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Plaza de España square in Seville

Imagine your fictional Spain

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We want fantasy. Have you ever thought, while you were reading, watching a movie or gaming, “where would this place be in real life?” With just a little imagination, it's easy to find some of those fantasy settings in Spain. Magic, creatures from other worlds, landscapes from a far-off galaxy… Forget reality and fantasise a trip to Spain where it's all about fiction.

Jurassic Park, dinosaur territory

Don't worry, we don't suggest hunting for a Tyrannosaurus Rex in Spain… but you'll feel like it's possible in La Rioja. The region has some of Europe's most important ichnites - fossils of dinosaur tracks. Enormous dinosaur footprints, scratches made while swimming, and even the trails left by a dragging tail, are some of the signs a dinosaur passed this way, especially between the towns of Enciso and Cidacos. A paleo-adventure park, a network of archaeological sites, and many life-size sculptures of the creatures that lived here millions of years ago will all help you live out your Jurassic Park experience.

Dinosaurs in Enciso, La Rioja

In search of other galaxies from the Canary Islands

Those who know the Canary Islands best say each one is like a miniature planet. At any rate, their volcanic landscapes are like a blank canvas where your imagination can paint other universes. For example, does the name Tatooine ring a bell? Or Dagobah? They are planets from the Star Wars universe, but they feel real when you visit the dunes of Corralejo Natural Park (on Fuerteventura) or the almost mystical forest of Garajonay National Park (in La Gomera). The arid volcanic landscape of Lanzarote, with settings like the Green Lagoon, feels like it could be under the same moon. Incidentally, a scene set on the planet Naboo in Star Wars was filmed in Plaza de España, in Seville.

Dunes in Corralejo Natural Park, Fuerteventura

The magical libraries of Harry Potter

Imagine the doors of a huge library… and you shout (even if just in your mind) Alohomora!* and they open onto a world of knowledge: thousands of books in an amazing old-fashioned library which could easily be in Hogwarts. It could be the Spanish National Library, Biblioteca Nacional de España (we suggest looking for a unique book, Leonardo da Vinci's Madrid codices, as if it was a secret formula) or the main hall of the Royal Library of El Escorial Monastery (shelves of ancient books under a frescoed ceiling), or perhaps the library of the University of Salamanca (one of the oldest in Spain), or the Escuelas Pías library in Madrid (in a unique setting, the nave of a church). And if you're a Harry Potter fan, remember that every year the Autonomous University of Barcelona holds its Witch Market, a fantastic recreation of this magical world.* A clarification for muggles (non-magical folk): it's a spell for opening locks.

El Escorial Monastery library

Roman epics

How many times have you spent a lazy afternoon watching old movies set in ancient Rome? There are places in Spain that can bring that setting to life. Mérida and Tarragona are both World Heritage sites for their extensive Roman remains. Mérida is famous for holding a Classical theatre festival in its Roman theatre. It also holds an annual event, Emerita Lvdica, with re-enactments of gladiatorial combats, marching legionaries, Roman markets, and more. Meanwhile, Tarragona brings its Roman past to life with the Tarraco Viva festival. By the way, did you know Stanley Kubrick shot part of his iconic film Spartacus in Spain?

Emerita Lvdica in Mérida, Extremadura

The Walking Dead, but for fun

Yes, walking with the dead and feeling like one of them can be fun. You don't really need to imagine it, because it happens every year in Sitges. You just have to wear a costume and take part in the Zombies Walk held to complement its popular International Fantastic Film Festival.

Zombie Walk in Sitges

Once upon a time

That's how classic stories traditionally begin, and it can be the start of your fairytale experience in Spain. For example, in Segovia, where they say the Alcázar was the inspiration for the fortress in Disney's Snow White. Although it hasn't been made into a world-famous film, there is a popular legend in Spain associated with the origins of the St George's Day fiesta in Catalonia. A brave knight rescued a princess from a fearsome dragon, and when he struck it with his sword, beautiful red roses sprouted from its body. St George (for it was he) gave a rose to the princess, and to this day the custom is to give women a red rose on St George's day. We suggest taking a walk in Barcelona to find this legend depicted in the city centre. Here's a hint: it's one of Gaudí's most unusual buildings.

Alcázar of Segovia

Willy Wonka's chocolate factory

This fantasy is for someone with a sweet tooth… Is there a place in Spain where everything is made of chocolate? Yes. Every winter Rute, a small town in Córdoba, creates its famous nativity scene made entirely of chocolate. It's huge - around 60 square metres - and even includes a candy river. There are other destinations famous for sweets and chocolate in Spain. The Alicante area makes very popular turrones (nougat) and has a chocolate museum in Villajoyosa. And cities like Barcelona, Zaragoza, and Astorga (in León, Castilla y León) often organise special tours and events focusing on chocolate.

Chocolate stand in La Boquería market, Barcelona.

Discover the Smurf village

A little village of blue houses just like the Smurfs live in... Can you imagine it? You don't need to, it's real. This is Júzcar, in Málaga province in southern Andalusia, and it claims to be the only Smurf village in the world. The surrounding area is especially good for families who like exploring nature.

Júzcar, Málaga's Smurf village

Land of dragons

TV and films lead the way for imagining dragons in Spain. In fact, any fan of Game of Thrones who sees pictures of the Basque Coast Geopark (in Gipuzkoa) will immediately be reminded of dragons and Dragonstone, a fictional castle set in the real landscape of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe (Bizkaia), also on the Basque Country coast. The same CGI dragons flew over Bardenas Reales Natural Park, but this lunar landscape of rocky formations is completely real. But probably the most famous dragon in Spain lives in Barcelona. It's the colourful reptile that greets visitors to Park Güell. In fact, dragons appear again and again in Gaudí's designs.

Castildetierra in Bardenas Reales
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