When it comes to culture, the question is sometimes asked: what is culture, exactly? Is culture what people do on a daily basis, namely, live? Or is culture, rather, a lofty expression of the more sophisticated and complex ideas developed by the intellectual elite of any given society? Whether you advocate for the supremacy of high-brow culture, or consider it to be constituted by every aspect of interaction within a social compound, in Spain you will find myriad examples of both kinds, forming a rich and diverse phenomenon.
Rich and Varied Heritage
From the most ordinary habits, such as the variety of dishes that together form a mouthwatering cuisine, to the institutional support for the artistic establishment, Spain holds a surprise around every corner. Ranging from the largely simple and straightforward characteristics of a Mediterranean diet, with plenty of fresh produce from land and sea, to the ingenuity of a number of recipes from the rustic center of the country, such as roast piglet or the famous sopa castellana, to the crafty use of offal throughout the land, Spanish culture is hugely heterogeneous, due both to geographic as well as historical circumstances.
The fascinating mosaic formed by the cultural differences found from region to region across the country extends far beyond matters of eating habits and dress code, however. From patxarán in Navarra, to orujo in Galicia, from sherry in the region between Jerez and Cádiz, to the sweet wine from Málaga, somewhat similar to port wine from Oporto, the various traditions that have defined each of the regions permeate deeply to every aspect of Spanish culture, from what digestive to follow your meal with, to the style and material used to erect buildings in the area.
Popular vs. High-Brow Culture
Intrinsically, the distinction between popular and high-brow culture, which emerges with the question "what is culture?" might not be as drastic as it seems. A good example of this proximity can be found in the characteristics of Spanish architecture. Dating all the way back to Roman times, there are still perfectly solid examples of buildings as ancient as 2000 years old. And then, from Roman to Romanesque, Gothic, Mudéjar, Renaissance and every artistic style to emerge thereafter, Spanish architecture has been shaped as much by aesthetic considerations as it has been by the specific conditions prevalent in the country.
Thus, the emergence of red brick in the region around León as the material of choice in the construction, not only of regular homes but also of official and even religious buildings owed less to taste than to necessity. Similarly, the development of adobe as a viable building material shaped the landscape of the countryside indelibly, much in the same way as the tendencies arrived from the Frankish counties on the other side of the Pyrenees spread from coast to coast and ultimately determined the triumph of Romanesque architecture.
Spectacular as it is, Spanish architecture is indebted in equal measure to circumstances of daily life, such as the coexistence of Muslim, Christian and Hebrew communities, and to the conscious development of aesthetic ideals. This is true of architecture, but it is equally the case with the literature that sprung in parallel with the culture that produced it as a reflection (in both meanings of the word) of the reality of its time. As a matter of fact, this is true of a vast majority of Spanish culture, from the forging of true national forms of expression, such as flamenco, to the paintings of grand masters, such as Goya.
Spanish: A Lot More than a Language
We understand that when you come to Spain to learn Spanish, it's not only about the language... you also want to see and experience new places, take plenty of pictures, meet new people and immerse yourself in the country's fascinating cultural scene. After all, some of the world's top museums and wholly unique festivals are found in Spain. Nevertheless, in order to get a genuine taste of Spanish culture, you need not spend hours in libraries and dusty rooms: just go out there, communicate with the people and experience first hand the cultural paradise that is Spain.
In order for you to be able to do just that, our schools, located in Spain's most interesting destinations, are open all year round (yes, even during festival seasons!), and offer classes focusing on such cultural facets as literature and art history, organizing all sorts of interesting cultural activities and excursions for our valued students!
Below you can read up about a wide range of Spanish cultural topics, ranging from history and festivals to food and drink and everything in between.
Feria de Abril
Pamplona: Running of the bulls
Unusual Fiestas in Spain
Routes through Spain
|Bike Routes Through Spain
|Different Routes of the Camino de Santiago
Summer in Spain
|What to Do in Granada This Summer
What to Do in Marbella This Summer
|What to Do in Madrid This Summer
Special feature: The best pools in Madrid
What to Do in Malaga This Summer
Spanish Characters & Symbols
|Miguel de Cervantes
Federico García Lorca
Fernando de Rojas
Lope de Vega
Miguel de Unamuno
|Luis de Góngora
"Generation of '27"
|Spanish Dance History
|Spanish Music History
|Real Madrid vs Atlético de Madrid (Derby)
Traditional Sports in Spain
Spain's Passion for Soccer
|Spaniards, key players in the NBA
Spanish soccer players and coaches
Sports We're Great At
Rock ‘n’ Roll Madrid Marathon
|Spanish Eating Customs
Authentic Spanish Recipes
History of Spanish Food
Bartolomé Esteban Murillo
El 3 de Mayo
Famous Spanish Buildings
|Museo Reina Sofia
Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias