Spain Political System, Famous People, Animals and Plants

By | January 15, 2023

Spain: Political System

The Kingdom of Spain is a parliamentary (hereditary) monarchy. The head of state was King Juan Carlos I from 1971 to 2014. He resigned from office on June 18, 2014. He was succeeded on June 19, 2014 by his son King Felipe VI. See AbbreviationFinder for more information about Spain politics, and acronyms as well.

The King appoints the Prime Minister and can remove him from his office in accordance with the constitution. He also appoints and dismisses members of the government on the proposal of the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister of Spain, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, heads a cabinet of eight female and eight ministers. The parliament is a bicameral system. It consists of the House of Representatives with 350 seats and the Senate with currently 259 seats. Each legislative period is 4 years. The House of Representatives can hold the government to political responsibility by means of a constructive vote of no confidence.

According to COMPUTERMINUS.COM, the official name of the country is:

Reiño de España Kingdom of Spain

National anthem

Based on flag descriptions by, the country’s national anthem is the “La Marcha Real” (Royal March). It is one of the few national anthems without a text. It is also one of the oldest in Europe; its origin is unknown. In 1770 King Carlos III declared. from Spain the “Marcha Granadera” for the official “March of Honor”. Dubbed La Marcha Real by the Spanish people, the anthem was always played when members of the royal family appeared in public. During the Second Republic (1931-1939) this song was replaced by the “Himno de Riego”. Franco reintroduced “La Marcha Real” during his dictatorship (1939-1975).

  • Check top-mba-universities for public holidays, sports events, UNESCO world heritage sites and major places to visit in Spain.

Spain: personalities

Ferrán Adriá Acosta (born 1962)

star chef and restaurateur. Ferran Adrià Acosta was born in Catalonia in 1962 and studied business administration. In order to finance a stay on the island, he worked as a dishwasher in a hotel, where he received a cookbook to study. He quickly rose in gastronomy. Today he owns a star restaurant called “El Bulli” on the Costa Brava, which is only open seasonally and is already booked months in advance. In addition, the internationally known avant-garde chef co-founded molecular cuisine and creates various beers .

José de Acosta (c. 1540-1600)

Jesuit missionary. José de Acosta was born in Medina del Campo around 1540 and joined the Jesuits in 1570. Then de Acosta went to Latin America (Peru) as a missionary. In the 1590s his famous “Historia natural y moral de las Indias” appeared, which contains his considerations of indigenous peoples and was later to inspire Humboldt. The altitude sickness (d’Acosta disease) was named after de Acosta because he had described it comprehensively for the first time. De Acosta died in Salamanca in 1600.

El Cid (c. 1043-1099)

Castilian knight of the Reconquista, national hero. Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar alias El Cid was born in Burgos around 1043 and descended from the minor nobility. He initially worked as a lawyer for the Castilian king until the two fell out. He was banished into exile, where he placed himself in the service of the Saragossian emir and defended him militarily. He fought many battles and liberated Valencia from the notorious Moors. His services made him the Spanish national hero. El Cid died in Valencia in 1099. His life was made into a pompous film.

Josemaría Escrivá (1902-1975)

founder of Opus Dei. Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer y Albás was born in Barbastro in 1902 and wanted to become a priest. Among other things, he studied Catholic theology, philosophy and law. He was ordained a priest in 1925. Escrivá founded Opus Dei (Work of God) in Madrid in 1928, which is a pastoral care organization for lay people. During his life he received many honors. He has been the official saint of the Roman Catholic Church since 2002. Escrivá died in Rome in 1975.

Averroës (1126-1198)

Spanish-Arabic philosopher and doctor. Averroës comes from Córdoba and studied law, medicine and philosophy. His high level of education, his critical mind and his open mind were greatly appreciated – Dante even gave him a special place in his “Divine Comedy”. Among the numerous publications there is a medical encyclopedia as well as a scientific paper that deals extensively with Aristotle’s work with commentary. His nickname is therefore also “The Commentator”. He also had an influence on medieval scholasticism. Averroës died in Marrakech in 1198.

Santiago Ramon y Cajal (1852-1934)

medical doctor. Santiago Felipe Ramón y Cajal was born in Navarre in 1852. He received his doctorate from the University of Madrid and in 1883 followed a call as an anatomy professor to Valencia, later to Barcelona. In 1906, together with a colleague, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine for his complete works, which dealt in particular with the nervous system and its finest structures. Cajal died in Madrid in 1934.

Hernán Córtes (1485-1547)

conqueror of the Aztec Empire in Mexico. Hernán Córtes was born in Medellín in 1485. He was responsible for the most famous event of his time, namely the conquest of Tenochtitlán (Mexico) in 1521 – the capital of the Aztec Empire. It was a bloody campaign against the foreign people. Córtes was appointed governor of New Spain by Charles V, which brought him a lot of fame and power, which he eventually had to give up. Córtes finally died alone in Castilleja de la Cuesta in 1547 .

Buenaventura Durruti (1896-1936)

Syndiaclist, anarchic revolutionary. Buenaventura Durruti Dumange was born in Léon in 1896. As one of the most famous people in the Spanish Civil War, he became a legend in the 20th century. He was a fighter and leader of a workers’ corps from 1920 and is said to have been involved in assassinations as a rebel. However, exile and arrest in the Franco regime did not bow his temperament. Durruti died of murder in Madrid in 1936. Hans Magnus Enzensberger filmed his biography, among other things.

José Ortega y Gasset (1883-1955)

sociologist, cultural anthropologist, philosopher. José Ortega y Gasset was born in 1883 to two Madrid journalists and educated by Jesuits. He studied philosophy and spent a lot of time in Germany, including in Marburg, where he was later awarded an honorary doctorate. His most important work is “The uprising of the masses”, which takes the standpoint of the aristocracy and has a change of society towards the elite as its core theme. He also founded several magazines. José Ortega y Gasset died in Madrid in 1955.

Santa Teresa de Jesús (1515-1582)

Carmelite, mystic, saint. Saint Theresa of Ávila was born in Ávila in 1515 and received lessons in the Augustinian convent there as well as from her father. She was repeatedly plagued by illnesses, and once (1554) she had a key experience with the figure of Jesus, which converted her forever. She died in 1582 in her self-founded monastery in Alba de Tormes while traveling. Before that, she had founded a monastery of the Discalced Carmelites in her hometown. In 1617 she was named the patron saint of Spain, and in 1944 she was also the patron saint of chess players.

Alicia Koplowitz (born 1952)

7th Marquise of Bellavista, richest woman in Spain, entrepreneur. Doña Alicia Koplowitz Romero de Juseu was born in Madrid in 1952 as the child of a Jewish entrepreneur of German origin. Her mother was a Cuban who brought a great legacy to the family in Spain. Alicia Koplowitz has a sister who is three years older and who is also very rich. Both increase their wealth in their own way, e.g. B. Buying and selling companies. They are essential for the Spanish economy. There are also charitable foundations.

Maimonides (c. 1135-1204)

Jewish philosopher, physician and scholar. Moses Maimonides was born in Cordoba around 1135 and introduced to Jewish teaching by his father, who was a rabbi. He also received classes in natural sciences and Arabic philosophy. His writings on Jewish law and the philosophy of religion were little respected in his time due to his radical standpoint, which changed after his death. Maimonides died in Cairo in 1204 and is one of the most important Jewish scholars in the world.

Alonso Manso (1460-1539)

bishop. Alonso Manso was born in Becerril de Campos in 1460 and studied theology in Salamanca. He rose to the position of chaplain to Prince Don Juan, later to the position of bishop of Magua (Dominican Republic). He was also active politically in his position and was appointed the eighth governor of Puerto Rico. In the New World he opened not only hospitals but also a school, thereby promoting civilization there. Manso died in Puerto Rico in 1539.

Gregorio Marañón (1887-1960)

medical doctor, philosopher, historian. Gregorio Marañón y Posadillo was born in Madrid in 1887 and is one of the most important Spanish intellectuals of the 20th century. For example, he founded the “2-component theory of emotion”, which states that an emotion arises from both a physical and a psychological component. Gregorio Marañón took up his position as professor of endocrinology (study of hormones) in 1931 at the University of Madrid. He died in 1960 in the city of his birth.

Mariano Montalbán (born 1949)

biochemist, oncologist. Mariano Barbacid Montalbán was born in Madrid in 1949, but spent most of his life in the United States. He completed his doctorate in 1974. He particularly excelled in cancer research, for which he won the Charles Rodolphe Brupbacher Cancer Research Award in 2005. Montalbán has already written more than 200 publications and is the founder of the CNIO in Madrid, where he returned in 1998.

Severo Ochoa (1905-1993)

biochemist. Severo Ochoa was born in Luarca in 1905 and studied at the medical faculty in Madrid. His great role model was the Nobel Prize winner Santiago Ramón y Cajal. After completing his training, Ochoa went to Germany and later to the USA for research purposes. B. the nucleic acid and the DNA decryption. In 1995 he and an American colleague received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Ochoa died in Madrid in 1993.

Francisco de Pizarro (c. 1476-1541)

discoverer and conqueror of the Inca Empire in Peru. Francisco Pizarro González was born in Extremadura around 1476 and is said to have been illiterate throughout his life. He made many trips to Central and South America and conquered the Inca Empire on behalf of Spain. With that the time of colonization began. His battles are notorious, and so is his cunning. De Pizarro died by murder in what is now Lima in 1541.

Michael Servetus (1511-1553)

Doctor, free thinker, scholar, theologian and anti-Trinitarian. Miguel Serveto y Reves was born in Aragón in 1511 and studied law in Toulouse. His book “De trinitatis erroribus” (1531) deals with points of view that contradicted the Church of the time, which harmed him and branded him as a heretic. He traveled around Europe under a false name and devoted himself to further studies in mathematics, medicine and astrology. Servetus finally died in Geneva in 1553 by execution at the behest of John Calvin .

Hernando de Soto (c. 1496-1542)

navigator and conquistador. Hernando de Soto was born in Extremadura around 1496 and made many trips to South and Central America. He conquered Nicaragua and Panama with and later on the side of Pizarro Peru. He went over corpses and rose to become a rich man by trading in slaves. De Soto also carried out the largest seafaring of the time by sailing to Florida. However there was nothing to conquer and no money to make. According to legend, De Soto died of fever on the Mississippi River because he could not find his way back.

Francesco La Vega (date of birth unknown -1815)

archaeologist. The date of birth of the engineer La Vega has remained unknown. However, the following is known about the Spaniard: He was one of the first men to excavate the ancient city of Pompeii. Berets in the 1760s he participated as an assistant, from 1780 he rose to head the archaeological group. The Odeon, the Villa of Diomedes and many more. Buildings were brought to light during his tour. His extensive diary about it gave valuable help in the reconstruction of the city for generations after him. La Vega died gloriously in 1815.

Spain: visual artists

Eduardo Arroyo (born 1937)

Painter, graphic artist, set designer. Eduardo Arroyo was born in Madrid in 1937, where he later studied art. In the late 1950s he turned his back on Spain because of the Franco regime and moved to Paris, where he befriended Joan Miró. However, he came back in 1976. Arroya is one of the most important representatives of politically active realism. His pictures are colorful compositions between Pop Art and Nouvelle Figuration. As a set designer he worked for the Paris Opera, the Berlin Schaubühne and the Salzburg Festival.

Bartolomé Bermejo (1430-1496)

Painter. Bartolomé Bermejo was born in Cordóba in 1430. His most important works include the pictures “St. Damian” and “St. Dominic Enthroned with the 7 Cardinal Virtues”. He was inspired by the Flemish artist van Eyck and oil painting. Bermejo worked in Barcelona and Aragón, among others. In general, his religious painting is characterized by a realistic representation and special plasticity. Bartolomé Bermejo died in Catalonia in 1496.

Justo González Bravo (born 1944)

Painter. Justo González Bravo was born in Badajoz in 1944. His pictures, which are mainly in private collections, but also in international museums, are characterized by strong expressiveness and abstraction. The viewer gradually opens up the meaning behind the colors of his contemporary art, so that he can experience something about himself. He justifies Bravo’s entry into painting by saying “to fathom the subjectivity of one’s own being”.

Santiago Calatrava (born 1951)

Architect, artist and builder of the present. Santiago Calatrava Valls was born in 1951 into a noble family from Valencia, where he also studied architecture. He built the Ostbahnhof in Lisbon, the U-Bahn bridge over the Oberbaum Bridge in Berlin, the Kronprinzenbrücke in Berlin and the Athens Olympic Sports Complex in Athens. His works are characterized by great elegance. In 2008 Tel Aviv University awarded him an honorary doctorate.

Eduardo Chillida (1924-2002)

draftsman and modern sculptor. Eduardo Chillida was born in San Sebastián in 1924 and studied architecture in Madrid. Chilliada is one of the most important sculptors in the 20th century. Among other things, he created the sculpture “Berlin” in front of the Federal Chancellery. However, he began with the artistic processing of stone figures. Outstanding retrospectives of his art took place in America and Germany. In 2002 Chilliada died in his birthplace.

Florencia Coll (born 1959)

Painter and draftsman. Florencia Coll Mirabent was born in Barcelona in 1959, where she later studied art history. In the 1980s she worked with Joan Bolet, commonly known as the restorer of the Museo Nacional de Arte de Cataluña in Barcelona. Coll has already designed many posters artistically that were used at official events and are now e.g. B. can be purchased on Amazon.

Salvador Dalí (1904-1989)

Painter, sculptor, set designer. Salvador Felipe Jacinto Dalí i Domènech was born in Girona in 1904. He is one of the most important representatives of surrealism and the 20th century. His themes revolve around the unconscious and often depict dream sequences or show symbols of intoxication. The most famous works of the genius include “soft watches” and “long-legged elephants”. Dalís Muse was his future wife Gala, who inspired almost all Surrealists. The eccentric artist died in 1989 in his hometown.

Joan Miró (1893-1983)

Painter, sculptor, printmaker. Joan Miró i Ferrà was born in Barcelona in 1893 to a goldsmith. Miró is classified as Classical Modern and was one of the most important painters of the 20th century. His surrealistic, even fantastic works of art are internationally famous. B. the well-known “ESPAÑA” logo. Today there is perfumes, music and much more that bears his name. His sculptures decorate public places in Barcelona. Miró died in 1983 in Palma de Mallorca.

Marià Fortuny (1838-1874)

Painter, printmaker, etcher. Marià Josep Maria Bernat Fortuny i Carbó was born in Reus in 1838 and studied in Barcelona. Goya was one of his role models. Fortuny took part in the Morocco campaign. One of his most famous works is “The Moroccan Snake Tamer”. Portraits and histories are part of his repertoire, most of which can be admired in Venice’s Palazzo Fortuny today. Mariá Fortuny died in 1874 in Rome, the city where he lived most of his life.

Antoni Gaudí (1852-1926)

Architect. Antoni Gaudí i Cornet was born in Reus in 1852 as the child of a coppersmith and studied at the architecture school in Barcelona. He is one of the most important modern architects. Important buildings by Gaudí include: Casa Milá, Casa Battló, Palau Güell, Parque Güell, which can be admired in Barcelona. His main work is the Sagrada Família there. Particularly noteworthy is his style, which has organic, natural forms. Gaudí died in Barcelona in 1926.

El Greco (ca.1541-1614)

Painter, sculptor and architect. Domínikos Theotokópoulos alias El Greco (German: the Greek) was born in Greece around 1541. He worked in Rome, Madrid and Venice, and from 1577 at the Spanish court. Today he is considered the most important representative of Spanish mannerism. Above all, he devoted himself to religious work that the church commissioned him. But his use of bright colors and portraits, to whom he ascribed a kind of spider limb, were frowned upon during El Greco’s lifetime. One of his most famous works is “View of Toledo”. El Greco died in Toledo in 1614 .

Francisco de Goya (1746-1828)

Painter. Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes was born in Aragón in 1746 as the child of a gilder, through whom he met many painters and sculptors. He later focused on religious frescoes and altarpieces. His use of dark colors is famous. Several works can be seen today in the Prado in Madrid. Goya worked as an academy professor in Madrid and also at the Spanish court. The “Maya” works that he created around 1800 are among his most famous paintings. Goya died in Bordeaux in 1828.

Gustavo (born 1939)

Painter. Gustav Peñalver Vico was born in Cartagena in 1939 and was artistically influenced mainly by the painter Miró and the filmmaker Woody Allen. He worked in Paris and Barcelona, among others. Characteristic of his work is the uprising against the Franco regime, which often brought him enemies and the destruction of some paintings by Franco supporters. From the mid-1970s to 1990, the important contemporary painter moved to Berlin-Kreuzberg, where he worked at the Kunsthaus Bethanien. So far he has produced more than 35,000 works.

Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1618-1682)

Baroque painter. Bartolomé Esteban Murillo was born in Seville in 1618. He was mainly influenced by the Dutch painters Rubens and Raffael. Religious paintings (“The Two Trinity”), but also everyday situations (“The Grape Eaters”) come from him, who moved on the interface between realism and spirituality. Murillo died in his hometown in 1682 after falling from a ladder while making a church painting.

Francisco Pradilla y Ortiz (1848-1921)

Painter. Francisco Pradilla y Ortiz was born in Aragon in 1848. He received his training in Saragossa, Madrid and at the Spanish Academy of Fine Arts in Rome. Mostly history paintings come from his hand, but later he also devoted himself to genre miniatures. One of his most famous works is “The Rape of the Sabine Women”. His style is characterized by liveliness. Francisco Pradilla y Ortiz died in Madri d.

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)

Painter, sculptor, printmaker. Pablo Ruiz Picasso was born in Malaga in 1881 and studied in Madrid at the Royal Academy of San Fernando. He is one of the most important artists of the 20th century and is considered a co-founder of Cubism. “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” from 1907 is one of his most important paintings. There are several Picasso museums, including in Paris, Madrid and Cologne. He lived in Paris for a long time and went in and out of Gertrude Stein’s house, who was only just discovering his art. The genius Picasso died in 1973 in Mougins, France, leaving behind around 50,000 works.

Nuria Quevedo (born 1938)

Painter, graphic artist. Nuria Quevedo was born in Barcelona in 1938. Her parents were emigrants who ended up in Berlin. This is how exile became a special theme in her art. She studied graphics at the Berlin-Weißensee School of Art. Multiple awards from the GDR, Quevedo initially devoted himself to the illustration of books (by Anna Seghers, Christa Wolf etc.). For several years she was a member of the Academy of Arts. Her works are exhibited in Leipzig, Berlin and Rostock, among others.

Antonio Tàpies (born 1923)

Painter, sculptor, graphic artist. Antoni Tàpies i Puig was born in Barcelona in 1923, where he later studied law. Tàpies found painting as an autodidact and became the most famous Spanish painter of so-called informal art, who specialized in non-representational representations and developed in anti-war Europe. “My painting is a meditation on human nature,” is how he once described his work, which was influenced by Miró, Klee and Picasso, among others. Politically, he opposed the Franco regime in the 1970s .

Diego Velázquez (1599-1660)

Painter. Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez was born in Seville in 1599 and received lessons from the painter Francisco Herrera and from Peter Paul Rubens. During his life he worked, among other things, at the royal court. Velàzquez rose to become the most important portrait painter of the courtly Baroque. One of his most famous works is called “Las Meninas” and was created in 1656. His works, including historical pictures, are characterized by mystical symbolism, but also by precision. In any case, they inspired many different interpretations for generations after him. Velàzquez died in Madrid in 1660 and influenced well-known painters such as Picasso and Goya.

Fernando Yáñez (1480-1526)

Painter. Fernando Yáñez de la Almedina was born in Ciudad Real in 1480 and studied art in Italy, where he became aware of the work of da Vinci. After his return to Spain he teamed up with the painter Fernando de los Llanos. Community work arose for the Cathedral of Valencia, which revolved around the Blessed Virgin. His most important works include “Lamentation of Christ” and “Cristo Salvator Mundi”. Yáñez died in Valencia in 1526. He is one of the most important painters of the early Renaissance.

Spain: musicians, composers, actors and directors

Musicians, composers

Bebe (born 1978)

Singer, actress. María Nieves Rebolledo Vila alias Bebe was born in 1978 in San Vicente de Alcántara into a family of musicians. She studied acting in Madrid. Her debut album “Pafuera Telarañas” was released in 2004. In the same year she had her international breakthrough with the summer hit “Malo”. A year later she received the Latin Grammy Award for best new artist. After various film songs, which they successfully placed, she said goodbye to the music scene for the time being. Bebe has also played in several Spanish films, including “Al sur de Granada “.

David Bisbal (born 1979)

Singer. David Bisbal was born in Almería in 1979, was later discovered at a talent show and is considered the most famous representative of Spain to ever step into the limelight on such a TV show. In Germany, people are particularly familiar with his song “Silencio”, which he recorded in 2007 for “Wetten, dass …?” performed. His first two albums “Corazón latino” (2002) and “Bulería” (2004) had already achieved great success in Spain.

José Carreras (born 1946)

tenor singer. Josep Carreras i Coll was born in Barcelona in 1946, where he initially studied chemistry and later singing. He made his debut in the play “Nabucco” at the famous Barcelona Opera House. Carreras is one of the most important opera singers in the 2nd half of the 20th century. Together with Luciano Pavarotti and Plàcido Domingo he formed “The Three Tenors”. He has appeared on all major stages in the world, including the New York City Opera, the Vienna State Opera and La Scala in Milan. However, in 2009 he officially retired from the opera stage.

Manu Chao (born 1961)

Singer and guitarist. José-Manuel Thomas Arthur Chao alias Manu Chao was born in Paris in 1961 as the son of Spanish exiles. Before his solo career he was the leader of the band Mano Negra (1987-1995). Internationally famous was his song “Bongo Bong” in 2000, which appeared on the album “Clandestino”, which in turn went platinum. His mixture of world music and reggae is politically left-wing. Manu Chao now lives in Spain and pulls the strings on several musical projects.

Placido Domingo (born 1941)

tenor and conductor. José Plácido Domingo Embil was born in Madrid in 1941 and grew up in Mexico, where he made his debut in the piece “Rigoletto”. Together with Luciano Pavarotti and José Carreras he could be heard as “The Three Tenors” on all major opera stages in the world from the 1990s. His vocal versatility is appreciated, which has earned him countless awards and decorations. Domingo has also been appointed General Director of the Washington DC Opera House and is a very successful conductor.

Rocío Dúrcal (1944-2006)

Singer, actress. Rocío Dúrcal was born in Madrid in 1944 and discovered at a singing competition at the age of 15. Of the total of seven albums and various singles produced, “Amor Eterno” was their most successful song. In addition to the music, Dúrcal also played in several Spanish films. Rocío Dúrcal died of cancer in 2006 in Torrelodones.

Lola Flores (1923-1995)

Singer, actress, flamenco dancer. María Dolores Flores Ruiz was born in Jerez de la Frontera in 1923 and began singing in her father’s inn as a child. Flores, who is counted among the most popular singers of Spanish folk music, was also called “The Pharaoh”. Her temperament was characteristic, which was also expressed in some Spanish films in which she preferred to portray gypsies. She received numerous honors during her life. B. the gold medal of the Círculo de Bellas Artes. Flores died in Madrid in 1995.

Enrique Iglesias (born 1975)

pop singer. Enrique Miguel Iglesias Preysler was born in Madrid to the famous singer Julio Iglesias. He has risen to become one of the most popular Spanish singers and became internationally famous through hits such as “Hero” (2001) and “Not in Love” (2004). Iglesias sang in a duet with Whitney Houston, Kelis, Akon and Lionel Richie. His Filipino mother Isabel Preysler is known as “The Pearl of Manila” and was the beauty queen.

Julio Iglesias (born 1943)

Singer. Julio Iglesias de la Cueva was born in Madrid in 1943 and is considered to be a great linguist because he speaks 14 of them, including German (“And the sea sings his song” is the name of a well-known song by him). It has received more than 2,600 platinum and gold awards. The father of famous pop singer Enrique Iglesias originally studied law and was married to a Filipino beauty queen.

Isabel Pantoja (1956)

Singer. Maria Isabel Pantoja Martín was born in Triana in 1956 into a family of musicians. She has released several albums (“Buena suerte”, Amante, amante “…), where her music style is strongly Andalusian. Pantoja was married to the bullfighter Paquirri, who was impaled in the arena. In 2007 one happened Scandal in which she was arrested on suspicion of corruption, Pantoja could be ransomed for 90,000 euros.

Alejandro Sanz (born 1968)

pop musician. Alejandro Sánchez Pizarro was born in Madrid in 1968 and began playing the guitar and composing songs as a child. In Germany, Sanz is known from the duet “La Tortura” (2005) with Shakira. Otherwise he achieved the highest placements in Spain and was also able to convince America with his fourth and fifth studio album. Sanz received a Grammy award for his album “No es lo mismo” (2003).

Actors, directors

Pedro Almodóvar (born 1949)

Director and screenwriter. Pedro Almodóvar Caballero was born in Ciudad Real in 1949 and had a very religious education, so that he literally apostated from the faith. He made his first films underground, which brought him to his first fame in Spain. The filmmaker received an Oscar in 2003 for his film “All About My Mother”. Melodramatic tension is his trademark. In addition, the homosexual often addresses same-sex love or transsexuality. In the meantime he has advanced to become a cult director .

Alejandro Amenabar (born 1972)

Director and screenwriter. Alejandro Fernando Amenábar Cantos was born in Santiago de Chile in 1972 and is a Chilean-Spanish film director whose parents fled Pinochet as emigrants to Madrid. He studied information science and film art and became known worldwide through his film “The Others” (2001) with Nicole Kidman. “The Sea in Me” (2004) earned him an Oscar and a Golden Globe. Amenabar is avowedly homosexual .

Antonio Banderas (born 1960)

actor. José Antonio Domínguez Banderas was born in Málaga in 1960, where he also attended drama school. Bandera’s film list consists almost exclusively of internationally known titles such as “Das Geisterhaus” (1993), “Evita” (1996), “The Mask of Zorro” (1998). This makes him the most important Spanish actor at all. He is married to the American actress Melanie Griffith and has a star on the “Walk of Fame” in Hollywood.

Javier Bardem (born 1969)

actor. Javier Ángel Encinas Bardem was born in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in 1969. Almost all of his family are actors. However, Bardem first studied painting. The world knows him from films like “The Sea in Me” (2004) or “No Country For Old Men” (2007). He received an Oscar for the latter film. Bardem has been married to actress Penélope Cruz since 2010.

Luis Buñuel (1900-1983)

film director. Luis Buñuel Portolés was born in Calanda in 1900, attended a Jesuit school and studied engineering. The surrealist director had close contact with Dalí and Breton and is known for films such as “An Andalusian Dog” (1929), “Der Würgeengel” (1962) or “The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie” (1972). For the latter he received an Oscar a year later. Luis Buñuel died in Mexico in 1983.

Penélope Cruz (born 1974)

actress. Penélope Cruz Sánchez was born in Alcobendas in 1974 and studied classical ballet. The 1992 film “Belle Epoque” earned her an Oscar. Cruz has a long list of famous roles such as B. in the strips “Don Juan” (1998), “Volver – Rückehren” (2005) or “Sex and the City 2” (2010). She is married to Javier Bardem, who is also a well-known Spanish actor.

Carmen Maura (born 1945)

actress. Carmen Maura was born in Madrid in 1945 and began acting in the theater. In the late 1970s she became known to the director Pedro Almodóvar, through whose films she achieved fame. Maura played in “Women on the Edge of Nervous Breakdown” (1988) and “Volver – Rückehren” (2005). At the film festivals in Cannes and Locarno she has already won several prizes for her acting engagement.

Julio Médem (born 1958)

Director and screenwriter. Julio Médem Lafont was born in San Sebastián in 1958 and, alongside Almodóvar, advanced to become the most famous Spanish film director. Well-known are films such as “The Lovers of the Arctic Circle” (1998) or “Room in Rome” (2010). Médem’s characteristic is the use of symbolism and poetics. He has already received awards for his work in Cannes and Turin.

Fernando Rey (1917-1994)

actor. Fernando Casado Arambillet was born in A Coruña in 1917 and studied architecture. After starting out as an extra, Rey made his breakthrough with a leading role in the film “French Connection – Focal Point Brooklyn” (1971). Other well-known films in which he can be seen include “Wolfsblut” (1973), “Jesus von Nazareth” (1977) or “Die Profikiller” (1984). He often starred in Luis Buñuel films. Rey died in Madrid in 1994.

Nobel Prize Winner


The Nobel Prize is considered to be the highest honor given to scientists, writers and peacemakers (individuals, politicians or organizations).

The award goes back to the Swedish chemist, inventor and industrialist Alfred Nobel (1833–1896).

Nobel had stipulated in his will that a foundation should be established with his fortune, the interest profits of which should be given in the form of a prize to the people who had rendered the greatest benefit to mankind in the past year.

The money should be divided equally for special achievements in the fields of physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine as well as literature and for peace efforts.

The Nobel Foundation was established – following Nobel’s request – on June 29, 1900 and in 1901 the first Nobel Prizes were awarded in 1901.

The winners will be announced in October, while the official award ceremony will take place on December 10 – the anniversary of Nobel’s death – with the exception of the Nobel Peace Prize in Stockholm.

The Nobel Peace Prize is presented in Oslo.

In 1866 Alfred Nobel developed the explosive “dynamite”. There is evidence that his conscience, because of the use of explosives as a weapon of war, led him to write his will to establish the Nobel Foundation.

However, there is no reliable evidence for this interpretation.

Nobel Prize for Literature

Award winner Year of award Reason for the award
Camilo José Cela(1916-2002) 1989 For his rich and haunting prose art, which with cautious compassioncreates a challenging vision of human exposure
Vicente Aleixandre(1898-1984) 1977 For his creative poetry, whichilluminates human relations in the cosmos and in today’s society and at the same time represents the renewal

of traditional Spanish poetry between the wars

Juan Ramón Jiménez(1881-1958) 1956 For his lyric poetry, which in the Spanish language isa model of high spirituality and artistic purity
Jacinto Benavente(1866-1954) 1922 For the happy way in which he carried on the honorable traditions of Spanish drama
José Echegaray(1832-1916) 1904 With reference to its extensive and ingenious authorship,which in an independent and original way revived the great traditions of Spanish drama

Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

Award winner Year of award Reason for the award
Severo Ochoa(1905-1993) However,

he was an American from 1956

1959 Together with the American Arthur Kornbergfor the discovery of the mechanism in the biological synthesis of RNA and DNA.
Santiago Ramón y Cajal(1852-1934) 1906 Together with the Italian Camillo Golgi:In recognition of her work on the structure of the nervous system

Alfred Nobel Memorial Prize for Economics


The Alfred Nobel Memorial Prize for Economics does not go back directly to Alfred Nobel’s will, but was donated by the Swedish Reichsbank in 1968 on the basis of the Nobel Prizes on the occasion of its 300th anniversary.

The prize was awarded for the first time in 1969 to the Norwegian Ragnar AK Frisch (1895–1973) and the Dutchman Jan Tinbergen (1903–1994).

Spain: politicians and rulers

Alfonso X – called The Wise (1221-1284)

King of Castile and León and King of the Holy Roman Empire. Alfonso X was born in Toledo in 1221 and was very educated. Among other things, he founded a translation school and wrote several works, e.g. B. a philosophical writing. He also introduced a sustainable legal system. In addition, he founded the Spanish national literature. Alfonso X died in Seville in 1284. A moon crater was named after him – the Alfons crater.

Amadeus I. (1845-1890)

King of Spain, Duke of Aosta. Amadeus Ferdinand Maria of Savoy was born in Turin in 1845 and was enthroned by the Cortes. His short reign was from late 1870 to early 1873. Then he abdicated and caused the proclamation of the republic. He had a total of two marriages because his first wife divorced early. Amadeus I died in his hometown in 1890.

Ferdinand II. – called The Catholic (1452-1516)

King of Aragón, Sardinia and Sicily. Ferdinand II was born in Sos in 1452 and is considered a great diplomat. His reign coincided with the discovery of the New World by Columbus, which brought great sea and land domination and wealth to Spain. Later he was also King of Castile and León under the name Ferdinand V and, since 1505, King of Naples. He died in Madrigalejo in 1516.

Manuel Azaña (1880-1940)

President and Prime Minister. Manuel Azaña y Díaz was born in Alcalá de Henares in 1880. During the second Spanish Republic, he ruled as second president from 1936-1939. He did not count on the vicious enemy Francisco Franco, who set up a counter-government, which was to start the Spanish Civil War. Manuel Azaña then fled to France and died in Montauban in 1940.

Juan Carlos I (born 1938)

King of Spain. Juan Carlos Alfonso Víctor María de Borbón y Borbón-Dos Sicilias was born in Rome in 1938 and lived in Spain since he was 10 years old. In 1975 he ascended the Spanish throne after Franco’s death. His merit is not only the end of the dictatorship, but also the introduction of democracy in the country. He has received countless honors. He also likes to sail and works as a recreational radio operator.

Francisco Serrano Domínguez (1810-1885)

President, General. Francisco Serrano y Domínguez was born in San Fernando in 1810, the son of Gernal. During the First Spanish Republic, he was the last president to rule for a year. His tactics were dictatorial. He was also responsible for the dissolution of Cortes. A successful coup disempowered him so that the kingdom could revive. Francisco Serrano y Domínguez died in Madrid in 1885.

Francisco Franco (1892-1975)

dictator, general. Francisco Paulino Hermenegildo Teódulo Franco y Bahamonde Salgado Pardo was born in Ferrol in 1892. From 1939 he was the dictatorial head of state of Spain, which he had militarily defeated as a republic in the Spanish Civil War. In 1946 he reintroduced the monarchy, but resisted the appointment of a king and remained in power himself until his death. He was a feared politician who ruthlessly persecuted and murdered his enemies in his own country. Franco died in Madrid in 1975.

Isabella I of Castile – called The Catholic (1451-1504)

Queen of Castile and León. Isabella I of Castile was born in 1451 in Madrigal de las Altas Torres. She was married to Ferdinand II, during whose reign she also became Queen of Aragón (1469-1504). Their common merit was the introduction of a Spanish judicial and police system. Unfortunately for the country, they also introduced the Inquisition. However, under their rule, Spain rose to become a great power. Isabella I died in Medina del Campo in 1504.

Isabella II (1830-1904)

Queen. Isabel de Borbón y Borbón-Dos Sicilias was born in Madrid in 1830 and ruled Spain from 1833-1868. Their claim to the crown was questioned by relatives and led to the so-called Carlist Wars. Her reign was difficult as the established colonial empire was in decline. In addition, a revolution broke out in 1868, from which she fled to France and abdicated as queen a year later. Isabella II died in Paris in 1904.

James I of Aragón – called The Conqueror (1208-1276)

King of Aragón as well as of Valencia. James I of Aragón was born in 1208 and was king at the age of 5. He received training in the Knights Templar. He is called the Conqueror because, among other things, he conquered Valencia and the Balearic Islands. He is considered a co-founder of the religious Mercedarian order, which was originally designed for knights. This order still exists today. Jacob I died in 1276.

Johanna I. – called Die Wahnsinnige (1479-1555)

Queen, wife of Philip the Beautiful and mother of Charles V. Johanna I was born in Toledo in 1479. She inherited the great Spanish empire (with South and Central America as well as the West Indies) after the death of her mother Isabella I. The men around her (the husband, the father) did everything to usurp this inheritance for themselves. She defended herself but was bullied too much and seems to have gone mad about it. Johanna I died in Tordesillas in 1555.

Charles III (1716-1788)

King. Charles III was born in Madrid in 1716. He ruled the Kingdom of Spain from 1759 to 1788 after the death of his brother as an absolutist monarch who, however, allowed enlightenment and supported education. During his reign he made sure that the Jesuits disappeared from Spain. He had previously been King of Sicily and Naples (1735-1759) and had magnificent buildings built, especially in Madrid. He also introduced a public sewage system and the lighting of public spaces. Charles III died in 1788 in his hometown.

Charles IV (1748-1819)

King. Charles IV was born in Portici in 1748. He ruled Spain from 1788-1808, but preferred to leave the decisions to his favorite Manuel de Godoy. This defensive stance spurred his son on to force him to abdicate. Napoleon Bonaparte helped him with this. He was also married to Queen Maria-Luise, who was also the more offensive and stronger part in the marriage. Goya, a protégée of the regent, had drawn a portrait of the family that shows that relationship very well. Charles IV died in Rome in 1819.

Charles V (1500 – 1558)

Charles came from the Habsburg dynasty. From 1516 he was King of Spain as Charles I. In 1519 he became Roman-German King and, after his coronation in 1520 in the Imperial Cathedral of Aachen, “elected” Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire “.

In 1530 he was crowned emperor by the Pope in Rome, making him the last Roman-German emperor.

Thanks to the conquest of America, he ruled over an empire “in which the sun never set”. As one of the few rulers he resigned from all his offices – on August 23, 1556 he renounced the Spanish throne in favor of his son Philip II his brother Ferdinand I. He died on September 21, 1558 in the monastery of San Jerónimo de Yuste in Extremadura – one of the 17 Spanish autonomous communities today.

Ludwig I (1707-1724)

Ludwig I was born in Madrid in 1707 and married at the age of 14. His father was King Philip V of Spain. He abdicated early when Ludwig was just 17 and was to rule over Spain from then on. But after only six months he died of smallpox in his hometown. It was 1724. He had no descendants. His father took over the reign again and referred the remaining widow back to her native France.

Philip I – called The Handsome (1478-1506)

King of Castile and Léon, Duke of Burgundy. Philip I of Habsburg was born in Bruges in 1478. His wife was Johanna I., called Die Wahnsinnige. He wanted to steal her huge legacy, which included South and Central America, among others. At least there was an open hostility to her father, who was equally installed as an heir. He was the first Habsburg to be allowed to rule Spain at all. Philip I died of a fever in Burgos in 1506.

Philip II (1527-1598)

King. Philip II was born in Valladolid in 1527 as the eldest son of Emperor Charles V. He was not only the first king of Spain (self-proclaimed), but also of Portugal (from 1580). Through him, Spain achieved splendor and,

above all, power that would never be achieved again afterwards. However, he also suffered losses, including his Dutch provinces. Philip II died near Madrid in 1598.

Philip V (1683-1746)

King of the Bourbon House. Philip V was born in Versailles in 1683. He ruled as King of Spain from 1700 until his death. He was the first to come to the throne from the House of Bourbon and fought hard against the House of Habsburg in the War of the Spanish Succession. He also ruled over Sicily, Naples and Sardinia for some time. Philip V died in Madrid in 1746.

Niceto Alcalá Zamora (1877-1949)

President. Niceto Alcalá Zamora y Torres was born in Priego de Córdoba in 1877 and ruled Spain from 1931-1936 as the first President of the Second Spanish Republic. He was right-wing liberal and ensured the extermination of the monarchy during his tenure. In 1936, the Popular Front captured the majority of the vote and he was removed from office. Zamora died in Buenos Aires in 1949.

José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero (born 1960)

Prime Minister. José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero was born in Valladolid in 1960 and later studied law in Léon. Since 2004 he has been appointed Prime Minister of Spain. His point of view, which turned against the Iraq war, helped him. From 2010 he was also given an important role in the European Council. He is also an advocate of European integration. He creates a lot of reforms for his country, which in turn increase his reputation.

Spain: writers and poets

Rafael Alberti (1902-1999)

poet. Rafael Alberti was born in El Puerto de Santa María in 1902 and began his career as an artist with painting. As a representative of Generación 27, he received numerous awards for his seals, such as B. the National Prize for Literature (1925) and the Cervantes Prize (1983). His most famous works include “Mar y tierra” (“Sea and Earth”) and his autobiography “La arboleda perdida (” The Lost Grove “). During the political unrest in Spain, he temporarily resided in Argentina and Italy. In 1999 Rafael Alberti died in his hometown.

Vicente Aleixandre (1898-1984)

poet and Nobel Prize winner for literature. Vicente Aleixandre y Merlos was born in Seville in 1898 and initially studied law and economics in Madrid. With his individual and pessimistic poetry that followed, he is one of the most important representatives of the Generación 27, alongside his friend Rafael Alberti. In 1977 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature “for his creative poetry”. His volume “Die Destruction oder die Liebe” has been published in Germany so far. Aleixandre died in Madrid in 1984.

Rafael Arozarena (1923-2009)

poet and prose writer. Rafael Arozarena Doblado was born in Santa Cruz de Tenerife in 1923, studied medicine and belongs to the literary Fetasa group. Arozarena became internationally known with his first novel “Mararía” (1973), which he wrote during the Franco regime. In 1988 he received the Canary Islands’ most important literary prize. From his poetics in Germany z. B. “The Heron and the Violet” appeared. Arozarena died in 2009.

Max Aub (1903-1972)

Writer. Max Aub was born in Paris in 1903 to a Jewish French and a German, but is considered a Spanish writer. His family moved to Valencia during World War I. He started out as a traveling salesman and got around a lot. With his novel cycle “The Magic Labyrinth” he created one of the most comprehensive literary representations of the Spanish Civil War and achieved fame. It is classified as part of the experimental literature. Literary critics have described it as follows: “a detached tone of voice”, “cutting dialogues”, “humanistic texts”. Aub died in Mexico City in 1972.

Emilia Pardo Bazán (1851-1921)

Writer. Emilia Pardo Bazán was born into a well-to-do family in A Coruña in 1851 and began writing at the age of nine. Through her travels, she was hugely influenced by French literature, especially Zola. Victor Hugo was one of her acquaintances. Bazán is considered a pioneer of naturalism in Spanish literature and the country’s first feminist. Her first novel “Pascual López” was published in 1879, and many more were to follow. At the University of Madrid in 1906 she was the first woman to receive a professorship in literature. Bazán died in Madrid in 1921.

Fernán Caballero (1796-1877)

Writer. Cecilia Francisca Josefa Böhl de Faber y Larrea was born in Switzerland to a consul from Germany and a mother from Andalusia and is considered a Spanish writer. Most of the time she wrote under the male pseudonym Fernán Caballero in order to be taken seriously and noticed. Her works move at the interface between romanticism and realism. In Germany, her moral novel “Die Möwe” (1859) is the best known work. In general, Caballero is considered to be the first founder of the modern moral novel in Spain. Critics thought her style was a mixture of Shakespeare and Cervantes. Caballero died in Seville in 1877.

Lucía Etxebarria (born 1966)

Writer. Lucía Etxebarria de Asteinza was born in Valencia in 1966 as the youngest of seven children. Her first book was the biography of Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love called “aguanta esto” (1996). Her first novel was supported by Ana María Matute and has the Spanish title “Amor, curiosidad, prozac y dudas” (1997). In Germany the novel “Beatrice and the Heavenly Bodies” is best known – a book inspired by Dante’s “Divine Comedy”. Etxebarria has already won numerous prizes and is also active as a journalist.

Luis de Góngora (1521-1627)

lyric poet and playwright. Luis de Góngora y Argote was born in Córdoba in 1521 into a wealthy family. He studied law at the University of Salamanca. Góngora is considered a representative of the Baroque and founded the dark culteranismo style. Cervantes was an avowed fan of his. His sonnets and the volume of poetry “Soledades” have been published in Germany. The latter deals with the loneliness of z. B. fields or banks. Metaphors and allegories that are difficult to understand are typical of him. Góngora died in his hometown in 1627.

Miguel Hernández (1910-1942)

poet and playwright. Miguel Hernández was born in Alicante in 1910 and is one of the most important Spanish writers of the 20th century. Although he was only descended from a goatherd who could hardly give him an education, he made it to fame and belonged to the Generación del 27 group. After the Franco regime, he narrowly escaped a death sentence. He was anti-fascist and wrote many poems for his sons, which were later set to music. Hernández died in Alicante in 1942.

Carmen Laforet (1921-2004)

Writer. Carmen Laforet was born in Barcelona in 1921, where she later studied philosophy. A law degree followed in Madrid. At the age of 19 she made a name for herself with her debut novel “Nada” (same title in German) and received an award. She rose to become one of the most important authors after the Spanish Civil War. Other novels followed, including “Die Wandlung der Paulina Goya” (1956 in Germany), which deals with her entry into Catholicism. Laforet died in Madrid in 2004.

Federico García Lorca (1898-1936)

poet and prose writer. Federico García Lorca was born in Granada in 1898, where he studied literature, philosophy and law. Later he also started studying in Madrid. His most important work was “Romancero gitano”, which he wrote as a representative of the Generación del 27. He dedicated a poem to his friend Dalí called “Ode to Salvador Dalí” (1926). He is counted among the most important Spanish authors of the 20th century and wrote very critically of society, but also successfully dedicated himself to music. Lorca traveled a lot and was finally murdered by Franco in Granada in 1936, partly because of his inclination towards men.

Antonio Machado (1875-1939)

poet. Antonio Machado was born in Seville in 1875 to an upper-class family. During a trip to Paris he met Paul Verlaine and Oscar Wilde, among others, who had a strong influence on his poetry. But his Castilian origins are also evident in Machado’s work, which is dedicated to minimalism. He is considered the most important representative of the intellectual group Generación del 98, which held up a mirror to Spain in matters of decadence. But loneliness as a topic had also attracted him. His most important work is called “Soledades” and was published in 1903. Machado died in France in 1939.

Juan Ramón Jiménez (1881-1958)

poet, prose writer and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature from 1956. Juan Ramón Jiménez Mantecón was born in Andalusia in 1881 and trained by Jesuits. With his volume “Arias Tristes”, published in 1903, he made himself known internationally. He fled the Spanish Civil War to America and celebrated one literary success after another. Jiménez is seen as the most important representative of modernism. In 1956 he received the Nobel Prize in Literature “for his lyrical poetry, which in the Spanish language is a model of high spirituality and artistic purity”. His main work is the prose poem “Platero and I” (1917), which is about Andalusia before the 1st World War. Jiménez died in Puerto Rico in 1958.

Ana María Matute (born 1925)

Writer. Ana María Matute was born in Barcelona in 1925 and later studied in the Netherlands. As a child she devoted herself to writing. Today she is one of the most important authors in Spain who dealt with the Spanish Civil War. Her narrative style is empathetic and sad. Matute’s debut novel “First Memory” was awarded the important Spanish literary prize Premio Nadal in 1959. Many other prizes followed for the author, who has also published books for children and young people. She is also a member of the Royal Spanish Academy.

Arturo Pérez-Reverte (born 1951)

Writer. Arturo Pérez-Reverte Gutiérrez was born in Cartagena in 1951. Before he devoted himself to literature, he first worked as a journalist in Africa and war zones. His best-known book is “Der Club Dumas” (1993), which was already made into a film by Roman Polanski with Johnny Depp. Starting in 1996, Pérez-Reverte published very successful coat-and-sword stories, which became known as the Alatriste series. He has won several literary prizes, including the Finnish Crime Prize.

Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616)

national poet. Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra was born in Alcalá de Henares in 1547 and studied theology in Madrid and Salamanca. The author of the famous “Don Quixote” (1st part 1605, 2nd part 1615) traveled the world a lot and wrote a lot of literature, which later earned him the title of Spanish national poet. His stories are on the one hand peppered with satirical elements and depictions of realism, on the other hand with idealism. He was often on the run and ended up in prison. Cervantes died in Madrid in 1616. His name has lasted for centuries. He is depicted on various Spanish cent coins, the famous Spanish Institute of Culture (Instituto Cervantes) was named after him and the most important literary prize in the country.

Jorge Semprún (1923-2011)

Writer. Jorge Semprún Maura was born in 1923 into the upper middle class of Madrid with left-liberal views. He studied philosophy in Paris and became a member of a communist action group. Semprún also fought against the Franco regime. His political activities brought him to the Buchenwald concentration camp. Semprún published his first book “The Great Journey” in 1963 and immediately received an award. Other works followed (mostly in French), all of which spoke out against crimes such as war and deportation. Semprún died in Paris in 2011.

Miguel de Unamuno (1864-1936)

Writer, poet, essayist. Miguel de Unamuno y Jugo was born in Bilbao in 1864 and studied literature and philosophy in Madrid. He rose to professor of ancient Greek at the University of Salamanca, which he later headed as rector. He was also active politically against z. B. Militarism. His essays on Cervantes and “The tragic attitude to life” (1913) are among the most important works of the author, who was once banned by fascists. Unamuno died in Salamanca in 1936.

Lope de Vega (1562-1635)

novelist, poet and playwright. Félix Lope de Vega Carpio was born in Madrid in 1562 and was educated by Jesuits. This was followed by studies in Madrid. His work is assigned to the current of the Golden Age. He also reworked the Spanish drama and created the so-called Comedia, which moves between tragedy and comedy. His subjects included patriotism, religion, love. He is also considered the founder of folk drama (cloak-and-sword stories). His most famous are “The True Lover” (1558) and “The Whims of Doña Belisa” (1637). Lope de Vega died of suicide in his native city in 1635.

Carlos Ruiz Zafón (born 1964)

Writer. Carlos Ruiz Zafón was born in Barcelona in 1964 and taught by Jesuits. Zafón worked as a copywriter, journalist and screenwriter. His first literary work, “The Prince of Fog”, appeared in 1993, for which he received a youth literature award. Zafón’s breakthrough came in 2001 with his international bestseller “The Shadow of the Wind”. His hometown is mostly the setting for his novels. Zafón is valued for his fantastic storytelling that creates tension and constantly arouses the reader’s curiosity.

Spain: athletes

Fernando Alonso (born 1981)

Formula 1 driver. Fernando Alonso Díaz was born in Oviedo in 1981 and is the most famous Spanish automobile racing driver. He drove his first race in 2001 at the Australian Grand Prix. Just four years later, he won the first world championship title for Renault. Five years later he moved to Ferrari. Alonso was the first Spaniard ever to win a world championship title in Formula 1

Xabi Alonso (born 1981)

football player. Xabi Alonso was born in Tolosa in 1981 and continues to lead his family’s football dynasty. At the age of 21 he played his first national team game against Ecuador (4-0). Between 2004 and 2009 he was on the pitch for Liverpool FC, then for Real Madrid. Alonso plays in defensive midfield. Incidentally, his brother is a professional referee.

Gervasio Deferr (born 1980) artistic gymnast

. Gervasio Deferr Angel was born near Barcelona in 1980 and is Spain’s most successful artistic gymnast. He has already won numerous gold and silver medals and participated in Olympic competitions, e.g. B. in Sydney and Beijing. There is also a minor doping scandal – in 2002, minimal traces of marijuana were found in a sample that briefly disqualified him.

Rafael Benítez (born 1960)

soccer coach, ex-soccer player. Rafael Benítez Maudes was born in Madrid in 1960. In his youth he played in midfield for Real Madrid. From 1986 he coached the Real Madrid youth. From 1995 he rose to head coach and coached Real Valladolid. Between 2004 and 2010 he took over training from Liverpool FC, then Inter Milan for a few months.

Luis Doreste Blanco (born 1961)

sailor, double Olympic champion. Luis Doreste Blanco was born in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in 1961. In 1984 he won gold for the first time at the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. In 1992 the next Olympic victory followed in Barcelona. There was also a scandal there, because Blanco broke Olympia’s oath.

José Calderón (born 1981)

basketball player. José Manuel Calderón Borallo was born in 1981 in Villanueva de la Serena. In 1998 he and his team won the European Junior Championship. In the professional league of Spanish basketball, Calderón played a total of six seasons. With the Spanish national team he was involved in the 2004 Olympic Games. Calderón has played in the NBA for the Toronto Raptors since 2005.

Jean Borotra (1898-1994)

tennis player. Jean Borotra was born in Biarritz in 1898 and received his doctorate. He then played tennis – both singles and doubles and won his first victory in the 1922 World Cup. Further victories at Wimbledon and various Davis Cups followed. Borotra was called the “tennis musketeer”. The tennis legend died in Arbonne in 1994.

Marta Domínguez (born 1975)

long distance and obstacle runner. Marta Domínguez Azpeleta was born in Palencia in 1975. In 1993 she won her first victory in the European Junior Championship over 1500 meters. Just two years later she made her breakthrough in the adult championships. She ran in several Olympic competitions and won the world championships in 2001, 2003 and 2008, among others. She has six consecutive top Spanish titles. Domínguez runs for the Nike brand.

Jesús España (born 1978)

long distance runner. Jesús España was born in Valdemoro in 1978. His strengths lie in the 3000 and 5000 meter run. He won the Spanish championship title in 2003, 2005 and 2006. He won bronze at the European Championships in Vienna in 2002 – his first successful competition outside of Spain. In 2004 the Ibero-American Championships took place, which he concluded with a victory over 5000 meters.

Mireia Belmonte (born 1990)

swimmer. Mireia Belmonte García was born in Badalona in 1990. In 2006 she won both the European and the world championship in the juniors at 400 meters. Two years later, she celebrated her most successful year in sports to date. She won the European Swimming Championships in Eindhoven by setting a new record. And in addition, she became vice world champion with a new European record.

Miguel Indurain (born 1964)

racing cyclist. Miguel Indurain Larraya was born in Villava-Atarrabia in 1964. In the 1980s he drove on the Reynolds professional team. He was on the Banesto team until the mid-1990s – also as a professional. He mastered mountains and individual road races particularly well. He won five gold medals in the Tour de France, one Olympic victory and one world championship title. Indurain ran out of breath at a race in 1996 and ended his racing career without further ado.

Javier Fernández López (born 1991)

figure skater. Javier Fernández López was born in Madrid in 1991 and was on the ice for the first time at the age of six. In 2007, 2008 and 2009 he won the Spanish junior championship title. A year later followed the first title as senior master. López competes in a single run. Since the mid-1950s, he has been the first figure skater to qualify for the Winter Olympics. In Vancouver in 2010 he made it to 14th place.

Ángel Nieto (born 1947)

12-time motorcycle world champion. Ángel Nieto Roldán was born in Zamora in 1947 and lived up to his country as a motorcycle racer. In the 1970s he won the world title six times in a row. He mainly competed in the 50 cm³ displacement class and was very flexible with his machines. Nieto could serve anyone. In total, he brought home 12 world championship titles and countless vice world championship victories. He also won the Grand Prix 90 times. This makes him one of the most successful athletes in his class.

Blanca Fernández Ochoa (born 1963)

ski racer. Blanca Fernández Ochoa was born in Madrid in 1963 as a descendant of successful ski racers. She ran her first race in the 1980/81 season at the World Cup. She won gold for the first time in 1985 in Vail at the giant slalom. Ochoa can boast four World Cup victories and was among the top three winners 16 times. She experienced the climax in 1992 in Albertville – she won the Olympic bronze in slalom. She ended her active sports career after 1991/92.

Edurne Passaban (born 1973)

extreme mountaineer. Edurne Pasaban Lizarribar was born in Tolosa in 1973. By the beginning of 2010 she had already climbed 12 of the 14 eight-thousanders in the world. The Shishapangma (in Tibet) and the Annapurna are still missing. Together with the Austrian Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner (also 12 eight-thousander) and the Italian Nives Meroi (eleven eight-thousander) and the South Korean Oh Eun-Sun (13 eight-thousander) she is one of the most successful mountaineers in the world.

Juan Antonio Samaranch (1920-2010)

Samaranch was a sports official and sports minister under Franco. He was born in Barcelona in 1920 and studied business administration. He became the seventh President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on July 16, 1980. Samaranch held this position until 2001. His successor was the Belgian Jacques Rogge. Samaranch died in his hometown in 2010.

Arantxa Sánchez (born 1971)

tennis player. Arantxa Sánchez Vicario was born in Barcelona in 1971 and stood on the tennis court for the first time at the age of four. She played in the professional league and was the first to take Spain top in the world rankings. Sánchez played both singles and doubles. At 17, she surprisingly won against Steffi Graf and became internationally known. The two women met a total of seven times. She competed five times at the Olympic Games. In 2002, Sánchez officially resigned.

David Villa (born 1981)

national soccer player. David Villa Sánchez was born in Tuilla in 1981 and started his football career ten years later at UP Langreo. From 2005 Villa played in the national team. He has been a striker for FC Barcelona since 2010. His great role model is the Spanish kicker Luis Enrique, in honor of whom he wore the shirt with the number 21 when he first joined the national team.

Manolete (1917-1947)

bullfighter. Manuel Laureano Rodríguez Sánchez alias Manolete was born in Cordoba in 1917 and is one of the most famous toreros in Spain. He was valued for his courage in the arena and hyped by Franco. Manolete died in Linares in 1947 after being taken by the horns of a bull. His life was filmed with Adrien Brody under the title “Manolete”.

Fernando Torres (born 1984)

national soccer player. Fernando José Torres Sanz aka El Niño was born in Madrid in 1984. From 2000 Torres played for the Spanish national team. Between 2007 and 2011 he played for Liverpool FC. Since 2011 he has been playing in the storm at Chelsea. He has been the top scorer several times. In 2010 he won the world championship title for Spain with his team, previously – in 2008 – the European championship title.

Spain: animals


Common mammals include hares and rabbits.

You have to be a little more patient with badgers, deer, wild boars, roe deer, martens and foxes.

There are also a few wild cats in Spain.

The nocturnal gorse cat is very rare. It belongs to the stealthy cat family and the gorse cat, of which there are several species, was worshiped as a feline deity in ancient Egypt.

The Kleinfleck gorse cat is the only European species. With an average body size of around 100 cm, 45 cm is the bushy and curled tail.

The fur is gray or brown with a black patch pattern. The pointed muzzle is typical. In addition to mice and birds, their prey also includes insects and fruits.

Wolves, lynxes and mountain goats are also rarely found. Pyrenean mountain goats can now only be admired in the Ordesa National Park. The endangered species of mammals include the mountain goat and the Iberian lynx. The latter is the most endangered predator in the world. He lives in open bush landscapes, where he can hunt hares, rabbits but also deer and ducks.

The nocturnal lynx, also known as the Iberian lynx, is about 120 cm long and has a fur patterned with black spots.

In addition, the shy European mouflons live here.


There are numerous species of lizards in Spain, including the Canary Island lizard, the pearl lizard and the Algerian sandpiper.

The European fringed finger is also one of the Spanish lizard species. It owes its name to relatives in the hotter regions, who have fringed protrusions on their toes. These are only rudimentary in this species in Spain. This approximately 20 cm long lizard is still only found in Portugal and North Africa.

In 1996 the giant lizard, believed to be extinct, was rediscovered on Tenerife. She was able to survive in the areas of the Teno Mountains. Wall geckos are also quite common on house walls.

A specialty is the Haria lizard that lives in the Timanfaya National Park. However, they are also available on Lanzerote. The turtles found in Spain include the red-eared turtle and the Caspian water turtle.

Among the non-poisonous snakes here are the horseshoe snake, viper snake, grass snake, stair snake, smooth or smooth snake, Girondic smooth snake, Aesculapian snake and the yellow-green snake

The local venomous snakes are the North Iberian adder, the aspis viper, the inverted nosed viper and the European lizard snake. In the sierras there is the possibility of meeting scorpions who like to hide under stones or in their shoes.

Of the scorpion fish that live in the sea, not all species are dangerous. But you should still be careful, because many species have poisonous spines or poison glands.

Usually these fish are difficult to spot because they can camouflage themselves perfectly. In addition to severe pain, the symptoms then include nausea, vomiting, sweating and local necrosis. However, there are no known deaths.


Different species of herons can be found on the Costa Blanca. These include gray, purple, silk and cattle egrets.

Swallows, on the other hand, are more likely to be found inland.

Birds of prey, which are also native to Spain, include hawks, buzzards, owls, eagles and the bee-eater.

In nature reserves as well as on coasts you can enjoy numerous species of ducks, coots, little grebes, storks, marsh harriers and flamingos. The latter form a family of their own and are also common in Africa, western Asia and southern France. The up to 130 cm tall birds are immediately recognizable by their long and thin neck, by their thin legs and by their thick, downward-curved pink beak with a black tip. This is used as a sieve when searching for food. The menu includes worms, algae and, above all, small crustaceans.

They are also responsible for the pink plumage of the flamingos. The red dye absorbed with the crabs is stored in the feathers. After all, the more crabs the birds have eaten, the more pink they are.

The famous one-legged standing is used to store heat, as one leg is hidden in the warm plumage and thus less heat loss occurs. This feat is not strenuous for the flamingos (as well as for storks).

Other important bird species are cranes, bustards, falcons and eagle owls as well as gray geese, shelduck and lapwing.

However, numerous birds are also threatened with extinction.

These include the imperial eagle and the Canary bustard. In the sea and land national park of the Cabrera archipelago one can observe the Eleanor’s falcon. This species of falcon is found only in the Mediterranean area.


In Spain you will encounter the usual insects such as mosquitoes, ticks, bed bugs and cockroaches. Bees, wasps, bumblebees and dragonflies also live here.

The Easter butterfly butterfly, the yellow aurora butterfly and strawberry tree butterfly, which is the largest European butterfly with a wingspan of 10 cm, are among the more than 100 butterfly species.

Underwater world

In the Spanish underwater world, besides moray eels and scorpion fish, there are also barracudas, perches, wrasses and sea peacocks.

Purple stars, sea urchins, corals and beautifully drawn sea snails such as the star and leopard sea snail live on the sea floor. Lobsters and the octopus also live here.

There are sharks around the Canary Islands, but no attacks on humans are known yet.

Fish are not very abundant in Spanish freshwater areas. They are threatened both by the chemical pollution of the water and by the introduction of foreign fish species.

But there are still trout, barbel and carp. The Spanish and Valencia penguins live exclusively in the Albufera nature reserve.

The lamprey, salmon and sturgeon have become very rare. The lamprey gets its name from the seven gill openings and an additional “eye” on the forehead, the nose.

Spain: plants


Tamarisks and dwarf palms are typical of the coast of the Costa Blanca in Spain.

In the interior, on the other hand, plane trees and up to 30 m high, slim and dark pine trees grow.

In the river valleys you can find poplars, willows, almond and olive trees.

Less Mediterranean plants such as pines, mountain pines, yews and mixed forests of maple and ash trees grow in the mountain regions. Beeches are the predominant trees here.

In the Cantabrian region, deciduous forests of oak as well as linden, chestnut, elm, ash and maple trees thrive. Fir trees grow in the Pyrenees and the Iberian fringes.

In the meseta there are stone and cork oak forests. In dry areas, pine oaks, maritime pines and pine trees determine the typical landscape. The symbol of Tenerife is the dragon tree, with the oldest tree of this genus in the north of the island. It is said to be 1000 years old, but considering the age of around 400 years that the trees can reach, it seems a bit excessive.

Dragon trees belong to the agave family and can grow up to 20 m. In old age they get an extremely thick, light brown to gray trunk. Two different stories tell how the dragon tree got its name. One says that damaged or broken shoots usually sprout again (which is actually the case), just as the dragon grows two heads back if you cut off one head. In the other story, the colorless, resinous excretion that emerges when the trunk is injured and turns dark red in the air is reminiscent of “dragon’s blood”.

In addition to oaks, ash, elm, alder and willow trees, Andalusia also includes carob trees and the Spanish fir, a relic from the Ice Age. It grows from 1000 to 1800 m and becomes 20 to 20 m tall. Their black-gray scale bark is characteristic.


The pomegranate tree, which can also be admired in Spain, is a fertility symbol with its red flowers and fruits. The Mancha region is home to the world’s most important saffron growing area. They are bulbous plants from the iris family, which can be between 8 and 25 cm long. The stigmas of the purple flowers, which are mainly used as a spice, are valuable. They are cut from the collected flowers and dried and are available on the market either as saffron threads or in powdered form.

Saffron is considered to be the most expensive spice in the world, as around 150,000 saffron flowers are required for one kilogram. In ancient times, the plant was used not only as a spice, but also as a medicine and coloring agent. The healing properties are still used today.

Wine is increasingly grown on dry soils. Spain is famous for the Rioja wine-growing region. In addition to vines, the cultivated plants of Tenerife are bananas, tomatoes and avocado trees.

Mangoes, kiwis, papayas and pineapples are also increasingly being grown and exported.

Medicinal plants

The saffron scars are said to have digestive, antispasmodic and circulatory stimulating properties. In folk medicine, they are also used for wounds and inflammation.

In the past, saffron was given to women at birth, as well as used in the plague and for contraception.

The flowers of the poppy are said to have a calming and analgesic effect, which is why they are also used for dry coughs, asthma, insomnia and hoarseness.

Poisonous plants

The common thorn apple is a bushy annual plant. The plants reach a height of 0.2 to 1.2 m, rarely up to 2 m. All parts of the plant are poisonous, especially the roots and seeds.

The oleander from the dog poison family is poisonous. It grows both as a tree and as a shrub and reaches a size of up to 5 m. It has leathery evergreen leaves and white or pink flowers. All parts of the plant are poisonous, but especially the fresh leaves.

After consumption it can lead to abdominal pain, headaches, nausea, cramps and diarrhea. In severe poisoning, cardiac arrhythmias can also be among the symptoms. In very bad cases, death from respiratory or cardiac paralysis can even result. Contact can cause skin irritation.

More plants

The guanche rose and the Teide violet are very rare. Both grow in El Teide National Park.

Other plants in Spain include hazelnuts, heather, ferns, orchids, gorse and the poisonous oleander, which grows both as a shrub and as a small tree. The low-level and rather inconspicuous plants include the samphire, yellow beach clover, midday flowers, milkweed and lily plants.

The Levkojen, on the other hand, are quite eye-catching flowers that are beautiful to look at when they bloom. The macchia makes up a large part of the coastal vegetation with various types of juniper and other shrub plants.

Character plants of the coast of Catalonia include agaves and prickly pear cacti.

Common plants in Tenerife are bougainvillea, lilies and strelizia. In the coastal and arid zone, it is mainly the milkweed plants that thrive, including the highly poisonous candelabra milkweed. This plant is also known as Canary Island Spurge.

It grows very slowly, reaches a size of two to three meters and has numerous shoots, every 8-15 cm thick and covered with thorns. Opuntia (prickly pear cacti), the rosette thick leaf and the Canarian date palm are also typical of this region.

Hyacinths and corn poppies thrive on Mallorca.

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