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Archive for spain

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.

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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.

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