Hispanic Heritage Month - Spain

Photographs from Spain


Each year from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 the United States celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month as a way of honoring the exceptional culture and contributions of Hispanic people.

This year, we're celebrating by taking a trip around the world to explore major Hispanic regions and countries and now we're going to learn all about Spain.


Map of Spain & Spanish Territories


Spain is a country located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Spain is bordered by France in the northeast and shares the peninsula with Portugal. The Balearic Islands of the Mediterranean Sea, the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean just off the west coast of Africa, Ceuta, and Melilla (two enclaves on the northern coast of Morocco) are also Spanish territory. Spain is one of the largest western European nations with almost 200,000 square miles of land and with a population of more than 47,000,000.

Spanish is the official language of Spain though it is often referred to as specificially "Castillian Spanish" to specify it as the standard Spanish spoken in Spain and to differentiate it from the various dialects of Spanish spoken throughout the once-colonized nations of Latin America. However, even in Spain, there are a variety of Spanish dialects spoken throughout the country. 


Flag of Spain


Though Spain has a checkered past with a variety of rulers, currently Spain is a Constitutional Monarchy similar to that of England. This means that while Spain has a King (Felipe VI) as official head of state, this is a neutral and apolitical roll. The government of Spain is lead by a Prime Minister (Pedro Sánchez) and two legislative houses.  


Photo of Spanish Paella



The cuisine in Spain varies widely from region to region though as a whole, Spain may be most widely known for it's small and flavorful bar dishes called Tapas, for Paella; a rice and seafood dish established in Valencia, and for Gazpacho; a cold tomato soup from Andalusia. 


A Flamenco Dancer


Though, in America we generally think of the Spanish as major colonizers (and they were), Spain's own history is riddled with wars and invasions that have meant that to this day, Spain continues to be home to a variety of ethnic and religious groups including Celts, Basques, Romans, Germanic Visigoths, African Muslims, and Roma/Gitanos. In fact, one of the dances most commonly associated with Spain; Flamenco was established by the Gitano population of Southern Spain. 


Photo of Antoni Gaudi's Casa Batllo in Barcelona


Along with the advent of Flamenco, Spain has produced many famous aritists in a variety of areas. Artists Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí were both Spanish-born. Author of Don Quixote Miguel de Cervantes was born in Alcala de Henares, Spain and poet and playwright Federico García Lorca called Fuente Vaqueros, Spain his home before being executed during the Spanish Civil War. Many buildings in and around Barcelona are the amazing works of Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí and produce a skyline that is difficult to ignore. 


Now that we've learned just a little about Spain, we hope we've sparked your interest to learn even more. Check out the lists below for some of the resources you can explore at your local Alachua County Library. 


The People

Granada: A Pomegranate in the Hand of God by Steven NightingaleFlamenco, flamenco - Carlos Saura The Forgetting River: A Modern Tale of Survival, Identity, and the Inquisition by Doreen CarvajalThe Dalí Legacy: How an Eccentric Genius Changed the Art World and Created A Lasting Legacy by Christopher Heath Brown and Jean-Pierre IsboutsGoya: A Portrait of the Artist by Janis A. TomlinsonPablo by Julie Birmant & Clément Oubrerie; translated by Edward Gauvin; coloured by Sandra DesmazièresPoet in Spain by Federico García Lorca ; new translations by Sarah Arvio


The History

Ghosts of Spain: Travels Through Spain and its Silent Past by Giles TremlettThe Age of Disenchantments: The Epic Story of Spain's most notorious literary family and the Long Shadow of the Spanish Civil War by Aaron ShulmanSpain: A Unique History by Stanley G. PayneWhen the Moors Ruled in Europe - Wildfire TelevisionConquistadores: A New History of Spanish Discovery and Conquest by Fernando CervantesIsabella of Castile: Europe's First Great Queen by Giles Tremlett Spain: The Centre of the World, 1519-1682 by Robert Goodwin


The Sights 

Rick Steves SpainInsight Guides to Spain by Victoria TrottFodor's 2019 Essential SpainBarcelona and Catalonia by DK Eyewitness TravelsLonely Planet AndalucíaLonely Planet Madrid Lonely Planet Mallorca


The Food 

Andaluz: A Food Journey through Southern Spain by Fiona DunlopMade In Spain: Spanish Dishes for the American Kitchen by José Andrés with Richard Wolffe and with food photographs by Thomas SchauerTapas: Sensational Small Plates from Spain by Joyce Goldstein with photographs by Leigh BeischSephardi: Cooking the History: Recipes of the Jews of Spain and the Diaspora, from the 13th Century Onwards by Heln̈e Jawhara PięrCúrate: Authentic Spanish Food from an American Kitchen by Katie Button with Genevieve Ko and photography by Evan SungSpanish Made Simple: Foolproof Spanish Recipes for Every Day by Omar AllibhoyGrape, Olive, Pig: Deep Travels through Spain's Food Culture by Matt Goulding


Just for Kids - These titles explore the lands and people of Spain but are leveled-down to be perfect for our youngest friends and family. 

The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf & illustrated by Robert LawsonSpain by Sarah TieckIsabel: Jewel of Castilla by Carolyn MeyerJust being Dalí: The Story of Artist Salvador Dalí by Amy Guglielmo & illustrated by Brett HelquistYour Passport to Spain by Douglas HustadA Journey with Christopher Columbus by Stuart A. KallenA Dragon on the Roof: A Children's Book Inspired by Antoni Gaudí by Cécile Alix & Fred Sochard and translated from the French by Paul Kelly


Want to keep celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month? We've got you covered! Learn all about The Caribbean, Mexico & Central America, South America, Hispanic Films, and Hispanic Music with your library! 


Sources: Britannica, Britannica Kids,

Posted by LiselyL on September 13, 2021