7 Surprising Facts About Spain

Barcelona Beach at sunset.

Although Spain is a popular holiday destination, there’s more to this European country than meets the eye – and believe it or not, it goes beyond the siestas, sangria and flamenco stereotypes. We’ve rounded up some of the strangest facts about the ‘land of the setting sun’, that you might not have otherwise known.

Panorama from Queralt

Photo by Jose Luis Mieza Photography via Flickr.

1. Although today most Spaniards are Catholic, up until 1492, the majority of the country was Muslim. Despite the abundance of Catholicism, the country is considered to be a secular state.

2. Perhaps it’s due to the summer heat, but there’s actually no official law against public nudity in Spain. However, before you get carried away, basic norms still apply, and if you’re baring all on a busy street, chances are, the police will stop you.

Barcelona's Wind Sail in Spain.

Photo by David Spender via Flickr.

3. Barcelona didn’t have beaches until the 1992 Olympics as the coastlines were monopolised by industrial waste. Now the Catalan capital has seven surrounding the city centre, and it was voted ‘best beach city’ by National Geographic as a result.

4. At an impressive 646 metres above sea level, Madrid is officially the highest capital city in the European continent. The ski town of Valdelinares in Spain’s Aragon region is the highest in the country at 1,693, making it the 62nd highest city in the world.

Skiing in Pyrenees

Photo by Xamonich via Flickr.

5. Not all of Spain is hot. In fact, there are ski resorts in five of the country’s different districts ranging from the likes of The Pyrenees to the Sierra Nevada, where in the span of a day, you can go from traversing the slopes to lying on a sun lounger by the sea.

6.  The beret was actually introduced by the Spaniards – not the French. It’s believed that shepherds from the Spanish Pyrenees headlined today’s chic accessory to keep the sun out of their eyes while they farmed. It wasn’t until the 17th century that they became a popular fashion staple throughout Europe.

7. The Spanish have implemented a series of inventions that are used today throughout the world. From games like chess and table football to the acoustic guitar, Chupa Chup lollipops (and even cigarettes!) it’s fair to say, the country has contributed a decent amount to our society.


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