Alicante

Alicante

Alicante, and it’s wonderful boulevard with palm trees and shopping streets, is one of the most well-known towns along the Costa Blanca.

Known for its miles of sandy beaches, Alicante is a starting point for thousands of tourists every year.

Famous for its excellent weather, the city invites you to take a trip along the coast or to the wonderful island of Tabarca. Along the Alicante harbor you find beautiful long alleys for nice relaxing walks, enjoying the palm trees and the mild climate.

With many historical buildings around the entire city, Alicante offers countless sightseeing attractions, from cathedrals to churches and of course a wonderful harbor area. Additional to sightseeing, direct from the harbor area, a long wide sandy beach leads its way up to San Juan. Just drop your towel on the sand and enjoy a wonderful day in the sun.

During summer time, Alicante with its Airport, is a starting point for many Costa Blanca tourists, while during the winter months tourists and residents tend to live along the coast in places like Benidorm, Calpe and Denia.

Barcelona

Barcelona

Barcelona is today one of the world's leading tourist, economic, trade fair/exhibitions and cultural-sports centres, and its influence in commerce, education, entertainment, media, fashion, science, and the arts all contribute to its status as one of the world's major global cities. Indeed, it is a major cultural and economic centre in southwestern Europe (Iberian Peninsula), 24th in the world (after Zürich, before Frankfurt)[11] and a growing financial centre (Diagonal Mar and Gran Via). It is the fourth economically powerful city by GDP in the European Union and 35th in the world with an output amounting to €177 billion.

As of 2009 the city was ranked Europe's third and one of the world's most successful as a city brand. At the same time, the city was ranked Europe's fourth best city for business and fastest improving European city, with growth improved by 17% per year.

Barcelona is a transport hub with one of Europe's principal ports, Barcelona international airport, which handles above 35 million passengers per year, extensive motorway network and also is a hub of high-speed rail, particularly that which is intended to link Spain with France and the rest of Europe as the second longest in the world.

Bilbao

Bilbao

Bilbao is a municipality and city in Spain, the capital of the province of Biscay in the autonomous community of the Basque Country. With a population of 353,187 as of 2010, it is the largest city of its autonomous community and the tenth largest in Spain. With roughly 1 million inhabitants, Bilbao lies within one of the most populous metropolitan areas in northern Spain. The Bilbao metropolitan area includes the comarca of Greater Bilbao making it the fifth-largest urban area in Spain.

Bilbao is situated in the north-central part of Spain, some 14 kilometres (8.7 mi) south of the Bay of Biscay, where the estuary of Bilbao is formed. Its main urban core is surrounded by two small mountain ranges with an average elevation of 400 metres.

Since its foundation in the early 14th century by Diego López V de Haro, head of the powerful Haro family, Bilbao was a commercial hub that enjoyed significant importance in the Green Spain, mainly thanks to its port activity based on the export of iron extracted from the Biscayan quarries. Throughout the nineteenth century and beginnings of the twentieth, Bilbao experienced heavy industrialisation which made it the centre of the second-most idustrialised region of Spain, behind Barcelona. This was joined by an extraordinary population explosion that prompted the annexation of several adjacent municipalities.

Nowadays, Bilbao is a vigorous service city that is experiencing an ongoing social, economic, and aesthetic revitalisation process, started by the iconic Bilbao Guggenheim Museum, and continued by infrastructure investments, such as the airport terminal, the rapid transit system, the tram line, the Alhóndiga, or the currently under development Abandoibarra and Zorrozaurre renewal projects.

Girona

Girona is a city in the northeast of Catalonia, Spain at the confluence of the rivers Ter, Onyar, Galligants, and Güell and has an official population of 96,722 as of January 2011. It is the capital of the province of the same name and of the comarca of the Gironès. It is located 99 km (62 mi) northeast of Barcelona. Girona is one of the major Catalan cities.

The first historical inhabitants in the region were Iberians; Girona is the ancient Gerunda, a city of the Ausetani. Later, the Romans built a citadel there, which was given the name of Gerunda. The Visigoths ruled in Girona until it was conquered by the Moors. Finally, Charlemagne reconquered it in 785 and made it one of the fourteen original countships of Catalonia. Thus it was wrested temporarily from the Moors, who were driven out finally in 1015. Wilfred the Hairy incorporated Girona into the countship of Barcelona in 878. Alfonso I of Aragón declared Girona to be a city in the 11th century. The ancient countship later became a duchy (1351) when King Peter III of Aragon gave the title of Duke to his first-born son, John. In 1414, King Ferdinand I in turn gave the title of Prince of Girona to his first-born son, Alfonso. The title is currently carried by Prince Felipe, Prince of Asturias, the first since the 16th century to do so.

Girona has undergone twenty-five sieges and been captured seven times. It was besieged by the French royal armies under Charles de Monchy d'Hocquincourt in 1653, under Bernardin Gigault de Bellefonds in 1684, and twice in 1694 under Anne Jules de Noailles. In May 1809, it was besieged by 35,000 French Napoleonic troops under Vergier, Augereau and St. Cyr, and held out obstinately under the leadership of Alvarez until disease and famine compelled it to capitulate, 12 December. Finally, the French conquered the city in 1809, after 7 months of siege. Girona was center of the Ter department during the French rule, which lasted from 1809 to 1813. The defensive city walls were demolished at the end of the 19th century to allow for the expansion of the city. In recent years, the missing parts of the city walls on the eastern side of the city have been reconstructed. Called the Passeig de la Muralla it now forms a tourist route around the old city.

Jerez de la Frontera

Jerez de la Frontera

Jerez de la Frontera is a municipality in the province of Cádiz in the autonomous community of Andalucia, in southwestern Spain, situated midway between the sea and the mountains. As of 2013, the city, the largest in the province, had 215,180 inhabitants; it is the fifth largest in Andalusia. It has become the transportation and communications hub of the province, surpassing even Cádiz, the provincial capital, in economic activity. Jerez de la Frontera is also, in terms of land area, the largest municipality in the province, and its sprawling outlying areas are a fertile zone for agriculture. There are also many cattle ranches and horse-breeding operations, as well as a world-renowned wine industry.

The economy of Jerez has traditionally been centered on the wine industry, with exports of sherry worldwide. Because it lacks the civil service that other cities enjoy, Jerez has based its economy on industry. The cultivation of fruits, grains, and vegetables and horse and cattle husbandry has also been important to the local economy. It is the home base for the Spanish Military Stud farm, the Yeguada Militar de Jerez de la Frontera.

After the wine crisis in the 1990s, the city is now seeking to expand its industrial base. Tourism has been successfully promoted. The city's strong identity as a center for wine, flamenco, and horses, its popular festivals, MotoGP hosting and its historical heritage have contributed to this success.

The city is the home of Jerez Airport and has also been positioning itself as a logistics hub for western Andalucia, through the integration between the airport, the rail system and nearby ports. In May 2012, "Time Magazine" profiled Jerez as the most indebted town in Spain, the vanguard of Spain's impending economic collapse and the consequent dissolution of the European Union.

Madrid

Madrid

Madrid is the capital of Spain and its largest city. The population of the city is roughly 3.3 million and the entire population of the Madrid metropolitan area is calculated to be around 6.5 million. It is the third-largest city in the European Union, after London and Berlin, and its metropolitan area is the third-largest in the European Union after London and Paris. The city spans a total of 604.3 km2

The city is located on the Manzanares river in the centre of both the country and the Community of Madrid (which comprises the city of Madrid, its conurbation and extended suburbs and villages); this community is bordered by the autonomous communities of Castile and León and Castile-La Mancha. As the capital city of Spain, seat of government, and residence of the Spanish monarch, Madrid is also the political, economic and cultural centre of Spain. The current mayor is Ana Botella from the People's Party (PP).

The Madrid urban agglomeration has the third-largest GDP in the European Union and its influences in politics, education, entertainment, environment, media, fashion, science, culture, and the arts all contribute to its status as one of the world's major global cities. Due to its economic output, high standard of living, and market size, Madrid is considered the major financial centre of Southern Europe and the Iberian Peninsula; it hosts the head offices of the vast majority of the major Spanish companies, such as Telefónica, Iberia or Repsol. Madrid is the 10th most livable city in the world according to Monocle magazine, in its 2010 index. Madrid also ranks among the 12 greenest European cities in 2010.

Madrid houses the headquarters of the World Tourism Organization, belonging to the United Nations Organization (UN), the SEGIB, the Organization of Ibero-American States, and the Public Interest Oversight Board. It also hosts major international institutions regulators of Spanish: the Standing Committee of the Association of Spanish Language Academies, headquarters of the Royal Spanish Academy, the Cervantes Institute and the Foundation of Urgent Spanish. Madrid organizes fairs as FITUR, and the Cibeles Madrid Fashion Week.

While Madrid possesses a modern infrastructure, it has preserved the look and feel of many of its historic neighbourhoods and streets. Its landmarks include the Royal Palace of Madrid; the Royal Theatre with its restored 1850 Opera House; the Buen Retiro Park, founded in 1631; the 19th-century National Library building (founded in 1712) containing some of Spain's historical archives; a large number of National museums, and the Golden Triangle of Art, located along the Paseo del Prado and comprising three art museums: Prado Museum, the Reina Sofía Museum, a museum of modern art, and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, which completes the shortcomings of the other two museums. Cibeles Palace and Fountain have become the monument symbol of the city.

Malaga

Malaga

Málaga is a city and a municipality, capital of the Province of Málaga, in the Autonomous Community of Andalusia, Spain. With a population of 568,507 in 2010, it is the second most populous city of Andalusia and the sixth largest in Spain. The southernmost large city in Europe, it lies on the Costa del Sol of the Mediterranean, about 100 km east of the Strait of Gibraltar and about 130 km north of Africa.

Málaga enjoys a subtropical–mediterranean climate. It has one of the warmest winters in Europe, with average temperatures of 17 °C during the day and 7–8 °C at night in the period from December through February. The summer season lasts about eight months, from April to November, although in the remaining four months temperatures sometimes reach around 20 °C.

Málaga's history spans about 2,800 years, making it one of the oldest cities in the world. It was founded by the Phoenicians as Malaka about 770 BC, and from the 6th century BC was under the hegemony of Ancient Carthage. Then from 218 BC it was ruled by the Roman Republic and later the Roman Empire as Malaca. After the fall of the empire it was under Islamic domination as Malaqah (?????) for 800 years, but in 1487 it again came under Christian rule in the Reconquista. The archaeological remains and monuments from the Phoenician, Roman, Arabic and Christian eras make the historic center of the city an "open museum", displaying its rich history of more than 3,000 years.

This important cultural infrastructure and the rich artistic heritage have culminated in the nomination of Málaga as a candidate for the 2016 European Capital of Culture.

The internationally acclaimed painter and sculptor Pablo Picasso and actor Antonio Banderas were born in Málaga. The magnum opus of Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona, "Malagueña", is named for the music of this region of Spain.

The most important business sectors in Málaga are tourism, construction and technology services, but other sectors such as transportation and logistics are beginning to expand. The Andalusia Technology Park, located in Málaga, has enjoyed significant growth since its inauguration in 1992. Málaga is the main economic and financial centre of southern Spain, home of the region's largest bank, Unicaja, and the fourth-ranking city in economic activity in Spain behind Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia.

Santiago de Compostela

Santiago de Compostela

The city has its origin in the shrine of Saint James the Great, now the city's cathedral, as destination of the Way of St. James, a leading Catholic pilgrimage route originated in the 9th century. In 1985 the city's Old Town was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The cathedral borders the main plaza of the old and well-preserved city. Legend has it that the remains of the apostle James were brought to Galicia for burial. In 813, according to medieval legend, the light of a bright star guided a shepherd who was watching his flock at night to the burial site in Santiago de Compostela. The shepherd quickly reported his discovery to the bishop of Iria, Bishop Teodomiro. The bishop declared that the remains were those of the apostle James and immediately notified King Alfonso II in Oviedo. To honour St. James, the cathedral was built on the spot where his remains were said to have been found. The legend, which included numerous miraculous events, enabled the Catholic faithful to not only maintain their stronghold in northern Spain during the Christian crusades against the Moors, but also led to the growth and development of the city.

Along the western side of the Praza do Obradoiro is the elegant 18th century Pazo de Raxoi, now the city hall. Across the square is the Pazo de Raxoi, the town hall and seat of the Galician Xunta, and on the right from the cathedral steps is the Hostal dos Reis Católicos, founded in 1492 by the Catholic Monarchs, Isabella of Castille and Ferdinand II of Aragon, as a pilgrims' hospice. The Obradoiro façade of the cathedral, the best known, is depicted on the Spanish euro coins of 1 cent, 2 cents, and 5 cents.

Santiago is the site of the University of Santiago de Compostela, established in the early 16th century. The main campus can be seen best from an alcove in the large municipal park in the centre of the city. Within the old town there are many narrow winding streets full of historic buildings. The new town all around it has less character though some of the older parts of the new town have some big flats in them. Santiago de Compostela has a substantial nightlife. Divided between the new town (a zona nova in Galician, la zona nueva in Spanish or ensanche) and the old town (a zona vella in Galician or la zona vieja in Spanish, trade-branded as zona monumental), a mix of middle-aged residents and younger students running throughout the city until the early hours of the morning can often be found.

Radiating from the centre of the city, the historic cathedral is surrounded by paved granite streets, tucked away in the old town, and separated from the newer part of the city by the largest of many parks throughout the city, Parque da Alameda. Whether in the old town or the new town, party-goers will often find themselves following their tapas by dancing the night away.

San Sebastian

San Sebastian

San Sebastián is a coastal city and municipality located in the Basque Autonomous Community, Spain. It lies on the coast of the Bay of Biscay, 20 km (12 miles) from the French border. Capital city of Gipuzkoa, the municipality's population is 186,122 (2011), with its metropolitan area reaching 436,500 (2010). Locals call themselves donostiarra, both in Spanish and Basque.

The main economic activities are commerce and tourism, and it is one of the most famous tourist destinations in Spain. Despite the city’s small size, events such as the San Sebastián International Film Festival have given it an international dimension. San Sebastián, along with Wroclaw, Poland, will be the European Capital of Culture in 2016.

The city is in the north of the Basque Country, on the southern coast of the Bay of Biscay. San Sebastián's picturesque shoreline makes it a popular beach resort. The seaside environment is enhanced by hilly surroundings that are easily accessible, i.e., Urgull, romantic Mount Ulia extending east to Pasaia, Mount Adarra rising proud far on the south and Igeldo, overlooking the bay from the west.

The city sits at the mouth of the River Urumea, Donostia having been built to a large extent over the river's wetlands during the last two centuries. In fact, the city centre and the districts of Amara Berri and Riberas de Loiola lie on such terrain and the former bed of the river, diverted to its current canalized course in the first half of the 20th century.

Sevilla

Sevilla

Seville is a Spanish city, it is the capital and largest city of the autonomous community of Andalusia and the province of Seville. It is situated on the plain of the River Guadalquivir. The inhabitants of the city are known as sevillanos or hispalenses, after the Roman name of the city, Hispalis.

Seville has a municipal population of about 703,000 as of 2011, and a metropolitan population of about 1.5 million, making it the fourth-largest city in Spain and the Daryl 258 30th most populous municipality in the European Union. Its Old Town, the third largest in Europe with an area of 4 square kilometres, contains three UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Alcázar palace complex, the Cathedral and the General Archive of the Indies. The Seville harbour, located about 80 kilometres from the Atlantic Ocean, is the only river port in Spain.

Seville was founded as the Roman city of Hispalis, and was known as Ishbiliya after the Muslim conquest in 712. During the Muslim rule in Spain, Seville came under the jurisdiction of the Caliphate of Córdoba before becoming the independent Taifa of Seville; later it was ruled by the Muslim Almoravids and the Almohads until finally being incorporated into the Christian Kingdom of Castile under Ferdinand III in 1248. After the discovery of the Americas, Seville became one of the economic centres of the Spanish Empire as its port monopolised the trans-oceanic trade and the Casa de Contratación wielded its power, opening a Golden Age of arts and literature.

In 1519, Ferdinand Magellan departed from Seville for the first circumnavigation of the Earth. Coinciding with the Baroque period of European history, the 17th century in Seville represented the most brilliant flowering of the city's culture; then began a gradual economic and demographic decline as silting in the Guadalquivir forced the trade monopoly to relocate to the nearby port of Cádiz.

The 20th century in Seville saw the horrors of the Spanish Civil War, decisive cultural milestones such as the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929 and Expo'92, and the city's election as the capital of the Autonomous Community of Andalusia.

Biarritz

Biarritz

Biarritz is a city on the Bay of Biscay, on the Atlantic coast in the Pyrénées Atlantiques department in southwestern France. It is a luxurious seaside town and is popular with tourists and surfers.

Biarritz is a Basque name with locative suffix -itz (cp. Isturitz) attested Bearriz in 1170, Bearids in 1186, Bearritz in 1249. Biarritz has long made its fortune from the sea: as a whaling settlement from the twelfth century onwards, in the 18th century doctors recommended that the ocean at Biarritz had therapeutic properties, inspiring patients to make pilgrimages to the beach for alleged cures for their ailments.

Biarritz became more renowned in 1854 when Empress Eugenie (the wife of Napoleon III) built a palace on the beach (now the Hôtel du Palais). European royalty, including British monarchs Queen Victoria and King Edward VII, who caused a minor scandal when he called H. H. Asquith to kiss hands at Biarritz in 1908 rather than return to London for the purpose, and the Spanish king Alfonso XIII, were frequent visitors.

Biarritz's casino (opened 10 August 1901) and beaches make the town a notable tourist centre for Europeans, and East Coast North Americans. The city has also become a prime destination for surfers from around the world, developing a nightlife and surf based culture.

At the end of World War II in Europe, the U.S. Army's Information and Educational Branch was ordered to establish an overseas university campus for demobilized American service men and women in the French resort town of Biarritz. Under General Samuel L. McCroskey, the hotels and casinos of Biarritz were converted into quarters, labs and class spaces for U.S. service personnel. The University opened 10 August 1945 and approximately 10,000 students attended an 8 week term. This campus was set up to provide a transition between army life and subsequent attendance at a university in the USA, and therefore students attended for just one term. After three successful terms the G.I. University closed in March 1946.


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