Spain may be a storied country of stone castles, snowcapped mountains, vast monuments, and complicated cities, all of which have made it a favoured travel destination. The country is geographically and culturally diverse. Its heartland is that the Meseta, a broad central plateau half a mile above water level . Much of the region is traditionally given over to cattle ranching and grain production; it had been during this rural setting that Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quixote tilted at the tall windmills that also dot the landscape in several places. within the country’s northeast are the broad valley of the Ebro , the mountainous region of Catalonia, and therefore the hilly land of Valencia. To the northwest is that the Cantabrian Mountains , a rugged home in which heavily forested, rain-swept valleys are interspersed with tall peaks. To the south is that the citrus-orchard-rich and irrigated lands of the valley of the Guadalquivir River, celebrated within the renowned lyrics of Spanish poets Federico Garcia Lorca and Antonio Machado; over this valley rises the snowcapped Sierra Nevada. The southern portion of the country is desert, an extension of the Sahara made familiar to Americans through the “spaghetti western” films of the 1960s and early ’70s. Lined with palm trees, rosemary bushes, and other tropical vegetation, the southeastern Mediterranean coast and therefore the Balearic Islands enjoy a mild climate, drawing many visitors and retirees, especially from northern Europe .
Spain’s countryside is quaint, speckled with castles, aqueducts, and ancient ruins, but its cities are resoundingly modern. The Andalusian capital of Sevilla (Seville) is famed for its musical culture and traditional folkways; the Catalonian capital of Barcelona for its secular architecture and maritime industry; and therefore the capital of Madrid for its winding streets, its museums and bookstores, and its around-the-clock lifestyle. Madrid is Spain’s largest city and is additionally its financial and cultural centre, because it has been for many years.