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Archive for spain

Europe’s Renowned Pilgrimage

By Linda Tancs

For more than a thousand years, pilgrims have trekked over the Pyrenees from France into Spain via a network of trails that make up the Way of St. James—El Camino de Santiago—converging at the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. Originating as a spiritual pilgrimage in honor of St. James, the 500-mile trek offers intrepid travelers a cultural immersion as well with cathedrals, bridges, Roman roads, monasteries, palaces, stately homes and traditional regional architecture placed amidst varying landscapes like plateaus and mountains, meadows and coastline. Be prepared for a 30-day hike if you commit to the entire route from France to Spain. Shorter routes could take less than a week to complete.


Bells and Minarets

By Linda Tancs

Situated in the heart of Seville, Spain, the Gothic Santa María Cathedral is the largest cathedral in Spain. There you’ll find the city’s emblematic Giralda, a bell tower converted from a minaret, one of many signs of the city’s rich Moorish heritage. A walk up the tower will reward you with outstanding views of the city and the Guadalquivir River. Often imitated but never rivaled, the tower has formed the basis for designs in Miami, Chicago and Kansas City, Missouri.

León’s Cube

By Linda Tancs

Its cuboid structure oddly reminiscent of Rubik’s Cube, the Castile-León Museum of Contemporary Art (MUSAC) is an emblem of 21st century Spanish architecture in León, Spain. Designed by Spanish architects Emili Tuñón and Luis Moreno Mansilla, the mosaic of 37 colored glass panes on the exterior façade was taken from the digitalization of an image of “The Falconer” (one of the oldest stained glass windows) from León Cathedral. With a nod to the city’s past as a Roman encampment, the interior floor plan evokes pavements of ancient origin characterized by squares and rhomboids. Amidst the exhibition halls and library is the MUSAC Collection, comprising more than 1,650 works by nearly 400 regional, national and international artists.

Moorish History and More in Albarracín

By Linda Tancs

Albarracín is a pretty little Spanish village west of Teruel, characterized by pastel-hued medieval homes and narrow streets. Its Moorish roots arise from its status as the former capital of a tiny Islamic state ruled by the Berber Banu Razin dynasty from 1012 to 1104. After the Reconquest, most of the forts and towers that remain today were erected by the Christian lords and kings of Aragon. More history abounds at Albarracín Cultural Park, where up to 26 rock-art sites comprise one of the greatest concentrations of post-Paleolithic art in southwest Europe. Top that off with the last vestiges of the Roman era, including the 11 mile-long aqueduct that went from Albarracín to Cella.

Pigs and Acorns

By Linda Tancs

Sierra de Aracena y Picos de Aroche is a nature reserve tucked away in Spain’s Huelva province. Located 90 minutes away from Seville by car, the area comprises mainly Mediterranean oak woodlands where the region’s famed black pigs (the source of jamón ibérico) forage for acorns. The dark-gray or black pigs are descendants of the Mediterranean wild hog and gorge on acorns that give them their distinctive flavor. A gourmand’s delight is not limited to this famed product of southwestern Spain, however. You can also enjoy Aracena cheese or chestnuts.

Flying Tomatoes in Spain

By Linda Tancs

Tomatina is a festival that takes place on the last Wednesday of August each year in Buñol, Spain. Revelers parlay pelting tomatoes into prize-fighting furor, complete with chants of “Tomato! Tomato!” The hour-long street battle attracts participants from around the world, who gather around six trucks offloading 160 tons of ripe, red tomatoes. Be sure to wear old clothes and goggles.

Sail Away in Barcelona

By Linda Tancs

Tired of the usual land trekking tours of a major European city? Then come sail away in Barcelona on a three-hour private tour of the coastline with Barcelona Sail. Instructed by your skipper, you can even steer the boat. Sailings are year round and include other offerings like a sunset sail and a daylong sail to Masnou.

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