Spain: Cuisine & Architecture

No visit to Spain would be complete without immersing yourself in its phenomenal cuisine and enjoying its stunning architecture. This compelling country has long, illustrious culinary and architectural traditions; no matter where you go in Spain, there’s sure to be a plate of delicious food - and a stunningly designed building - nearby. Before planning a trip to Spain, though, it helps to have a basic overview about the types of cuisine and architecture that help define this romantic country. Below, an exploration of the signature dishes, chefs, architecture and architects of Spain is highlighted for your consideration.

Spanish Cuisine

Without a doubt, paella is the dish that is the most intrinsically tied to the country of Spain. Its unbeatable combination of rice, saffron and meat or seafood make it unforgettable. On hot summer days, a cool bowl of gazpacho andaluz is sure to hit the spot. A delicately fried churro is a great way to top off a meal. However, most Spaniards would agree that tortilla de patatas is the national dish. This egg omelet - which is really more like a frittata - is interspersed with delicious morsels of fried potato. Finally, you can’t go wrong with seafood in Spain.

Spanish Chefs

Today’s most famous Spanish chefs are giving French cuisine a run for its money. The New York Times has dubbed Ferran Adria, a Catalan chef, the best chef in the world. His El Bulli restaurant on the Costa Brava is world-famous for its impeccable cuisine. When it comes to New Basque cuisine, Juan Mari Arzak is the definite master. Finally, creative avant-garde Catalan cuisine is where chef Santi Santamaria truly shines. These masters have all been inspired by their country’s tradition for culinary perfection; if you have the opportunity to enjoy any of their work, be sure to jump at it.

Spanish Architecture

Since the beginning of its history, Spain has been studded with breathtaking examples of forward-thinking architectural design. Many consider the 14th century Alhambra, in Granada, to be among the first truly innovative examples of Spanish architecture. The Burgos Cathedral in Burgos, Spain is a perfect example of the Gothic style. In Madrid, the sweeping Royal Palace abounds in architectural and stylistic delights. For sheer inspiration and flair, though, you can’t beat the designs of Antoni Gaudi; his Sagrada Familia Church, in Barcelona, is something that all architecture lovers should experience at least once in their lives.

Spanish Architects

Although Spain has enjoyed its fair share of talented architects for several centuries now, the modern architects have really made this country shine. Many would agree that Antoni Gaudi started the trend; the Catalan architect’s Art Nouveau creations are sprinkled across the country, but most highly concentrated in Barcelona. The modern architect Santiago Calatrava’s style has been heavily influenced by Gaudi. In his hometown of Valencia, he created the City of Arts and Sciences, transforming the cityscape in one fell swoop. Finally, Ricardo Bofill is the reigning master of Post-Modernist architecture; from the W Barcelona Hotel to the Teatre Nacional de Catalunya, he’s impressing the world one creation at a time.

A Reputation for Perfection

The preceding examples are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Spanish cuisine and architecture. You could plan your vacation around the country’s most famous examples of cuisine and architecture, but you don’t have to. No matter where your travels take you, there’s sure to be exceptional dining opportunities and stunning architecture to enjoy. The Spanish take their cuisine and their architecture quite seriously; travelers get to reap the benefits from that perfection, and you undoubtedly will as well.