Although not geographically vast, the country of Spain is rife with different regions, cities, and sites that are beloved by locals and that draw visitors from all around the world. There are many places, like the cities of Barcelona and Madrid and the island of Ibiza, that are well-known to people outside of the nation and provide exciting entertainment and breathtaking sights. However, if you dig a little deeper and look past the more touristy locations, you’ll discover these four places that are just waiting to be discovered (by people like YOU).
- Toledo– Located about 45 miles outside of Madrid, the city of Toledo is full of rich and diverse culture. The Jewish, Christian, and Muslim influences on the history of the city are evident in cultural aspects such as the architecture of the main cathedral and mosque of Toledo. The old city is situated on a mountaintop and is surrounded by the Tagus River, providing for a unique city structure and spectacular photo opportunities. I was only able to spend a day in Toledo while traveling from Madrid to Valencia (the city in which I studied), but that short period of time was one of my favorite parts of my summer.
- City of Arts and Sciences– Valencia (my personal favorite Spanish city) has the perfect combination of tourist, local, historical, and modern aspects and attractions. My favorite of the modern and tourist attractions is called the City of Arts and Sciences, a complex of buildings with unique architecture that is devoted to science and entertainment. With an IMAX theater, aquarium, and so much more, this “city” kept me busy for days this summer and offered a beautiful sight for me while I rode the city bus to class.
- Sagunto– While in Valencia, I took a course on Spanish culture at the local university. One afternoon, my professor took our class on about a 20-minute train ride outside of the modern and bustling city into what seemed like a whole different world. We were introduced to Sagunto, a very small town that contains the remains of an ancient Iberian and Roman city. It was an afternoon filled with panoramic views and incredibly preserved ruins that is one of the most memorable parts of my entire abroad experience.
- Barraca de Toni Montoliu– If you choose to study abroad in Valencia, Spain, there’s no doubt that you’ll eventually hear about their world famous paella. The rice dish originated in Valencia, and those who live in the city take great pride in this fact. My first weekend in Valencia, the ISA (International Studies Abroad) staff took my group on a short train ride outside of the city center to La Barraca de Toni Montoliu, a farm-restaurant combo that serves what they called the “best paella in the world”. The combination of the rich history, cute animals, and delicious food made for an unforgettable experience.
These are just four of the lesser-known places that I discovered during the summer that I spent abroad in Spain. What hidden treasures will YOU be able to uncover?
Photos courtesy of Adam Kiser.
Adam Kiser is a sophomore at the University of Kentucky studying Animal Science. Adam participated in the ISA Valencia program in summer 2015.