Have you ever been to Spain? Which one is your favorite city to visit?
I became in love with Spain when I last visited. We stayed longer this time and visited more cities. Because we drove to all the cities, we saw more of its countryside, and I was amazed to see everything the country offers. I was blown away by what I saw and learned from its food to its art, festivals, museums, history, markets, and sports, a unique culture peppered by distant continents.
Spain offers so many attractions that choosing the top 10 is quite a challenge. There are sharp bars in every city, which would be the high point for many young rocket travelers. There are football arenas to see the most outstanding football teams globally, and this appeals to others.
For those who love history, there are plenty on offer. Remember the beaches and the weather. For foodies, the list in Spain goes on and on. but for those that love art and festivals, the feeling of soaking in a different culture, and the joy of marching to a different drumbeat, here are the top places to explore:
With its historical landmarks and monuments and great works of the Spanish masters like Velasquez, Madrid is a must-visit when you go to Spain.
It is old with buildings that can be gloomy and foreboding and vibrantly young with a mix of the population you will enjoy.
There are many exciting things to see and do in Spain's capital city, but the top of the list I can't enjoy in any other city in the world is the Prado Museum.
It has the best of the great Spanish painters like Velasquez, Goya, and Murillo, to mention a few. Given Spain's strong connection to the Hapsburgs, its Reubens collection can stand up to the best of the world.
In Madrid's Plaza Mayor, you can enjoy more of the Hapsburg influence. Considered the heart of old Hapsburg, this square has seen it all from Christmas markets, soccer games, bullfights, and even executions. Today, under its porticoes are traditional shops and cafes, which are fun to explore. Sample the famous calamari sandwich, a specialty of this area. Also, visit the Royal Palace, which is not far from here.
I love Barcelona from what I have seen a few days from the Hop-On Hop-Off bus, walking in the great Squares, and visiting Gaudi's works. So, impressed by what I saw, my husband and I decided to stay there longer. This stay eventually stretched to almost three months, and still, we have not done all of the exciting things to do in this fantastic city.
It embodies Gaudi's imagination. It has almost everything every city wants to have: an exciting waterfront, traditional markets, old quarters, excellent museums, gourmet food, and unique delicacies, and the easy to use metro and other transport.
If you are keen to understand the Moorish influence on Spain, this is the place to visit. In Cordoba, you will find the layers of history and culture that have lived in harmony in that city and the historic acceptance among the Jewish, Muslim, and Christian populations up to the Reconquista.
You'll also see a good picture of how the different powers took hold of the city and superimposed on it their architecture, language, and food. What a legacy of legacies.
Today, Cordoba has integrated all these into its testament that people can still live in harmony with each other despite differences.
Set at the Sierra Nevada foot, this southern Andalusian city boasts of the best Moorish architecture. Nothing much in the world can compete with The Alhambra, the Moorish Palace with its courtyards, beautiful gardens, and reflecting pools. It is the draw to this city. Some say it is the most beautiful palace ever built.
Seville is magic. It has a culture, but it is famous for its flamenco dancing. From the famous Giralda and the Gothic Cathedral, where you can pay homage to Columbus's tomb to the Alcazar, there are historical gems to see.
A stroll in the banks of the Guadalquivir or a scenic boat ride is one that brings you to see some of Seville's modern landmarks.
You can go and visit the Expo wonders and the beautiful bridge.
One of our most memorable visits is to the Plaza de Espana, where all the provinces of Spain have their tile mural showing what makes each of them unique.
But the big draw in Seville is the Semana Santa where the city celebrates, and the feria is something to be at. The procession of the life-size statues and the tents sponsored by prominent families bring a festive spirit to the celebration.
Nothing beats Toledo in showcasing its rich culture in food, in architecture, and especially in souvenirs. Store after store will delight any shopper, especially with tiles and Toledo steel knives. There is so much to visit here with its well-established things to see and do.
For us, the big draw is the El Greco Museum but what surprised us most is the Church of San Salvador, which is also an archaeological display of the layers of civilization that had their heydays in Toledo. And the Man of La Mancha is at every street corner checking your quest!
For me, Avila's attraction is not just its magnificent walls, but it's the birthplace of one of the greatest saints in history. Even if you're not a Christian, this strong woman, Teresa of Avila, would get your respect. She founded a congregation serving in so many countries of the world and has inspired many others to be generosity and kindness.
The walls tell their own story, making us marvel at how history builds, destroys, and builds again as each great power takes over....and leaves.
This city was a bit chaotic for me, but once I emerged from the underground parking, I faced the Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar, and it was just magnificent. Inside, it has some of Goya's masterpieces.
When you visit during the Christmas season, this city has one of the most prominent Nativity displays I have ever seen. The Christmas markets are fabulous, with its stores waiting for your money and taste.
You have to visit the Goya Museum, and if you're a Senior, you can enter free of charge. Its display will help you expand your understanding of Goya from an artist to a social activist.
9. Talavera de la Reina
This city is in the midst of the restoration and preservation of its heritage. It has done a great job of doing so, and it has created a paseo (a promenade) on the river that gives the city a park-like feel. The rows of poplars add to the magic.
During the Napoleonic period, the Duke of Wellington and the Spanish armies pushed out the French after five solid years of pillage, leaving the place's population 2,000 from 5,000.
Here's a unique place you probably haven't heard of, but the drive to this city is one of the most beautiful we have had in Spain. Just be careful as we got a speeding ticket.
Ronda is the birthplace of one of Spain's most famous toreador. So watch for the bullfight season and give this place a go.
There are many more places worth including here, but I leave these for you to discover.
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