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Eight Must-See Spanish Cities
With its festivals, captivating sights, mouth-watering dishes, and a rich and fascinating culture, Spain will tickle your fancy in many delightful ways. This celebrated kingdom on the Iberian Peninsula has the most number of World Heritage Cities, each offering extraordinary attractions on your holidays.
Here are the top eight Spanish cities you shouldn’t miss . . .
- Barcelona. Medieval Gothic structures combine with fresh, innovative architecture in this Catalonian capital, the site of the 1992 Summer Olympics. Gothic architecture dating back to the 13th and 14th centuries is the main feature in Barri Gotic, a striking labyrinth of squares, bars, and cafes. See Pablo Picasso’s obra maestra in the Museu Picasso, Barcelona’s most visited museum. Sample tempting Catalan fare, including escalopa de seitan (seitan scallops), carrillera de ternera (dark meat from cow’s neck), and suquet de rap (monkfish stew) in the traditional Spanish restaurants.
- Madrid. The capital of Spain beguiles holidaymakers with its impressive works of art, enchanting music, sumptuous food, and atmosphere of fun. Revel in the Ave Nox, a former chapel turned into a torrid music bar and disco, or take an exhilarating ride over western Madrid aboard Teleferico cable cars. Don't forget to visit the Arab Wall, the remains of Moorish settlement that once protected a ninth century-fortress.
- Granada. This small Spanish city is a treasure trove of historic attractions. Alhambra, once home to Moorish rulers, features elaborate Andalusian art set against the breathtaking Sierra Nevada. The city itself has a hip and laid-back air, engaging tourists to indulge in its free tapas culture, flamenco hubs, and tea corners.
- Seville. The sweltering heat fuels the rowdy parties in Seville’s tapas bars and dance clubs, heightens the romance of the annual feria (fair), and stirs up zealous faith during the Semana Santa (Holy Week).
- Valencia. Chosen by over five million people in 2005 as their holiday destination, Valencia owes its fame mostly to the Las Fallas Spring festival, a sizzling five-day celebration of fire. The city comes alive when the clock strikes midnight—crowds break out into a chant, streetlights are turned off, and hundreds of cardboard statues of Spanish celebrities and politicians are set ablaze.
- Bilbao. The largest city in the Basque region is also home to the Museo Guggenheim, an architectural icon that’s also a storehouse of contemporary art. The museum’s unique design is that of a ship-like edifice with bright titanium panels that look like “fish scales.”
- Alicante. The hot, white sandy beaches make relaxation and fun absolutely mandatory. An ideal destination for sun-worshippers, Alicante offers year-round sunshine, scorching disco parties, and scenic shops and cafes.
- Santiago de Compostela. This Spanish city is famed as the final resting place of the Apostle James. Pilgrims flock to the city’s key attraction, the Catedral de Santiago de Compostela, with its four amazing facades and extraordinary Romanesque sculptures.