Cycling Through Culture: Spain

18/07/2019

Cycling Through Culture: Spain

With 437 million native Spanish speakers worldwide it’s no wonder the sunny country in the south of Europe has developed as much global influence as it has over its lifespan.

An elegant mix of classic countryside trails and historical towns and cities, Spain truly is a cycling enthusiast’s dream escape. Which is why we offer a multitude of cycling holidays in Spain at Freewheel Holidays.

But don’t be fooled – Spain isn’t just a haven for those that ride on two wheels…

The country’s past is a vast tapestry of numerous colonies, settlements and invasions throughout the centuries which is on display for all to see in its stunning architecture and landscapes.

In fact, Spain holds the honour of having the third most World Heritage Sites as recognised by UNESCO.

The Cave of Altamira, which is filled with ancient cave paintings believed to range from 35,000 to 11,000 BC in date, is a prime example of Spanish culture from ages past.

While The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela gives you a taste of Spanish architecture in a slightly more modern time - 10th & 11th Century.

You’ll be able to see plenty of these incredible structures on your cycling holiday in Spain.

But it would be five hundred years later when global Spanish influence truly came into its own.

In the sixteenth century, what we now know as the ‘Spanish Empire’ was formed after Catholicism and the ‘Catholic Monarchy’ – A title awarded by Pope Alexander VI - became the prominent ideology in the country.

This would also mark the beginning of Spain’s overseas efforts as they captured numerous territories in Europe, Africa, the Philippines and more making Spain the most dominant force on Earth at the time.

It was during this time that Christopher Columbus, a prominent figure in history, set sail for the Americas in the name of the Spanish Crown, despite being an Italian.

He is widely recognised as the first man to “discover America” though detailed research has since shown he was one of the last, rather than the first.

While Columbus would never publish any works on his voyages and discoveries in Spain, Spanish literature has had a great impact on modern storytelling and the idea of the novel as a whole.

Widely regarded as one of the best pieces of fiction ever released, Don Quixote is often cited as the quintessential piece of Spanish literature.

Written by Miguel de Cervantes and released in two parts (1605, 1615) the novel tells the story of a Spanish nobleman who loses his mind and decided to become a Knight to serve his country.

Originally considered to be quite comical upon its release, the interpretations of Don Quixote have evolved over time with many reading the story as either a social commentary or even a tragedy as centuries progressed.

Much like Don Quxiote, Spanish cuisine has also evolved over the centuries to match new ingredients and cooking techniques brought by visitors (or invaders) from abroad.

During the occupation of the Roman Empire, Spain began cultivating and producing olive oil, and remains the world’s largest producer to this day.

Vineyards have also been a staple of the Spanish countryside for centuries. But many were destroyed during the invasion of Arabs and Berbers in 711 AD, who banished all alcohol in line with their Muslim faith.

 As we now know with the abundance of Spanish wine, this change didn’t last.

Aside from wine, Spain is home to some of the most sought-after cured meats in all Europe.

Paella is also an iconic Spanish dish thanks to the plentiful seafood fished from the coast.

These are two of the most well-known examples, but each of the individual Spanish regions all come with their own culinary delights.

So as you cycle through Spain, make sure you take the time to sample some of its finest!

Freewheel Holidays’ cycling holidays in Spain are available to book right now!

Check out our holiday listings for more information.