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The Rough Guide to Spain (9th Edition)

Ellingham, Mark; Fisher, John

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ISBN 10: 1858286875 / ISBN 13: 9781858286877
Published by Rough Guides
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Title: The Rough Guide to Spain (9th Edition)

Publisher: Rough Guides


Book Condition:New

About this title


INTRODUCTION There’s no generalizing with Spain. In fact, Spaniards tend not to speak of La Espana – Spain – but Las Espanas, and they even talk of the capital in the plural – Las Madriles, the Madrids. Regionalism is almost an obsession, and perhaps the most significant change to the country in the last quarter century has been the creation of a dozen autonomias – autonomous regions – with their own governments, budgets and cultural ministries. The old days of a unified nation, governed with a firm hand from Madrid, seem to have gone forever, as the separate kingdoms which made up the original Spanish state reassert themselves.

If you are coming to Spain for the first time, this regional diversity – of language, culture and artistic traditions, of landscapes, as well as politics – is likely to be the biggest surprise. The monuments, too, span an extraordinary range, from a history which takes in Romans, Moors and the "Golden Age" of Renaissance imperialism, as well as the regions’ very different twentieth-century developments. Touring Castile and Leon, you confront the classic Spanish images of vast cathedrals and reconquista castles – literally hundreds of the latter; in the northern mountains of Asturias and the Pyrenees, tiny, almost organic Romanesque churches dot the hillsides and villages; Andalucía has the great Moorish palaces and mosques of Granada, Sevilla and Córdoba; in Barcelona there are the amazing modernista (Art Nouveau) creations of Antoni Gaudí.

Not that Spain is just about monuments. For most visitors, the landscape holds just as much fascination – and variety. The evergreen rias or estuaries of Galicia could hardly be more different from the high, arid plains of Castile, or the gulch-like desert landscapes of Almeria. Spain is also one of the most mountainous countries in Europe, and there is superb walking and wildlife in a dozen or more sierras – and above all in the Picos de Europa and Pyrenees.

Then, of course, there are the Spaniards and their infectious enthusiasm for life. In the cities there is always something happening – in bars and clubs, on the streets – while the music and arts scenes are more vibrant than they have been for many years, with a resurgent "new flamenco", a film industry brought to international attention by the anarchic Pedro Almodovar, and a superb array of modern galleries, including Bilbao’s spectacular Guggenheim, and a trio devoted to the century’s greatest Spanish artists, Picasso, Miro and Dali. Even in out of the way places there’s a surprising range of nightlife and entertainment, not to mention the daily pleasures of a round of tapas, moving from bar to bar, having a beer, a glass of wine or a fino (dry sherry) and a bite of the house speciality.

Another, almost limitless source of diversion are the traditional fiestas. They include established events like the great April feria in Sevilla, the pyrotechnic extravaganzas of Las Fallas in Valencia, and the running of the bulls in Pamplona, as well as thousands of local events, celebrating a town or village saint’s day. As often as not, you’ll happen on these quite unawares, to be carried away on a tide of exuberant street partying, concerts, and any number of bizarre activities, from parades of devils to full-blown tomato-throwing battles.

About the Author:

Rough Guides are written by expert authors who are passionate about both writing and travel. They have detailed knowledge of the areas they write about—having either traveled extensively or lived there—and their expertise shines through on every page. It's priceless information, delivered with wit and insight, providing the down-to-earth, honest read that is the hallmark of Rough Guides.

Joanna Styles is a freelance copywriter who has written on such diverse subjects as business, fashion, and travel. Some of her books include Culture Wise Spain, Retiring in Spain, and Living and Working in the European Union. Styles has written articles, brochures, video scripts, and Web copy.

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