Sunday, April 1, 2012

Intriguing Spain

We are staying in Spain for three days of our vacation so it is only fitting to dedicate some time to this  iconic region. When you first hear the word Spain one may think ecstasy, sultry, and mystic. One may also think of splendor, tradition and beauty. Both would be right. Spain is all of those things.

Among all the experiences of Spain, there are beaches, historic architecture, waterfalls, exquisite shopping, the Picasso Museum and world famous wine. There are also some little known facts or facts one may not have realized about Spain; here are just a few:
-          The Canary Islands, a group of islands off the coast of Africa, are actually a Spanish territory.

-         Cueta and Melilla, though they are situated inside the northern African country of Morocco, these two are also Spanish territories.

-          Spain is the second largest country in Western Europe after France and is the fourth largest in all of Europe.

-         As we Americans can sometimes be quite pompous to think that our young country is the only influence on the vast world. Quite the contrary, Spain’s legacy has produced 500 million Spanish speakers at home and around the world. It is the second largest first language spoken behind Chinese (not English as one may have thought).

-         One of the more intriguing facts about Spain (at least to me) is how Spain has not only influenced language around the world but culture and race. According to my scan of Wikipedia, “White” Latin Americans make up about 1/3 of Latin America’s population. The way that was stated was quite curious so I decided to gain further insight into what it means to be a “White” Spaniard (as it was also referenced) versus all the other Spaniards. Who then (meaning, what group of people) make up the other 2/3? You can guess what I am driving at, but I will leave you hanging for a moment and come back to that point in another post.

-         Another point of interest in Spain is the Sagrada Familia. I may have overlooked this special tourist attraction if not for my “Godsister” (her mommy and daddy are my children’s “Guideparents”). She visited Spain last year to study abroad and to learn more about her college minor, Spanish. When I was chatting with her about the things we just had to see in Barcelona she rattled off many well known sights, then she hit me with this one. “You have to see this building that they never stop building!” She visited it while there but could not quite recall the name. All she could remember at the time was “Familia”. I began to research and found that the name is the Sagrada Familia, a “would be” church that was begun in 1882. Every source I have researched states that completion is “far from over”, even though it has been under construction for 130 years. Construction was begun by Francisco De Paula Del Villar. One year later a modern architect named Antonio Gaudi took over as lead architect. He was only 31 at the time. This was his life’s project as Gaudi poured his heart and soul into the “Gaudi Cathedral”, but died in 1926 before it was completed. Since then construction has continued and this edifice has become a tourist attraction in Barcelona, with funding for construction coming solely from ticket sales to see the great monument.  

This is the "cathedral" still under construction as we speak.

This is the way Antonio Gaudi envisioned the church to look when it was completed.

We still have plenty of research to do before we leave in about 6 weeks…the count down continues…