Learn more about Spanish customs, history, art, literature, society, and much more.
Spain is famous around the world for Flamenco music and dance, bullfights, fantastic beaches, and lots of sunshine. But what people sometimes forget is that Spain has been one of the cultural centers of Europe for thousands of years.
Spain has an extraordinary artistic heritage. The dominant figures of the Golden Age were the Toledo-based artists El Greco and Diego Velázquez. Francisco de Goya emerged in the 18th century as Spain's most prolific painter and he produced some wonderfully unflattering portraits of royalty. The art world in the early 20th century was influenced by a remarkable group of Spanish artists: Pablo Picasso, Juan Gris, Joan Miró and Salvador Dalí, ambassadors of the artistic culture in Spain.
Spain's architecture ranges from prehistoric monuments in Menorca in the Balearic Islands, to the Roman ruins of Merida and Tarragona, the decorative Lonja in Seville, Mudéjar buildings, Gothic cathedrals, castles, fantastic modernist monuments, and Gaudí's intricate sculptures in Barcelona. They are all representative of the culture of Spain.
Another important part of the culture in Spain is music. The classical guitar was invented in Andalusia in the 1790s when a sixth string was added to the Moorish lute. It gained its modern shape in the 1870s. Spanish musicians have taken the humble guitar to dizzying heights of virtuosity, especially Andrés Segovia (1893-1997), who established classical guitar as a genre, and Paco de Lucia (1948-2014), the world's best-known flamenco guitarist. Flamenco, music rooted in the cante jondo (deep song) of the gitanos (gypsies) of Andalusia, is experiencing a revival.
Camarón de la Isla was, until his death in 1992, the leading light of contemporary cante jondo. In the 1980s flamenco-rock fusion (a.k.a. "gypsy rock") was developed by the likes of Pata Negra and Ketama, and in the 1990s Radio Tarifa emerged with a mesmerizing mix of flamenco and medieval sounds.
Bakalao, the Spanish contribution to the world of techno, emerged from Valencia.