Spain: Spendid Architecture, Sweeping History, Breathtaking Beauty
November 19, 2015
Spain long held a strategic role as a link between North Africa and Europe. For centuries, anyone who controlled the Iberian peninsula held great commercial and political power; variously throughout history, Moors, Arabs, Christians and countless others knew this and called Spain their own. Still today, Spanish hills and plains embrace richly adorned citadels and Moorish influences can be seen coast to coast.
But still ... you have to wonder if they were all just in it for the gorgeous real estate. After all, Spain boasts a very singular beauty: central plateaus rise to the snow-capped splendor of the Pyrenees in the north and the Sierra Nevadas toward the south. Vineyards and olive groves blanket the famed "plains of Spain." Mediterranean beaches invite long strolls and refreshing dips. One can only envy Don Quixote's wanderings across such a rhapsodic land.
The masterpieces of those former kingdoms still stand - fortresses, cathedrals, and citadels of staggering scale. And today Spain overflows with thrilling culture, colorful history, and a diverse natural beauty that takes your breath away. So we invite you to raise a glass of sangria, cava, or rioja ... to a spellbinding land lauded by Hemingway and immortalized by Cervantes ... a land where a flamenco-fueled fiesta is sure to follow close on the heels of an afternoon siesta.
The Beating Heart of Spain
You might call Madrid "el corazón de España" - the heart of Spain - the central point and capital from which Spanish life and culture flow. Its colossal Royal Palace, on the vast Plaza Oriente, was built on the site of a former Alcazar, or castle, in the mid-1700s by Philip V and Carlos III. Paired with the adjacent Almudena Cathedral, it is a spectacular site. The Plaza de España - with its skyscrapers and towering memorial to Cervantes - is no less impressive. Art lovers flock to El Prado, the huge repository of Spanish art featuring the works of Goya, Velazquez, Picasso, El Greco, and countless others.
History is palpable in the UNESCO World Heritage City of Segovia, north of Madrid. The Romanesque city has gone untouched for six centuries, but its most amazing site predates even that. The remarkably preserved Roman aqueduct stretches 2,700 feet long and - at its highest - 90 feet tall; it is a remarkable feat of ancient engineering, built without a dash of mortar. The city's Jewish Quarter, or aljama as it was historically known, stands as testament to the city's diverse past. The enormous Alcazar watches over it all from the city's edge.
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15 Day Kaleidoscope of Spain
Absolutely the best. Our guide, Carmen, added zest to the lengthy bus rides. The city tour guides were knowledgeable and personable. The dinner choices were good and the tops was the flamenco program. The real deal. Hotels perfect locations too and high quality. No negatives to be said.
Leslie H. Duluth, MN
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