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Archive for spain

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.

Cathedral of Light

By Linda Tancs

Only a short flight from mainland Spain, the Balearic Islands are a Mediterranean treasure brimming with not only great beaches but also enough fine food, wines and cultural attractions to satisfy even the most discriminating traveler. Majorca is the largest of the islands. Its capital, Palma, is a popular cruise port only hours away from Barcelona. Palma’s Gothic cathedral (La Seu), boasting one of the tallest naves in the world, is one of the Balearics’ most recognizable symbols. Its nickname, the Cathedral of Light, owes to the shimmering effects of the sun as it enters the Rose Window at the church’s southeast orientation. Overlooking the harbor, it lies in the oldest part of the city and is dedicated to San Sebastian, Palma’s patron saint.

Sistine Chapel of Paleolithic Art

By Linda Tancs

Nineteen miles west of the port city of Santander in northern Spain is the prized prehistoric Altamira cave, a World Heritage Site. Over 900 feet long, archeological remains unearthed there are from two main Paleolithic occupations—the Solutrean (about 21,000 to 17,000 years ago) and the Magdalenian (about 17,000 to 11,000 years ago). Sometimes referred to as “the Sistine Chapel of Paleolithic art,” the cave’s chambers are a treasure trove of striking black-and-red prehistoric art depicting bison and other animals. In several instances, the artist exploited the natural contours of the rock to create a three dimensional appearance in the works.

The Seven Chairs

By Linda Tancs

The Roman colony of Emerita Augusta (now known as Mérida in Spain) was founded in 25 B.C. by the emperor Augustus to resettle emeritus soldiers discharged from the Roman army. Like any great city of its day, it needed a theatre, which was erected between 16 and 15 B.C. and is known today as the Roman Theatre of Mérida. Hosting 6,000 people, they were distributed from top to bottom according to their social status. By the 1800s, the ruins were called the Seven Chairs by the locals because only the upper tiers of seats were still visible above the sediment. Excavations and renovations have resulted in a venue prized for its artistic events. The Classical Theatre Festival, held every year since 1933, is the site’s most notable cultural event.

Spain’s Hanging Houses

By Linda Tancs

Built sometime between the 13th and 15th centuries, three clifftop wooden homes (Casas Colgadas) adorn the Huécar Gorge in Cuenca, Spain. Once upon a time, the whole gorge was lined with hanging houses. Built in traditional Gothic style, the homes have been refurbished several times although some original elements can still be seen in the part that houses the Museum of Spanish Abstract Art. Enjoy the balcony view from the museum’s gift shop. Cuenca is located about 86 miles southeast of Madrid, by way of the N-400 or N-320.

The Picasso Route

By Linda Tancs

Pablo Picasso was only 14 years old when he arrived in Barcelona, Spain. Lauded there for his success, the city’s Picasso Route is a trail chronicling the artistic studies of his formative years. His art school, La Llotja, wasn’t far from his home, a flat in the tony residential block called Porxos d’en Xifré. Its rooftop views provided ample inspiration for the painter’s landscapes and seascapes. Picasso donated a large number of his works to Barcelona, housed today at the city’s Museu Picasso. A short distance from the museum, the Plaça Nova is another feature of the walking tour. There you’ll find  the artist’s only piece of public art in the city: the three friezes on the façade of the Col·legi d’Arquitectes building, executed by the Norwegian sculptor and photographer Carl Nesjar according to original drawings by Picasso.

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