located on the land occupied by the old lagoon of Elche, at the mouth of the Vinalopó River. The park extends through the municipalities of Elche, Crevillent, San Felipe Neri, Dolores and Catray, it is classified as a ZEPA zone and included in the RAMSAR listings.

It is a delight to walk along its walkways and stop at its observatories to contemplate the many birds that inhabit it. All the routes are signposted and are of low difficulty, as all are relatively flat, so it is perfect for people of all ages and for walking or cycling.

 



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What are the most relevant tourist attractions in each Spanish province?
Friday, August 6, 2021

Holidays at last! "Where are we going this year?" This is the question that thousands of tourists ask themselves before looking for a destination. Many aspects influence this search. Spain is a country where you can find in each city endless tourist attractions to visit. These are often closer to home than expected and can be enjoyed on a simple day trip.

Therefore, if you are looking for a town or city, it is important to look at what you can visit. Natural parks or cathedrals? Monuments or squares? City or rural areas? As have no idea how Covid can disrupt your plans this summer and in order to help you with your choice, the website Musement has released a new and interesting study.

The website dedicated to booking activities and experiences has analysed the number of Google reviews of more than 4,500 places of interest in Spain and thus produced a report of the 52 most important points in the country according to the province.

What are the most popular?

The colours of the map allow you to clearly identify which elements make up these points of interest. From cathedrals like the one in León to theme parks like Portaventura in Tarragona, each province has very different places that help to choose the perfect destination for each traveller.

 

 

According to the study data, the most reviewed monument in the country is the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, which has more than 155,000 evaluations. It is closely followed by the Retiro Park in Madrid with 130,000 reviews and in third place the Plaza de España in Seville with 98,227. After the Top 3, the other two distinctive elements that stand out are the Ciudad de Los Arts y Los Ciencias of València, and the Alhambra in Granada with 86,985 and 80,644 reviews respectively. After the selection of the most reviewed, these are the tourist attractions that stand out the most by province according to the number of reviews:


Andalucía

1º Plaza de España (Sevilla), 98.227 reviews.

2º La Alhambra (Granada), 80.644 reviews

3º Puente Nuevo de Ronda - Ronda Bridge (Málaga), 23.750 reviews

4º Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos (Córdoba), 22.403 reviews

5º Cathedral of Cádiz (Cádiz), 16.574 reviews

6º National Park of Sierra Nevada (Almería), 14.721 reviews

7º National Park of Doñana (Huelva), 10.016 reviews

8º Nature Park of las Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y las Villas (Jaén), 9.580 reviews


Aragón

1º Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar (Zaragoza), 27.630 reviews

2º Plaza del Torico (Teruel), 10.211 reviews

3º National Park of Ordesa and Monte Perdido (Huesca), 8.811 reviews


Asturias

1º Sanctuary of Covadonga, 19.318 reviews

 

Balearic Islands

1º Cathedral of Palma de Mallorca, 33462 reviews


Canary Islands

1º Parrot Park (Santa Cruz de Tenerife), 51.920 reviews

2º Jameos del Agua (Las Palmas), 22.617 reviews 

 

Cantabria

1º El Capricho de Gaudí, in Comillas, 18.725 reviews

 

Castilla & León

1º Aquaduct of Segovia (Segovia), 62.407 reviews

2º Plaza Mayor (Salamanca), 46.415 reviews

3º Cathedral of León (León), 22.762 reviews

4º Cathedral of Burgos (Burgos), 20.421 reviews

5º Park Campo Grande (Valladolid), 9.265 reviews

6º City wall of Ávila (Ávila), 7.498 reviews

7º Nature Park of "Lago de Sanabria" and "Sierras Segundera and Porto" (Zamora), 7.470 reviews

8º Alameda de Cervantes (Soria), también conocida como La Dehesa, 5.516 reviews

9º Natural Park Montaña Palentina (Palencia), 2.128 reviews

 

Castilla - La Mancha

1º Cathedral Primada (Toledo), 19.890 reviews

2º Hanging Houses (Cuenca), 7.209 reviews

3º Nature Park Los Calares del Mundo y de la Sima (Albacete), 4.828 reviews

4º Castle of Peñarroya (Ciudad Real), 4.002 reviews

5º Zoo of Guadalajara (Guadalajara), 3.600 reviews

 

Catalunya

1º Sagrada Familia (Barcelona), 155.098 reviews

2º PortAventura World Theme Park (Tarragona), 69.841 reviews

3º Theatre- Museum Dalí (Gerona), 26.951 reviews

4º La Seu Vella (Lérida), 5.309 reviews

 

Madrid

1º Parque del Retiro, 130.592 reviews

 

Valencian Community

1º Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias (Valencia), 86.985 reviews

2º Castle of Peñíscola (Castellón), 38.850 reviews

3º Castle of Santa Bárbara (Alicante), 23.873 reviews


Extremadura

1º Roman Theatre of Mérida (Badajoz), 22.133 reviews

2º Plaza Mayor de Trujillo (Cáceres), 8.908 reviews

 

Galicia

1º Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela (La Coruña), 42.573 reviews

2º Hórreos de Combarro (Pontevedra), 8.782 reviews

3º Roman City walls of Lugo (Lugo), 7.696 reviews

4º Cañón del Sil (Orense), 6.649 reviews

 

La Rioja


1º Cocathedral of Santa María de la Redonda, 4.164 reviews

 

Navarra


1º Royal Palace of Olite, 12.402 reviews

 

País Vasco


1º Museum Guggenheim (Vizcaya), 48.713 reviews

2º Beach of la Concha (Guipúzcoa), 19.870 reviews

3º La Florida Park (Álava), 4.914 review

 

Murcia


1º Roman theatre of Cartagena, 11.646 reviews.

 

Ceuta


1º Casa de los Dragones, 1.320 reviews


Melilla


1º  Hernández Park, 994 reviews



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