Historical Places to Visit in Spain
Spain is an ancient country that has seen a deep history of crusaders, counts, kings and caliphs, even before the time of the start of its written history. It starts way back when the Basques captured the green valleys of Pyrenees. They were succeeded by Iberians in approximately 3000 BC, who came from Africa and crossed the Mediterranean Sea. Around one thousand years afterwards, the Celts, who came from the northern side, came into power. Then it was the Phoenicians who established Cádiz (previously known as Gadir), as well as many other coastal towns towards the south. They were succeeded by Greeks who mainly settled in the eastern coastal parts. Then came the Carthaginians within the land. They established Cartagena in 225BC and named the country Ispania, which was derived from the word span, meaning rabbit, in their language.
Places to Visit
Among the places that you must visit, Ullastret holds great historical importance. It is situated on Costa Brava near Barcelona. It is a small settlement inhabited by Indiketas, who are descendants of the Iberians. Here, the solid constructed walls and fortifications will serve as a proof of the ancient civilization’s ceramic industry. A guided tour of this place will allow you to learn much more so it is better to go with a guide. You must also visit the ruins in Empúries. They were built in 6th Century B.C. by the Greeks. If you visit Andalusia, don’t forget to see Museo de Cádiz, where you can see sarcophagi as old as 1100 BC.
The Roman Era
The Romans rose after expelling Carthaginians from Iberia and the peninsula was converted into three regal provinces. The Romans took around 200 years in restraining the opposing Iberians and even in today’s amphitheatres, ruins, fortifications and aqueducts in Spain, Roman influence can be seen.
If you want to get a real taste of Roman Engineering, visit the Acueducto Romano in Segovia, which is nearly 3000 feet long. Then you can also visit the Roman ruins of Merida which include an outdoor amphitheatre, bridge and a theatre. You must also visit Tarragone, one of the most important cities in Catalonia with regards to its circus, walls and amphitheatre. The city of Zaragoza on the other hand was well known not only for its Roman amphitheatre but also a fluvial port.
Visigoths and Moors Era
As early as 5th century, some of the tribes attacked the Roman Empire which was already in a weak state. The Visigoths hence invaded the northern and central parts of Spain by 419 A.D. and established their empire at Toledo. They adopted Christianity as their religion. But their rule was not to last very long when they were invaded by the Moors in 711 A.D. through the Strait of Gibralter. The moors were an Arab force and soon established Muslim rule which lasted for as long as eight centuries. They introduced rice, sugar, citrus fruits, cotton, palm trees, modern irrigation system and glassmaking to Spain. Even in today’s Spanish there can be seen an influence of Arabic in some words that begin with “al”. Some words, for instance, include almohada (pillow), albóndiga (meatball), alcázar (fortress), alcalde (mayor), etc. The great Muslim architecture of those times is still reflected in almost all of Spain and speaks of the great Muslim culture that prevailed during the time of the Moors.
If you want to experience true Moorish culture, you must visit Andalusia, its name derived from the Arabic word “al-Andalus”, meaning “western lands”. Another place that must not be missed is the Alhambra palace which speaks of the aesthetic sense of the Moors even during those times. The mosque of Mezquita, built in the start of 9th century at Córdoba, is a true evidence of the powerful rule of the Muslims in al-Andalus.
The Golden Era of Spain
By the year 1085, Toledo was captured by Alfonso VI, hence leading to the domination of the Christian rule in the northern side. In 13th century, Seville, Valencia and then Córdoba was taken over by the Christians from the Muslims, with Granada being the only city left under the Moorish rule. After around 200 years, Isabella and Ferdinand, the Catholic Monarchs, joined together in a marriage and in around year 1492, empire of Granada finally fell and brought an end to the Moorish rule.
With the start of the year 1492, Spain saw a beginning to the golden age of the nation’s politics. With the capture of Granada, the whole of Spain was united as a single empire in view of promoting unity at national level. Jews and Muslims were exiled from Spain if they failed to accept Christianity and this gave a severe blow to the economy, agriculture and science of the country as many educated Muslims and Jews departed. It took around 500 years for the country to recover. Carlos V and his son Phillip II had flare for fighting and weakened the country and in 1588, Spain lost the “Invincible Spanish Armada”.
If you want to experience the complete journey of Columbus to America, visit Huelva, Cádiz, Seville, Barcelona and Granada, where he was said to have started from, commissioned, returned to, confirmed or buried. You must also visit El Escorial in Madrid, which is the resting place for many of the Bourbon as well as Hapsburn kings.
Spanish Succession War
When the Spanish Succession War of 1700–1714 came to an end, city of Barcelona fell from the hands of Prince Felipe V and took sides with Hapsburg Archduke. This decisive war took place in Ribera, where the market of El Born was later founded in 1876. The inhabitants of Ribera had to run down many of their houses in order to create land for the fortress of Cuitadella, which was used as a base for directing fires towards French and Spanish army.
Every year on 11th September, the national day of Catalonia, the nationals gather around the cemetery of Fossar de les Moreres, as a memorial to honour the fall of this city as early as 1714.
Civil War of Spain
The Independence War of Spain that took place in the 19th century had to last for 5 years in order for the guerrillas to free the peninsula from the troops of Napoleon. After this war, the Civil War began in 1936 and lasted for 3 years. The government got assistance from many Canadian, American and British volunteers in the fight but it was General Francisco who got real help from German Nazis, thus destroying the Basque settlement of Gernika. By the start of 1939, the city of Barcelona fell into Franco’s hands. He was then able to move his forces on 27th of March, 1939.
The Dos de Mayo at Madrid Plaza is worth a visit, where the famous officers Velarde and Daoiz formed their base against the French troops during the Napolean uprising. Also the church of SantFelipNeri in Barcelona shows marks of the Italian bombings on the city by the orders of General Franco. The town of Belchite, is still exactly the same as it was on the last day of the battle and is worth seeing a visit. It lies towards the east of the city of Zaragoza.