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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...

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.




mapa más grande

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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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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:


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


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


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 



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



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



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


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

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



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



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



1º Roman theatre of Cartagena, 11.646 reviews.



1º Casa de los Dragones, 1.320 reviews


1º  Hernández Park, 994 reviews

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