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What is Spain Known For? 31 Spanish Claims to Fame

Beautiful Spain is known for its outstanding cuisine, stunning architecture, sexy dancing, amazing beaches and so much more. When it comes to what is Spain Known for we can list castles, churches wine, food and even sleeping.

Here are 31 Spanish Claims to Fame.

What is Spain Known For?

1. Sagrada Familia

La Sagrada Familia is probably one of the first Spanish landmarks you think of when you picture the country. This iconic basilica is truly one of a kind. Designed by the imaginative architect Antonio Gaudi, his signature creative style is on full display.

The construction for the church started in 1882 and still isn’t finished. It’s an ongoing process that isn’t expected to be completed until 2026. The building blends religious elements with natural symbols in an artistic way that will leave you completely mesmerised.

Sagrada Familia receives approximately 4.5 million visitors every year. The number of tickets for sale as well as the entry times is limited. This is definitely a European landmark you want to book a skip the line ticket ahead of your visit.

Tickets can be purchased up to 2 months in advance and are available in 15 minute slots. Once you have entered Sagrada Familia you may stay for as long as you like. Entrance to the towers costs extra.

2. Sangria

This red wine based drink originated in both Spain and Portugal and only these two countries are able to label a product as being sangria. The base of Sangria is red wine. Citrus fruits are generally added as well as sometimes spices and carbon dioxide. One of the most fun things to do in Spain is to visit different bars and restaurants across the country and try their own unique version of sangria.

sangria what is spain known for

3. Siesta

Around 20% of cities in Spain continue to practice the long standing tradition of the siesta. After lunch it is time to sleep and many cafes and shops close and the streets are empty. Around 5 or 6pm everything opens again and the refreshed Spaniards return to the streets.

4. La Tomatina

This is the crazy tomato fighting festival that takes place in Bunyol, Valencia every year. La Tomatina takes place on the last Wednesday of August each year. Both locals and tourists take part in the festival. The tomatoes that are used in the festival are grown specially for the festival. Participants put on goggles and wear clothes that they will happily see destroyed.

5. Bullfighting

Corrida de Toros or bullfighting has taken place in Spain since pre Roman times. Today Spain is divided between those who support the sport and those who feel it is a violation of animal rights. Where bullfighting is still practised the season runs between March and October. In a bullfight three matadors fight the bulls to the death in a gladiator style ampitheatre.

La Malagueta is the bullring in Malaga
La Malagueta is the bullring in Malaga

The Running of the Bulls is an event that involves running in front of a small group of bulls through several streets in a town. The most famous Running of the Bulls takes place in Pamplona during the festival of Sanfermines in July each year.

6. Football

Like most European countries, Spain is a football obsessed nation. It is the most popular sport in Spain and they are quite good at it. La Liga, the Spanish football league, is one of the best in the world and includes teams such as Real Madrid and Barcelona (who are always trying to outdo each other). Book a ticket to see La Liga during your trip or take a tour of one of their stadiums.

7. Beautiful Beaches

Spain has some of the loveliest beaches in the world. The north of Spain has beaches such as La Concha in San Sebastian and El Sardinero in Santander. The south of Spain has beaches ranging from Cadiz to Malaga to Torremolinos to Barcelona and many more. And don’t forget the Balearic and Canary Islands.

Lanzarote Arrieta beach
Arrieta beach and Casa Playa in Lanzarote

8. Antonio Gaudi

Catalan Architect Antonio Gaudi is synonymous with Spain. His amazingly creative works are mostly in Barcelona and are some of the city’s most popular tourist attractions. Gaudi was born in the Catalan region of Spain in 1852. Seven of his works have been granted World Heritage status listing, including the most famous of all Sagrada Familia. Gaudi was working on the Sagrada Familia when he died in 1926 and it is famously still not finished.

park guell barcelona
park guell by Gaudi in barcelona

9. Alhambra

The Alhambra

The Alhambra in Granada is one of the most famous landmarks in Europe. Its timeline traces back to 889 CE when it was constructed as a small fortress. Then in the 13th century, it was rebuilt to serve as the palace and fortress for the Nasrid dynasty.

Alhambra palace, Granada, Spain one of the european palaces
Palacio Nazaries, Alhambra, Granada, Spain

The lavish Moorish architectural style is on full display throughout the complex. The interior is decorated head to toe with ceramic tiles, ancient calligraphy, ornamented windows, and other intricate detailing. It’s truly a marvel of Islamic architecture and culture.

The Alhambra, one of the Spain famous landmarks

The expansive grounds comprise numerous sites, including the Nasrid Palace, Charle V’s Palace, the Alcazaba, and the gorgeous Generalife Gardens.

The best way to explore the different areas is by booking a skip the line ticket for the Alhambra.

10. Flamenco Dancing

Flamenco dancing started in the Andalusia region of southern Spain and spread its way across Spain. This dance involves stomping, spinning and flouncing to Spanish folk music whilst wearing red and black clothing whilst snapping castanets. It is an art form and fantastic to watch. In 2010 UNESCO declared that flamenco was a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. I highly recommend organising to see a Flamenco show whilst you are in Spain.

flamenco dancing

11. Las Rambla

Barcelona’s very own Champs-Elysee, this 1.2 kilometre tree lined boulevard runs through the centre of Barcelona. La Rambla is lined with shops, cafes and restaurants and filled with markets and street artists. The street runs from Port Vell up to Place Catalunya. Don’t miss exploring its many side streets.

La Rambla Barcelona
La Rambla Barcelona

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La Rambla is divided into several sections, each of which has its own character. The top part of La Rambla begins at the Placa Catalunya, named after the Font de Canalates. The saying goes that those who drink from the fountain here always return to Barcelona.

Rambla dels Estudis is the next section and is named after the University which was demolished in 1843. This part of the street is known as Rambla del Ocells or bird Rambla as there are many bird sellers. There are also stores selling guinea pigs, dogs and turtles. This section aslo includes the Esglesia di Betlem and the Palau Moja.

Heading towards the sea, the bird stores are replaced by florists in the section known as Rambla de les Flors. In the 19th century, this was the only area in Barcelona that sold flowers. If you head off La Rambla you will see the biggest market in Barcelona Mercat de la Boqueria. The end of this section of La Rambla is marked by a Juan Miro-designed square Pla de la Boqueria.

la rambla barcelona
la rambla barcelona

The next section of the street is Rambla dels Catutxins, home to street actors, living statues and cafes. This section also inclues the Opera de Gran Teatro Liceu.

The final section is known as Rambla de Santa Monica. This area is home to souvenir stands and art dealers as well as street artists and the contemporary Museum Centre d’Art de Monica.

If you’re looking to get a good view of La Rambla head to the iron statute of Colombus at the Maremagnum Complex.

12. Tapas

Tapas is essentially small portions of Spanish food. It is a style of eating that is intrinsic to Spain’s culture. Tapas is often served in bars to accompany apertifs, beer and wine. It is customary to serve tapas with drinks. Popular forms of tapas include fried octopus, croquettes, cheese, omelette, fried potatoes and many many more.

grancanariasundaymarket
padron peppers and wine

In some bars it is customary for satisfied customers to throw their toothpick on the floor after finishing their tapas. This is a sign to the chef that they very much enjoyed their take on tapas.

13. Guggenheim Bilbao

It is said that no photograph has ever done justice to this Frank Gehry building. The building is a series/mix of shapes made from limestone and titanium. The museum is home to displays and exhibitions of modern art but it is the extraordinary building that draws so many visitors and which has created a tourism industry in what was little visited Bilbao.

Guggenheim Bilbao
Guggenheim Bilbao

14. Paella

Paella is perhaps the most well known of Spain’s traditional dishes and it is a true staple of the Spanish diet Paella originates from the Valencia region but like tapas and sangria, everywhere you travel in Spain will have their own take and top secrets for their version of this classic. Paella is a rice based dish that contains spices, olives, beans, saffron, herbs vegetables and either seafood or meat.

paella in spain

15. Cathedral Santiago de Compostela and the Camino

The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is a massive church of great historical and religious importance. Construction started in 1075 during the reign of Alfonso VI and slowly continued throughout the 12th and 13th centuries.

santiago de compostela view of cathedral from hotel balcony

Over the years, many extensions were added on in various architectural styles, including Romanesque, Gothic, Spanish Gothic, and Baroque. It’s a marvel of beauty, with an intricate facade depicting countless religious figures.

santiago de compostela cathedral

It’s one of the three known churches built over the tomb of one of Jesus’ apostles, Saint James. The other two churches are St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City and Thomas Cathedral Basilica in India.

santiago de compostela view of cathedral from park

Santiago de Compostela is very much a living city, with other attractions for travellers, pilgrim or not: countless restaurants and bars where you can enjoy the delicious seafood of Galicia, a UNESCO World Heritage old town centre, daring contemporary art… There’s plenty to do in this city which combines history with a younger modern side.

16. St Georges Day

St Georges Day or Diada de la Rosa (Day of the Rose) is the Catalan version of Valentine’s Day. Instead of exchanging flowers and gifts, men give roses to women and women give books to men. These are both meant as symbols of everlasting love. Very sweet but does feel a little commitment heavy to me!

17. The Macarena

Spanish pop music has been prevalent in the global music scene. But perhaps the best known Spanish pop song – and dance – is La Macarena. This Spanish song by Los del Rio was about a woman also called Macarena. It was a huge hit for about 12 months from the middle of 1996 and still appears on lists of classic songs.

18. Wine

Spain is the third largest importer of wine in the world and they have more vineyard per capita than any other country in the world. More than 400 different grapes are grown in Spain. Some of the most famous uniquely Spanish wines are Cava, the Spanish sparkling wine, and the red wines in particular of the Rioja area.

Lanzarote el grifo winery glass of cava
Cava time at a winery in Lanzarote

19. Olive Oil

The terrain and climate of Spain is ideal for growing olives. As a result one of Spain’s biggest exports is olive oil. Indeed, Spain produces more olive oil than Greece or Italy. The Spanish region Andalucia is the highest volume producer of olive oil in Spain and it is estimated that 40% of the world’s olive oil comes from this area.

olive oil.

20. Zara

The company Inditex that owns the retail clothing brand Zara is Spanish owned and also has the Mango brand. Zara began in 1977 and exploded across Europe in the 1990s and then to many other countries in the world. Today it would be rare to find a town in Spain without a Zara stores and Madrid and Barcelona have quite a few. I am actually a big fan of Zara and have been buying their clothes for gulp 25 years!

21. Ibiza

Spain is known for late nights but the island of Ibiza takes this to a new level. There is perhaps no destination in the world as synonymous with partying as this Spanish island. Ibiza is the third largest of Spain’s Balearic islands and is known as the european hub of electronic music. The island is famous for its huge nightclubs and massive parties.

the island of ibiza
the island of ibiza

22. Don Quixote

Miguel de Cervantes is one of Spain’s most famous writers and the auther of Don Quixote. The story of an unhappy Spanish nobleman has been translated into 140 languages and is the second most translated book in the world after the bible.

23. La Fiesta

Spain loves a festival! I have already mentioned two of Spain’s most famous festivals, La Tomatina and the Running of the Bulls but there is a festival in Spain virtually weekly. Indeed, Tenerife’s carnival is the second biggest in the world after Rio de Janeiro.

24. Pablo Picasso

Born in Malaga, Picasso is possibly the most famous artist of the 20th century. He co-founded both the Cubanist movement and the collage. Picasso spent most of his adult life in France but was Spanish. Don’t miss the fantastic Picasso Museum in Barcelona.

picasso museum
picasso museum

25. Salvador Dali

Speaking of artists, Spain also produced the leading artist of the surrealist movement. Born in Figueres in 1904, Dali messed with reality with works such as his famous melting clocks. He was famously eccentric with flamboyant ways and his signature moustache. Don’t miss the fantastic Dali museum in Figueres.

Dali museum in figueres
Dali museum in figueres

26. Civil War

Spain’s Civil War took place between 1936 and 1939 and has had a huge impact on Spanish culture and life. It resulted in Franco becoming Spain’s leader and he was in place until 1975. The republican side of the war was famously supported by many artists who later used the war and its effects in their art including Ernest Hemingway and George Orwell.

27. Catedral de Sevilla

Seville Cathedral is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world. Construction began in 1401, but it wasn’t completed until 1528, more than one hundred years later. It was built to impress, or more specifically, demonstrate Seville’s wealth and power.

Seville Cathedral
Seville Cathedral

The structure contains 80 chapels, and 15 doors are spread out over the building’s four facades. The interior holds the record as having the longest nave of any cathedral in Spain. It also houses the tomb of Italian explorer Christopher Columbus and his son, Diego Columbus.

Seville Cathedral
Seville Cathedral

To receive a more detailed look at the cathedral, book a skip the line ticket and enjoy a tour with an official guide.

28. Plaza Mayor

Plaza Mayor is a historic Madrid landmark located in the city centre. It was first constructed from 1617 to 1619. However, following three major fires, the present structure mainly resembles the reconstruction that took place in 1790.

plaza mayor madrid
plaza mayor madrid

The plaza has a uniform design, with the surrounding burgundy hued buildings all being three story’s high. It features 237 balconies and ten grand entrances. The centre is marked by the large statue of King Philip III sitting triumphantly atop his stallion.

plaza mayor
Plaza Mayor

Today, the expansive and bustling public square is dotted with alfresco cafes and filled with tourists and locals alike.

29. Alcázar de Toledo

Alcázar de Toledo is a large stone fortification that resides on the highest point in the city. The original construct of the palace began in 1531.

Old town of Toledo, with alcasar on a hilltop, former capital of Spain.
Old town of Toledo, with alcasar on a hilltop, former capital of Spain.

However, much of the building had to be rebuilt. This was following the destruction caused to it following the Spanish Civil War that took place from 1936 to 1939.

The fortress’ ideal positioning allows you to effortlessly capture beautiful pictures of Toledo and the surrounding area. The interior has been wonderfully restored and houses a Spanish army museum.

Toledo, Spain old town skyline at the Alcazar on the River.
Toledo, Spain old town skyline at the Alcazar on the River.

If you want an easy option for sightseeing Toledo and visiting the Alcázar de Toledo, book a Silver Ticket for the city’s hop-on-hop-off bus tour.

30. Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias

Ciudad-de-las-Artes-y-las-Ciencias Valencia
Ciudad de las Artes

The Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias is located in the beautiful city of Valencia. This popular Spain landmark translates in English to the City of Arts and Sciences.

The futuristic-looking structure features many different structures and houses an impressive assortment of entertainment buildings.

Some of the more popular areas include an IMAX Cinema, a planetarium, an interactive museum of science, and an opera house. It also contains L’Oceanogràfic, which is the largest aquarium in Europe and worth booking a ticket to see.

Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias at sunset

⇒ Planning a trip to Spain? Then read my posts on the 30 Most Beautiful Cities in Spain, Most Famous Landmarks in Spain, 23 Beautiful Barcelona Landmarks, 8 Best Places to see Sunsets in Ibiza, 14 Best Things to do on Lanzarote, Best Place to Stay on Lanzarote, What is Spain Known For? 31 Spanish Claims for Fame, 20 Best Gran Canaria Excursions, 8 Best Things to do in Maspalomas and 7 Best Gran Canaria Markets.

The surrounding grounds are equally as eye-catching. From the large calming lake to the well-landscaped gardens and park, the sightseeing opportunities will abound.

31. Plaza de Espana Seville

Plaza de Espana was built in 1928 to honor the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929. The plaza is a huge half-circle with a tiled alcove for each province in Spain. The design of the tiles is totally unique for each province and very beautiful. It also has a fountain and a moat. It is possible to rent a boat and row under all four bridges in Plaza de Espana. It is a very beautiful place and certainly one of my personal favourite landmarks in Spain.

Plaza de Espana Seville
Plaza de Espana Seville

⇒ There is something special about seeing a famous landmark in person – and Europe has a lot of landmarks – see how many you have visited – 60 Most Famous Landmarks in Europe, Famous Greek Landmarks, 26 Landmarks of Germany, 61 Magnificent Landmarks of the UK, 30 Famous Landmarks in France, Spain Famous Landmarks, 25 Famous Paris Monuments, 23 Beautiful Barcelona Landmarks, 40 Impressive English Landmarks, 38 Famous Landmarks in Italy and top Landmarks of London.

I covered all of the costs associated with writing this article. However, this what is Spain known for post includes affiliate links. That means if you click through and end up making a purchase I will receive a small commission. I wanted to make sure you were aware of this.

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