Bordeaux has long been a center of wine production, going back to Roman times and before; as a result, it is a handsome and cohesive city of incredible classical and neoclassical style. Its monumental buildings and fine mansions financed by the almighty grape are certainly worth visiting. Be sure to bring your palate to sample some of the world's best wines.
Bilbao boasts the ultra-modern Guggenheim Museum, a Frank Gehry spectacular. Its factories and ports have been renovated thanks to a cultural and architectural renaissance. This gem in the Basque region offers a cornucopia of fine wines, exceptional cuisine, and a vibrant spirit.
A Coruna, a misty city shaped by the sea: the Roman Tower of Hercules, a UNESCO World Heritage Site is the lighthouse that marks one end of the Paseo Marítimo promenade (one of the longest in Europe). Other waterfront highlights are the Marina, Castelo de San Antón, the Millennium monument, and the most popular beaches-Orzán and Riazor- making this a magnificent Galician port.
Vigo, located less than 20 miles from the Portuguese border in Galicia, is a city from the the Middle Ages. Offering an array of modern-day activities, you can take a "mini-cruise" to the Cies Islands for its lovely beaches off the coast of Pontevedra or explore ancient Celtic ruins.
Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in the world, rich in architecture and majestic boulevards and monuments. Particularly important are the Igreja de Sao Vicente de Fora, a church dating from the 12th century; the Musee Calouste Gulbenkian, a magnificent museum of fine arts; and the Torre de Belém, one of the most famous monuments in Portugal.
While Seville may be credited with the invention of tapas, its landmarks are also rich in history: the Alcazar, an exquisitely decorated Moorish palace with themed gardens laid out in terraces, and especially the Gothic cathedral with its minaret-bell tower. It is a city not to be missed.
Overlooking the mouth of the Mediterranean from 1,400 feet up, the Rock of Gibraltar, a British possession since 1713, is a sight to behold. A natural fortress, it is home to huge caves and troupes of Barbary macaques that have taken up residence on the upper reaches (You might even see a few). There are dozens of stores and pubs, and you will marvel that you're only a stone's throw away from Spain.
Málaga, a work of art in its own right with the Alcazaba, a 11th-century citadel that is home to three palaces, beautiful gardens, and opulent fountains, was the birthplace of artist Pablo Picasso. You'll find a museum commemorating his birth here, which is a must-visit destination for art fans.
Cartagena, named after ancient Carthage, is steeped in over 2,000 years of history. Explore everything from Roman ruins right up to modern creations inspired by Gaudi. Start at the Naval Museum to learn more about the "City of Cultures."
Valencia is a stunning mix of innovative architecture and gothic beauty, and is home to many avant-garde buildings, including the sumptuous City of Arts and Sciences cultural complex. 15th century Palaces and mansions are all around the city, and The Silk Exchange resembles a medieval fortress.
With a history rich in art and architecture, Barcelona is a cosmopolitan masterpiece. Medieval, Gothic, and modern influences can be seen all over the city. The shady, tree-lined Las Ramblas boulevard is a beautiful place to stroll and discover some of the city's best shopping and bustling cafes.
One of the oldest cities in the world, Lisbon once was the seat of the
Monarchy, a world power, and home to Vasco de Gama and Magallanes. Portugal is
a Republic since 1910 and nowadays a port of call of ocean-going giants. Must-sees include the 12th century church Igreja de Sao Vicente de Fora, the Musee Calouste Gulbenkian; and the Torre de Belém, a UNESCO World Heritage Site --one of the most famous monuments in Portugal.
Seville is the city capital of Andalusia, home to the Royal Alcazar, built by Moorish rulers. The main palace features Islamic art of the time, arabesques, calligraphy, and geometric patterns. Once the Catholic Kings took over the palace new architectural elements were added namely Gothic, Renaissance, and Romanesque giving way to a style known as Mudejar. Seville is home to countless sights to see as the Plaza de España (above picture), the Torre
del Oro, and the modernistic waffle-grid structure Las Setas de Sevilla (Metropol Parasol).
Gibraltar, once Spanish territory is a British air and naval base that guards the Strait of Gibraltar, the only entrance to the Mediterranean Sea from the Atlantic Ocean. As a symbol of British naval strength is commonly known as "the Rock." Most Gibraltarians are of mixed Genoese, British, Spanish, Maltese, and Portuguese descent. English is the official language of government and education, though most Gibraltarians are bilingual in English and Spanish. On the streets you can explore dozens of British stores and pubs, and marvel that you're a stone's throw away from Spain.
Málaga, along Costa del Sol, is Andalusia's second largest city and the birthplace of Pablo Picasso. The city honors its native son with two museums. The Picasso Museum in the heart of the old city is a walking distance from the Cathedral, nicked named 'La Manquita' (the one-armed lady), Constitution Plaza, and the waterfront parks. The Alcazaba Palace, both fortress and palace, was built between the 11th and 14th centuries encompassing three palaces, exquisite gardens, and magnificent fountains.
Cartagena was founded in the 3rd century BCE on the site of an ancient Iberian settlement by the Carthaginian general Hasdrubal. Steeped in history is now Spain's chief Mediterranean naval base housing the Naval Museum displaying its past as a "City of Cultures." Its past and present grandeur can be seen its Roman ruins right up to modern architecture inspired by Gaudi. Its harbor is the finest on the east coast. As a great commercial port, Cartagena was adversely affected during the early 20th century by the increasing importance of Barcelona, Málaga, and Alicante.
Valencia, on the Costa Blanca, displays a stunning mix of innovative architecture and gothic beauty, showcased in its cathedral. Along with the City of Arts and Sciences cultural complex there are palaces and mansions dating from the 15th century.
Astonishing Barcelona is the pride of Catalonia and a force on the Mediterranean. Its history rich in art and architecture dates back to medieval times having gone through Iberian, Roman, Visigothic, Moorish, French, and Aragonese. Gothic and modern influences can be seen all over the city. The tree-lined Ramblas boulevard is amongst the best strolling places to be found anywhere in Spain: you may call it 'rambling around.' In Barcelona you never know what will astonish you next.
12 Things to do in Seville / 6:13
Spain has overtaken the United States as the world's second most popular vacation destination, trumped only by France.
The Moors were on the Iberian Peninsula for some 700 years. The Islamic heritage lives on in Spain's architecture, cuisine, and culture. Nothing epitomizes the Moors' power and ingenuity like La Alhambra.
Before King Philip II moved the courts to Madrid in 1561, the city of Toledo, in the region of Castilla-La Mancha, was the Spanish capital
La Sagrada Familia, in Barcelona, weaving together Gothic and Art Nouveau styles, is slated for completion in 2026 after 150 years of construction. The structure's magnificence lies in its architectural marvels created by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí.
The Guggenheim Bilbao, Frank Gehry's architectural triumph of nature-inspired forms built on Bilbao's riverfront. Once inside, thought-provoking works by artists like Richard Serra, Mark Rothko, and Andy Warhol will keep you entranced.
Erected in the 10th century as a symbol of the Islamic grandeur of Al-Andalus, the Mezquita de Córdoba, also known as the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba, enchants with 856 columns, floridly engraved mihrab, and candy cane-striped double arches.
Spaniards often get into armchair debates over what constitutes "real" paella. Purists posit that paella must be seafood-free and cooked over an open flame with chicken, rabbit, beans, and a handful of permissible veggies, while other cooks use the word "paella" willy-nilly to describe just about any food with rice.
1. 'Lisbon as capital city of Portugal; and Seville as capital of Andalusia: from Portuguese to Spanish.'
Synopsis: Once the seat of the Portuguese Monarchy, Lisbon is nowadays an enchanting port of call. Moorish/Christian Seville is home to many historical and cultural sights.
2. 'Gibraltar, the Rock that Rocks.'
Synopsis: Gibraltar was once a Spanish territory; ceded to Great Britain in 1713. As a symbol of British naval strength, it is commonly known as "the Rock."
3. 'Picasso's Malaga'
Synopsis: Malaga's Picasso Museum, in the heart of the old city is steps away from the Cathedral, and Constitution Plaza. The Moorish Alcazaba Palace is a sight to see.
4. 'Piracy in the Mediterranean: The Corsairs Hollywood Ignored.'
Synopsis: Piracy was prevalent across the Mediterranean from ancient times. In Hispania it was experienced as well.
5. 'Barcelona and Valencia: A Tale of Two Cities'
Synopsis: An overview of the region touching base with the former Roman Empire and the Visigoths in Hispania, leading to matters of nationalism and power through language identity.
6. Bilbao: From Industrial to Cultural City; Tradition and Innovation'
Synopsis: From the heart of the Casco Viejo to the Guggenheim and Calatrava's bridge, Bilbao is a post-industrial city with no pollution and art all around.
7. 'La Coruña and Vigo: Two Cities One Language Other Than Spanish'
Synopsis: They speak Galician, a language closer to Portuguese. They share the same history through the ages; both cities can be seen as financial and industrial maritime strongholds.
8. 'Lisbon, the City of the Seven Hills'
Synopsis: rich in history, Lisbon is older than Paris or London. The city of spies during World War II exhibits the longest bridge in Europe and is today Europe's San Francisco.