That Vivacious, Bustling City of Spain .....

Every city of Spain possesses its unique fascination and all offer a harmonious co-existence of tradition and modernity. So ... which city of Spain most appeals to you? Below, you will find information on a selection of the larger cities which, I hope, will help you decide ....

MADRID. Capital of Spain and world capital of bullfighting, Madrid is a charming city with an abundance of open spaces, plazas, bars and caf s. In its Gran Via, one of the most animated streets in Madrid, you will find some of the finests shops in Europe.

Madrid is the country s financial and service center, is of great cultural and historical interest, possesses good public transport and offers a large choice of accommodation.

Madrid also has plenty to keep the children amused: for example the Zoo-Aquarium, located in the Casa de Campo; the Faunia Theme Park, which combines nature and leisure; the Wax Museum (Museo de Cera); the Amusement Park (Parque de Atracciones); and Warner Bros-Madrid Theme Park, which is one of the most spectacular in the world.

Madrid comes alive at night, with lots to do: cinemas, theaters, nightclubs, floorshows, ballet, opera ... not to mention the restaurants, bars and caf s.

And, of course, there are all those marvellous sights to see during the day, many of which can be viewed from an open-top tour bus. Some sights of this city of Spain are as follows:

The Palacio Real or Royal Palace has been the residence of the Spanish Royal Monarchy in Madrid since 1764 and is set in attractive, formal gardens on the site of a Moorish fortress. There are many rooms to visit and, across the courtyard is the Royal Armoury, containing an impressive display of armour. Close by, you will find the beautiful Sabatini Gardens and the Cathedral of the Almudena.

The Plaza Mayor of Madrid is a huge square of 3-storey buildings constructed in 1617. It comprises 136 houses with 437 balconies from which, in the past, the people would watch public events such as bullfights, fiestas and even public hangings! So ... make sure you keep a good, steady head on your shoulders when visiting this capital city of Spain! In the middle of the Square is a statue of Felipe III on horseback, which dates from the mid 19th century.

The Puerta de Alcala of Madrid is in the center of the Plaza de la Independencia on the calle de Alcala. This street houses the most important financial and administrative institutions of Spain, plus such places as the Fine Arts Museum, the Casino, and the churches of Calatravas and San Jos . At the other end of the street is the Puerta del Sol, in the center of which is a statue based on this capital city of Spain s coat of arms.

The Plaza Colon has several monuments dedicated to Colombus and his travels. The Gardens of Discovery, in the center of this Square, are towered over by huge blocks of stone, on which details of the travels of Colombus and his men are inscribed. Beneath the Square is the Cultural Center and, close by, you will find the Madrid Palace of Justice and the Archaeological Museum.

There are many museums in Madrid worth visiting and perhaps the main attraction of this city of Spain is the famous Prado Museum, which houses the world s greatest collection of Spanish paintings. Two other well-known museums are the Museo Thyseen-Bornemisza in the Palacio de Villahermosa, and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sof a.

Madrid also has many parks and gardens, the main one being the huge, 12-hectare Parque del Buen Retiro which contains two palaces and a central lake where you can hire a rowing boat, should the fancy take you!

Madrid also has its share of fountains, such as la Cibeles in the central Plaza de la Cibeles, not far from the Bank of Spain. Another is the Fountain of Neptune, close to the Prado Museum.

There are some notable churches in Madrid, such as San Isidro, San Francisco el Grande, San Jer nimo el Real, las Salesas Reales and las Calatravas. Also convents, such as las Descalzas Reales and la Encarnaci n.

Some say it is unwise to visit Madrid during August because of the heat. However, I have stayed there in August, found it no hotter than on the coast, and with much less traffic and people than usual. In fact, I had a great time!

BARCELONA is the second largest city of Spain, capital of the region of Catalonia, and the country s major commercial and industrial center. It possesses an international airport - el Prat de Llobregat - and is one of Europe s most important ports. A Mediterranean and cosmopolitan city of Spain, Barcelona harmoniously incorporates within its urban layout Roman remains, medieval quarters and fine examples of modernism and 20th century avan-garde art.

In addition, Barcelona has marvellous urban beaches, marinas and seafront golf courses. Nature lovers need not travel far to be able to hike through the hills that are a part of the Coastal Mountain Range and the Catalonian Pyrenees.

There is also penty for the children to do in Barcelona: they will greatly enjoy the beaches which surround this city of Spain; and the marinas in the port offer a wide selection of water sports. Barcelona also has an Aquarium, a Zoo, a Maritime Museum, the Museum of Barcelona Football Club, the Olympic Stadium, and a nearby theme park ... not to mention the numerous parks and gardens within Barcelona itself.

If you are a shopoholic, the Barcelona Shopping Line will appeal to you made up, as it is, of 5 kms of pedestrian streets! As well as the modern shopping centers, you will find olde-worlde type shops, craft shops and street markets. Just don t go spending all your money whilst in this city of Spain!

At night, Barcelona has lots going on with a variety of night clubs, discos, shows, restaurants, bars and caf s. You will also find several theaters, cinemas, opera and classical music concerts in this exciting city of Spain.

Barcelona is, of course, a city of Spain of great historic and cultural attraction, managing to exalt its past without forgetting its commitment to the future. It is made up of various districts and most places of historic interest can be found in the Old Town.

The Old Town spreads north west from the harbor and, at its heart, is the Gothic Quarter or Barrio G tico, an area of narrow streets, quiet squares and home to an abundant collection of Gothic buildings - both civil and religious. El Arco de Triunfo, designed by Josep Vilaseca, is to be found here, plus the impressive Cathedral of Ciudad Condal, surrounding which are medieval palaces.

Adjacent to the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona is the Barrio de la Ribera (Ribera District), also of medieval origin, where many historic buildings have been turned into museums, such as the Palau Aguilar - nowadays the Picasso Museum.

One of the main arteries of the historic quarter of Barcelona is Las Ramblas, a series of five short, lively streets that combine to make a broad avenue leading to the harbor and the Mediterranean Sea. Here, you will find a superb atmosphere with caf s, shops, restaurants and several important buildings and monuments.

To the south west in this city of Spain lies the fortress-topped hill of Montjuic where the Barcelona Olympic Stadium and some fine museums are located.

At the southern end of the Ramblas lies Barcelona Harbor and Port Vell. This area now combines high-class restaurants with trendy clubs and bars, and encompasses many different art styles. Along the promenade is a monument to Colombus. Beaches, piers and an impressive array of museums and leisure centers make the seaport of Barcelona a cosmopolitan place, full of life.

The central area of Barcelona - the Eixample - was defined towards the end of the 19th century, and it is here that the fantasy works and elaborate follies of Gaud (Park G ell, Palau G ell and Casa Mil La Pedrera) and Dom nech i Montaner (Palau de la M sica Catalana) are to be found. Palau G ell was the first modern building to be declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and the Palace is now a museum.

Antonio Gaud is best remembered for the part he played in the construction of the Cathedral of Barcelona - La Sagrada Familia. In 1891 - 9 years after construction began on the neo-Gothic cathedral - Gaud was named its official architect and the project became, for him, a personal obsession. The Cathedral was still unfinished when Gaud died in an accident in 1926. After much controversey as to whether it should remain unfinished as a monument to the architect, it was finally decided in 1979, to continue construction but following the original ideas of Gaud . Its tall towers now dominate Barcelona and it has become a symbol of this city of Spain.

The culture of this second city of Spain is not only evident in its buildings, parks and outdoor sculptures, but also in the innumerable museum collections that Barcelona offers: there are more than 50 museums with permanent and temporary collections, covering a wide variety of subjects .... art, archaeology, zoology, science, ethnology, etc. Art lovers should enjoy the Catalonian National Art Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Barcelona Center for Contemporary Culture, to mention but a few.

TOLEDO. Capital of the region of Castilla la Mancha and situated on the banks of the River Tagus, some 70 kms from Madrid, I think this city of Spain is one of the prettiest and most charming I have ever visited.

Known as the "City of the Three Cultures" because Christians, Arabs and Jews managed to live together in this city of Spain in harmony for centuries, Toledo preserves an artistic and cultural legacy in the form of churches, palaces, fortresses, mosques and synagogues. This great diversity of artistic styles makes the old quarter an open-air museum which has led to it being declared a World Heritage Site.

This city of Spain has its origins in Toletum, the name the Romans gave it in 190 BC. In the Visigothic era, it became the capital of Hispania (6th century). Later, when Carlos V came to the throne in 1519, Toledo became an Imperial capital.

One of the most outstanding buildings of Toledo, siutated in the historic center, is the Cathedral. Construction began in 1226 but took 300 years to complete. So, although it is mainly in Gothic style, there are a multitude of influencs. The exterior is topped by two cathedral towers, one in flamboyant Gothic style and the other in Gothic-Renaissance. The Cathedral Museum houses a rich collection of works by painters such as Goya, El Greco, Lucas Jord n and Van Dyck.

Opposite the Cathedral is the Town Hall of Toledo: a Renaissance-style building possessing two towers with Baroque spires.

The Renaissance mark on Toledo can also be appreciated in the Hospital de Tavera, now turned into a museum and housing paintings by El Greco, Ribera and Titian. The Palaces of Lorenzana and Fuensalida are in Baroque style. Meanwhile, perched on the highest point of Toledo is the Alcazare, a fortress of medieval origin, which presides over the whole of this picturesque city of Spain. Once an Imperial residence, it is now a military museum and one of the largest public libraries in Spain. Its southern facade has a viewpoint enabling you to see wonderful views of the River Tagus and the city s surrounds.

A fine example of the Arab culture which exists in Toledo is found in the Mosque of Cristo de la Luz, built in 999 as a copy of the Mosque of C rdoba. To this, a Romanesque-Mudejar sanctuary was added in the 12th century.

Good examples of Mozarabs (Christians who lived under Moslem rule) in Toledo are the churches of San Sebasti n and Santa Eulalia, while the Mudejas left a fine example of their style in the Church Santiago del Arrabal, which has led it to be known as the "Mudejar Cathedral".

The same Mudejar Style of Toledo can be seen in the Church of Santo Tom , famous for housing El Greco s painting entitled "The Burial of Count Orgaz".

If there is one person s name that defines Toledo, it is that of El Greco. The El Greco House-Museum, a palace with the atmosphere of the period, exhibits some of the best works of the painter, who made this city of Spain world famous.

Remains of the Jewish community of Toledo can be found in the Synagogues of Santa Mar a la Blanca and El Tr nsito, the latter now housing the Sephardic Museum with an interesting collection of art and various objects used in Jewish ceremonies.

Toledo is an easy excursion from Madrid, be it by coach, train or car. Another city of Spain offering a massive selection of restaurants, game dishes are abundant in this area. Along its cobbled streets you will also find a multitude of shops selling a variety of craftwork: marzipan moulded into fancy shapes; lace; and, most famous of all, the beautiful Toledo jewellery and swords.

Toledo is certainly a most picturesque city of Spain and a pleasure to visit.

CORDOBA SPAIN. A joyful and lively place, situated deep in the heart of Andalucia at the highest navigable point of the Guadalquivir River, this charming city of Spain is full of plazas, shady parks, flourishing flower patios, whitewashed courtyards and small, weaving streets. Possessing a splenderous past, this city of Spain manages to gracefully merge its historic remains with the modern areas representative of the bustling place it is today.

C rdoba Spain was founded by the Romans in 152 BC, but the city s greatest hour of glory was when it became the capital of the Moorish kingdom of El Andalus. It was not reconquered by the Christians until 1236.

Its medieval quarter, once the home of the Jewish community of C rdoba Spain, is a labyrinth of winding, narrow streets, shady flower-filled courtyards and picturesque squares. Known as "La Juder a", it has been declared a World Heritage Site, and many beautiful, historic buildings are to be found there.

Perhaps C rdoba s most famous building is the Great Mosque or La Mezquita for this is the most important Islamic monument in the Western world. Work began on it in 784 but continued over the centuries with additions and enlargements so that the result is a variety of construction styles, ranging from Islamic to Mudejar and Renaissance. When C rdoba Spain was reconquered by the Christians, the new rulers of this city of Spain were so impressed with its beauty that they left it standing, building their cathedral in the midst of its rows of arches and columns, and creating the extraordinary church and mosque we see today.

Not far away can be found the Puerta del Puente of C rdoba Spain, the San Rafael Monument and the Alcanzar de los Reyes Cristianos. This latter is a fortress built in 1327 under Alfonso XI, incorporating a Royal House and some marvellous gardens.

Crossing the River by means of the Roman Bridge (El Puente Romano), you will arrive at the Torre de la Clahorra, dated 1369. This was originally built by the Arabs but, today, houses a museum.

Other treasures of this city of Spain include the Palacio de Viaria, dating from the 14th century and known as the Museum of Cordovan Patios because of its 12 inner courtyards; the Episcopal Palace of C rdoba Spain, which is today a museum of religious art; the Molino de la Albolaf a, a reconstructed watermill to be found in the River; and the ancient Jewish Synagogue, now also a museum.

C rdoba Spain is a melting pot of different cultures and it also has plenty to interest nature lovers with its fantastic nature reserves. Not too far away are the Parks of Sierra de Carde a in Los Pedroches and Montoro; and the Hornachuelos Sierra and the Subbetic Mountains offer the possibilities of a variety of open-air sports.

For the children, there are plenty of green areas to play within this city of Spain. There is also the Botanical Garden of C rdoba Spain on the right bank of the Guadalquivir River; the Zoo, situated across from the Botanical Garden; in the town of La Carlota, there is the Fuente Redonda Educational Farm; and, during the summer, the Aquasierra Waterpark can be found 25 kms from this city of Spain.

C rdoba Spain is synonymous with art, culture and leisure, with plenty to offer everyone: flamenco festivals, concerts, ballet, museums and monuments, and .... an exciting nightlife!

MALAGA. Another lively, southern city of Spain and capital of the popular Costa del Sol in Andalucia. It is a major port and industrial center, has the largest airport in Spain and, in its time, has been inhabited by Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans and Moors, who have all left their mark on this wonderful city of Spain.

The Citadel or La Alcazaba (8th-11th centuries), as well as being the symbol of M laga is one of the largest fortresses in Andalucia. An Archaelogical Museum is now located in this building, which contains valuable pieces from Phoenician and Roman periods.

Close by is The Castle of Gibralfaro (14th century), which is joined to the Citadel by a stretch of wall, gives the best views of M laga and its port, and has now been made into a "parador". The Promenade of la Farola is also not far away, and is one of the major leisure areas of M laga. At the foot of Gibralfaro is the Roman Theater, La Malagueta (the bullring), and the historic quarter of the city.

In the center of the historic district stands the Cathedral of M laga (16th-18th centuries), also known as La Manquita because of its unfinished tower. It incorporates Renaissance, Baroque and Neo-Classical styles due to the length of time it took to construct, and it preserves an interesting series of chapels which contain fine examples of Andalusian images.

Other prominent churches in the old town of M laga include Santiago (15th-18th centuries) with a beautiful Mudejar tower; also los M rtires, Sagroado Coraz n, and Santo Cristo de la Salud.

M laga is the birthplace of Spain s celebrated painter, Pablo Picasso. In 1881, he was born in the corner house of an elegant block on the Plaza de la Merced of this beautiful city of Spain and there are several galleries showing his wonderful work. In 1983, his birthplace was declared an historic-artistic monument and, in 1991, it became the headquarters of the Picasso Foundation.

M laga is yet another city of Spain offering extensive green areas such as the impressive Park on calle Alameda, which possesses one of the most celebrated botanical collections in Europe; also, the Gardens of Puerta Oscura and Pedro Luis Alonso.

The main festival of M laga, which has been declared to be of International Tourist Interest, is during Holy Week.

M laga, with its cosmpolitan city life, historic heritage, close proximity to the Costa del Sol, and kindly climate, is a popular city of Spain.

GRANADA SPAIN. Situated at the foot of the spectacular Sierra Nevada ski resort and between the Carrio and Genil Rivers, Granada Spain is one of the most interesting cities in eastern Andalucia.

On the southern side of this city of Spain is 103 kms of Mediterranean coastline with the Costa del Sol and Costa Tropical in close proximity while, in between, a lush, green, fertile plain produces a wide range of exotic fruits.

Granada Spain was first settled by native tribes in the prehistoric period and was known as Ilbyr. When the Romans colonised the southern part of the country, they built their own city there and called it Illibris. The Arabs, invading the Peninsula in the eighth century, gave this city of Spain its current name of Granada.

Because it was the last Muslim city of Spain to be reconquered by the Christians in 1492, at the hands of Queen Isabel of Castile and her husband Ferdinand of Aragon, Granada Spain has an unmistakable Arab flavor, and Moorish and Christian elements go hand-in-hand.

As well as possessing an incredible artistic and historic heritage, Granada Spain boasts an enviable calendar of cultural and leisure events with music, cinema and theater seasons and festivals. As it is part of the European Federation of Convention Cities, it also has numerous exhibition halls, conference rooms and good hotels.

Children will certainly enjoy the activities available in the ski resort so close to this city of Spain (although I have to add that the long queues for ski lifts at popular times like Christmas were very tedious); also, the water sports at the beaches which are not too far away. There is also the Sierra Nevada National Park, the Sierra de Hu tor National Park and the Parque de las Ciencias (Science Museum).

One of the most brilliant jewels of Granada Spain is, of course, the Alhambra, a series of palaces and gardens built under the Nazari Dynasty in the fourteenth century. This mighty compound of buildings - including the summer palace called Generalife, with its beautiful fountains and gardens - stands at the foot of the Sierra Nevada.

The hill facing the Alhambra is the old Moorish casbah or medina called the Albaic n. One of the oldest districts, it has been declared a World Heritage Site of Granada Spain, along with the Alhambra and Generalife. It is a fascinating labyrinth of narrow streets and whitewashed houses, with secluded inner gardens known as "c rmenes". The Plaza de San Nicolas, at the highest point of the Albaic n, is famous for its magnificent view of the Moorish Palace.

Sacromonte Hill, which overlooks Granada Spain from the north, is famous for its cave dwellings, once a home of this city of Spain s large gypsy community. Here, you will see some of the best flamenco shows in Andalucia.

Perhaps the most important Christian monument of Granada Spain is the Cathedral. It was built in 1523 by order of Queen Isabel and originally designed in Gothic style, but was completed in Renaissance style by 1704. Isabel and Ferdinand are buried in the Royal Chapel.

Other major Christian monuments of Granada Spain include the Monastery of la Cartuja and there are also many churches built by Moorish craftsmen after the Reconquest in this city of Spain s unique "mud jar" style.

Among the museums well-worth visiting are the Art Museum in the Palacio de Carlos V at the Alhambra, theAlhambra Museum, the Cathedral Museum, the Archaeological Museum and the Science Museum of Granada Spain.

This city of Spain - with its interesting history, marvellous climate, superb ski resort, plus neighboring golden beaches - is a unique destination for cultural, holiday and adventure travel.

SEVILLE SPAIN. Capital of Andalucia, with its own airport, and the largest southern city of Spain, this joyful, passionate place is packed with life and fascinating historical monuments and buildings, many of which have been declared World Heritage Sites.

Built on the banks of the Guadalquivir River and, according to legend, founded by Hercules, Seville Spain is heir to a rich Arab legacy as well as being the city of Spain of such romantics as Carmen, Don Juan and Figaro.

Its summers are very hot so perhaps Spring is a better time to visit this city of Spain, especially as Seville has two of its major fiestas at this time: first, the annual Feria de Abril (April Fair), which is a week-long party of drink, food and dance, with the women parading in brilliantly-colored flamenco dresses and the men riding their horses; then, at Semana Santa or Easter Week, there is the popular religious festival. These fiestas have been declared of National Tourist Interest.

As well as being home to plenty of museums, art centers and theaters, not to mention the bars and caf s where you can enjoy tapas and wines, Seville Spain also has plenty to offer nature lovers. The Do ana Nature Reserve was declared a World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO, and there is also the Sierra Norte Nature Reserve, both ideal settings for practising outdoor sports. Should golf be your passion, Seville Spain has four excellent golf courses in its vicinity.

There is also a myriad of things for the children to do in this welcoming city of Spain. Perhaps the most remarkable is the Isla M gica (Magic Island) Theme Park and, during the summer, there is the Aqu polis Seville Guadalpark Water Park to visit. Also, not far from Seville, Mundo Park can be found, with its botanical garden, zoo and amusement park.

And, of course, Seville Spain is absolutely steeped in history, with colorful districts such as Triana and La Macarena, plus many buildings and monuments dating from the time of the Moorish Conquest (712). Many of these are to be found in the Old Quarters.

At the heart of the Old Quarters and perhaps the most impressive building, is the Cathedral of Seville Spain. Originally built as a mosque by the Almohads in the late 12th century, it later became the largest Gothic cathedral in the world.

Attached to the Cathedral is La Giralda, the Moorish Tower, the tallest tower in Spain. An ancient minaret of the Islamic Mosque and erected in 1184, its foundations use stones from Roman monuments.

Alongside the River of this city of Spain and close to the bullring, is the Torre del Oro or Golden Tower, built between 1221 and 1222, and one of the last contributions from the Almohade Period in Seville Spain. It formed part of the last wall of defence that ran from the Alcazar to the River, and today houses the Naval Museum. The Alcazar, the Royal Mud jar Palace which was begun in 931, has some marvellous gardens to enjoy whilst visiting this city of Spain.

The Casa de Pilatos (House of Pilate) is a 16th century mansion of Seville Spain, where Mud jar, Gothic and Renaissance styles blend together harmoniously.

Near the Barrio Santa Cruz is the magnificent Plaza de Espa a, designed as the centerpiece of the Spanish Americas Fair, and on the edge of the beautiful Maria Luisa Park.

Apart from these marvellous buildings, Seville Spain offers a wealth of culture, theaters, museums, convents, churches and palaces. In fact, something for everyone in this dashing city of Spain!

VALENCIA SPAIN. Capital of the Comunidad Valenciana and with an airport just 8 kms away, this vibrant, densely-populated city of Spain is synonymous with culture, cinema, theater, museums, music and business, and is famous for being the place where El Cid (Spain s national hero) fought against the Moors.

Situated close to the Mediterranean Sea, this city of Spain possesses two urban beaches still within the township - Levante and Malvarrosa - plus several beaches just a bus ride away, such as Cullera, Gand a and Oliva, where beautiful landscapes are combined with a number of sporting and recreational facilities.

There is a good, modern shopping center, a pulsating nightlife and also, plenty to interest the children. The young ones will enjoy the numerous parks and gardens that grace the urban landscape of Valencia Spain, as well as its urban beaches. They will have a good time at places such as the Gulliver Park Playground, the Botanical Gardens, the Zoo and l Oceanogr fic - a wonderful aquarium and the biggest in Europe.

The most important fiesta of this city of Spain is that of the Fallas, which lasts from 15th-19th March. Easter Week is also very much celebrated, with some marvellous processions.

And, of course, this city of Spain offers plenty of culture and sightseeing .....! Ready? Off we go then .....!

The Old Town. At the heart of old Valencia is the Plaza de la Virgen, which was once the location for the Roman Forum. Around this beautiful square, you will find various other important buildings, such as the Cathedral, which dates from 1262 but was not completed until the 18th century and is in Gothic-Cistercian design. Its octagonal bell tower, called Micalet or Miguelete, is the landmark of Valencia Spain, offering fine views over the whole city.

In the Cathedral s Museum are works of Goya, Jacomart, Cellini, Paggibonsi as well as paintings from the Valencian School of the 15th to 17th centuries.

Next to the Cathedral is the Basilica de la Virgen de los Desamparados, a temple dedicated to the patroness of Valencia Spain and built between 1652 and 1667.

Close by are such buildings as the Almud n (a medieval granary now used as a museum), the Iglesia de San Esteban (where the daughters of the legendary el Cid are said to have been married), the Palacio de Almirantes de Arag n, the church San Juan del Hospital and the Convento de Santo Domingo.

The River Turia was actually diverted around this city of Spain after a catastrophical flood in 1957 and the old river bed is today used for all kinds of sports and leisure activities. The IVAM (Instituto Valenciano de Arte Moderno) is located at the river bed and is one of the leading museums of modern art in Spain.

Well worth seeing also are the three old bridges belonging to this Mediterranean city of Spain: the Puente del Real, the Puente de la Trinidad, and the Puente de Serranos, the latter possessing the Torres de Serranos, 15th century towers that have been part of the old town walls.

La Lonja and Surroundings. At the Plaza del Mercado or market district, you will find what is, perhaps, the best-known monument of Valencia Spain - La Lonja. This was originally constructed as the market or exchange for silks and other merchandise, and is one of the best civil Gothic buildings in Europe. UNESCO declared it a "Heritage of Humanity". At its side is the Baroque church Iglesia de los Santos Juanes and the bell tower Campanil de la Iglesia de Santa Catalina.

Among other buildings of interest in this area of Valencia Spain are the Palacio de la Generalidad at the Plaza de Manises, a 15th century palace now used as a seat of government; the town gate or Torres de Quart, which is the work of Pere Bonfill dating from 1444; and the Rococo-style Palacio del Marquis de Dos Aguas.

Barrio del Carmen is an area highly representative of typical Valencian life: numerous shops, caf s, bars, theaters, restaurants, flower stalls .... in fact, the center of everyday life for this charming city of Spain.

El Ensanche is a more modern part of the city: today s Valencia Spain.

The Gardens. Valencia Spain is known as the land of flowers, and its parks and gardens reflect this: the Jardines de la Alameda and Jardines de Montforte are romantic 18th century parks; the "Real" Gardens include the Zoological Garden and, inside, are the ruins of the old king s palace; the Botanical Gardens house a variety of exotic plants.

Each city of Spain has its own unique attraction and all those mentioned above manage to gracefully combine the historic with the modern. Perhaps, when choosing a place to visit, it is a good idea to pick a city of Spain where its surrounds also appeal to you - be it beaches, ski resorts, nature reserves, or nearby towns/cities of interest.

To discover more about the various regions in which each major city of Spain is found, just click here.