Destination attractions: things to do in spain

Barcelona is one of the most exciting and most visited cities in Spain. The "old town" section of Barcelona is called La Ciutat Vella and is where a visitor will find most of the attractions that are of historical interest. One of the most photographed buildings to see in Barcelona is the Sagrada Familia designed by Antoni Gaudi. The construction of this breathtaking church was begun in 1883 but has never been, even to this day, completed.

Other architecture of Gaudi appears in Barcelona, as well. Guell Park (Parc Guell) with its lovely paths and sculptures was designed by Gaudi, and if you see a building that looks like a mountain, you are most likely looking at Gaudi's La Pedrera – Mila House, or Casa Mila. For even more of his work, look for the Casa Batllo, designed to resemble St. George's dragon.

Another attraction not to be missed in Barcelona is the Picasso Musuem. Found in the Gothic District, many of Picasso's paintings and art in other mediums are housed here. In addition to the permanent exhibits, temporary exhibits are shown here at various times during the year. There are more than three and a half thousand pieces in the permanent exhibit alone.

Barcelona is filled with shops, restaurants, stunning architecture, gothic and medieval buildings, museums, and art. Try walking down La Rambla for great food, entertainment, and shopping. This street seems to never sleep. It is just one of the many places in Barcelona to find a fabulous meal whether you are hungry for Mediterranean cuisine or sushi or anything in between.

If you are searching for a different kind of fun for a few hours, though, try the huge aquarium at Moll d'Espanya del Port Vell. The more than ten thousand species that live here are shown to visitors in twenty large aquariums. If you prefer seeing land animals instead of marine life, the Barcelona Zoo is one of the best zoos in Spain and is found in the city park.

If your travels take you near Bilbao, Spain, one of the top draws here is the Guggenheim Museum. This is a new museum with construction starting in 1994 and already is considered among the world's top museums.

Spain's capital city of Madrid is also a destination full of excitement and there never seems to be enough time to see everything. Many top rate art museums dot the city including the Prado Museum, the Thyssen – Bornemisza Museum, and the Queen Sofia Arts Center.

Another place not to miss visiting in Madrid is the Palacio Real, the Royal Palace owned by the King of Spain. The palace has twenty-eight hundred rooms and fifty of them are open to the public. The rooms in the Palacio are exquisite and certainly worth the time to stop in for a tour.

You will not be imagining things if you think you see an Egyptian temple in Madrid. Egypt donated the Templo de Debod to Spain in 1968 and after it was rebuilt in Madrid, it was opened to tourists in 1972. The temple is more than two thousand years old and was built to honor the gods of Isis and Amon.

In the mood for shopping? Try the El Rastro in Madrid. This is a huge flea market that has various areas in which to find certain items. Dancers, bullfighters, and musicians are known to entertain the shoppers, and there are vendors selling food here also. The El Rastro is held on Sundays in Madrid. A Saturday visit is possible if you wish to avoid some of the Sunday crowd, but there are not as many vendors participating on Saturdays.

You may want to find a flamenco show while in Madrid. Be advised that many of the places showing up as "tablaos (places for flamenco performance) are not generally visited by the locals and are specifically set up for tourists. There are many theaters, ballets, opera houses, and clubs in Madrid for all kinds of entertainment to satisfy the tastes of any visitor.

Without a doubt, the top attraction in Granada, Spain, is the Alhambra. It is the second most visited place in Europe and the top attraction for tourists in Spain. Situated at the foot of the Sierra Nevadas, the Alhambra was home to the Moorish kings. The medieval city within a palace was first built as a fortress in the 9th century. Plan to spend at least a few hours exploring this beautiful piece of medieval history.

In Segovia, visitors can see one of the remaining wonders of Roman engineering, the Aqueduct. Still standing from its beginning in the first century, this amazing bit of history is nearly three thousand feet long. The Aqueduct is built with granite blocks (more than twenty thousand of them) with no mortar to hold them together.

Another point of interest in Segovia is the Alcazar. This impressive medieval archetypal Spanish castle fortress was impenetrable for centuries from its start in the 11th century. It is thought that the Alcazar of Segovia was the model for the castle that Walt Disney used for the Disney Cinderella castle. Today the Alcazar is an extensive museum.

The Spanish town of Seville has a few attractions visitors to Spain will enjoy as well. The Alcazar here is also medieval and Islamic. Also in this city, you will find the 15th century Seville Cathedral, and the Giralda Bell Tower, which was originally built as a minaret to top a mosque.

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