Scratch the surface of Spain and you’ll find a land infused with history and tradition, from the Moorish palaces of Andalusia to the soaring cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. Epic landscapes evoke tales of El Cid and Don Quixote, while storied cities are piled high with architectural treasures that hark back to the glories of empire. Yet Spain is also a dynamic and modern nation, home to exciting cities and a vibrant culture with a constant capacity for reinvention. It also remains a patchwork of proudly independent regions with their own traditions and languages, from the lush green hills of Galicia to the ancient Basque Country.
Cosmopolitan Madrid is infused with the spirit of the movida, the post-Franco flowering of the arts that has defined modern Spain, while Barcelona dazzles with the architecture of Antoni Gaudí and the tangled streets of the Gothic Quarter. The whitewashed villages and fragrant orange groves of Andalusia are the classic image of Spain, and it’s here that you’ll find the Moorish cities of Granada and Córdoba, where 700 years of Islamic rule produced magnificent buildings such as the Alhambra Palace. The mountainous kingdoms of northern Spain were the only part of the Iberian peninsula that held out against the Moors, and this verdant landscape still retains a deep spiritual significance, criss-crossed by pilgrims following the famous Camino de Santiago.