Conveniently located at the southern-most corner of Europe, and just an hour ferry ride from Africa, Spain is a country of contrasts—hot meets cold, new meets old, range meets plain. Whether or not you have ever been to this charming little country, there are many things you probably didn’t know about Spain. Check out part one below, and stay tuned for part two, coming soon!
Number Fifteen: Spain Has Six Official Languages
Spanish isn’t the only language spoken in Spain. Even though it is the official language country-wide and it is spoken by a vast majority of the population, different regions have different co-official languages here. These are Catalan, Valencian, Galician, Basque, and Aragonese.
Number Fourteen: There’s a Popular Christmas Figurine That Features Celebrities Pooping
Spaniards love setting up a nativity scene every Christmas, but they don’t stick to your typical main figures; they handle every little detail, and they often show off their humorous nature with a squatting, pooping figurine hidden somewhere on the display—the caganer. This figurine usually represents a national or international celebrity and can be personalized to look like yourself!
Number Thirteen: Madrid Is Home to the World’s Oldest Restaurant
The iconic Restaurante Botín, located right outside the Plaza Mayor, in the country’s capital city, has been running non-stop since 1725. Eat some cochin illo asado among its timeless wooden walls while a tuna band livens up the evening playing traditional serenades.
Number Twelve: It Has Three Territories in Africa
Ceuta and Melilla, located on the North Coast of Morocco, have been Spanish territories since the 17th century. Additionally, Spain also colonized and conquered the Canary Islands, one of the many officially recognized EU outermost regions. Due to their superb weather and beautiful scenery, the Canary Islands are some of the most popular holiday destinations for European citizens.
Number Eleven: It’s Home to Some of the World’s Highest-Rated Restaurants
A Spanish restaurant has been awarded the “best restaurant in the world” recognition by the internationally acclaimed Restaurant Magazine on seven occasions since 2002. El Celler de Can Roca was the most recent winner, in 2015.
Number Ten: the U.K. Owns a Territory in Spain
Gibraltar has always been a source of dispute since it became a British Overseas territory in 1713. British and Andalusian cultures co-exist in this land of contrasts. Fun fact: its airport was named one of the five most extreme in the world by the History Channel.
Number Nine: It’s the Second Most Mountainous Country in Europe
It’s not all sun and beaches in Spain. In fact, a large part of its territory is located on the range, making it the second most mountainous country in Europe after Switzerland. At 3,478 m (11,413 ft), the Mulhacen, in Andalusia, is the highest mountain in the Iberian Peninsula.
Number Eight: It’s a Big Conglomeration of Cultures
Many different tribes and cultures have existed and co-existed in Spain through the centuries, from Romans to Arabs, and that shows in its architecture. Traveling around the country, you will come across Roman aqueducts, Paleolithic caves, Gothic cathedrals, Romanic churches, Medieval fortresses, Islamic castles, Visigothic crypts and Renaissance palaces, among others. A walk through Spain is a walk through time. Stay tuned for part two, coming soon!