Spain is an incredibly interesting holiday destination that caters to anything a tourist could look for, from warm beaches and leisure to historical monuments and art. These 18 interesting and unique facts about Spain will give you a snippet of what this lovely country has to offer.
1. Spain is a constitutional monarchy, similar to the UK
Spain is an ancient country located in the western half of Europe. It is officially recognized as the Kingdom of Spain. Once one of the mightiest kingdoms of the Middle Ages, modern Spain has since taken a much more relaxed attitude.
It has a lot to offer those wanting to explore its rich culture and history. There are many medieval castles and ancient sites that can be toured while visiting the country, remnants of Spain’s exciting past.
Spanish history is an incredibly long and detailed path, stretching back to the early medieval period. There have been many different cultures and religions that have shaped the way the country has grown and evolved over the centuries. As a result, it has turned into an incredibly unique and diverse country.
Spain is dotted with aqueducts from the time of Roman occupation as well as incredibly intricate Arabic designs in architecture from the time of the Umayyad dynasty, which ruled the country back in the early middle ages.
2. Spaniards were the first civilization to formally discover the Americas
There are many interesting facts about the history of Spain, however, this one is very prevalent. For a large amount of time, Spain was one of the most affluent and powerful countries in the world. One of their most prestigious achievements was the discovery of the Americas by Christopher Columbus, an explorer who convinced the Royalty at the time to fund his voyage and expedition.
This risk paid off as the discovery of South and North America created a whole new opportunity for settlers and trade. However, this period of time was also particularly violent. The native Aztec and Inca population of Central and South America had many golden items and trinkets that the ruthless Spanish conquistadors at the time would fight for to take back to their home country.
During this period of time, Spain amassed enormous quantities of gold and wealth. However, over the centuries that passed much of it was spent, traded, or lost to the test of time. Much of the gold that was taken from the Americas was also lost to the sea as the voyages took place over the Atlantic Ocean which is infamous for its rough waters and storms.
3. Incredibly talented artists hail from Spain
One of Spain’s important facts is that Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso, who were both incredibly influential artists of the 20th century were both Spanish. Even in modern times, their art is held in high esteem by many around the world.
There have been other Spanish artists that have also been seen as pioneers in their field. Such as the contemporary artist Juan Miro who was both a renowned painter and sculptor.
4. Soccer is the most popular sport in Spain
Another of Spain’s fun facts is that soccer is by far their most popular sport. The Spanish football team Real Madrid is the most valuable sports team in the world with a brand value of $3.3 Billion.
Spain is also incredibly well known for the Formula 1 racing that takes place here, as well as the cycling marathons that pass through it.
5. Ibiza is Spain’s most popular tourist destination
The island of Ibiza is located in the Mediterranean Sea. It’s part of an island chain known as the Balearic Islands, an incredibly popular party destination for those looking to have fun and enjoy the warm ocean waters. Popular DJs such as Swedish House Mafia and David Guetta play at this destination often, attracting party-goers from all over the world.
6. Spain adopted Democracy in 1975
One of the most important facts about Spain is that it has become a thriving country now that the people are free to vote for their leaders as democracy allows. General Francisco Franco led a coup d’etat in July 1936 against the elected government at the time. This sparked the Spanish Civil War. Ultimately he won and was powerful enough to instill his own regime, ruling the country as a dictator until he passed in 1975.
After the end of Francisco Franco’s rule, the country shifted to a constitutional monarchy under Juan Carlos the first. He was crowned King of Spain in November 1975. Soon after, the country flourished under a new and stable democratic rule. This has been the norm up until today. It has truly changed the country for the better as the GDP and foreign trade have improved significantly under democracy.
7. In Spain, a child traditionally receives two surnames from their parents
There are some customs in Spain that may seem strange to others. However, all the different practices and cultures that are found in the world are what adds to the excitement of learning new things!
Traditionally, a person receives two surnames in Spain, the one from their mother and the other from their father which is combined to make their own surname.
8. Spain’s architecture was built to last
There are many examples of ancient and grand architecture in Spain that have withstood the test of time. The Aqueduct of Segovia is an ancient Roman aqueduct that was built more than 2000 years ago and is still functioning and supplying fresh water to the city.
The Alhambra is another marvel, an ancient fortress in Granada built into the rolling hills. It contains beautiful gardens and halls within and is a glorious sight even to this day.
9. Rome ruled over Spain for centuries
For a large period of time, Spain was occupied by the Romans (way back in 600-700BC). This led to the creation of roads and aqueducts, theatres, and baths. As well as the development of a common language to be spoken among all the rivaling tribes that occupied Spain at the time (which was known as Hispania back in 600BC).
There are still a few temples and examples of Roman architecture that have withstood the test of time. You can find these in some Spanish cities today, the most notable of which is likely the Temple of Diana, which can be found in the city of Merida.
10. Spaniards have festivals that last for days
Festivals are an integral fact about Spain’s culture. Spaniards are well known for some of the larger festivals and their love of dance, music, and celebration. These are known to the locals as “fiestas”.
Arguably the largest and most important of these events is “Las Fallas”, which takes place in the month of March. The biggest celebrations of Las Fallas can be found in the city of Valencia at this time and it includes fireworks, drinking, dancing, and parades throughout the city streets. This particular celebration lasts for days and also involves the burning of wooden structures, as tradition dictates. If you’re visiting Valencia around March, don’t miss it.
Another famous festival is the Carnival which happens about 40 days before Easter. The celebration and parade are the largest in the city of Cadiz and also involve music, dancing, and general revelry.
11. Flamenco music was born in Spain
One of the most unique and amazing facts about Spanish culture is that it is the birthplace of Flamenco music. In fact, to most foreigners, Flamenco is synonymous with the spirit of the country.
Flamenco involves playing the guitar in a fast yet beautifully rhythmic manner. Most couldn’t imagine a visit to Spain without dancing the night away to the sound of Flamenco.
However, oddly enough, that particular genre has only been around since the 19th century. Before flamenco, there was classical music that was most popular in the Renaissance era. Only in the Baroque era of music did the rise of softer traditional folk music start, as well as more experimental musical arts.
12. Spain is the largest producer of olives in the world
Many agree that Spanish cuisine is a close parallel to Mediterranian dishes. However, their rich cultural background has added a unique flair over the years. One direct similarity is the use of olive oil in many of the dishes! This is mainly due to Spain being one of the largest producers of olives in the world.
Demographics have shown that the average Spaniard will consume about 1.4 liters of olive oil a year.
13. Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world
The Spanish language is the second most spoken in the world, falling behind Mandarin. With over 437 million speakers of the language worldwide, it comes as no surprise.
It may even be interesting to attempt to learn a few phrases in Spanish and use them to communicate while visiting. Spaniards are happy to converse with you, especially if the effort has been made to try to speak in their home tongue.
14. Much of Spain’s architecture and traditions are a unique blend of many ancient civilizations
Some might wonder what makes Spain unique. The answer lies in its detailed history. Over the centuries the Spaniards have had rulers from many different civilizations and mingled with the cultures of many other countries across the globe.
They’ve adopted many of their practices from other ancient civilizations, such as the Romans, Greeks, and Celts. However, they also have Arabic and Visigothic practices and architecture from the time of the Umayyad Dynasty ruling the country in the early 11th century.
15. Spain is famous for its cuisine
One of the many fun facts about Spain is that the country boasts a wide array of world-famous chefs. Such as Ferran Adrià who is seen as one of the most influential chefs of this era and Martín Berasategui both of which have defined contemporary cuisine.
In some cases, the more famous restaurants can require reservations made months or even up to an entire year in advance. However, the food at these restaurants is incredibly expensive and one could find equally fantastic traditional Spanish food in the local and traditional restaurants as well.
16. Tapas is one of Spain’s most famous dishes
The people of Spain love their food and it echoes in their unique dishes. One of the most famous is the Tapa, which is in effect a relatively small dish that features a variety of things to snack on.
They are pleasantly simple but allow for the person eating to taste many different styles of traditional Spanish food in bite-sized portions. They are available as appetizers in restaurants and bars alike. You’re also able to get warm and cold tapas, which change up the food you can find on the dish itself.
Tapas can contain meatballs, olives, and cheese, as well as more complex dishes like chopitos and paella. Chopitos are a variation of fried squid whereas paella is a meat and rice dish that can contain seafood or chicken.
17. Spaniards are very respectful to others
Another one of the cool facts about Spain is that the locals are incredibly respectful to their elders and each other and will often shake hands upon meeting and departing.
Spaniards are friendly and helpful to tourists if they need help or just seek to make casual conversation to learn more about the country and its practices. Remember that if you’re visiting the country feel free to strike up a conversation with a local. And if you’re able to learn a few phrases in Spanish from the conversation then all the better!
18. Spaniards take pride in their work
The people of Spain are hardworking and would refuse to fill their day with meaningless trivia. They tend to be efficient and enjoy spending time with friends and family after a day of work.
However, that doesn’t mean that Spain doesn’t cater to those looking for a little excitement and is all work and no play. Spaniards fill their nights with music, dancing, and fun and can be an amazing experience for leisure seekers.
Ever since the fall of Francesco Franco’s dictatorship regime back in the early 20th century the people have become revitalized. Their patriotism and national pride are reinvigorated and as a result, their creation of traditional music and performance has been on the rise.
Final Word on Fun Facts About Spain
After reading these important facts about Spain, you’ll realize that this is a truly wonderful place to visit with friends and family. Spain caters to a great variety of interests.
If you’d like to experience Europe at its finest be sure to spend your next holiday on the Spanish beaches enjoying tapas and dancing the nights away to Flamenco. Or relaxing in the Spanish countryside.