& Catalonia in brief:
first thing that surprises many visitors when they first visit
Catalonia is that people in this region don't
speak Spanish. In the
post-Franco era, Spain's provinces achieved a large degree of
autonomy or devolution, and in Catalonia, as in the Basque Country, it
is the local language that has largely replaced standard Spanish as the
language of everyday life and of the administration.
Catalonia, bordering on France, is the most easily accessible
Spain's regions, and the Costa Brava was the first part of Spain to
rush headlong into mass tourism development. Today there are still a
few unspoilt places along the coastline, but it is the region's
hinterland that offers the wide spaces and the natural areas that
attract visitors in search of an escape from the crowds.
Landlocked Aragon, where the people do speak
Spanish, is a
sparsely-populated province which is mainly agricultural.
The northern parts of both Aragon and Catalonia make up parts
the Pyrenees mountains which, on the southern side, are fairly dry and
arid. Narrow valleys with rocky gorges are characteristic of this
region. In Aragon, the wide Ebro valley around Zaragoza or
Saragossa is a fertile agricultural region. In the south east,
between the fertile agricultural plains and the coast, lies a dry hilly
area of Mediterranean pine forest and olive groves.
of Spain is, like most
regions, rich in history and culture, from the ancient romanesque
churches of Catalonia to the Mudejar heritage of Zaragoza or the Roman
remains in and around Tarragona. And of course there is Barcelona, with
Gaudi's Sagrada Familia, the old city, and many other famous monuments.
A guide to the
regions of Spain
Catalonia and Aragon:
A choice of flights by traditional and low-cost airlines to the main
regional airport in Barcelona, plus flights from some points
Girona, Reus and other smaller airports.