As I have emphasized already a number of times on my blog, there is much more to Spain than Madrid, Barcelona or Seville, more than than its beaches, paella and flamenco. What follows is list of some of my favourite places and attractions that many visitors to Spain leave off their itinerary, but which offer truly unforgettable experiences.
- A walk through the pueblo Setenil de las Bodegas (Province of Cadiz)
Nestled at the very bottom of several hundred meter high rock formations, seemingly barely supporting their weight and at a point of being crushed at any moment, the tiny pueblo (population of approx. 3,000) of Setenil de las Bodegas (Province of Cádiz) should be a must-see for anyone visiting this southern part of Andalusia. In addition to the unforgettable geographical and geological nature of this pueblo, it is also famed for its olive oil production. According to many Spaniards, Setenil and the surrounding areas are home to Spain’s best (extra virigin olive) oil. A visit to one of these olive oil producing ranchos is highly recommendable (see more info here)
- Ciudad Encantada (“Enchanted City”) at Serranía de Cuenca Nature Reserve (Province of Cuenca)
This spectacular collection of rock formations resembling a series of scenes and figures can be found within the limits of Serranía de Cuenca Nature Reserve (Castilla La Mancha, 20km north-east form the town of Cuenca). Molded over the last few thousand years, some of its most popular rocks include Battle of the Crocodile and the Elephant, the Mushrooms, the Lovers of Teruel and the Sea of Stone, just to name a few. As unusual as these rock formations may appear, there’s a simple scientific explanation for their shape: the lower part of the formations erode faster than the top, leaving us with these natural pieces of art. For more information, visit the reserve’s official website (ciudadencantada.es).
- Journey through “Red River” (Rio Tinto) and the surrounding mines (Province of Huelva)
Situated in the Province of Huelva close to Palos de la Frontera, in southernmost Andalusia, Rio Tinto (or “Red River”) is considered by many as the birthplace of the Iron and Copper age. Simply put, it is a mine with a 5,000 year history of extraction of all types of minerals, but predominantly gold, silver and copper. The iron content here is particularly high, tainting the river red and, thus, giving its name. A train journey that first winds along the river and through the mines and then continues through the neighbouring Picos de Aroche Natural Park with a starkly different lush green vegetation offers an array of amazing hues and contrasts. It is an experience that, for many, is a highlight of any Andalusian visit. For more information visit the Mining Railway Ride website.
- Miquel Barcelo’s modern installation at Catedral de Mallorca (Palma, Mallorca)
This unforgettable installation representing the miracle of Jesus multiplying for his followers the loaves and fish took 5 years to construct at the beginning of the 21st century. An innovative contemporary artwork of this kind isn’t often found in as historic of a structure as this 13th century Cathedral, making the contrast between the modern installation and the old, massive, gothic building particularly stark and interesting. The chapel’s walls create a cave-like feeling thanks to the cracked ceramic covers with a panoramic relief of sculpted fish, bread, fruit, and human skulls. Completing the scene’s unusual effect are the chapel’s stone furniture and darkened stained glass windows. For more information visit the Cathedral’s official website, although there is no English translation provided.
- A stroll through the modernist Montjuic Cemetery with views of the sea (Barcelona)
Barcelona’s largest and, by far, most interesting cemetery, is located on the top of Montjuic, which offers a spectacular panorama of the Mediterranean Sea. It features graves of some of Catalunia’s and Spain’s most important personalities, such as Joan Miro, and houses many moving memorials, particularly the one dedicated to the victims of fascism and the holocaust as well as the Pedrera, a mass-grave containing bodies of approx. 4,000 victims of Franco’s regime (executed after Barcelona’s fall during the Civil War). A crematorium dating back to the Roman times can be found at the very top of the mountain.
Just how large is the cemetery? Simply put, it is huge, requiring up to 3 hours in order to explore it in its entirety. However, according to many, an afternoon walk through it, surrounded by the modernist graves and sculptures, melancholy memorials, tall pine trees and views of the blue Mediterranean Sea, make for one of Barcelona’s most memorable experiences. For more information, visit the cemetry’s official website.
For more information about these and any other unusual places in Spain, or to design your own personalized itinerary centered around off-the-beaten-path destinations and attractions, please Contact Us directly. We will make sure to work with you to curate the type of customized trip that will not only meet, but exceed, all your expectations.