Amazing Spain Tour
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Generalife Gardens (Granada)
Schedule some extra time to stroll through the Generalife’s High and Low Gardens. Take the 19th-century Stairway of the Lions to the High Gardens, and see water fountains, beautiful magnolia trees, scented shrubs and other flora spread across several terraces on the palatial estate. Tourists may be lucky enough to catch the Granada International Festival of Music and Dance, held each summer in the Generalife’s outdoor amphitheater, located nearby.
Prado Museum (Madrid)
Open since November 1819, the Prado Museum houses several collections and more than 2,300 paintings, including El Greco’s The Flight to Egypt and Goya’s The Countess of Chinchon. The museum hosts exhibitions featuring works by well-renowned artists such as Michelangelo, Picasso and Rembrandt.
Plaza Mayor (Madrid)
Thousands of tourists converge on Plaza Mayor each year. Shops and cafes are located around the square, and it’s not uncommon to see street performers entertaining the foot traffic that’s flowing through the popular tourist destination. Grab a seat, order a pitcher of sangria and enjoy the weather and people-watching.
Sagrada Familia Basilica (Barcelona)
You cannot leave Barcelona without seeing the Basilica de la Sagrada Familia, a magnificent work of art that is still in progress after more than a century. In 1883, Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi was commissioned to complete the project started by Francisco de Paula del Villar. Gaudi finished the chapel of San Jose, the crypt and the Nativity facade, but after his death, different architects continued to work on and add to his original idea.
Gothic Quarter (Barcelona)
Take a stroll through Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter, located in the city’s Ciutat Vella (“Old City”) district. Most of the streets are closed to traffic, allowing tourists to wander from La Rambla to Via Laietana to view the city’s medieval past.
Travel to Valencia, the home of horchata. This tasty concoction — made from tigernuts, water and sugar — is a summer beverage that is usually served cold. To sample your first horchata, head to Horchateria Santa Catalina, which is located in Valencia’s Santa Catalina Plaza.
Valencian Paella (Valencia)
During the mid-19th century, paella originated near the Albufera lagoon in Valencia. Locals and tourists can try seafood paella, mixed paella or Valencian paella, which is made with white rice, green vegetables, chicken, rabbit, land snails, beans and seasoning. We recommend sampling paella at a local restaurant such as La Matandeta, La Pepica or Tridente Restaurant.
Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba (Cordoba)
Tourists who visit Cordoba, Spain, should add a tour of the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba — also known simply as the Great Mosque-Cathedral — to their must-do list. On the site originally was a Catholic church, which was then divided into Christian and Muslim halves after the Muslims conquered Spain in 711. Caliph ’Abd al-Rahman I purchased the Christian half, tore down the church and built the current magnificent structure, a monument to Moorish architecture, in 784. Today, it is a Roman Catholic cathedral, despite the pleas from Spanish Muslim lobbyists who want to be allowed to pray there.
Visit the Alhambra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Granada. During the 13th century, this palace and fortress was the residence of the Nasrid sultans, as well as top government officials, court servants and the royal guard. Hidden by a thick wooded area, the Alhambra consists of 4 zones: the palaces, the military zone, the city and the villa of the Generalife, located on the country estate of the Nasrid emirs.
Plaza de Espana (Seville)
Does Seville’s Plaza de Espana look familiar? The square — located on the edge of Maria Luisa Park — has been used as a filming location for movies such as Lawrence of Arabia, The Dictator, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace and Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones. Designed by Anibal Gonzalez, the Plaza de Espana has tiled alcoves that each represent a different province of Spain. Today, it is home to museums and government buildings.
The Alcazar (Seville)
The upper levels of the Alcazar of Seville are home to the royal family, making it the oldest European royal palace still in use. The Alcazar was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987, and it is well-renowned as one of the most beautiful palaces in Spain. Explore the history of this amazing complex for a small entrance fee, about $10.