SpainIberians, Celts, Phoenicians, and Greeks settled here. Starting from about 200 BCE the province of Hispania was to remain a part of the Roman Empire for 600 years until Germanic tribes invaded in the 5th century CE. From 711, Muslims from North Africa swiftly conquered most of the peninsula. Their realm, called Al-Andalus, developed a unique and diverse culture through the exchange between Muslims, Christians, and Jews.
A little over 1,000 years ago, Cordoba was the richest and most sophisticated city in Europe. Yet, over the next centuries the Christian rulers of kingdoms in the North gradually re-conquered the peninsula. In 1492 the united kingdoms of Castile and Aragon conquered the last Muslim Emirate of Granada, ending 781 years of Islamic rule in Iberia. In the same year, Christopher Columbus arrived on the continent later to be named America. His expedition marked the beginning of the Spanish Golden Age.
Throughout the 16th and 17th centuries, Spain was Europe's leading power. In the 18th century, however, it went into slow decline, and by the end of the 19th century, it had lost most of its colonies. In the beginning of the 20th century, Spain was a short-lived republic that ended in civil war, followed by decades of dictatorship under General Franco. After his death in 1975, Spain became a parliamentary democracy with a constitutional monarchy.
Spain has it all: The hiking trails, the beaches, and just the good life. Enjoy the accessable beautiful inner courtyards of private houses in Andalusia, the many music and other festivals, local Bodegas or wine bars where drinks are accompanied by exquisite tapas.