Andalusia is a large autonomous region of hills, rivers and farmland bordering Spain’s southern coast. It was under Moorish rule from the 8th-15th centuries, a legacy that shows in its architecture, including such landmarks as the Alcázar castle in Seville, the capital city, as well as Córdoba’s Mezquita Mosque-Cathedral and Granada’s Alhambra palace.
The Catalonia region, in northeastern Spain, is known for the lively beach resorts of Costa Brava as well as the Pyrenees Mountains. Barcelona, the regional capital, has a historic Gothic Quarter, La Rambla pedestrian mall, museums and several beaches. Antoni Gaudí’s distinctive modern art and architecture can be seen at the Sagrada Família Basilica and in the colorful outdoor mosaics of Park Güell.
The Community of Madrid is one of the seventeen autonomous communities of Spain. It is located in the centre of the Iberian Peninsula, and of the Castilian Central Plateau. Its capital is the city of Madrid, which is also the capital of the country.
The Valencian Community is an autonomous community of Spain. It is the fourth most populous autonomous community after Andalusia, Catalonia and Madrid with more than 4.9 million inhabitants. Its homonymous capital Valencia is the third largest city and metropolitan area in Spain.
Galicia, an autonomous community in Spain’s northwest, is a verdant region with an Atlantic coastline. The cathedral of regional capital Santiago de Compostela is the reputed burial place of the biblical apostle Saint James the Great, and the destination for those following the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route. The western cliffs of Cape Finisterre were considered by the Romans to be the end of the known world.
Castile and León is a region of northwestern Spain, consisting predominantly of a high plateau ringed by mountains. Salamanca is known for its 12th-century university, Renaissance churches and baroque Plaza Mayor. Segovia’s ancient Roman aqueduct has more than 160 arches, and the hilltop Alcázar castle overlooks the city. Ávila is encircled by an 11th-century fortification wall with 82 semicircular towers.
Basque Country (Euskadi) is an autonomous community in northern Spain with strong cultural traditions, a celebrated cuisine and a distinct language that pre-dates the Romance languages. The vibrant riverside city of Bilbao is a hub of architecture and design, where gritty factories and shipyards give way to cutting-edge landmarks such as the titanium-clad Guggenheim Museum along a revitalized waterfront.
Castilla-La Mancha is a region in central Spain to the south and east of Madrid. The setting of 17th-century novel "Don Quixote" by Miguel de Cervantes, it encompasses plains dotted with vineyards, castles and windmills, plus mountain ranges. Towering over the regional capital Toledo is the Alcázar de Toledo, a former fortress housing a military museum. Paintings by Renaissance artist El Greco grace Toledo Cathedral.
The Canary Islands, a Spanish archipelago off the coast of northwestern Africa, are rugged volcanic isles known for their black- and white-sand beaches. Tenerife, the largest island, is dominated by the sometimes-snowy active volcano Mt. Teide, which has its own astronomical observatory and is part of Teide National Park. Tenerife hosts a huge pre-Lent Carnival in the capital, Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
Murcia is a region and province in southeastern Spain. Its Mediterranean coastline, the Costa Cálida, has 250km of beaches. Its hinterland is mostly agricultural, with orchards, olive groves and vineyards between the mountains, medieval castles and villages. The regional capital, also called Murcia, is a lively university town. Murcia's cathedral has a baroque facade, a Gothic interior and a 90m-tall bell tower.
Aragon is a landlocked region in northeastern Spain comprising the provinces of Huesca, Zaragoza and Teruel. It's bisected by the Ebro River, with the Pyrenees Mountains in its north. Aragon is known for its ornate, Moorish-influenced Mudéjar architecture, represented in the 1686 Basilica of Nuestra Senora del Pilar in Zaragoza. The regional capital, Zaragoza is a commercial city of wide boulevards and arcades.
Extremadura, a western Spanish region bordering Portugal, comprises the provinces of Cáceres and Badajoz. It’s a remote area of mountains, forests, lakes and reserves, notably Monfragüe National Park and Cornalvo Natural Park, both sheltering diverse birdlife. The capital, Mérida, is known for Roman ruins of Augusta Emerita, including the Teatro Romano, Circo Romano, aqueducts and a bridge over the Guadiana River.
The Balearic Islands are an archipelago off eastern Spain, in the Mediterranean. Mallorca (Majorca), the largest island, is known for its beaches, scenic coastline and the Serra de Tramuntana mountains to the north. Palma, the capital city, is known for its Gothic cathedral with an altar canopy by modern architect Antoni Gaudí, and Almudaina, a Moorish royal palace.
The Principality of Asturias, a region of northwest Spain, is known for its rugged coast, mountains, religious sites and medieval architecture. Regional capital Oviedo’s San Salvador Cathedral houses religious relic the Shroud of Oviedo. Nearby on Mt. Naranco stands the 9th-century churches of San Miguel de Lillo and Santa María del Naranco, the latter originally built as a palace for King Ramiro I of Asturias.
Navarra (Navarre) is a geographically diverse region in northern Spain. A medieval Basque kingdom, it was annexed by Castile in the 16th century. Dotted with remote villages, its capital and largest city is Pamplona, famous for its annual running of the bulls. Pamplona has 16th-century fortifications, the Gothic Santa María la Real Cathedral and the Museo de Navarra, with archaeological and art collections.
Cantabria is an autonomous region on Spain’s north coast. Santander, the capital, is a port on the Bay of Biscay, known for its long, curving El Sardinero Beach, and Cabo Mayor lighthouse. In the forested Cantabrian Mountains, Picos de Europa National Park has hiking trails and ski areas. The thousands of caves in Cantabria include El Soplao, with unusual stalactites and sheets of calcite hanging from the roof.
La Rioja is a province and autonomous community in northern Spain with a renowned local wine industry. Below the Cantabrian Mountains, vineyards occupy the Ebro valley and surround the old town of Haro. There, the summer festival features the messy Batalla de Vino (wine battle). Local wineries (bodegas) range from small, traditional cellars to major commercial producers.
Two Spanish enclaves on the northern coast of Africa in modern-day Morocco.