Spain: The Basics. Cities

Spanish Cities

Spain boasts some truly great cities. Some of them are separated by over 1000 kilometres, and can be very different culturally. We take a look at the four biggest and most well known of them.

Madrid Barcelona Valencia Seville
Madrid Barcelona Valencia Seville

Madrid

Key facts

  • Spain’s capital and largest city, with a population of about 3 million people.
  • Located on a high plateau in the heart of Spain in a region called Castilla.
  • Dry and hot in summer, relatively cool and sometimes wet in winter.
  • Its people speak Castilian Spanish.

Cultural highlights

  • No visit to Madrid would be complete without a visit to the Prado museum, which houses one of the finest art collections in the world. Other landmarks include the Royal Palace, the Buen Retiro park, and the Royal theatre.
  • People from Madrid are called Madrileños. They tend to do things late, especially when it comes to going out. In summer, despite the demands of the modern working world, the people of Madrid still like to enjoy a siesta.
  • Madrid is noisy all year round and is known as ‘the city that never sleeps’. If it’s a little quieter in August that’s because many Madrileños head to the coast for their annual holiday.
  • Madrid is home to Real Madrid, one of the world’s most famous football teams. Real Madrid became a global brand when it won five European Cups in a row between 1956 and 1960. Its arch city rival is Atlético Madrid.

Barcelona

Key facts

  • Spain’s second largest city, a port with a population of about 1.7 million people.
  • Located in the north east of Spain in a region called Cataluña.
  • Dry and hot in summer, mainly dry and mild in winter.
  • Its people speak Catalan and Castilian Spanish.

Cultural highlights

  • All tourists visiting Barcelona will take a stroll down the Rambla, Barcelona’s most famous street, with its cafes, market stalls and street theatre.
  • Barcelona is full of architectural gems. Those by Gaudí are best known and his masterpiece is the Sagrada Familia, a great cathedral structure which was unfinished at the time of Gaudí’s death – and remains so.
  • The people of Barcelona are Catalans, fiercely proud of their language and culture. Their relationship with the rest of Spain is often an uneasy one.
  • Barcelona the football club is world renowned. Matches between Barcelona and Real Madrid are heated affairs, often controversial. Sport is very popular in Barcelona, which held the Olympics in 1992.

Valencia

Key facts

  • Spain’s third largest city, a port with a population of about 1 million people.
  • Located in the east of Spain in a region called Valencia.
  • Dry and hot in summer, mainly dry and warm in winter.
  • Its people speak Valenciano and Castilian Spanish.

Cultural highlights

  • Tourism took hold in Valencia in the 1990s, at which point this previously industrial city began to restore its old buildings. Valencia has a beautiful gothic cathedral.
  • March brings a noisy festival called Las fallas. The ‘fallas’ refer to wooden sculptures, which parade around the streets of Valencia.
  • The predominant language in Valencia is Castilian Spanish, despite the fact that Valenciano is more widely spoken in surrounding areas.
  • Sport in Valencia is on the up. 2007 sees the prestigious America’s Cup yacht races in its revamped port, while in 2008 Formula One motor racing takes place in the city’s streets.

Seville

Key facts

  • Spain’s fourth largest city, an inland port with a population of about 800,000 people.
  • Located in the south of Spain in a region called Andalucía.
  • Dry and very hot in summer, mainly dry and mild in winter.
  • Its people speak Castilian Spanish.

Cultural highlights

  • Seville is more than 2,000 years old. It was once the capital of Muslim Spain, and became the centre for Spanish exploration of the New World (South America); ships would reach the Atlantic by sailing down Seville’s Gualalquivir river.
  • Seville’s international profile was significantly boosted in 1992, when it hosted the Expo world fair.
  • Many of Seville’s monuments survived the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s. Some of the best known of them are the cathedral; the town hall; and the alcázar, a Muslim palace.
  • The annual Seville fair in April is full of colour and dancing: both Flamenco and Sevillanas. Visitors also flock to the city to witness the Holy Week processions.

Until next time readers,

Jim

Jim Porter is a co-founder of Speekee®, home of the most comprehensive Spanish learning program for children ever to appear online

Jim began his Spanish learning journey in 1990. He has been a language teacher since 1994 and he lives in sunny southern Spain with his two bilingual children. Loves it! More…

You may also like...

%d bloggers like this: