Spain from the margins.
April 8, 2007 7:10 AM   Subscribe

SpainFilter: I'll be visiting Spain for three weeks and I'd love some suggestions for places (Museums, etc.) to visit given my interests.

Some of the subjects I'm interested in:

*The recent approval of same-sex marriage in Spain

*Basque/Spain relations (naturally, most places would be in Basque territory)

*Jewish Identity after the Inquisition

*Arab-Spanish Identity

Links would be really helpful. Thanks!

P.S. If you have any suggestions for other subjects that fall in line with this list I'd love to hear them!
posted by jne1813 to Travel & Transportation around Spain (11 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I know this doesn't really apply to your list, and I'm sorry, but I can't imagine going back to Spain and not going back to the Dali museum. Really. This might be my favorite museum in the world!

Official site

A page in English with some pictures

If you are at all interested in Surrealism or even just have a quirky (maybe sick) sense of humor, you will enjoy this place. I believe it's closest to Barcelona.
posted by fiercecupcake at 7:58 AM on April 8, 2007

Do you have your itinerary set, or are you still considering which cities to visit? The things that come to mind are not so much museums as towns and cities. There are museums there in some cases, of course, but you might well get just as much out of being in the place itself.

Would have sent this part by email but there's not one in your profile: I have to also briefly mention a fantastic book I just read that may be of interest to you: Dogs of God. In going on 15 years of reading about Spain, it is one of the best books I've come across. It's just a fantastic read.
posted by veggieboy at 8:15 AM on April 8, 2007

I have not set my itinerary. In fact, I hoped this post would help me. Towns and cities are fine, if not perferred! Email me at if you so desire.

posted by jne1813 at 8:23 AM on April 8, 2007

Any 3 week trip to Spain without spending time would be a sin.... you have go through Andalucia.
don't miss:
a day at The Alhambra in Granada/ the Albaicin neighborhood
a bodega tour in Jerez (Tio Pepe?)
You could take a day trip across the Straits of Gibraltar to Ceuta.
posted by mrmarley at 8:33 AM on April 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

Toledo is a good place to see the jewish and arabic influence in Spain. It is a great medieval city and there are several small museums in the jewish quarter that give a good view. Granada is a great place to see the breadth of the arab influence. It was the center of the Moorish civilization in Spain.

The capital of Madrid is a good place to get a feel for the same-sex marriage and gay scene. The neighborhood of Chueca is the center of this culture and would be a good place to probably get information about same-sex marriage. I don't know much about it offhand but it would be a starting point. One of my Flickr contacts, Jaume d'Urgell is a gay communist journalist in Madrid. He was married to his boyfriend a few years ago. He probably would be a great resource for you.
posted by JJ86 at 8:50 AM on April 8, 2007

I think Gerona is really great for the Jewish stuff.

I did in two weeks (could have been three), San Sebastian (Basque region) to the Southern Coast, to Grenada, to Madrid.

Grenada and San Sebastian were both amazing, and given your interests you should visit both places.

When you're in the basque region, you must go off the beaten path to a cider house where you can eat and drink cider from the big barrels all night. When you're in Grenada absolutely go to the Alhambra, and I'm seconding Chueca Madrid for the same sex stuff.
posted by Packy_1962 at 11:09 AM on April 8, 2007

You have to visit Cordoba! The Mezquita is a two-in-one: a mosque in a cathedral.

I really liked the Reina Sophia Museum in Madrid, they have a nice collection of the best: Picasso's Guernica, lots of Dali, and pop art.
posted by invisible_woman at 11:17 AM on April 8, 2007

To get a feel for the Basque situation, visit Guernika to start to understand some of the historical greivances. Then spend a little time walking around Bilbao and/or San Sebastian and notice how you don't see any Spanish flags except for at the Guardia Civil (national police) stations. If you get lucky, you might see the Basque police, the Ertzaintza, who in their scary masked red-and-black Storm Trooper uniforms reveal how even luxe San Sebastian can feel like a police state.

For contrast, proceed directly to to Madrid and see all the Spanish flags everywhere.
posted by footnote at 2:44 PM on April 8, 2007

I'm not sure I have a lot to add beyond thirding Chueca in Madrid (even though the gentrification may be a little over the top at this point -- welcome to the phenomenon of gay neighborhoods, huh?).

I'm also seconding/thirding C├│rdoba and Granada. If you go to Toledo, I would maybe shoot for a weekday visit and try to stay overnight. This will give you the best chance at experiencing the place free from the day-tripping hoards.

footnote makes a good point about the Basque Country in relation to the rest of Spain. I would say that beyond visiting San Sebastián and/or Bilbao, it's worth heading into the countryside. If you have time, you might want to stay in a rural guest house (agroturismo). I think it will help emphasize the "differentness" of the Basque people and land. When you're outside the cities, you'll be more likely to hear Basque being spoken and you'll get a chance to see another side of Basque life. If you really want to thrill people (esp. outside the cities), learn a few words of Basque. The three words of Basque you use may be more than the lifetime total most people have ever heard from tourists.
posted by veggieboy at 4:47 AM on April 9, 2007

For your interest in religious history, Toledo is a must. There are tons of spots there that will interest you, but I want to point out specifically The Synagogue of Saint Mary the White. From the linked Wiki page:

Its stylistic and cultural classification is not simple, because it was constructed in Christian territory, the Kingdom of Castile, by Islamic constructors, for Jewish use and owers. It is considered a symbol of the cooperation of the Three Cultures who populated the Iberian Peninsula in the Middle Ages.
posted by lampoil at 7:56 AM on April 9, 2007

A book you might want to check out from your local library: Maria Rosa Menocal's The Ornament of the World.
posted by mdonley at 11:56 PM on April 12, 2007

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