Spain Inspires

With a flamenco beat just around the corner, wine abundant during late night dinners and laughter being heard in the streets, it’s hard not to feel inspired by Spain. Whether you’re in a small town or busy city, there is a line of rich culture and tradition that winds its way throughout the county. Spain has long been a place of inspiration for artists, writers, musicians and actors alike, both foreign and native, who each share their experience in the way they know

Gwyneth Paltrow

When she was 15-years-old, actress Gwyneth Paltrow stayed a small town near Talavera de la Reina in the region of Castilla La Mancha. She’s been back to Spain every year since.

“They seem to enjoy life a little bit more. They aren’t running around as much as in New York. They enjoy time with the family. They don’t always have their Blackberries on.”

A more recent inspiration for the actress has been Spanish cuisine. Paltrow along with Chef Mario Batali, writer Mark Bittman and Spanish actress Claudia Bassols completed a TV series on Spanish cuisine called “Spain…On The Road Again.” The foursome take off on a road trip throughout the different regions of Spain to experience the country’s culinary traditions and history. Paltrow also helped write “Spain…A Culinary Road Trip,” the companion cookbook to the TV series.

Paltrow’s love for Spain and it’s varied gastronomy wasn’t very well known until “Spain…On The Road Again” was broadcast. (She is also fluent in Spanish!) The show’s mouthwatering foods and beautiful scenes are enough to inspire anyone to try the delicious dishes of both new and traditional Spanish cuisine.

Ernest Hemingway

Hemingway once wrote in a letter that Spain was “the last good country left.” The American writer spent manyyears of his life here and the Spanish influence is evident in his novels. Hemingway first traveled to Spain as a young reporter during the Civil War and the experience inspired his famous novel, For Whom the Bell Tolls.

He also had a passion for bullfighting and wrote two nonfiction books on the topic, “The Dangerous Summer” and “Death in the Afternoon.” The fictional matador in “The Sun Also Rises,” was actually named after a real 18th-century torero from Ronda, Spain named Pedro Romero. But the character on one of Hemingway’s contemporaries, another bullfighter from Ronda known as Niño de Palma.

John Lennon

The Beatles hit, “Strawberry Fields Forever” was inspired by John Lennon’s time in Almería, Spain while he was filming the movie “How I Won The War.” During his stay he lived in a small apartment in the beach city of El Zapillo in Almería where he was photographed sitting on a the bed with a guitar and a cassette recorder writing the song. The first demo recording was actually done in Almería, although it was just one verse at the time.

No matter what your profession, you always leave Spain with more than what you originally came with. And I’m not talking about souvenirs and pictures. An unidentifiable inspiration, like a spark being lit inside you, stays with you for years after.

This was originally posted on Andalucia Inside.

References: Spain…On The Road AgainThe Washington PostPRLOGLet Me Take You Down To Almería


Hollywood, History and the Majestic Plaza de España

Built for the Ibero-American Exposition in 1929, what the Plaza de España may lack in history, compared to the Giralda Cathedral or Alcazár, it certainly makes up for in sheer grandness and beauty. Walking up to it, you almost expect to hear some passionate classical music to be playing in the background, welcoming you to this impressive sight (or maybe that’s just me).

A vast, semicircular complex next to the Parque de María Luisa, the Plaza de España combines detailed, ornate beauty with absolute immensity. This scene had been my desktop background for months before I came to Seville, but nothing prepared me for its size and spellbinding effect. The castle-like edifice and tile work, the moat running along the building, the bridges, the fountains…it’s no wonder thousands of people visit this plaza each year.

Click to see more pictures from the Plaza de España!

One interesting fact about the Plaza de España, is that it has been the set for several Hollywood movies. In Lawrence of Arabia, it was used to portray the entry of the General Allenby in alleged Damascus, where the plaza itself portrayed the headquarters of the British Officers. And remember planet Naboo in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones? Yep, it was the Plaza de España. This past August, it was also used to film a scene in the newest Sasha Baron Cohen film, Finchley Dreams.

In 1929, Seville hosted the Ibero-American Exposition, a world’s fair for the purpose of improving relations between Spain and the countries in attendance, many of them being former colonies. In preparation for the World Fair, Spain constructed many new buildings to hold exhibits from their country as well as others. The most famous building to hold these exhibits was built by Spanish architect Don Aníbal González and is what currently surrounds the Plaza de España today.

As I strolled along, underneath the overhang of the buildings, I looked out through the archways into the center of the plaza, trying to comprehend the immense size. From time to time I would stop to listen to the soothing hum of a Spanish ballad being played on guitar or the the amusing sight of a vendor trying to teach two tourists a flamenco beat with castanets. Although I have a few more months of being able to visit the Plaza de España, I wanted each moment of my first visit to be permanently impressed in my memory. But with the sights and sounds surrounding me at Plaza de España, it is certainly an experience that will stay with me for years after I leave.

This was originally posted on Andalucia Inside.

References: Photo credit: Flickr