Spanish customs, history, art, literature, society and much more.

Spanish culture is widely known for Flamenco music and dance, bullfights, fantastic beaches and lots of sunshine.Spain has an extraordinary artistic heritage. The dominant figures of the Golden Age were the Toledo-based artists El Greco and Diego Velázquez. Francisco de Goya emerged in the 18th century as Spain’s most prolific painter and he produced some wonderfully unflattering portraits of royalty. The art world in the early 20th century was influenced by a remarkable group of Spanish artists: Pablo Picasso, Juan Gris, Joan Miró and Salvador Dalí, ambassadors of the artistic culture in Spain.Spanish art history is very exciting and the first examples of Spanish art go back to the dawn of time. For example, the cave paintings found in the Altamira caves in Cantabria are considered to be the Sistene Chapel of rock paintings and date back over 18,500 years. Today, many works remain in excellent condition despite their age such as the Iberian sculptures from Eastern Spain (the Dama de Baza and the Dama de Elche), the Roman and Muslim art which can be found throughout the peninsula, medieval churches, artwork from the Baroque period and many other examples.Bullfighting is certainly one of the best-known-although at the same time most controversial-Spanish popular customs. This Fiesta could not exist without the toro bravo, a species of bull of an ancient race that is only conserved in Spain. Formerly this bull’s forebears, the primitive urus, were spread out over wide areas of the world. Many civilizations revered them; the bull cults on the Greek island of Crete are very well known. The Bible tells of sacrifices of bulls in honour of divine justice.Bulls also played an important role in the religious ceremonies of the Iberian tribes living in Spain in prehistoric times. The origins of the plaza de toros (bullring) are probably not the Roman amphitheatres but rather the Celtic-Iberian temples where those ceremonies were held. Near Numancia in the province of Soria one of them has survived, and it is supposed that bulls were sacrificed to the gods there.Spanish fashion is a success all over the world. Spain is home to famous fashion designers, prestigious international fashion labels and some of the most sought after top models who have walked the catwalk in cities like Milan, London, New York and Paris.The Spanish fashion world, as frivolous as it may seem, is an industry worth billions that not only enables Spanish companies to make money but also serves to globally promote not only Spanish fashion but the country itself. In turn, this international exposure serves to further spread the use of the Spanish language.Flamenco is a genuine Spanish art form, or, to be more exact, a genuine Southern Spanish art. It exists in three forms: el cante, the song, el baile, the dance, and la guitarra, the guitar playing. Gypsies are often credited with the “invention” of flamenco, and it is at least certain that they played an important part in its creation. But the popular songs and dances of Andalusia also had a major influence on early Flamenco.First there were the legendary Tartessos, and later, nine centuries of Muslim history in the Iberian Peninsula. Neither passed without leaving an imprint on Andalusian culture, and both influenced flamenco, directly and indirectly. The earliest mention of flamenco in literature is in Las Cartas Marruecas of Cadalso, in 1774.Spanish music is world famous, especially flamenco, an art that mixes music and dance the originated in southern Spain. Flamenco has evolved over time and transformed to incorporate modern music sounds from rock, pop and blues.  Some famous Spanish flamenco artists include Raimundo Amador, Ketama and Rosario Flores among others.Spanish music is not only represented by flamenco Spanish artists such as Montserrat Cabellé Opera, Placido Domingo, José Carrera and the late Alfredo Kraus have also greatly impacted the classical music genre and are internationally acclaimed.The Spanish society has a very particular way of living life. Spaniards love to enjoy their fiestas and mid-day siestas, dressing up in the latest fashion, enjoying tapas in the numerous bars that are located throughout the city or dining on traditional Spanish food with friends and family. The phrase “Spain is different” is commonly heard and reflects the laid back attitude and passion for enjoying all that life has to offer that is a defining characteristic of Spanish culture.


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