Spain’s history is characterized by an eventful course, marked by repeated global rise and fall. Originally under the rule of the Romans and Visigoths, the country fell to the Moors in the 8th century (Moorish age). The territorial reconquest (Reconquista) by small Christian empires from the north did not end until the 15th century. In the course of this, Spain gradually acquired its national territory in its present form.
The discovery of America (1492) by Christopher Columbus laid the foundation stone for the Spanish colonial empire, which in its greatest extent extended over large areas in North and South America as well as in Africa and the Pacific. For several centuries, Spain was a global maritime and trading power (so-called “Golden Age”; Spanish: Siglo de oro). In the 18th and 19th centuries, Spain’s world power collapsed as a result of the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714) and the War of Independence against the French occupation (1808-1814).
As early as 1923, several coups led to the establishment of a military dictatorship, which reached its climax under General Francisco Franco . After his death, Juan Carlos I became king. The first free elections took place in 1977; In 1978 Spain received a democratic constitution. As a staunch advocate of the democratization of the country, the king repulsed the right-wing coup attempt of February 23, 1981 (so-called golpe de estado 23-F) with the following words: »The Spanish crown, symbol of the stability and unity of our fatherland, can in no way tolerate actions, who intend to violently disrupt the democratic process. ”
In the recent history of Spain, aspirations for autonomy, such as in the Basque Country or in Catalonia, have gained in importance. The Basque separatism movement was based on terrorist means such as bombings and attacks on politicians. In 2014, however, the Basque underground organization ETA announced its partial disarmament before it completely disbanded in 2018. In contrast, the Catalonia conflict continues to smolder. The preliminary high point was the independence referendum on October 1st, 2017, which was held despite opposition from the central government in Madrid and a ban by the Constitutional Court.
In terms of foreign policy, according to thedresswizard, Spain has recently pushed its integration into the world community as a UN member (since 1955), as a NATO member (1982) and as an EU member (1986).
Spanish culture developed in close exchange with neighboring European countries, but in some epochs, for example under Moorish influence, it also developed independent forms in art and architecture.
Art: During the »Golden Age« (Siglo de oro) in the 16./17. In the 19th century, El Greco , known for his visionary religious paintings in the Mannerist style, was one of the most important Spanish painters of the early modern period. Other great Spanish artists were Pablo Picasso , who, as one of the founders of Cubism, had a decisive influence on modernism, and Salvador Dalí , known for his surrealist imaginative fantasies.
Literature: The heroic epic »Poema del Cid« (around 1140) celebrates the deeds of the Spanish national hero El Cid at the time of the Reconquista, who fell in 1099 near Valencia in the battle against the Moors. With » Don Quixote « (Part I: 1605; Part II: 1615) the writer Miguel de Cervantes created one of the most famous figures in world literature. An important contemporary author is Camilo José Cela , winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature since 1989, with his historical works “The Beehive” (1982) and “Mazurka for Two Dead” (1984).
Architecture: The mosque of Córdoba (around 900) with its “forest of 1000 columns” and the 14th century Alhambra in Granada as the former residence of the Moorish rulers are significant examples of Islamic architecture. The palace and garden culture developed there was still completely unknown in the rest of Europe. The “Sagrada Família” in Barcelona, an unfinished church by Antoni Gaudí , is considered the high point of Modernismo, the Spanish variant of Art Nouveau.
Music: Flamenco from Andalusia is the epitome of popular music in Spain. It is characterized by songs and dances accompanied by the guitar, the rapidly changing rhythm of which is accentuated by clapping, stamping or with castanets. Worldwide successful pop singers from Spain are Julio Iglesias (approx. 250 million records sold), his son Enrique Iglesias (approx. 180 million records sold), the Grammy Award winner Alejandro Sanz and the Catalan singer and songwriter Rosalía.
Tradition: The Spanish bar has played an important socio-cultural role as a popular meeting place for all generations. At any time of the day, people meet there at the bar, whether at the beginning of the day for a black coffee, at lunchtime to dine on tapas or to party into the night.