As a Spanish immersion school in the United States, many of our teachers have come from and are from Latin America, so it’s fun when we study a Spanish speaking country from another region – Spain!
Spain is a European country with a rich history and culture. It is famous for the Age of Exploration, for its gorgeous Muslim influence in its southern architecture, delicious food like paella, and traditional dances like flamenco.
Spain the Country
Spain is made up of 17 regions, 15 mainland and two islands, each one very different from the other. Some regions are more famous than others such as the Canary Islands, Andalucia, and Catalonia, whereas others you may have never heard of such as Cantabria or Murcia. What makes each region unique isn’t only a change in landscape and climate but also a change in regional dishes and language. Some regions have a very strong culture and sense of unity so much that they would like to separate from Spain and become autonomous. In these regions, most people speak the local “dialect” and many schools teach classes solely in that language.
When you think of Spain, the first two things that might come to mind are Paella or Sangria. Paella originated in Valencia, along the eastern coast of Spain. There is a legend that says Moorish kings would mix the leftovers from their banquets with rice, creating what we know as today, paella. However, we know for certain that around the mid-1900s, field workers would stop for lunch and cook rice on a large round flat pan, called platella, and add in other ingredients they could find, whether snails or rabbit. Today, paella is made with either seafood, meat or simply vegetables and the saffron spice which gives it that unique golden color it is so famous for.
Art and Architecture
Some of the most famous artwork from the 20th century was created by Spanish artists. Just think of Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, Antoni Gaudí and Diego Velazquez. If you visit Barcelona, you can enjoy the beautiful architecture of Gaudí by visiting the Familia Sagrada church, or take a walk in Park Güell, or visit the more peculiar and unique homes’ Casa Batilló. You can also visit the Pablo Picasso museum in Barcelona where there are over 4,000 pieces of work!
Flamenco is a passionate and energizing music style that is accompanied by dance, song, the guitar, and clapping of hands. This exhilarating dance form was born in southern Spain in Andalucia back in the 14th century when the gypsies arrived. It wasn’t nationally recognized until the end of the 18th century when it made its way into ballrooms and in the 19th-century flamenco became a common evening scene in cafes. The song lyrics often express joy, pain, love, absence of love, or anguish. Today you can see incredible live Flamenco shows in Seville.
Another famous cultural aspect of Spain is Bullfighting. Bullfighting goes back centuries and centuries to other regions of the world, but in Spain, we can trace it back to medieval times when knights would fight bulls. Then, it was considered a sport only for the noble and rich families and was very different from the modern style you can see today. There are three matadors in a ring and they each have to face two bulls. The fight is called a corrida de toros and is divided into three stages in the last stage, tercio de muerte, the matador will enter the ring alone with the bull. Although bullfighting is banned in Catalonia and is non-existent in other regions of Spain, each year in Pamplona there is a very famous festival, San Fermin, where you can run with bulls through the streets and every afternoon for a week there is a bullfight.
Spain isn’t as close to the United States as other Spanish speaking countries, but it is definitely a lively country with many incredible places to visit, fun things to see and do, and delicious food to try!