A description of Spain’s main Regions

As many people do not know all of Spain’s regions very well and each is very different in terms of culture and geography, I decided to create an overview to give an idea of what some of these area’s has to offer.

Valencia

Whether it is golden beaches, moonlit nights, a cosmopolitan atmosphere or a holiday of adventure and discovery you are seeking, Valencia offers it all. Within the three regions; València Terra i Mar , the Costa Blanca, and Castellon Costa Azahar, there are hundreds of kilometres of Mediterranean coastline, over 20 golf courses, festivals all year long and Valencian wines. The airports of Valencia and Alicante service the region comprehensively and a train service along the coast and inland access all the most popular destinations.

Valencia is an ideal place to go sailing, windsurfing, waterskiing and golfing. Crystal-clear waters have earned over 106 Blue Flags from the EU awarding exceptional environmental conditions and services. Valencia city is host to the 2007 America’s Cup. Located on the sea shore the Club de Golf El Saler is ranked among the top 50 courses in the world.

València Terra i Mar hosts popular festivals such as Las Fallas. Festivities are loud and colourful. Large satirical floats, Las Fallas, commenting on current socio-political issues parade through the streets only to be burnt on the final evening. Female Las Falleras, show off their colourful and attractive regional dresses. A particular Valencian tradition in Semana Santa is the “trenca de perols” where residents throw earthen cooking pots out of windows and balconies.

The Costa Blanca is one of the most cosmopolitan sites in Europe. However it is full of natural wonders such as the huge palm tree plantation in Elx listed as World Heritage site, to castles and sand dunes in Guardamar del Segura or view filled hikes in the mountains of Bernia Sierra. Castellón Costa Azahar is home to 120km of coastline and rugged peaks in the interior. The Sierra de Irta nature park has steep cliffs that reach the sea surrounded by typical Mediterranean flora and fauna and is one of the most beautiful landscapes in the region.

To compliment the climate Valencia has an exquisite cuisine most famous for its paella. Horchata a sweet refreshing milky drink is very refreshing while the white wines from the Alto Turia and Serrania regions or reds from the regions of Requena, Utiel and the Campo de Lliria must be tried.


Castilla Y Leon

In the Northwest corner of Spain there’s a romantic and rugged coastline that is the natural boundary of a magical land: Galicia. The Atlantic Ocean and the Bay of Biscay, together with wind, tides and sun have shaped Galicia into a maritime country down to its very soul.

The sea may lash the sculptured granite cliffs, but thankfully, even more often, it laps gently on the beautiful and unspoiled beaches. Galicia is a mix of steep cliffs, thousands of rias (tidal inlets), sumptuous green valleys, smooth faced mountains, a flavourful source of cheese and wines; and home to people who not only have their own language, but retain centuries-old traditions in their customs, culture, legends and art. Perhaps because of its deep roots, Galicia has the confidence to break new and exciting ground. An example is the bold City of Culture, in Santiago de Compostela that is designed by a leading architect from New York. Now under construction, it is on a hill above one of Medieval Europe’s most important pilgrimage sites.

The Galician landscape is studded with fascinating monuments such as the legendary pre-Stone Age dolmens, or burial places, and caves wonderfully painted by the Ancients. Houses of worship are many and beautiful. The Cathedral of Santiago is a fine example. Monasteries too have been a part of Galician life for centuries; those at Oseira and Samos are exquisite in their restrained yet powerful presence. Galicia is a rich experience.

The coast is studded with charming towns and fishing villages and that means that means you can find dozens of species of just-caught fish for your dinner. And don’t forget to wash them down with a delicate local wine. Theres an exuberance about the people that is remarkable. For example, feasts and fairs are to be found in almost 3,400 parishes. And what colourful events thy are! A feast for the arrival Spring; another for the roasting of chestnuts, and, of course, festivals that celebrate the tasting of the much anticipated local wines.

Let yourself wander. You’ll come across an exciting variation of the horse show known as the Rapa das Bestas, where shearing and branding take place, an event that is full of wild passion and beauty. Or you might attend a Galician celebration of folklore, history and religion, called romería, steeped in the ancient world of Galicia, harking back to pagan times, and often attended by locals in colourful traditional costumes. The festivals have themes The Miracles of Amil, in Morana; The Virgin of the Boat in Muxia; the Battle of the Moors and Christians in A Sainza.And, of course, in this land which loves delicious food, there are gastronomic festivals galore. The Feast of the Stew, Festivals of Cheese, of Salmon, of Pepper and Seafood… the list goes on and on, and is ever more exciting for the senses; taste, aroma, sights and sounds of a wonderful corner of Spain called Galicia.

Galicia

In the Northwest corner of Spain there’s a romantic and rugged coastline that is the natural boundary of a magical land: Galicia. The Atlantic Ocean and the Bay of Biscay, together with wind, tides and sun have shaped Galicia into a maritime country down to its very soul. The sea may lash the sculptured granite cliffs, but thankfully, even more often, it laps gently on the beautiful and unspoiled beaches.

Galicia is a mix of steep cliffs, thousands of rias (tidal inlets), sumptuous green valleys, smooth faced mountains, a flavourful source of cheeses and wines; and home to people who not only have their own language, but retain centuries-old traditions in their customs, culture, legends and art.

Perhaps because of its deep roots, Galicia has the confidence to break new and exciting ground. An example is the bold City of Culture, in Santiago de Compostela that is designed by a leading architect from New York. Now under construction, it is on a hill above one of Medieval Europe’s most important pilgrimage sites.

The Galician landscape is studded with fascinating monuments such as the legendary pre-Stone Age dolmens, or burial places, and caves wonderfully painted by the Ancients. Houses of worship are many and beautiful. The Cathedral of Santiago is a fine example. Monasteries too have been a part of Galician life for centuries; those at Oseira and Samos are exquisite in their restrained yet powerful presence.

Galicia is a rich experience. The coast is studded with charming towns and fishing villages and that means that means you can find dozens of species of just-caught fish for your dinner. And don’t forget to wash them down with a delicate local wine.

There’s an exuberance about the people that is remarkable. For example, feasts and fairs are to be found in almost 3,400 parishes. And what colourful events thy are! A feast for the arrival Spring; another for the roasting of chestnuts, and, of course, festivals that celebrate the tasting of the much anticipated local wines.

Let yourself wander. You’ll come across an exciting variation of the horse show known as the Rapa das Bestas, where shearing and branding take place, an event that is full of wild passion and beauty. Or you might attend a Galician celebration of folklore, history and religion, called romería, steeped in the ancient world of Galicia, harking back to pagan times, and often attended by locals in colourful traditional costumes. The festivals have themes The Miracles of Amil, in Morana; The Virgin of the Boat in Muxia; the Battle of the Moors and Christians in A Sainza.

And, of course, in this land which loves delicious food, there are gastronomic festivals galore. The Feast of the Stew, Festivals of Cheese, of Salmon, of Pepper and Seafood… the list goes on and on, and is ever more exciting for the senses; taste, aroma, sights and sounds of a wonderful corner of Spain called Galicia.

Madrid

The region of Madrid is two different worlds. Rural Madrid features charming villages like Patones and Chinchón, and sights such as the majestic El Escorial of Phillip II, Alcalá de Henares, and Aranjuez, where the royal court once summered. Outdoor activities abound, from winter skiing in the high mountains to water sports in summer. The countryside around the city of Madrid is the escape valve, as it were, for the capitals people, a place where they can relax and enjoy life at a slower pace.

The city of Madrid is relatively new, established by Phillip II in the sixteenth century at the geographic centre of Spain. In fun-loving Madrid a cosmopolitan air reigns, and life is lived to the fullest. Street life is Madrid’s trademark, be it in the evocative cobbled streets of Old Madrid or in the sleek new districts. De Madrid al Cielo (from Madrid to Heaven) is the city’s well deserved self-congratulatory motto.

Restaurants are everywhere. Rustic inns serving traditional fare of suckling pig, roast baby lamb and cocido chickpea stew. Seafood restaurants, which receive the finest freshest fish and shellfish from Spain’s best fishing harbours Or Madrid’s elegant world-class restaurants. The tapas tradition is alive and well in Madrid, and bar hopping is a wonderful way to revel in Madrid’s exuberant spirit while enjoying savoury appetizers of every description.

The visitor will also want to put aside time to attend a performance of zarzuela, Madrid’s own light opera that has travelled the world, to peruse its large and lively department stores, and shop in the city’s elegant boutiques, where superb Spanish leather goods, high fashion clothes, Spanish crafts, such as ceramics, lace and embroidery, and exquisite gourmet food products can be found. Madrid’s five hundred year old Rastro flea market is another option. It is at its best Sunday mornings when vendors crowd the streets.

Madrid is a city meant for walking. Stroll through verdant, peaceful Retiro Park, admire the city’s monumental plazas and fountains, visit the Plaza Mayor a masterpiece of Renaissance architecture and Madrid’s opulent Royal Palace. You can of course spend several days just seeing Madrid’s extraordinary museums, among them the world renowned Prado, the Thyssen-Bornemisza and the Reina Sofía.

Pais Vasco (Vasque or Basque Country)

The Basque Country, or Euskadi, is a small but wonderful gem in the north-east corner of Spain. Its coastline facing a sometimes-turbulent Bay of Biscay has been shaped by history and weather. Craggy, serene and dramatic, it has dozens of picturesque villages, impressive rock formations and the lovely Bay of San Sebastian-Donostia.

The cities in the Basque Country are enthralling. An example is the picturesque capital, Vitoria-Gasteiz. The Old Town was burnt in 1202 and energetically re-built.

Notice the influence of the guilds that were so much a part of medieval society, saddle-makers, shoemakers, and so on. They jostle with churches and monuments, including one to the battle of Vitoria. The New Town, is fascinating in a different way. You’ll find it dotted with museums of heraldry, of Fine Art, and spectacular parks.

The Basque northern landscape can be intensely green. Look across a green field, down into a green valley and up at the green-sided mountains! In the south, where high ground gives way to wide dry plains, the colours change to shades of ochre. In between are soaring mountains where walking and climbing are favourite ways of enjoying this highly visual land.

In the Basque Country, or Euskadi, you’ll discover a surprising variety of sights to enjoy, from the truly ancient to the spectacularly modern. For many, the new titanium and glass Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao-Bilbo is a stand out. The Museum, designed by Frank Gehry, is a symbol of forward thinking and cutting-edge of modern art. But there are many more reasons for visiting this enthralling region. In architecture, they include master-works such as Rafael Moneos Kursaal Centre and the Metro in Bilbao.

Look at the Guggenheim, and at the 5,000 year-old dolmens ancient burial places and you’ll see past meet present. Also reflecting the living traditions are Basque fiestas where musicians enjoy the ancient art of instruments like the txalaparta and the alboka. Words like these, from Basque (the oldest language in Europe), are used today in poetry, literature and conversation. The fiestas reinvent themselves every year, and everybody joins in (including you!). And don’t worry about the language… Spanish is the other official language and English is widely spoken.

Cuisine is also a vital part of Basque social life. Friends wander amiably from bar to bar to snack on pintxos, washing it down with local wines such as reds from the Rioja Alavasa and white Txakoli. And watch them have fun in the colourful cider houses! So eating and drinking in Basque Country is something special. Look for exquisite squid in ink, elvers and hake, all popular with the locals, as they will be with you. Give your taste buds a treat, in the Basque Country, a fascinating and flavourful corner of Europe.

Andalucía

Andalucía has the ability to become so many different things to different people. It offers the delights of the sun-drenched southern Mediterranean coast or, alternatively the majestic, hot and stunning countryside of the plateau of Castile.

There is a special beauty to such images, and Andalucía is indeed spellbinding with its air perfumed by jasmine and orange blossoms, its soulful flamenco music and its thrilling bullfighting tradition.

Andalucías villages are brilliantly whitewashed and laden with red geraniums and purple bougainvillea that grace balconies and courtyards. Its cities are ancient and their old quarters especially the Santa Cruz district of Sevilla still evoke their Moorish and Jewish pasts. Fiestas fill the calendar all over Andalucía, and they are colourful and heartfelt events celebrated with typical Andalusian flair. Holy Week processions, the April Fair in Sevilla, the Horse Fair in Jerez de la Frontera, and Carnival in Cádiz are prime examples.

Andalucía can trace its history to Tartessos. When bothe the Phoenicians and Greek’s made the area their home the regions distant past ( the Phoenicians founded Cádiz) they were foloed by the the Romans who continued to occupy the area for centuries. When Granada finally fell to the Catholic Kings at the end of the fifteenth century, it was the turn of Castilian nobles to be enchanted by Andalucías charms. And America became all-important for Spain; Sevilla was the hub of discovery, conquest and administration of New World Spanish colonies.

Andalucías splendid climate allows life to take place out of doors, and eating tapas at outdoor cafés is a favorite pastime. Freshly caught fried and grilled seafood and icy cold gazpachos are the cornerstones of Andalusian cooking, and honey and almond based sweets, a legacy of the Moors, are ever-popular and still made by convent nuns, as in centuries past.

Cantabria

Once a province of Castilla y León and as such that regions only exit to the sea, Cantabria is today its own region, although its people still retain something of the austere Castilian character. As the Spanish Nobel Prize winner Camilo José Cela wrote, If Cantabria, green and civilized Cantabria, has too much of anything, it has too many possibilities.

Here are the Picos de Europa, among Spains highest peaks, rising abruptly from the sea, and dotted with quaint mountain villages, churches dating back to the eighth century, awesome gorges and broad green valleys.

Remarkable are the Caves of Altamira, sometimes called the Sistine Chapel of prehistoric art because of their wondrous ceiling paintings that date back some 15,000 to 20,000 years. The nearby historic-artistic gem, Santillana del Mar, wrought in stone and declared a National Monument, has survived in all its medieval glory and is another focal point of travel in Cantabria.

Cantabrias capital, Santander, has also retained its charm. Calm, genteel, cultivated an international university town Santander stands high on a hill overlooking its magnificent bay. The coastal town of Comillas, also known for its university, is a centuries-old seignorial town of palaces and noble homes and an elegant summer resort as well. Luxuriantly green Cantabria provides ideal grazing land for cattle and is known for its fine milk products, primarily its butter and fresh cheeses.

Cuisine along the coast centers on seafood especially exceptional sardines and anchovies and in the interior on meat, most notably the regions hearty meat and chickpea stew, cocido montañés, and milk and cheese-based desserts.

Please Help Us by Sharing this with your Followers
%d bloggers like this: