3 Amazing Spanish Buildings You Need to See in Person

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

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3 Amazing Spanish Buildings You Need to See in Person

Mention Spanish architecture and the name Antoni Gaudí immediately springs to mind. He was responsible for iconic landmarks such as the incomplete La Sagrada Familia and colorful Park Güell. But from Santiago Calatrava to Jose Rafael Moneo, Spain was, and still is, the birthplace of many great architects. Since the Roman era people have been carving a spectacular architectural landscape the length and breadth of the country. They’ve been influenced by the Romanesque, Gothic, Mudéjar, and Baroque styles, among many artistic movements such as Catalan modernism and surrealism. The following three buildings have to been seen in person to fully appreciate them.

Casa Botines, León

Credit: KarSol/Shutterstock

While Gaudí spent most of his working life decorating Catalunya, he did venture outside of the region on three occasions. In the heart of the city of León is his Neo-Gothic masterpiece called Casa Botines. For this mixed business and residential building, Gaudí wanted to honor the architectonic composition of the city and thus spent time studying the local cathedral, churches, and palaces. Work began in 1891 and it took just 10 months to complete. The beautiful exposed-stone building features an inclined roof and towers situated on all corners, which enhance the Gothic effect. It has 365 windows, one to represent each day of the year, and a statue of St. George slaying the dragon stands above the main entrance.

Museum exhibits spread throughout the floors of Casa Botines and showcase everything from the life of Gaudí to the history of the building and centuries-old art. See works by Ramon Casas i Carbó, Joaquín Sorolla, José Navarro Llorens and other Spanish painters.

City of Arts and Sciences, Valencia

Credit: Krezodent/Shutterstock

The Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias is the late-20th century creation of Santiago Calatrava set around a man-made lake in the Turia Gardens. Described as a city within a city, it’s a collection of futuristic buildings that were used as an inspiration for Disney’s fantasy movie Tomorrowland. At the head of the complex is the Palau de les Artes Reina Sofia opera house, where panoramic elevators and stairways travel to platforms at varying heights. The L’Hemisfèric represents a giant eyeball that reflects in the pool and houses an IMAX theater and planetarium. Note the similarities between the structure of the Príncipe Felipe Science Museum and a whale skeleton. Running along the west side of the complex, the L’Umbracle features a sculpture park and landscaped gardens beneath modern arches.

If you fancy some energetic fun then rent a water bike to cruise across the lake and around the exterior of the buildings.

Temple of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Barcelona

Credit: In Green/Shutterstock

There’s no shortage of fascinating churches in Barcelona, and Spain for that matter, and this one atop Mount Tibidabo is among the city’s finest. Often known simply as the Temple of Tibidabo, the Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor dates back to 1902, although wasn’t finished until 1961. Barcelona local Enric Sagnier i Villavecchia designed the church and his son, Josep Maria Sagnier i Vidal, completed it. A Neo-Gothic church rises up from a Romanesque fortress-like platform and evokes reminders of Paris’s Sacré-Cœur basilica. Statues of the 12 Apostles stand on the towers that mark the church’s four corners and a bronze Jesus lords over the entire building. At the lower level, an allegory with the patron saints of Spain decorates an arched entrance. Inside, stained-glass windows portray Marian devotions, saints and scenes from the life of Jesus. Take the lift to the rooftop for splendid views over the city and Parc Natural de la Serra de Collserola.

Portugal: Truth Knowledge And The History Of This Great Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA FACT BOOK)

 

Portugal

Introduction Following its heyday as a world power during the 15th and 16th centuries, Portugal lost much of its wealth and status with the destruction of Lisbon in a 1755 earthquake, occupation during the Napoleonic Wars, and the independence in 1822 of Brazil as a colony. A 1910 revolution deposed the monarchy; for most of the next six decades, repressive governments ran the country. In 1974, a left-wing military coup installed broad democratic reforms. The following year, Portugal granted independence to all of its African colonies. Portugal is a founding member of NATO and entered the EC (now the EU) in 1986
History The early history of Portugal, whose name derives from the Roman name Portus Cale, is shared with the rest of the Iberian Peninsula. The region was settled by Pre-Celts and Celts, giving origin to people like the Gallaeci, Lusitanians, Celtici and Cynetes, visited by Phoenicians and Carthaginians, incorporated in the Roman Republic dominions (as Lusitania after 45 BC), settled again by Suevi, Buri, and Visigoths, and conquered by Moors. Other minor influences include some 5th century vestiges of Alan settlement, which were found in Alenquer, Coimbra and even Lisbon.[6] In 868, during the Reconquista (by which Christians reconquered the Iberian peninsula from the Muslim and Moorish domination), the First County of Portugal was formed. A victory over the Muslims at Ourique in 1139 is traditionally taken as the occasion when Portugal is transformed from a county (County of Portugal as a fief of the Kingdom of León) into an independent kingdom – the Kingdom of Portugal.

On 24 June 1128, the Battle of São Mamede occurred near Guimarães. At the Battle of São Mamede, Afonso Henriques, Count of Portugal, defeated his mother, Countess Teresa, and her lover, Fernão Peres de Trava, in battle – thereby establishing himself as sole leader. Afonso Henriques officially declared Portugal’s independence when he proclaimed himself king of Portugal on 25 July 1139, after the Battle of Ourique, he was recognized as such in 1143 by Afonso VII, king of León and Castile, and in 1179 by Pope Alexander III. Afonso Henriques and his successors, aided by military monastic orders, pushed southward to drive out the Moors, as the size of Portugal covered about half of its present area. In 1249, this Reconquista ended with the capture of the Algarve on the southern coast, giving Portugal its present day borders, with minor exceptions.

In 1373, Portugal made an alliance with England, which is the longest-standing alliance in the world.

In 1383, the king of Castile, husband of the daughter of the Portuguese king who had died without a male heir, claimed his throne. An ensuing popular revolt led to the 1383-1385 Crisis. A faction of petty noblemen and commoners, led by John of Aviz (later John I), seconded by General Nuno Álvares Pereira defeated the Castilians in the Battle of Aljubarrota. This celebrated battle is still a symbol of glory and the struggle for independence from neighboring Spain.

In the following decades, Portugal spearheaded the exploration of the world and undertook the Age of Discovery. Prince Henry the Navigator, son of King João I, became the main sponsor and patron of this endeavor.

In 1415, Portugal gained the first of its overseas colonies when a fleet conquered Ceuta, a prosperous Islamic trade center in North Africa. There followed the first discoveries in the Atlantic: Madeira and the Azores, which led to the first colonization movements.

Throughout the 15th century, Portuguese explorers sailed the coast of Africa, establishing trading posts for several common types of tradable commodities at the time, ranging from gold to slaves, as they looked for a route to India and its spices, which were coveted in Europe. In 1498, Vasco da Gama finally reached India and brought economic prosperity to Portugal and its then population of one million residents.

In 1500, Pedro Álvares Cabral, en route to India, discovered Brazil and claimed it for Portugal. Ten years later, Afonso de Albuquerque conquered Goa, in India, Ormuz in the Persian Strait, and Malacca in what is now a state in Malaysia. Thus, the Portuguese empire held dominion over commerce in the Indian Ocean and South Atlantic. The Portuguese sailors set out to reach Eastern Asia by sailing eastward from Europe landing in such places like Taiwan, Japan, the island of Timor, and it may also have been Portuguese sailors that were the first Europeans to discover Australia.[8]

Portugal’s independence was interrupted between 1580 and 1640. Because the heirless King Sebastian died in battle in Morocco, Philip II of Spain claimed his throne and so became Philip I of Portugal. Although Portugal did not lose its formal independence, it was governed by the same monarch who governed Spain, briefly forming a union of kingdoms, as a personal union; in 1640, John IV spearheaded an uprising backed by disgruntled nobles and was proclaimed king. The Portuguese Restoration War between Portugal and Spain on the aftermath of the 1640 revolt, ended the sixty-year period of the Iberian Union under the House of Habsburg. This was the beginning of the House of Braganza, which was to reign in Portugal until 1910. On 1 November 1755, Lisbon, the largest city and capital of the Portuguese Empire, was strongly shaken by an earthquake which killed thousands and destroyed a large portion of the city.

In the autumn of 1807 Napoleon moved French troops through its allied Spain to invade Portugal. From 1807 to 1811, British-Portuguese forces would successfully fight against the French invasion of Portugal.

Portugal began a slow but inexorable decline until the 20th century. This decline was hastened by the independence in 1822 of the country’s largest colonial possession, Brazil. At the height of European colonialism in the 19th century, Portugal had lost its territory in South America and all but a few bases in Asia. During this phase, Portuguese colonialism focused on expanding its outposts in Africa into nation-sized territories to compete with other European powers there. Portuguese territories eventually included the modern nations of Cape Verde, São Tomé and Príncipe, Guinea-Bissau, Angola, and Mozambique.

In 1910, a revolution deposed the Portuguese monarchy, but chaos continued and considerable economic problems were aggravated by the military intervention in World War I, which led to a military coup d’état in 1926. This in turn led to the establishment of the right-wing dictatorship of the Estado Novo under António de Oliveira Salazar.

In December 1961, the Portuguese army was involved in armed action in its colony of Portuguese India against an Indian invasion. The operations resulted in the defeat of the isolated and relatively small Portuguese defense force which was not able to resist a much larger enemy. The outcome was the loss of the Portuguese territories in the Indian subcontinent.

Also in the early 1960s, independence movements in the Portuguese overseas provinces of Angola, Mozambique, and Portuguese Guinea, in Africa, resulted in the Portuguese Colonial War (1961–1974). In April 1974, a bloodless left-wing military coup in Lisbon, known as the Carnation Revolution, led the way for a modern democracy as well as the independence of the last colonies in Africa shortly after. However, Portugal’s last overseas territory, Macau (Asia), was not handed over to the People’s Republic of China until as late as 1999.

From the 1940s to the 1960s, Portugal was a founding member of NATO, OECD and EFTA. In 1986, Portugal joined the European Union (then the European Economic Community). In 1999, Portugal was one of the founding countries of the euro and the Eurozone. It is also a co-founder of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP), established in 1996 and headquartered in Lisbon.

Geography Location: Southwestern Europe, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, west of Spain
Geographic coordinates: 39 30 N, 8 00 W
Map references: Europe
Area: total: 92,391 sq km
land: 91,951 sq km
water: 440 sq km
note: includes Azores and Madeira Islands
Area – comparative: slightly smaller than Indiana
Land boundaries: total: 1,214 km
border countries: Spain 1,214 km
Coastline: 1,793 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
Climate: maritime temperate; cool and rainy in north, warmer and drier in south
Terrain: mountainous north of the Tagus River, rolling plains in south
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Ponta do Pico (Pico or Pico Alto) on Ilha do Pico in the Azores 2,351 m
Natural resources: fish, forests (cork), iron ore, copper, zinc, tin, tungsten, silver, gold, uranium, marble, clay, gypsum, salt, arable land, hydropower
Land use: arable land: 17.29%
permanent crops: 7.84%
other: 74.87% (2005)
Irrigated land: 6,500 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 73.6 cu km (2005)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 11.09 cu km/yr (10%/12%/78%)
per capita: 1,056 cu m/yr (1998)
Natural hazards: Azores subject to severe earthquakes
Environment – current issues: soil erosion; air pollution caused by industrial and vehicle emissions; water pollution, especially in coastal areas
Environment – international agreements: party to: Air Pollution, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Environmental Modification
Geography – note: Azores and Madeira Islands occupy strategic locations along western sea approaches to Strait of Gibraltar
Politics Portugal is a democratic republic ruled by the constitution of 1976 with Lisbon, the nation’s largest city, as its capital. The four main governing components are the president of the republic, the assembly of the republic, the government, and the courts. The constitution grants the division or separation of powers among legislative, executive, and judicial branches. Portugal like most European countries has no state religion, making it a secular state.

The president, who is elected to a five-year term, has a supervising, non-executive role. The current President is Aníbal Cavaco Silva. The Assembly of the Republic is a unicameral parliament composed of 230 deputies elected for four-year terms. The government is headed by the prime minister (currently José Sócrates), who chooses the Council of Ministers, comprising all the ministers and the respective state secretaries.

The national and regional governments (those of Azores and Madeira autonomous regions), and the Portuguese parliament, are dominated by two political parties, the Socialist Party and the Social Democratic Party. Minority parties Unitarian Democratic Coalition (Portuguese Communist Party plus Ecologist Party “The Greens”), Bloco de Esquerda (Left Bloc) and CDS-PP (People’s Party) are also represented in the parliament and local governments.

The courts are organized into categories, including judicial, administrative, and fiscal. The supreme courts are the courts of last appeal. A thirteen-member constitutional court oversees the constitutionality of legislation.

People Population: 10,676,910 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 16.4% (male 912,995/female 835,715)
15-64 years: 66.2% (male 3,514,905/female 3,555,097)
65 years and over: 17.4% (male 764,443/female 1,093,755) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 39.1 years
male: 37 years
female: 41.3 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.305% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 10.45 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 10.62 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: 3.23 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.09 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.7 male(s)/female
total population: 0.95 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 4.85 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 5.31 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 4.36 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 78.04 years
male: 74.78 years
female: 81.53 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.49 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 0.4% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 22,000 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: fewer than 1,000 (2003 est.)
Nationality: noun: Portuguese (singular and plural)
adjective: Portuguese
Ethnic groups: homogeneous Mediterranean stock; citizens of black African descent who immigrated to mainland during decolonization number less than 100,000; since 1990 East Europeans have entered Portugal
Religions: Roman Catholic 84.5%, other Christian 2.2%, other 0.3%, unknown 9%, none 3.9% (2001 census)
Languages: Portuguese (official), Mirandese (official – but locally used)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 93.3%
male: 95.5%
female: 91.3% (2003 est.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education): total: 15 years
male: 15 years
female: 16 years (2006)
Education expenditures: 5.5% of GDP (2005)