7 Surprising Facts About Spain.

By Posted in - Spain on August 29th, 2012 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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(11) awesome folk have had something to say...

  • Miruna -

    August 29, 2012 at 8:49 am

    Great! I had no idea Spaniards have invented so many things.


    August 29, 2012 at 9:38 am

    wow..good to know..I have only been to Barcelona and I do not even know the beach was not there until 1992. And I will be going to spain the coming sept also, thanks for telling me all these:)))

  • Anita Mac -

    August 29, 2012 at 10:10 am

    Love travelling to Spain – we go to Spain more than any other country (and we are starting in Canada!) – but this list was full of things I didn’t know! Made it to Barcelona this year – loved it! Had no idea that pre-Olympicsk it wasn’t so nice by the water! Loved wandering around the Olympic stadium – gorgeous setting. The Spanish did themselves a great job!

  • Zara @ Backpack ME -

    August 30, 2012 at 9:29 am

    haha.. It’s funny that even Chupa Chups made it to this list!!
    my mom is spanish and she has actually mentioned this before as if it was something to be particularly proud of or something! 😛

  • BWells -

    August 30, 2012 at 10:34 am

    Can you possibly tell me what building that is in the picture?

  • Ron Jones -

    August 31, 2012 at 3:13 am

    Great article, very interesting. I didn’t know Madrid was so high above sea level. Great Work!

  • Warren Talbot -

    August 31, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    Great insights and perfect timing. We’re heading to Spain on Tuesday for a few weeks and now I’m armed with some great conversation starters. I’ll grab a beret, strip down, and start chatting up the locals. Thank you for the information.

  • Cristina Garcia -

    September 2, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    There was a beach in Barcelona before the Olympics. It wasn’t great but it was a beach.
    I loooove Chupa Chups! 🙂

  • Jemmy -

    September 2, 2012 at 11:15 pm

    They are some very impressive facts about Spain. However, when I hear Spain, the one that comes to me mind is the Spanish cuisine, especially the ones with lots of chicken and more cheese to satisfy my taste buds. I can leave absolutely anything for savouring Spanish dishes.

  • Mark@weighteddecision -

    September 11, 2012 at 3:01 am

    An excellent look at Spain from a nicely different angle. Consider reviewing north west Spain which is different again.

  • creative nomad -

    September 26, 2012 at 12:34 am

    interesting that Barcelona had no beach, not so keen to swim there anymore though