Spain, the land of passion. It’s a place where the day starts at 9pm and the night starts after midnight. A place where taking a siesta is actually acceptable. A place where you can eat tapas till your heart’s content. This country is so rich in culture and history, that it takes days to explore each city. Here are some of my favorite cities from my trip to this beautiful country last summer.
As the capital of Spain, Madrid is full of rich history and culture. From walking around Retiro Park to shopping on Gran Vía, there are so many things to do. Madrid was the first stop on my grand trip to Europe and the city did not disappoint! It quickly became one of my favorite cities in Europe. Since it has a mixture of modern and historical fixtures, I enjoyed the scenery even more. My apartment was near Plaza Mayor, which is Madrid’s main square. The walls of the building in Plaza Mayor were full of gorgeous paintings, adorned with the Spanish flag in the middle. Near Plaza Mayor is Mercado de San Miguel, an indoor market like the Ferry Building. My favorite place in Madrid was Gran Vía because of all the stores. There were so many stores lined up, from American brands to Spanish brands, they had it all. Honestly, shopping is one of my biggest weaknesses and Gran Vía was wonderful in feeding my addiction. Even though I only spent four days total in Madrid, it became one of my favorite cities.
MUST SEES: Plaza Mayor, Gran Vía, Retiro Park, Museo Nacional del Prado, Mercado de San Miguel
Known for their aqueducts, Segovia is a small city in Castile and León. We only went to Segovia for half a day, but we were able to see all the popular sites. The most eye-catching site was the Aqueduct of Segovia. I remember it was the first thing I saw when I got out of the parking garage and I was in awe of its beauty. At the base of the Aqueducts, there are stairs that go up to a lookout. From there you can see the city of Segovia and the Aqueducts in their full glory. Next, we saw the Alcázar de Segovia. It is a castle on the edge of a cliff, so it looks like a castle from a fairytale. I was not able to enter the castle, but it is possible to explore some parts of the Alcázar de Segovia. From the castle you can see views of the Segovia Cathedral. The Segovia Cathedral is located in the main square of the city, Plaza Mayor (There is a Plaza Mayor in most cities in Spain because it’s their main square). I really enjoyed the quietness of the city. Located in the countryside, it felt like an oasis from the bustling city of Madrid.
MUST SEES: Aqueduct of Segovia, Alcázar de Segovia, Segovia Cathedral, Royal Palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso
Fun fact: Granada means pomegranate! However, they are not known for their pomegranates, but instead for Alhambra. Alhambra is a famous palace and fortress complex. Tickets to tour the palace sell out quickly, so it is advisable to purchase them in advanced. When I visited, there was a long line to buy tickets and they were sold out by 9:00 AM; but we got in. We toured the inside of the palace and it was absolutely stunning. The walls of the palace are full of intricate carvings and colorful tiles. I saw many arches adorning the doorways which were popular in Spain during the 14th century. Other than the palace, there is a huge garden surrounding the perimeter. This place is called the Generalife and it’s the oldest surviving Moorish gardens. Being inside the Alhambra may be beautiful, but seeing a panoramic view of it is even better. The Mirador de San Nícolas is a perfect place to see a panoramic view of the Alhambra. We went at sunset and I was in awe of its beauty. Lastly, we visited the San Nícolas Church. We climbed the bell tower and saw a 360-degree view of Granada; it was the best 10 euros we spent! Granada is a perfect place to soak up the history and culture of Spain.
MUST SEES: Alhambra, Mirador de San Nícolas, San Nícolas Church
These charming cities are only part one of my Spain highlights. Watch out for part two with three more cities! Stay tuned for my next adventure!