With its old world cities and Mediterranean beaches, the nation of Spain has a rich cultural history. Spain was originally settled by ancient Phoenicians and is now home to a population of more than 47 million. To introduce you to this nation, once home to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, we have compiled a number of interesting facts to help you learn about Spain and its incredible legacy.
Rich in UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Spain is home to a breathtaking 48 UNESCO World Heritage Sites attracting visitors from all over the world. The most famous sights include the Alhambra, the Roman walls of Lugo, the Vizcaya Bridge and the works of Antoni Gaudi.
Historically, Spain was revered for its shipbuilding and naval skills. Despite the crushing defeat suffered by its armada in 1588, Spain fought for centuries for supremacy over the oceans. One of his most impressive contributions to shipbuilding came with the invention of the submarine in 1888. Spanish engineer Isaac Peral invented the first steel submarine. Today it can be viewed in the port of Cartagena.
The Spanish language is the second most widely spoken language in the world. Spanish is derived from a Latin dialect that dates back to 218 BC. Arrived in Spain with the Romans. Although the language then traveled to different parts of the world with Spanish explorers and conquistadors, only a little over 70% of Spanish residents speak Spanish as their mother tongue on the Iberian Peninsula. Many Spanish citizens speak the language associated with their region, such as Catalan or Galician.
Did you know that the first modern novel ever written is the Spanish novel Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes? First published in 1605, Don Quixote marked an important milestone in Western literature and influenced other great writers around the world, including Alexandre Dumas and Mark Twain.
Olive oil is an ancient ingredient and, with its rich composition of omega-3 fatty acids, one of the healthiest oils in the world. While you might think that most of the world’s olive oil comes from Greece or Italy, the vast majority actually comes from the sun-kissed Andalusian fields of Spain. In fact, more than 40% of the world’s olive oil comes from Spain.
With its abundance of sunshine, Spain may have been the world leader in solar energy, but instead focused on wind and became the nation of the world that gets most of its energy from wind energy. Today Spain is considered to be that the fifth largest producer in the world wind energy, followed by China, the USA, Germany and India.
Birthplace of Flamenco
Spain has a rich artistic heritage. One of its most famous art forms is the flamenco dance, which dates back to the late 18th century. Flamenco was developed from various Andalusian folk music traditions and is often performed in many tourist centers, especially in southern Spain, where it originated. Today there are even schools that teach dancers the art of flamenco.
Spain may be famous for its historical explorers, colonial empire and navy, but one of its inventions has dominated gambling halls around the world. In 1936 Alejandro Campos was injured during the Spanish Civil War. During his recovery, he invented the foosball game to please local children who were unable to play soccer. The following year he patented his invention and it is still enjoyed by children and adults to this day.
In a country like Spain, which has the most bars in Europe, it’s hard to get thirsty. From its clubs to its tapas bars, Spain offers seemingly myriad pubs that play a central role in its vibrant social scene. When visiting many of Spain’s big cities, travelers will find bars open day and night.
The Teide is the largest peak in Spain and the third largest volcano on earth. However, this volcanic mountain is not located on the Iberian Peninsula, but on the Canary Islands, which belong to Spain. The summit has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Did someone say chocolate?
The city of Barcelona is home to one of the most famous chocolate museums in the world, the Museu de la Xocolata. Visitors to the museum can learn about the decadent history of chocolate and trace its journey from the New World back to the Old World. In addition to the permanent exhibitions, the museum has demonstrations and a charming café where you can order what is perhaps the best hot chocolate in Spain.
Nudity is welcome
During the summer season, the temperature warms up. When you visit Spain’s beaches you will find that many people go without all clothing. Nudity is totally welcome in Spain and there are no laws against skin bare.
Spain has long been a center for great art in Europe and has produced many famous masters. However, the most famous artist is perhaps just Pablo Picasso, who was born in the city of Malaga, Andalusia, in 1881. He is known for revolutionizing the art world and his work continues to be collected and exhibited in the most prestigious museums around the world. In 2015, one of Picasso’s works set a new auction record when it was sold for $ 179.4 million.
In many countries, the tooth fairy collects lost teeth from children and replaces them with coins as a reward. In Spain, however, this magical task is left to a mouse named Ratoncito Perez. The mouse has worked hard to collect the discarded teeth of Spanish children since it became popular in the late 19th century.
Spain worships the bull with its reputation for bullfighting and the highly acclaimed staging of bull events and lists it as its national animal. Bull racing is indeed a Spanish tradition that dates back to the 14th century. Up to 20,000 participants take part in the bull races in Pamplona every year. Despite the injuries and occasional deaths resulting from this event, it continues to be held every year.
Spain is known worldwide for its cuisine, but one of the most famous dishes is likely to be the most popular cold soup in the world. Gazpacho is a refreshing soup that is often served in the hot summer months. It’s made from tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, and peppers (mostly) and is usually served with fresh bread. Gazpacho comes from the Andalusian region of Spain and appears to have been invented for the first time in the 19th century.
Spaniards practice Roman Catholicism more than any other religion. However, this has not always been the case. For more than five centuries until 1492, most of Spain was controlled by North African Muslims known as Moors. The Moors have left behind many influences that can be seen in the architecture, art, and language of the nation.
The Tower of Hercules
Spain has no shortage of historical landmarks, but its Tower of Hercules is best known as the oldest known lighthouse in the world. The lighthouse in Coruna, a town in Galicia, dates from the second century AD. The Hercules Tower is also the second tallest lighthouse in the country at 187 feet.
Sebrino de Botin
Madrid is home to the oldest known restaurant in the world, the Sobrino de Botin. The restaurant was first opened in 1725. Famous artist Francisco Goya once worked as a waiter at the establishment and Ernest Hemingway mentioned it in one of his novels, The Sun Also Rises. While the restaurant dates back to 1725, its cellar is even older and dates back to 1590. When visiting this historic restaurant, you might want to order one of its signature dishes, sopa de ajo.
Spaniards tend to take marriage very seriously, even so seriously that many are reluctant to take marriage vows. Spain has the lowest marriage rate of all EU countries (except Sweden). Unfortunately, couples don’t always tend to stick together after their wedding. Spain’s divorce rate has increased around 57%, which is more than the US rate, which has fallen to 44%.
Spain has one of the highest life expectancy rates in the world. The current life expectancy is 82 years. Scientists attribute this longevity to the Spanish diet. It is forecast that Spain will have the oldest population in the world by 2050.
Spain has a greater variety of vascular plants on its mainland and islands than any other European nation. It can boast up to 9,000 plant species and is one of the “hotspots” of biodiversity in the world.
With more than 3,000 miles of coastline, Spain has some of the most attractive and tourist-friendly beaches in the world. There are more than 8,000 beaches in Spain. The best known are Bogatell in Barcelona, Platja de Ses Illetes in Formentera, Ses Salines in Iberia and East Side Beaches in Marbella.
Fountain of youth
One of the most famous explorers in the world, Ponce de Leon, is from Spain. Although best known for his search for the fountain of youth in Florida, he founded the first European settlement on the island of Puerto Rico in 1508.
If you are planning to visit Spain keep these facts in mind such as visiting the most famous beaches and enjoying a bowl of gazpacho before exploring the most famous landmarks in the country.