The Spanish Love Affair
The perfect holiday can start anywhere in Spain, and in this article of Spanish delights, we start in the rustic, relaxing and most mountainous areas – Castellon. This laid-back and idyllic city has many activities for travelers who enjoy rural tourism, mountain walks and sleepy villages.
We begin by taking a stroll in Spanish time – a time that runs its own course and speed (after all, the Spanish are famous for being a chill crowd). Start at the city center with its orange-tree lined streets.
You can take a stroll around the old quarter near the Plaza de Santa Clara where it serves also as a market place.
There are several historical architectures of incredible Gothic and Renaissance designs in the city and a walk around would take you to most of the ancient buildings with amazing tapestries, sculptures and paintings.
Castellon is also a good place to explore Spanish country life as there are several unique villages littered around the city.
The village of El Port includes the town of Forcall, Morella and El Maestrazgo de San Mateo where notable architecture built between the 14th to 16th centuries can be found.
Morella also boasts of its walled medieval town and the well-known St. Maria la Mayor Basilican built in the 15th century.
One of the towns in La Plana village, Borriol, was once a Roman town and a historical landmark today because some prehistoric remains were actually discovered in this place.
Ares Del Maestre is another village in Castellon that was once walled city later conquered by Muslims in the 14th century. Prehistoric caves with wall paintings were also discovered in this village.
For some matador action, visit the village of Alto Palencia, where the town of Segorbe particularly famous for its bull festivals.
As we move away to rustic Spain and into its history, we trot farther down the Spanish Coast to Tarragona, the southernmost province in Catalonia.
Located on Coast Dorada, Tarragona is famous for its beautiful beaches and also its picturesque towns, and is also the home to some of the most ancient vestiges that are a standing testament to Spain’s glorious past.
The UNESCO World Heritage sites in Tarragona offer plenty of Iberian civilization remains littered around the region and many Roman vestiges too.
Cutting magnificently into the Tarragonian skyline is the town’s cathedral built in the 12th century and is a stunning example of Roman and Gothic architecture. Its interior is a long, moody stretch of tapestries, relics, and a marble alter.
The magnificently preserved Amfiteatre Roma (Roman Amphitheater) built in 2 BC, is located at the seaside, just off the coast of Rambla Nova.
There are other Roman ruins scattered throughout the city, including a jaw-dropping aqueduct called the Pont Del Diable (or Devil’s Bridge). It’s further out from than most of the other remains but marveling at the wonders of Roman engineering is worth the trek.
It’s also worth the while to visit the Museu Necropolis (The Necropolis Museum) just outside the town as it’s one of the most important Christian burial sites in Spain during the third to fifth centuries.
As we gear up to experience the Spain’s intensely passionate love for song, music and dance, we go farther south to the coastal town of Alicante with its lovely beaches and fine white sand, along Costa Blanca.
To experience both the modern and rustic Spain, you can stay in Albir Gardens Apartments located in the friendly village of Albir just outside the town of Alicante.
During summer, there’s a charming evening market in the village center selling gifts and souvenirs.
But the real spark of Alicante lies in its many festivals that bring together thousands of people out for a street party.
In May, the Santa Cruz neighborhood of Alicante fills the streets with music, dancing and flowers during the annual Cruces de Mayo (May Crosses) celebration.
The neighborhood bursts into a kaleidoscope of colorful crosses made from flowers.
If you happen to be there during the last week of June, you must not miss the two major street festivals – Hogueras de San Juan (St. John’s Bonfires) and Mercado Medieval (Medieval Market).
Held on the night of June 24, the Hogueras de San Juan (St. John’s Night) festival celebrates the summer solstice with a display of bonfires, street performances and bull fights.
A Mercado Medieval (Medieval Market) is also held around the same time in the streets of El Barrio, the part of town that dates back to medieval times.
Costumed musicians and jugglers provide the entertainment and festive air while the nooks and street corners of El Barrio lend themselves to stands selling and demonstrating traditional artisan crafts.
After these intensive nights of street partying, you can take to Alicante’s famous seafront promenade with its rows of majestic palm trees and Parisian-style cafes, mosaic streets that matches the fame of Spanish architect Gaudi – the Paseo de la Explanada.
There is simply so much of Spanish history, culture, warmth, art and music to explore that it’s hard to know where to begin or end. There is one guarantee when visiting this country – you’ll fall in love with it. Hard.