What’s new in Spain for 2021… and an update from the Director of the Spanish Tourist Board
Javier Piñanes, Director of the Spanish Tourist Office in the UK said: “It is with great pleasure that we present the Spain Spring Tourism Update, showcasing all the major developments from across Spanish destinations in the world of art, gastronomy, history and culture, family travel, ecotourism and sustainability.
“Whilst we are currently unable to travel to Spain, there are still a number of exciting developments taking place and the regions have been working very hard behind the scenes to ensure that the travel sector is well prepared for tourism to restart with extensive health and safety measures in place to ensure visitors are safe.
“TURESPAÑA has also rolled out a campaign titled ‘Travel Safe’, designed to inform travellers about the requirements and conditions for safe travels to Spain, and to inspire and encourage tourists to travel to Spain in a safe way. We have incorporated an interactive microsite into www.spain.info with up-to-date information on the entry requirements to Spain, border closures, mobility restrictions, capacity in restaurants, and other tourist services.
“Information is presented in a user-friendly way, so that the traveller will know all the preventive measures and regulations before, during and after their trip.
“With these key actions and the major tourism developments, Spain is a leader in travel safety and offers a very attractive proposition for holidaymakers post-pandemic. We look forward to seeing the fruits of our labour in the form of a steady tourist flow between Spain and the United Kingdom as soon as travel is reinstated.”
Aragón marks the 275th anniversary since the birth of legendary painter Francisco Goya
Aragón will be celebrating the 275th anniversary since the birth of Francisco de Goya y Lucientes. Goya is considered the most important Spanish artist of the late 18th and early 19th centuries and is celebrated as both one of the last of the Old Masters and a forefather of modern art. His masterpieces include a portrait of Charles IV of Spain and his family (1800-1801), The Third of May (1808-1814), and the infamous Saturn Devouring His Son (1819-1823) which was part of the Black Paintings collection. Now in 2021, Aragón will celebrate his life with a programme of events that will take place in cities such as the capital, Zaragoza, and his hometown of Fuendetodos where visitors can pay a visit to his home which was declared a Historic National Monument in 1982.
Inauguration of The Museum of Contemporary Art Helga de Alvear puts Cáceres on the art map
Cáceres, in Extremadura, has welcomed a new museum housing the entire contemporary art collection of Helga de Alvear, a German-born collector with over 3,000 works. The museum was inaugurated by the King of Spain, Felipe VI, and Queen Letizia in February 2021 with the opening exhibition featuring around 200 works from artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Nan Goldin, Doris Salcedo, Tacita Dean, Olafur Eliasson, Wassily Kandinsky and Pablo Picasso. The opening of The Museum of Contemporary Art Helga de Alvear has thrust this corner of Extremadura onto the art world map.
Hauser & Wirth Menorca to open after two-year conservation project
Hauser & Wirth, the gallery which represents over 75 artists and estates around the world will open in Menorca on July 17 with an exhibition of new paintings and sculptures by contemporary artist Mark Bradford. During a two-year conservation project, Hauser & Wirth has repurposed a collection of historic buildings, located only a 10-minute boat ride from the Port of Mahón on the Isla del Rey, into a 1,500-sq-metre arts centre. In addition to exhibitions, Hauser & Wirth Menorca will also provide an educational programme of talks and workshops to engage both the local community and visitors alike. The gallery pre-opened in 2020 with a virtual launch of HWVR, a virtual reality exhibition which offered art connoisseurs an online preview of the art centre which they will be able to visit psychically on the Balearic island later this year.
Santa Clara Island in the bay of San Sebastián set to open a dramatic new art installation
In June, Santa Clara Island in the bay of San Sebastián will open a new dramatic art installation created by Cristina Iglesias. Iglesias, who is known for her work with natural forms, is transforming the abandoned lighthouse on the island into a public art piece titled ‘Hondalea / Marine Abyss’. Intrepid visitors who venture to the island will be welcomed by bronze geological sculptures that fill the lighthouse which promises to “be a space for reflection and communication”.
Valencia launches interactive ‘Design Map’ ahead of its designation as World Design Capital 2022
In anticipation of its designation as World Design Capital 2022, Valencia has launched an interactive ‘Mapa del Disseny’ (‘Design Map’) to showcase the city’s credentials. The map is an innovative guide that invites residents and visitors to explore Valencia through spaces that are committed to design, such as galleries, restaurants, hotels, museums, cafes or shops, among others. The map is available in English and is a great tool for all those who plan to visit the city to celebrate it as the design capital of the world.
CULTURE AND HISTORY
Galicia prepares packed programme for Xacobeo 2021
The Compostela Holy Year or Jacobean Year is a year in which the 25th of July falls on a Sunday allowing for the celebration of the martyrdom of St. James. In these years, believers can obtain plenary indulgence, leaving them completely absolved of all their sins, the highlight of everything the Camino de Santiago represents. Jacobean Years only occur 14 times a century and date back to the Middle Ages with Xacobeo 2021 having been declared an event of exceptional public interest. To celebrate Xacobeo 2021, Galicia has prepared a programme packed with cultural events, exhibitions, seminars with academics and intellectuals, concerts and a whole host of other activities organised throughout the year in Galician towns and cities. The Spanish Ministry of Culture has also created a dedicated website to help those who wish to partake in the Holy Year and their own Camino de Santiago. The site features the full programme of activities as well as information on how visitors can contribute to the celebrations and even provides downloadable artwork and resources.
The Ages: Castilla y León creates major exhibition to celebrate its history coinciding with Xacobeo 2021
Castilla y León has teamed up with the Las Edades del Hombre (Ages of Man) foundation to create a major exhibition titled ‘The Ages’. The launch of this exhibition has been timed to coincide with both the Jacobean Holy Year 2021, referred to as Xacobeo 2021, and the 8th centenary of one of the region’s most famous cathedrals, Burgos Cathedral. ‘The Ages’ will take place in three cities and towns along the Camino de Santiago’s ‘French Way’, namely Burgos, Carrión de los Condes (Palencia) and Sahagún (León) providing an opportunity for visitors to Castilla y León to discover its religious art heritage. A separate but extensive programme of cultural and social activities such as exhibitions, concerts, informative talks, and more will also be taking place in celebration of both the 8th centenary of the Burgos Cathedral and the 7th centenary of the Palencia Cathedral.
Sevilla commemorates V Centenary of the First Circumnavigation of the World
The Magellan-Elcano expedition set off from Seville in 1519 and returned in 1522 after crossing the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. Now 500 years on, Seville is commemorating the historic event with an extensive activity plan. Activity includes: Espacio Primera Vuelta al Mundo an exhibition allowing visitors to discover the first sailing of the world narrated by its main vessel ship, Nao Victoria; The Nao Victoria 500, a full-scale replica of the famous ship moored in the Guadalquivir river; The Magellan Route, a cultural itinerary made up of 30 points of interest that tell the story of the expedition led by Ferdinand of Magellan; the Aquarium of Seville will recreate the journey of Magellan and his crew showcasing the many marine habitats they would have crossed; and Pabellón de la Navegación, a permanent exhibition focusing on ocean navigation, its human side, its science and technology, and its economic, demographic, ecological and social consequences.
Camino del Cid and four other Spanish itineraries create the Cultural Routes in Spain Association
A new association has been created to promote important cultural routes around Spain. The Cultural Routes in Spain Association is formed of the Routes of Prehistoric Rock Art, Ruta Vía de la Plata, Camino del Cid, Routes of Carlos V, and Caminos de Pasión. The association has been created to internationally promote the rich legacy that different cultures have left in Spain over the centuries through itineraries of high historical, artistic and environmental value. This ambitious project contributes significantly to increase the offer of natural and less-crowded environments, according to the new tourist demands following the global pandemic.
Spain’s newest theme park, Puy du Fou, opens its doors in Toledo
Puy du Fou, Spain’s newest theme park, opened its doors in Toledo, Castilla – La Mancha, on March 27 with all the COVID compliant safety measures in place to protect visitors. The new theme park offers a “journey through time” with four new shows, four historic towns that make up the park complex, 30 hectares of natural landscape and its standout night show ‘El Sueño de Toledo’ (‘The Toledo Dream’). Shows scheduled for the 2021 season are inspired by historical events and legendary figures from Spanish folklore. Visitors will also be able to enjoy four period towns to delve further into the history of this part of Castilla – La Mancha. At sunset, the main event begins on the largest stage in Spain. ‘El Sueño de Toledo’ is a 70-minute night show that transport spectators through more than 1,500 years of Spanish history.
Palma launches its first Family Travel Guide
Palma Tourist Board has launched its new family travel guide to support families planning a post-lockdown escape to Mallorca. The guide is packed with fun activities to do in Palma all year round and recommendations of the best child-friendly hotels in Palma and Playa de Palma. The rising trend for multigenerational trips has spurred the tourism authority to widen its appeal for the family market and showcase the best of the city. Palma, with its nearby beaches, family-friendly accommodation, mild climate and short flight time from the UK, is a perfect destination for a family getaway. Its bay, Playa de Palma, stands out as a spectacular gateway to the sea, where guests can enjoy the Mediterranean, its sun and its beaches to the full. Beyond the beaches, Palma has a wide range of restaurants, large open ‘plazas’ where kids can play whilst Palma’s old town is full of history, culture and interesting stories to discover by foot or by bike.
New digital map to explore slow food of Formentera
The smallest of the Balearic Islands, Formentera, has long been recognised for its slow and laid-back way of life, organic produce and sustainable agriculture. To help post-COVID visitors savour the best of Formentera, the island’s tourism board has launched a new slow food map, highlighting its traditional cuisine, local products and distinct flavours. The map locates a number of locally owned businesses across the island where visitors (and locals) will be able to buy organic produce, taste local flavours and learn more about slow food in Formentera. From fruit and vegetable markets to vineyards and producers of olive oil made from locally grown olives, the map highlights the great gastronomic heritage of the island and its reliance on local products which have helped Formentera obtain the ‘Arca del Gusto’ (translated as ‘Ark of Taste’) status, granted by the International Slow Food Organisation.
Seven Catalan restaurants receive the new Michelin Green Star award
This 2021, seven Catalan restaurants have been awarded the new Michelin ‘Green Star’ award. This distinction acknowledges gastronomic quality prepared in a sustainable manner and restaurants committed to the environmental cause. The seven restaurants in Catalonia are: Casa Albets in Lladurs (Lleida), Hermanos Torres Kitchen in Barcelona, Els Casals in Sagàs (Barcelona), L’Antic Molí in Ulldecona (Tarragona), Les Cols in Olot (Girona), Lluerna in Santa Coloma de Gramenet (Barcelona), and Somiatruites in Igualada (Barcelona). Throughout Catalonia, 59 restaurants have one Michelin Star, nine have two Michelin Stars and three have three Michelin Stars.
Girona welcomes the opening of the new Roca brothers’ restaurant Normal
Joan, Josep and Jordi, known collectively as the Roca brothers and famous for El Celler de Can Roca, a three Michelin starred restaurant which previously held the title of ‘Best Restaurant in the World’, have announced a new opening this spring in the heart of the historical town of Girona. Normal was inspired by the desire for normality in their profession, hence its name and joins other projects launched by the brothers such as the recent “Casa Cacao Boutique Hotel El Celler de Can Roca” chocolate workshop, café and hotel, which opened last spring. The hotel has 15 large, cosy, comfortable rooms and a splendid rooftop terrace with a view of Girona that takes in its painted houses on the banks of the river Onyar.
Madrid declares its Restaurantes Centenarios cultural and touristic interest
Madrid has declared its Restaurantes Centenarios of cultural and touristic interest. Restaurantes Centenarios are distinguished by traditional, cultural and gastronomic heritage accumulated over centuries of history. Madrid is valuing these restaurants whose survival has been seriously threatened by the global pandemic. Botín (1725), Lhardy (1839), Casa Alberto (1827), and Bodega de la Ardosa (1892) are some of these time-honoured establishments in which diners can savour many of Madrid’s most traditional dishes, such as Cocido (Madrid-style stew), Soldaditos de Pavía (battered and deep-fried cod with red peppers), and Callos (tripe), or just enjoy a caña of beer, a glass of vermouth on tap, or wines from the region. The Madrid Tourism Board also created a map to help travellers discover the 12 restaurants and taverns that opened more than a century ago.
Murcia holds title as Spanish Capital of Gastronomy for 2021
Murcia has retained its title as the Spanish Capital of Gastronomy for 2021 having been previously awarded the title for 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic has prevented Murcia from hosting many of the events that were scheduled to take place in celebration of its designation. Murcia has programmed a variety of activities including a travelling vegetable museum, gastronomic routes through the region, gastronomic festivals and activity tied to its gastro slogan “1,001 flavours”.
SUSTAINABILITY AND ECOTOURISM
Sierra de las Nieves: Andalucía’s New National Park
Andalucía’s Sierra de las Nieves is set to receive official government approval to become Spain’s 16th national park, the third national park in Andalucía and the first in the province of Málaga. Sierra de las Nieves has been a natural park since 1989, half of it a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve for 25 years and is home to an abundance of flora and fauna including ibex, roe deer, otters, golden eagles and ancient pinsapos (Spanish fir trees) which date back to the Ice Age and are only found in three areas of southern Spain and northern Morocco. Thanks to dedicated campaigning from local communities, the approval of national park status will mean that new funding is made available to build a visitor centre and develop responsible tourism infrastructure within the park.
Málaga’s title as Capital of Smart Tourism extended for 2021
Málaga’s title as European Capital of Smart Tourism has been extended to 2021 verifying the city’s strategic plan to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic. A number of actions have been taken by the city to create a smart and sustainable destination ready to receive visitors. For example, the city has installed public LED lighting, offers more than 20 bike rental stations and has created new bike lanes totalling over 40km of safe cycling paths. The city has also installed smart irrigation systems for parks and gardens to save water and has introduced an Air Quality Sector Plan to reduce air pollution, control pollen levels and improve noise quality. Malaga has also improved street cleaning equipment and worked on better waste separation in the city centre. Much of the 400 plus hectares of green spaces have been revitalised creating natural spaces for bird watching and nature walks.
UNESCO designates ‘Geopark of Granada’
UNESCO has designated an area just outside of Guadix in the region of Granada the ‘Geopark of Granada’. This territory stands out for its geology, morphology and the culture of its inhabitants, who have conditioned their unique way of life from prehistory to the present day. The Geopark is also home to one of the most complete set of fossil remains of the already extinct large mammals that lived during the Quaternary Period (the last 2.5 million years of Earth’s history, when humanity appeared on the planet).
Renfe launches new commercial model that lowers fare prices
Renfe will launch a new ticket purchasing system that will change the current rates and classes, with the aim of offering customers greater personalisation with trips and lowering prices. The new ticketing system will include three rates ‘Basic’, ‘Choose’ and ‘Premium’. ‘Basic’ includes a standard seat and does not allow changes, cancellations or choice of seat while ‘Choose’ offers a far more configurable service allowing passengers to choose type of seat, restaurant services, improve the options for changes and cancellations or buy a ticket for pets. The ‘Premium’, aimed at travellers who demand to have the widest range of possibilities, will have all the additional services included, such as bringing a pet or the default ‘comfort’ seat. This new ticketing system has lowered prices for passengers. For example, the price of a trip by AVE from Madrid to Barcelona will start from €27.25, compared to the previous cheapest rate starting from €32.65, representing a 16.5% discount.