Five curiosities about Spain

Did you know any of these curiosities about Spain?

The national day of Spain- ‘El día de la Hispanidad’, celebrated every year on the 12th October, is fast approaching. So, to mark the occassion, we’re inviting you to discover 5 curiosities about Spain that you probably didn’t know; from the origins of tapas, to the invention of the chupa chup.

1. Have you ever wondered about the origin of “tapas”?

If you’re coming to visit Spain, it’s essential to know that ‘tapas’ are the ultimate symbol of Spanish cuisine- you’ll find them in any Spanish bar (Spain is, after all, the country with the highest number of bars per inhabitant!). The origin of the term ‘tapas’ has many curious theories. One of them comes from the story that Spanish king Felice II was invited to a glass of wine in a tavern but becuase of all of the flies in the tavern, the innkeeper decided to put a slice of ham on top of the wine (i.e. to cover it or tapar in Spanish)  to stop the flies from going into His Majesty’s glass of wine. Curious, right?

2. Did you know that the oldest restaurant in the world is in Madrid?

This is one of the most surprising curiosities about Spain. If you are in the Spanish capital, be sure to visit Restaurant El Botín’: the oldest restaurant in the world, opened in 1725 and recognized by the Guinness Book of Records. It has a very Spanish menu!

3. Did you know that Spain is the third country in the world with the highest number of places declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO?

Spain is home to 49 UNESCO World Heritage Sites which are open to visit. From entire historic centers, to bridges, buildings and prehistoric rock art, some of the most impressive include: 

  • Alhambra of Granada (1984, 1994)
  •  Historic Center of Córdoba (1984, 1994)
  •  Works by Antoni Gaudí of Barcelona (1984, 2005)
  •  Monastery and site of El Escorial in Madrid (1984)
  • Doñana de Andalucía National Park (1994, 2005)
  • Old city of Santiago de Compostela (1985)

If you are interested in learning more about the sites on Spain’s World Heritage List, we recommend you visit the World Heritage page.

4. Did you know that Spain has the only European desert?

The city of Almería is famous for its great landscape and beauty, but also as the home to Europe’s only desert. Known as the ‘Tabernas desert’, it features a picturesque town born for international cinema, it lives in front of a canyon and is home to the impressive Fort Bravo.

Did you know that these movies were all filmed in the desert of Tabernas?

  • A Fistful of Dollars (1965)
  • Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
  • Trinity Is Still My Name (1971)
  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
  • The Fearless Vampire Killers (2001)
  • The Daltons (2004)

5. Do you recognise any of these famous Spanish inventions?

They include: 

  1. The Chupa Chups, which stand out for being one of the simplest inventions, but at the same time, the most well-known. The Chupa Chups origin dates back to 1959 thanks to Enric Bernat, a pastry chef and confectioner from Barcelona who travelled around the world with a sweet stuck to a stick and wrapped in Salvador Dali’s iconic logo. 
  1. Manuel Jalon, an aeronautical engineer from Rioja, has gone down in history! He invented an object that is as simple as it is practical: The mop (1964). He sold more than 60 million units worldwide!
  1. The Catalan inventor Narcis Mounturiol dedicated his life to studying underwater navigation. He was the creator of a life-changing device which made moving below sea level something of reality: he invented the submarine. His first submarine was called the Ictineo I (also known as a fish-boat) and was launched in the port of Barcelona on June 28, 1859.

If you want to know more about Spanish inventions, we recommend this interesting podcast.

How about you? What other Spanish curiosities do you know? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Elysia Reed

Elysia Reed

Marketing Team. Translation from source text in Spanish by Teresa Palomera Ruiz.

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