Elite sports personalities, Spain's ambassadors
Homage to Fernando Alonso in Oviedo. Photo: Fernando Alonso official website
Pau Gasol with the Spanish team © Spanish Basketball Federation
Stage of the Tour of Spain in Green Spain © Unipublic
Football and basketball teams that win World Cups and European Championships. Tennis player who has won practically every possible title. The winner of the Tour de France, Giro de Italia and the Vuelta a España cycling races. A driver who has twice been the World Formula 1 champion. Motorcyclists who have won the world title in three categories. This is just a part of the Spain's sporting showcase – don't miss the chance to experience it for yourself.
Pau Gasol, Rafael Nadal, Fernando Alonso, Alberto Contador, Xavi Hernández and Marc Márquez are just a few of the Spanish sports stars known all over the world for their triumphs. You'll have plenty of opportunities to see them in action in Spain, but we also propose a visit to the cities which saw these champions grow up, and to the places where they trained to shape themselves into truly elite sportsmen.
Rafa Nadal, 'the kid' from Manacor
Manacor is a seaside town, popular with holidaymakers, on the island of Majorca in the Balearic Islands. It was here and in Palma (Majorca) that Rafa Nadal first set out on his career in tennis, which would ultimately make him the idol of the game all over the world. And he goes back to Manacor whenever he can to celebrate his spectacular triumphs and to relax in the town he still calls his home. But the truth is that the winner of trophies such as Roland Garros, Wimbledon, the US and Australian Open and the Davis Cup has a thousand reasons to do so. Beaches with crystal-clear waters, delicious cuisine, a mild climate, an enviable range of water sports on offer, and numerous golf courses are just a few of the attractions.
Champions of everything on motorbikes
Spain is a world superpower in motorcycle racing. And the best examples of this are Marc Márquez and Jorge Lorenzo, two riders who have won the world championship in the highest possible category. If you like motorcycle racing, Spain offers the chance to enjoy watching world championships with as many as four events: the Spanish Grand Prix in Jerez (Andalusia), Catalonia, the Region of Valencia and Aragon.
Pau Gasol and the European champions
Pau Gasol was Spain's first great star and has triumphant in the prestigious NBA in the United States. He has since been joined by many more like his brother Marc Gasol and Ricky Rubio. What's more, Spain played host to the world championship in 2014, and the Spanish team has won numerous international titles in recent years, the World (2006) and European Cups (2015, 2011 and 2009). It came as no surprise to those in the know, as the ACB —the national basketball league— has been providing us with spectacular play for a number of years. You can see some of their best matches in Barcelona, Madrid, Malaga, Valencia and Vitoria, where you'll also find a range of culture and leisure options which make these ideal cities for a short break.
Iniesta, Xavi, Cesc, Casillas, Messi… football stars
If the All-Star League was already an impressive highlight of their curriculum, they can now add their well-deserved triumphs in the 2010 World Cup and the 2008 and 2012 European Cups. The credentials needed to achieve these titles are simple: quality, offensive football to delight spectators. There are outstanding figures in the league, such as Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar and Bale, but the Spanish national team has its own home-grown stars: those who thrill fans abroad, such as Cesc Fábregas, Xavi, Diego Costa, Silva, Thiago, Cazorla and Xabi Alonso; and players appearing in the Spanish championship such as Casillas, Ramos, Busquets, Iniesta, Piqué, Koke, Isco and Pedro, who can only be seen in Spain. What's more, Spanish teams are once again among the favourites to win the Champions' League. If you like great football and want to experience it in the atmosphere it deserves, the home of the reigning world champions is an excellent destination. Messi definitely thinks so – he loves the city of Barcelona so much that he has tattooed motifs from Gaudí's Sagrada Familia on his right arm.
Alonso and the rising starts of Formula 1
World champion in 2005 and 2006, Fernando Alonso is regarded by many to be the best motor racing driver in the Formula 1 world championships. A fervent defender of the city of his birth, Oviedo, located in the region of Asturias in northern Spain, he has managed to revive enthusiasm in a sport that was apparently forgotten in Spain, Formula 1, to the point that Spain now hosts an international Grand Prix at its circuit in Catalonia. In the 2014-2015 season two young stars-in-the-making competed in the championship: Sainz and Mehri.
Spain, land of champion cyclists
Spanish cycling has always gone hand in hand with success. If the exploits of Miguel Indurain were already legendary, more recent figures like Alberto Contador, Carlos Sastre, Óscar Pereiro, Joan Llaneras and Samuel Sánchez have also impressed with victories in major international competitions. All these victories are further proof of something that was already known to good cyclists: Spain is the perfect country for this sport. In fact, its winners do a large part of their training in Spain, in places such as the Pyrenees, whose mountain passes include Bonaigua (Lleida); the mountains of Green Spain with the famous Alto del Angliru pass (Oviedo); and the Sierra de Guadarrama mountains (between Castile-León and Madrid). All these are key points on the route in the classic Vuelta de España cycle race, in which you can see many of these cyclists as you enjoy unique natural landscapes and World Heritage Cities such as Segovia and Cordoba.
Tennis, basketball, football, motor racing, motorcycle racing and cycling are just some of the sports where Spain is a key player, and five more reasons to pay us a visit. If you enjoy following these sports, you'll find top level competitions here in Spain. If you enjoy playing them yourself, you'll find Spain has exceptional sports facilities and wonderful natural settings. And, if you're interested in the athletes themselves and wish to learn more about them, you'll find that the cities where they were born and grew up offer a multitude of activities to help you better understand your idol, while you enjoy yourself at the same time.