Interesting Facts About Spain

Part 2      Facts 21 - 40

21.  One of the most important foods in Spain is rice - el arroz.  Rice is cultivated in Spain.

It is the main ingredient of la paella which is one of the most famous, traditional dishes of Spain.  La paella originates from the area of Valencia and it is cooked in a very big pan called la paellera.    It is often prepared outside in the open air during Spanish picnics and day trips.

La paella is a mixture of rice, meat, seafood and vegetables.


Saffron - el azafrán -  is a spice that is often used in Spanish cookery.  It has a strong yellow dye and that is why the rice of la paella is yellow! 

Another commonly-used spice in Spain is paprika - el pimentón.  It gives the food a red or orange colour.


Potato omelette - la tortilla de patatas -  is a well-known Spanish dish.  It is also called la tortilla española - the Spanish omelette.   It is thick, served cold and cut into triangular slices like a cake.

Tortilla de patata. detail on an spanish

Before eating, it is polite and correct to say ¡Buen provecho! meaning 'Enjoy your meal!'


22.   The pomegranate is the symbol of the Spanish city and province of Granada.  In fact, the Spanish word for 'the pomegranate' is la granada.   

The pomegranate representing the city is also displayed at the bottom of the national coat of arms of Spain. 


Image by Ali Kokab

A crowned pomegranate was the personal symbol of Catherine of Aragon - the first wife of Henry VIII of England.  She was Spanish.

Here you can see the coat of arms of the city of Granada - el escudo de Granada.   There is a pomegranate displayed at the lower right and the parents of Catherine of Aragon seated in the centre.  They are King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella.

The pomegranate represents 'rebirth' and 'fertility'.  

23.   In Spanish punctuation there is an upside-down question mark ¿ at the beginning of a question and a normal one at the end.  ¿Cómo estás? 

In written Spanish, there is also an upside-down exclamation mark.  ¡Ay!

The Spanish alphabet contains an additional letter - ñ.  It is the letter n or with a tilde over it.  This letter is called la eñe.  Here are a few examples:  mañana - morning / tomorrow,  niño - boy,  español - Spanish,  España - Spain.

24.   Spain is famous for producing beautiful horses with arched necks and long manes.  The Andalusian horse from Spain - el caballo andaluz-  is believed to be the oldest breed of riding-horse in the world.

The word for horse is el caballo.  The Spanish word for 'the gentleman' is el caballero meaning 'man on horseback'.    In historic times,  a man on horseback (a knight) was of higher class and greater importance than a man on foot.

Image of Andalusian horse below- from Wikimedia Commons, original source: Eigene Aufnahmen. 
Animation by Waugsberg.



25.   Until the late 20th century, it was the tradition in Spanish towns for a nightwatchman to keep an eye on the local security during the night and to carry a heavy bunch of keys to open the main entrances to the buildings.   Often, people would whistle as a signal to call him to come and open the door to their block of flats at night time.  He was known as el sereno. 

Interestingly, there are some Spanish towns where a modern version of this tradition is making a comeback!  Los serenos are active in towns such as an area of Madrid called Chamberí and also in Oviedo and Gijón in the region called el Principado de Asturias.  It is understood that many other Spanish towns would like to see los serenos return to their streets.

Below is an image of un sereno from the early 1900s and an image of un sereno who currently works in the town of Gijón.

sereno de gijon.jpg

26.  Although Christopher Columbus was Italian, he became an explorer for the Spanish King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella (the parents of Catherine of Aragon) in the 15th. century. 
He made four voyages to the New World by ship across the Atlantic Ocean.  On his first voyage, he took three famous ships called -  La Niña, La Pinta and La Santa María. 


In Spanish, his name is Cristóbal Colón.

The date when Cristóbal Colón  arrived in the Americas (12 October, 1492) is celebrated every year in Spain.  For this reason, the date of 12 October is the national day of Spain called La Fiesta Nacional de España.  There are lots of parades, and the King of Spain always takes part in the celebrations in Madrid.

Portrait by artist Sebastiano del Piombo.


The tomb of Christopher Columbus is situated in la Catedral de Sevilla - Seville Cathedral in the region of Andalucía.

It is held by the statues of four kings.  Each king represents a kingdom of Spain. The four kingdoms are - León, Castilla, Aragón and Navarra.

27.   The Spanish national anthem is called La Marcha Real -  The Royal March.     It has no official words.


28.  The oldest, still-functioning restaurant in the world is situated in Madrid.  It was orignally called Casa Botín and it opened in 1725.  Now it is called Restaurante Sobrino de Botín and its address is calle de Cuchilleros, 17.

Photo below by Esetena, Wikimedia

casa botin.JPG

29.   In Spain, the bars serve small plates of food to accompany a drink.  This small dish is called una tapa.  
The word tapa actually means  'lid'.  Originally, workers would go to a tavern after a hard day's work.  
Their glasses of wine or beer would be covered with a slice of food (just like a lid) to keep the flies and dust away from the drink underneath. 

Nowadays, la tapa is food served on a little plate beside the drink.  It is no longer used as a lid on top of the glass!

30.   The University of Salamanca - la Universidad de Salamanca - is famous for a frog that is carved into the stone wall above the main entrance!  This frog is called la rana de Salamanca.

It is said that if you can encontrar la rana  'spot the frog' - you will have good luck.  Traditionally, students go to see the frog for good luck before exams!  Can you spot the frog?  A helpful hint: it is sitting on top of a skull.