Independent Schools Cultural Alliance - ISCA – Summer Programs in the UK

Spain

Spain is a beautiful, interesting and dynamic country with a lot of regional uniqueness and variety. For example, Madrid and Barcelona are modern, cosmopolitan cities, Granada is rich with history dating back to the Moors and Romans and the Costa Del Sol is a stretch of coastline with fantastic beaches perfect for a relaxing holiday. Spain is regarded as one of the world’s best countries for tourists and this is simply because it has something for everyone!

Our first stop is the capital, Madrid – the cultural and economic heart of Spain. Make your way to Retiro Park and take a pleasant walk around the lake and fountains. Then pay a visit to the Prado Museum. With over 20,000 exhibits, including works by Diego Velázquez, Goya and Titian, it has one of the most extensive collections of European art in the world. Go to the Puerta Del Sol, Madrid’s most famous square. Here you’ll have a glimpse of intriguing statues, public artworks and historic architecture.

If you’re a soccer fan, you can take a guided tour of Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabéu Stadium. This iconic ground has been home to such footballing greats as Zinedine Zidane and five-time Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo.

Next stop is Barcelona. Boasting a reputation as one of the most attractive cities in Europe, Barcelona celebrates its role as the capital of Catalonia. The city’s cosmopolitan international vibe makes it a favourite city for many people and is known for its architecture and art. Barcelona’s architecture is synonymous with Antoni Gaudí and, while the spectacular Sagrada Familia is his most famous legacy, sites around the city including Parc Guell, Casa Mila and Casa Batilo are worth visiting as well.

Stroll along Las Ramblas, Barcelona’s most famous street, and stop at Boqueria Market for its vast selection of produce from around Spain – make sure you pick up some jamón ibérico, it’s delicious! Then discover the Barri Gotic, the Gothic Quarter, which is filled with ancient winding streets and historic buildings. This interesting area has a range of attractions including the wonderful Picasso Museum. With 3,000 pieces of art, this is one of the biggest Picasso Museums in the world. Finish off your tour of Barcelona with a trip to Barceloneta Beach – voted the best city beach in the world.

From here, head to Valencia. This city was founded by the Romans and is famous for the annual Las Fallas spring festival in March which features giant puppets, fireworks and the Spanish national dish of Paella. Walk around Valencia to see how the city combines the past, present and future. Marvel at its historic streets with incredible sights such as the Turia Fountain and Valencia Cathedral and also visit its futuristic art museum, the ‘City of Arts and Sciences’ complex – a must do!

In a small town called Buñol, to the west of Valencia, they celebrate the Tomatina Festival. The festival is the world’s biggest food fight. Every year in August, the people have an hour to throw as many tomatoes as they can at each other – it is manic!

Next stop, Granada. Granada is rich with history and spectacular architecture dating back to the Moors and Romans. It’s always been a city at a crossroads, where culture and ideas from North Africa and Europe collide. Overlooking the city is The Alhambra, a former royal palace and fortress from the Nasrid Dynasty. This fortified palace started life as a walled citadel before becoming the opulent seat of Granada’s Nasrid emirs. You can learn about Spanish history and Spanish Islamic art while admiring the Arabic decorations and colourful mosaics throughout the palace.

Very close to Granada is the Sierra Nevada National Park. This mountain area is a great place for summer hiking, winter skiing and exploring small towns. This area is one of the prettiest and most rugged in Spain and one of the better areas for outdoor activities in the country. There are plenty of trails ranging in length and difficulty, as well as the possibility for guided tours.

From here, go to the Costa Del Sol. With 300 days of sunshine a year, the Costa Del Sol has everything you could want for in a holiday – beaches, history, culture, sports, fantastic cities and the great outdoors. One place to visit is Marbella. Marbella Old Town hasn’t changed over the centuries and still features ancient architecture, a maze of narrow cobbled streets with charming white washed houses and beautiful plazas. At the centre is Orange Square which is full of orange trees and sweetly scented tropical plants. The streets are full of unusual shops and galleries, little chapels and churches and great cafes and restaurants for some tapas!

Our final stop is Seville. Seville is the artistic, cultural, and financial capital of southern Spain and is a city full of architecture, history, and great shopping. Visit the Alcazar de Sevilla. It is the oldest residential palace in Europe still in use and serves as a royal residence when the monarchs of Spain come to visit Seville. (For any Game of Thrones fans, it was also the film location for the Water Gardens of Dorne.) From there, go to the beautiful Plaza de España and then explore Parque de Maria Luisa for a wonderful walk around the gardens, patios and sculptures. A great way to end your tour around this diverse and interesting country.