The Culture, Traditions, and Heritage of Spain
The culture in Spain is very unique, the Spanish are very welcoming and the country is known for its exotic beaches and lots of sunshine. Spain is also called the land of bullfighting because bullfighting is a very popular sport in Spain.
Spain is one of the culture centers of Europe and it has been called so for several years now. The artistic heritage in Spain is second to none; Francisco de Goya was a very popular painter of the 18th century. His portraits of royalty are still preserved by the Spanish because these portraits are believed to be very special.
There were many ambassadors of art in Spain; the likes of Pablo Picasso, Joan Miro and Salvador Dali have left their undying mark on the Spanish culture.
The invention of the Spanish guitar was a significant moment in the development of the Spanish culture, the guitar was invented in the 1970s and it is now played all across the globe. This also goes to show the global reach of the Spanish culture.
The Spanish literature is as rich as the Spanish culture itself, it comprises of Spanish poetry, prose and novels written by Spanish and Latin American writers.
The Spanish Cuisine is really unique in more ways than one, the Roman, Jewish and the Arab tradition has had a significant impact on the Spanish cuisine. The strong influence of Moorish people in Spain also reflects on the Spanish cuisine.
Olive oil is very widely used across Spain, 44% of world’s olives are produced by Spain. Lard and butter are also used in Spain.
The open air markets are slowly disappearing in Spain, supermarkets have also displaced open air markets in Madrid and Barcelona and more and more open air markets are being displaced almost every day, this also means that people who used to reply on fresh ingredients from the open air markets must now turn their attention towards supermarkets.
Serving tapas with a drink is a very popular custom in Spain. Sherry, wine and beer are the usual drinks served with the tapas. There are some cities in Spain where tapas are served free with a drink and this has become really popular in the country. There are many bars in Spain that serve something edible for free when a drink is ordered while there are some others that primarily exist to serve a purchased tapa.
Sofrito is also very frequently used by Spaniards to start the preparation of several dishes. Onions and garlic is used as major seasonings. The Spaniards like drinking wine with their meals and this has almost become a custom. Bread is also very frequently consumed by the Spaniards, during the summers salad becomes indispensible. Tarts and cakes are eaten as desserts on special occasions in Spain.
Spain has a unique and deeply-rooted Western European culture, one that is based on a combination of historical influences, primarily that of Ancient Rome, but also with hints of the pre-Roman Iberian and Celtic cultures, as well as that of the Phoenicians and of the Moorish, who ruled the country for nearly eight centuries (711 AD to 1492 AD). From a religious and linguistic standpoint, there can be no doubt of the lasting legacy of Ancient Rome in Spain, but after the fall of the Roman Empire, the subsequent course of Spanish history added many other cultural elements and traditions. Because of its deep Roman heritage, the Spanish culture is often described as Latin, but it has also been strongly influenced by that of other European and Mediterranean countries as well.
During its very early time as a Visigoth Kingdom, Spain’s culture was a reflection of the deeply-held Christian values of the region’s people—values that would later be welded in the Reconquista of 1492. Moorish, or Muslim, influences were strong during the Middle Ages, and can still be seen in some of the country’s art and architecture. The language of Spain derives directly from Vulgar Latin, though there are also minor influences from both the Iberian and Celtic languages, as well as the Gothic and Arabic tongues. Religion has always been a defining element of the Spanish culture. Following the defeat of the Moors during the Christian Reconquista, a period between 1000 and 1492, Spain became an almost entirely Roman Catholic country, which it remains to this day.
Architecture in Spain
has drawn from numerous influences, thanks in large part to its historical and geographical diversity. During early times, the city of Cordoba became the cultural capital of the region; an important provincial city founded by the Romans, with an extensive Roman-era infrastructure. Early and very beautiful Arabic style architecture began to emerge during the time of the Islamic Umayyad dynasty. This would later be bolstered by new Arabic-style architecture under the successive Islamic dynasties, ending with the Nasrid, which built its renowned palace complex in the city of Granada.
In the early Middle Ages, the Christian kingdoms began to develop their own style of architecture, now known as pre-Romanesque. Later, after being exposed to the contemporary mainstream European architectural influences, these kingdoms integrated the popular Romanesque and later Gothic styles of architecture. The Gothic style flourished in Spain for decades, but later gave way to the Mudejar style of architecture, popular from the 12th to 17th century. This style, which can still be seen in scores of Spanish buildings and residences today, consists of Arab-style motifs, blended beautifully with patterns and elements of European architecture.
Today the architecture of Spain is a combination of Old World influences and contemporary modernism, a style that has produced many famous architects, including the world-renowned Antoni Gaudi. More recently, architects such as Rafael Moneo, Santiago Calatrva, and Ricardo Bofill, among others, have received international acclaim for their work, both in Europe and abroad. Learn more about and .
Like its architecture, the literature of Spain has drawn from many influences throughout the country’s long history, again due to its historical, geographic and generational diversity. During this history, there have been several major literary movements. The development of Spanish literature intersects with that of other literary traditions from the various regions of the country, particularly Catalan literature, Galician literature and, more recently, a formal Basque literature. In its earliest form, the literature of Spain was also been influenced by Latin, Jewish, and Arabic literary traditions of the Iberian peninsula.
The most well-known Spanish author by far is Miguel de Cervantes, who penned the famous novel Don Quixote, the most emblematic work in the history of Spanish literature and a founding classic of Western literature. Other well-known Spanish authors include Felix Lope de Vega, Pedro Calderón de la Barca, and Camilo José Cela.
Much though Flamenco has achieved recognition worldwide, it is actually one of the trivial Spanish traditions. Years of imbibing, mixing, molding as well as tuning certain features of the local Andalucían, Islamic, Sephardic, and gypsy conventions has led to the development of the Flamenco dance styles and also the music. The traditions belonging to the sub-Saharan African traditions also seem to have influenced the Flamenco and this is attributed to the slave traffic carried out on the Iberian Peninsula.
Initially, Flamenco was a popular yet singular tradition that prospered among other Spanish conventions. The gypsy caverns in Sacromonte, where flamenco shows are still held, was one such site situated in Granada where the flamenco tradition grew and molded itself. 16th century literature has traces of flamenco performances – the enigmatic tunes and the dance practices- much though its proper growth can be followed systematically 18th century onwards. As flamenco music and dance began to flourish, flamenco performers moved out of the caverns to the specialized pubs known as “cafés cantantes” (or singing bars). Thus they were now open to the outside world. However it was the flamenco dance performers and not the vocalists or the guitarists, who turned flamenco into an international sensation. Flamenco, earlier a minor culture, has been appreciated and loved across the world and now is considered to be an essential fragment of the actual Spanish traditions.
The music associated with flamenco came to be much before the dance form took shape. The “cantaor” or the flamenco vocalist is the person of prime importance- he or she weaves a heart rendering piece, usually of pain and suffering. His features often contort in distress as he sings the song most ardently and zealously. The guitar that plays along comes second in importance.
The “tracoar”, the person who plays the guitar in flamenco, does a fantastic job of twanging and plucking the guitar strings as well as beating the wood fraction such that it acts as percussion. It is a delight to watch the guitarist in action with the vocalist i.e. the “cantoar” and the “tacoar” as they play off one another thus giving rise to an amazing performance. The “el jaleo” – the name given to the team of people right next to the “tocaor” – applaud, stamp their feet, click their fingers and also call out to the performers especially the dancers or the guitar player.
The flamenco dance is the most attractive aspect of this culture. It is colorful, zealous, and indeed is extremely captivating. Flamenco dance form is not of one kind- 50 “palos” or styles exist and it depends on the individual dance style of that particular dancer. The “palos” differ from one another in form and choreography. The flamenco dancer is expected to comprehend the passionate lyrics of the song as sung by the vocalist and then present them via beautiful and elegant arm gestures. These movements of the body arts oppose the swift movements of the feet that tap on the fo9or as the flamenco dancer sways to the music. Flamenco dance is dependent largely on the personal expression of the dancer, his or her own natural instinct to move his or her body in desired manner to express the vocalist’s message. The basic musical conventions and the rhythms must be abided by no matter what type of improvements the dancer puts in personally.
There are shows where a male and a female figure perform together and this turns out to be the most startling performance for one special evening. Usually, in a duet performance, the zeal, the ecstasy and the intense emotion reaches a palpable form as the figures look straight into each others eyes and remain so throughout the performance. The desire for one another becomes quite apparent in such a show.
Art in Spain
The art of Spain has contributed greatly to the history of Western art, although the characteristics of this art have always been assessed separately from that of some of the other European schools, such as France and Italy. These differences can be partially explained by the distinct Moorish heritage in Spain, particularly in the Andalusian region, and by the political and cultural climate in Spain during the counter-Reformation and the subsequent eclipse of Spanish power under the Bourbon dynasty.
The art of Spain has varied widely throughout history and depends greatly on the artistic era in which it was created, including the Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Mannerism, Baroque and Modern periods. Some of Spain’s most treasured artists—artists who have greatly influenced and enhanced the Spanish culture—include Pablo Picasso (Guernica), El Greco (The Burial of Count Orgaz), Diego Velasquez (Las Meninas), Francisco Goya (The Third of May), Salvador Dali (The Persistence Of Memory), and Joan Miro (Spanish Dancer).
One of Madrid´s most famous sites is the Museo Nacional del Prado, or the Prado. The masterpieces in this gallery include works by Spain´s greatest artists, which Spanish royal families collected throughout history. The Prado is not the only place to find art in Spain. Many other galleries can be found throughout Spain. Magnificent paintings and sculptures add to the beauty of tiny rural churches scattered across the land. Impressive statues stand in village plazas, and elaborate tile patterns decorate the walls of houses.
In the 1500s, the Catholic monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella ordered Spanish artists to produce paintings and sculptures with religious themes only. Most subjects in the paintings were shown in a natural, realistic way. The religious paintings of the artist El Greco (1541-1614) were different. El Greco was born on the Greek island of Crete, but did most of his work in Spain. His real name was Domenikos Theotokopoulos, but people in Spain called him El Greco, which means “The Greek”. He painted people with long bodies who were often in distorted positions, making them seem tense and dramatic. El Greco was also known for painting landscapes, which were not common in Spain at the time.
Bartolomé Esteban Murillo
Another Spanish artist who painted religious scenes was Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617-1682). Murillo also painted scenes of everyday life, such as the young, 河北快三less boys who begged on the streets of Seville, where he lived.
Art of the Court
Kings and queens throughout Spain´s history paid artists to paint portraits of the royal family. When Diego Velázquez (1599-1660) was only 24 years old, he became Painter to the King. For the rest of his career, he painted realistic portraits of the royal family and other members of the King´s court. He was one of the first artists to depict the dwarfs who worked in the court as entertainers with respect and sympathy.
Francisco Goya (1746-1828) worked in King Charles III´s court, painting portraits of Spanish nobility and historical events. His early paintings show people enjoying outdoor activities, such as picnics. In 1792, Goya caught a mysterious illness that left him deaf. After that, his work became more negative, with thick, bold strokes of dark color. His portraits of the royal family made them look unattractive, and he painted the horrors of battle in works such as Disasters of War, a series of 80 paintings. In the 1820s, after the death of his wife and son, Goya´s work became even gloomier. He painted black murals on the walls of his 河北快三. Some of these paintings showed scenes of witchcraft or shocking events from Greek mythology. These Black Paintings were eventually moved to the Prado.
Cubism and Picasso
In the 1890s, a new style of painting called “cubism” became popular. An object in a cubist painting looks like it has been broken into small pieces and stuck together again. One of the inventors of cubism was painter and sculptor Pablo Picasso (1881-1973). Picasso was born in Málaga, in the south of Spain. Many people think he was the most important artist of the 20th century, and that his painting Guernica is one of the most significant works of art. Picasso created Guernica in 1937, during the Spanish Civil War, for a fair in Paris, France. It is a disturbing mural of a town bombed during the war.
Surrealism and Dalí
Pablo Picasso also painted in a style known as “surrealism”. Surrealist paintings are based on dreams and other parts of the unconscious, which is the area of the mind that a person is not usually aware of. Surrealists sometimes show the unreal quality of dreams by painting everyday objects in unexpected ways. For example, one of the most famous paintings of Spanish surrealist Salvador Dalí (1904-1989), Persistence of Memory, shows large clocks melting in the desert. Other paintings created by Dalí, such as Apparition of Face and Fruit Dish on a Beach, appear to change depending a viewer is focusing on.
Dalí considered himself to be a genius, and he loved fame. He spent much of his later life designing a museum for himself in Figueres, in northeastern Spain, where he was born. Dalí is burried under the center stage of this extraordinary building, which is covered in huge eggs.
Joan Miró (1893-1989) was another famous surrealist painter. Born in Barcelona, his paintings were based on fantasy and dreams. Much of his work was humorous, with distorted animals and playful shapes and lines in vivid colors. In some of his paintings, such as Birth of the World, Miró applied paint wherever he wanted, then saw what shapes were created after gravity forced the paint downward. These shapes inspired him to add details to the painting, depending on how they made him feel and what they made him think of. Miró also designed ceramic murals for the walls of several important public buildings, such as Harvard University in Boston.
Surrealism has inspired one of Spain´s most famous modern artists, Antoni Tápies (1923-). He creates paintings and posters, as well as sculptures made from materials such as metal and concrete. One of his most famous sculptures is called Clouds and Chair. It is made of wire, and sits on the roof of a building in Barcelona. Originally a factory, this building is now a gallery called the Fundació Antoni Tápies, or the Antoni Tápies Foundation, which displays many of Tápies works.
Crafts across Spain
People in different regions of Spain specialize in making different crafts. Andalusia, in the south, is famous for its guitars, while fiddles are made in Cantabria, in the north. Leather shoes and bags are produced on the Balearic Islands, off the east coast. Wicker and baskets are crafted from cane in the south of Spain, and lace is made in Catalonia, in northeastern Spain.
In the area around Toledo, steel or bronze objects, such as plates, boxers, knives, and specially swords and jewelry, are decorated with fine silver and gold threads. This craft is known as damascening. The Moors brought damascening to Spain. The word “damascene” comes from Damascus, an Arab city in the country of Syria, famous for this kind of work.
Artists in Spain make beautiful clay pottery and ceramic tiles that are decorated with Moorish designs. These designs are inspired by plants and flowers, geometric shapes, and beautiful writing. The Moors, who were Muslims, did not show people or animals in their artwork. Like other Muslims, they believed that only Allah can create living things.
Cuisine plays a major role in Spanish culture, with dishes that vary depending on geographic location and climate. The cuisine is heavily influenced by the seafood available from the waters that surround the country, reflecting the country’s deep Mediterranean roots. The long and storied history of Spain has brought many cultural influences into the fold, leading to a cuisine that is not only delicious but also rather unique. Generally, the cuisine of Spain can be divided between three major geographical divisions:
- Cuisine of the Mediterranean Region. The coastal Mediterranean regions of Spain, ranging from Catalonia to Andalusia, make heavy use of the available seafood in the area, with dishes such as pescaíto frito. Rice dishes, such as paella from Valencia and the Catalonian arròs negre are also very popular, as are cold soups like gazpacho, due to the region’s warm weather.
- Inland or Center Spanish Cuisine. In the inner regions of Spain, such as Castile, hot, thick soups, such as the bread and garlic-based Castilian soup are extremely prevalent. So too are hearty substantial stews, such as cocido madrileño. Food in this region is traditionally conserved by salting, as in Spanish ham; or immersed in olive oil, like Manchego cheese.
- Cuisine of the Atlantic Region. The Northern Spanish coast, including the Asturian, Basque, Cantabarian and Galician regions, feature a unique cuisine, one characterized by vegetable and fish-based stews, such as Pote gallego and marmitako. People here also enjoy the lightly-cured lacón ham. The Northern region is best known for a cuisine relying heavily on ocean seafood, with dishes made from Basque-style cod, albacore and anchovy, or the Galician octopus-based based polbo á feira and shellfish dishes.
Sports in Spain
Since the early 20th century, sport in Spain has been dominated by English style Association football, also known as soccer. The country is 河北快三 to two of the most successful and well-known football clubs in the world: Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. The country’s national football team won the UEFA European Football Championships in 1964, 2008 and 2012, and the FIFA World Cup in 2010, and is the first team to ever win back-to-back international tournaments. Real Madrid has won the prestigious European Cup 12 times (as of 2017).
Other popular sports in Spain include basketball, tennis, cycling, handball, futsal, motorcycling and, recently, Formula One racing. The city of Barcelona hosted the 1992 Summer Olympic Games, which not only sparked increased tourism in the country, but also a great deal of interest in a variety of sports.
Two of Spain’s most famous and well-known athletes are Rafael Nadal, winner of several Grand Slam tennis tournament titles, and Alberto Cantador, the leading Spanish cyclist with several titles under his belt, including three Tour de France titles.
Festivals and Celebrations in Spain
Spain is 河北快三 to many unique festivals and celebrations throughout the year. A few of these include:
Las Fallas, Valencia
Las Fallas is one of Spain’s most impressive festivals. The event takes place each March in the Mediterranean city of Valencia.The celebration lasts for a week and includes nonstop fireworks and noisy fanfare.
Semana Santa and La Feria de Abril, Seville
The southern city of Seville plays host to two of the largest celebrations of the year. The first of these is Semana Santa, a week of feasting and Roman Catholic processions leading up to Easter. The festivities include masked parades and enormous floats with Roman Catholic figures. This somber spectacle is followed up by La Feria de Abril, a much more joyous event, featuring hundreds of tents and amusement park rides, and locals dressed in traditional garb.
Fiesta de San Fermin, Pamplona
La Fiesta de San Fermin is a celebratory and quite iconic holiday that takes place in the northern Spanish town of Pamplona. The festivities occur annually in mid-July. The most well-known feature of this celebration is the oft-publicized “Running of the Bulls,” an event first made famous by American author Ernest Hemingway in his novel The Sun Also Rises.
La Tomatina, Buñol
Finally, there is La Tomatina, an all-out "tomato war" hosted by the town of Buñol, Spain, just outside Valencia. Tourists and locals alike gather here on the last Wednesday of August each year to stage a tomato-chucking battle of epic proportions. This event is part of a week-long festival in honor of Buñol's patron saint.
Learn more about and .
Spain is famous for its welcoming and vibrant nightlife, and among the many things to do and see after the sun sets in this picturesque country are its scores of fun and lively nightclubs, featuring dancing, cocktails and socializing into the wee hours of the night (or morning).