Spain is a key site when it comes to studying the human prehistory of Europe. After a long and hard conquest Hispania became one of the Roman Empire's most important regions. During the early Middle Ages it came under Germanic rule. Later it was conquered by Muslim invaders. Through a very long and fitful process, the Christian kingdoms in the north gradually rolled back Muslim rule, finally extinguishing its last remnant in Almerí?a in 1492. The same year Columbus reached the New World, a global empire began. Spain became the strongest kingdom in Europe and leading world power during the 16th century and first half of the 17th century, but continued wars and other problems eventually led to a diminished status. A French invasion of Spain in the early 19th century led to chaos; triggering independence movements that tore apart most of the empire and left the country politically unstable. In the 20th century it suffered a devastating civil war and came under the rule of a dictatorship, leading to years of stagnation, but finishing in a strong economic revival. Democracy was restored in 1978 in the form of a constitutional monarchy. In 1986, Spain joined the European Union; experiencing a cultural renaissance and steady economic growth.
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In the 8th century, nearly all of the Iberian Peninsula was conquered (711-718) by mainly Muslims (see Moors) from North Africa. These conquests were part of the expansion of the Umayyad Isalmic Empire Only a number of areas in the mountains to the north of the Iberian Peninsula managed to cling to their independence, occupying the areas roughly corresponding to modern Asturias, Navare and Aragon.
Interior of the Mezquita in oC?rdoba, a Muslim mosque until the Reconquest, after which it became a Christian cathedral.
Under Islam, Christians and Jews were recognised as people of the book, and were free to practice their religion, but faced a number of mandatory discriminations and penalties as dhimmis Conversion to Isalm proceeded at a steadily increasing pace. Following the mass conversions in the 10th and 11th centuries it is believed that Muslims came to outnumber Christians in the remaining Muslim controlled areas.
The Muslim community in the Iberian peninsula was itself diverse and beset by social tensions. The Berber people of North Africa, who had provided the bulk of the invading armies, clashed with the Arab leadership from the Middle East Over time, large Moorish populations became established, especially in the Guadalquivir River valley, the coastal plain of Valencia, and (towards the end of this period) in the mountainous region of Granada.
oC?rdoba, the capital of the caliphate, was the largest, richest and most sophisticated city of medieval western Europe. Mediterranean trade and cultural exchange flourished. Muslims imported a rich intellectual tradition from the Middle East and North Africa. Muslim and Jewish scholars played a great part in reviving and expanding classical Greek learning in Western Europe. The Romanized cultures of the Iberian peninsula interacted with Muslim and Jewish cultures in complex ways, thus giving the region a distinctive culture. Outside the cities, where the vast majority lived, the land ownership system from Roman times remained largely intact as Muslim leaders rarely dispossessed landowners, and the introduction of new crops and techniques led to a remarkable expansion of agriculture.
However, by the 11th century, Muslim holdings had fractured into rival Taifia kingdoms, allowing the small Christian states the opportunity to greatly enlarge their territories and consolidate their positions.The arrival of the North African Muslim ruling sects of the Almoravids and the Almohads restored unity upon Muslim holdings, with a stricter, less tolerant application of Islam, but ultimately, after some successes in invading the north, proved unable to resist the increasing military strength of the Christian states.
Spain Accommodation Guide
At Spanish Fiestas we have many years of travelling around Spain and this experience enables us to recommend a range of hotels all over the country. You can reserve our recommended hotels at special internet rates which offer substantial savings on official rates. You don't have to pay for your hotel until your day of departure and no cancellation fees apply.
Public holidays in Spain
Public holidays celebrated in Spain include a mix of religious (Roman catholic), national and regional observances. Each municipality is allowed to declare a maximum of 14 public holidays per year; up to nine of these are chosen by the national government and at least two are chosen locally.
Spain City Travel Guides
We've written a series of city guides covering most of the main destinations in Spain. These guides include information on airport transfers, city sightseeing, accommodation, recommended bars and restaurants and more. The cities and regions currently covered are the following.
Foreign relations of Spain
After the return of democracy following the death of Franco in 1975, Spain's foreign policy priorities were to break out of the diplomatic isolation of the Franco yearsdi and expand diplomatic relations, enter the European community, and define security relations with the West.
As a member of NATO since 1982, Spain has established itself as a major participant in multilateral international security activities. Spain's EU membership represents an important part of its foreign policy. Even on many international issues beyond western Europe , Spain prefers to coordinate its efforts with its EU partners through the European political cooperation mechanisms.
With the normalization of diplomatic relations with North Korea in 2001, Spain completed the process of universalizing its diplomatic relations.
Spain has maintained its special identification with Latin America . Its policy emphasizes the concept of an Iberoamerican community, essentially the renewal of the historically liberal concept of hispanoamericanismo (or hispanism as it is often referred to in English), which has sought to link the Iberian peninsula with Latin America through language, commerce, history and culture. Spain has been an effective example of transition from dictatorship to democracy for formerly non-democratic South American states, as shown in the many trips that Spain’s King and Prime Ministers have made to the region.