Vibrant music, delicious foods, intoxicating wines and architectural wonders stir the soul and merge together effortlessly to form many traveler’s favorite country; Spain. Join Gate 1 Travel in Spain, and give in to the seduction that the culture and ambiance of this country emits. Join us as we take you on a journey through this enchanting destination from the capital of Madrid, the heart of the country, to the birthplace of Flamenco dancing in Seville and onward to the jewel of the Mediterranean in Barcelona. Come see what Spain has to offer, there are many enticing opportunities ahead!
The Heart of Spain
Some call Madrid, “el corazón de España”(the heart of Spain), or the central point and capital from which Spanish life and culture flow. Visit its colossal Royal Palace, the second largest in Europe, and on to the vast Plaza Oriente, with its impressive buildings. Visit the Plaza de España, with its adjacent skyscrapers and towering memorial to Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra that is no less impressive. Art lovers will flock to El Prado, the huge museum of Spanish art featuring the works of famous artists including Goya, Velazquez, Picasso and El Greco. Use your free time to explore the excellent nightlife and culinary scene in Madrid.
Lovers of Spanish history and art recognize Toledo as a national treasure and UNESCO World Heritage Site. The incredible canvas of Toledo has helped shape today’s Spain in profound ways and both Moorish and Christian architecture merge here. Its St. Tome Church evokes the romance of the high-style Gothic era, and its chapel houses El Greco’s most famous masterpiece The Burial of the Count of Orgaz. The Santa Maria la Blanca Synagogue with its beautiful Moorish architecture and is considered the oldest synagogue in all of Europe.
Continue westward to the university town of Salamanca. This breathtaking town is home to one of Europe’s oldest universities, University of Salamanca, founded in 1134. The university is considered one of the most prestigious in the world and was attended by Luis de Leon and Miguel de Cervantes. The town exudes a lively student atmosphere and café scene. The most impressive sight is the cathedral that dominates the skyline. You could consider it actually two cathedrals in one: The Old Cathedral was built in the 12th century and the New, four centuries later. Together they become the Salamanca Cathedral and echo the power of Christianity in the Middle Ages.
The Mediterranean climate of the province of Rioja, like in southern France and Italy’s Tuscany, creates the perfect wine-growing environment for visitors to indulge in. Vineyards and bodegas dot the landscape of rolling valleys and towering mountain ranges of Northern Spain; the perfect setting for wine-tasting.
Perhaps the North’s most famous city is Bilbao, linked to the Bay of Biscay by the Nervion River. The incredible Guggenheim Museum by Frank Gehry may have put this ultra-cultural city on the map but it does not end with the museum. Bilbao’s Old Quarter, or Casco Viejo, is a fantasticpreservation of the medieval city’s original parallel streets and a fantastic area for a stroll.
Christianity takes on a powerful meaning in Santiago de Compostela. Pilgrims have gathered here since the Middle Ages after having walked the famed St. James Road, some from as far away as Eastern Europe. What makes this place so important is one of the tombs within: It is believed that the Apostle St. James is buried here.
Perhaps no other Southern city conveys the country’s diverse past as powerfully as Cordoba, once the most populous city in the entire world and an important port city. Its Jewish Quarter and synagogue are marvelously authentic pockets of history that are a joy to visit. The fusion of Muslim and Christian architectural styles is poignant in the massive mosque-cathedral of Mezquita de Cordoba, also known as the Mosque of the Caliphs. Its forest of 856 columns of jasper, onyx, marble, and granite is an unforgettable sight and a true highlight. Predating all of this is the first-century Roman bridge over the Guadalquivir River.
Seville is one of Spain’s greatest cities and a favorite for many travelers. Its Cathedral of Seville is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world and home to the burial site of Christopher Columbus. Built on the site of the former great mosque, its original minaret, the Giralda Bell Tower, still stands. Nearby, the Barrio Santa Cruz is a labyrinthine network of intimate streets. A more recent symbol of the city, the Plaza de España, is a graceful, tile-adorned work of perfection. Opt to join the optional Flamenco Show in this city that is known as the birthplace of the unforgettable dance, a truly unique Discovery experience.
Any visitor to Granada will immediately understand why Boabdil, its last Moorish king, wept when he lost his beloved city to Ferdinand and Isabella. Its hilltop fortress is one of the world’s finest examples of Moorish architecture. The Alhambra Palace overlooks today’s modern city, but within its walls kings and caliphs savored a complete world of their own: cavernous rooms, ornate courtyards, and extensive gardens overlooking snow-capped peaks.
The resort town of Torremolinos provides a taste of Spanish beach life in southern Spain’s Costa del Sol region. Mediterranean sands and the city’s delightful seaside promenade are right across the street from your hotel, and the town’s shops in the upper town invite a perfect afternoon of browsing and strolling around during leisure time. It all makes for a relaxed and low-key stay.
Farther east lies the city where the beloved Spanish dish of paella was created by fishermen. Fed by Mediterranean moisture and the waters of the Turia River, Valencia is Spain’s Garden City. Its most historic buildings, aside from the City Hall, crowd around a 14th-century cathedral. Its likely best-preserved structure is the Torres Serranos, or City Gates, that have greeted travelers for thousands of years and will greet you. A decidedly more modern addition is the City of Arts and Sciences, a massive and futuristic complex of entertainment venues and museums.
Barcelona stands as Spain’s shiny pearl on the Mediterranean Sea, although residents of this Catalan capital have long advocated for secession from Spain. No matter your opinion on the matter, the city is a vibrant metropolis of long boulevards, lively cafes, sea breezes, and dreamy reflections of its prodigal son; architect Antoni Gaudi. For a true taste of Catalan culture, there’s no place like Las Ramblas, the pedestrian zone lined with cafes, tapas bars, and shops. Even more of a must-visit is La Sagrada Familia Basilica, Gaudi’s long-unfinished church, that is projected to finally reach completion in 2026. The church was started in 1882 and has been under construction ever since. Gaudi’s Park Guell impresses with surreal structures and architecture that look like pages from a storybook.
You’ve long heard of Portugal as the main hub for the age of discovery and exploration. You can explore this beautiful nation rich in tradition for yourself when you choose a Gate 1 itinerary that explores Spain and its remarkable neighbor.
From Portugal’s shores, courageous explorers set sail to claim new lands, map the world, and develop global trade. Much of Lisbon’s wealth and culture were built on these journeys, as its palaces, monasteries, and monuments show. In the city’s Alfama district, chords of melodic Fado music spill into narrow lanes from the pubs and cafes. In northern Portugal, on the Douro River, the city of Porto has witnessed a long history of wine making, beginning with the port wines produced in the nearby Douro River Valley, the world’s first designated wine zone.
There are countless reasons to see Spain with Gate 1. A rich history, magnificent landscapes, stunning architecture and opulent palaces are among them. Gate 1 Travel gives you another reason; a value that you simply won’t find anywhere else. Join us in Spain!