Passionate, sophisticated and devoted to living the good life, Spain is at once a stereotype come to life and a country more diverse than you ever imagined. Spain's diverse landscapes stir the soul. The Pyrenees is as beautiful as any mountain range on the continent. The wildly beautiful cliffs of Spain's Atlantic northwest are the scene for some of Europe's most spectacular drives, even as the charming coves of the Mediterranean are still the continent's summer destination of choice. And everywhere you go, villages of timeless beauty perch on hilltops, huddle in valleys and cling to coastal outcrops as tiny but resilient outposts of Old Spain.
Spain's story is told with endless creativity through its arts and architecture. Poignantly windswept Roman ruins, cathedrals of rare power and incomparable jewels of Islamic architecture speak of a country where the great civilisations of history have always risen, fallen and left behind their indelible mark.
More recently, what other country could produce such rebellious and relentlessly creative spirits as Salvador Dalí, Pablo Picasso and Antoni Gaudí and place them front and centre in public life? Here, grand monuments to the past coexist alongside architectural creations of such daring that it becomes clear that Spain's future will be every bit as original as its past.
For all such talk, this is a country that lives very much in the present. Perhaps you'll sense it along a crowded postmidnight street when all the world has come out to play. Or maybe that moment will come when a flamenco performer touches something deep in your soul. Whenever it happens, you'll find yourself nodding in recognition: this is Spain.