Photo: Lost and Found in Soria
There was a time when Spain was remarkably different to anywhere else. Crossing the Pyrenees was like crossing to another continent. Spain was in every sense more arid, uncommercial, pure… less affected. Even some of the Spanish joked that Spain was closer to Africa than to Europe, and not just geographically.
Yet these days Madrid, that just 10 years ago felt like a mishmash of small, friendly towns with one or two big roads in the middle, roars like London. And the Mediterranean coast is one long, crooked urban sprawl. And it seems like Seville and Barcelona only care about screwing money out of tourists.
But now I’m starting to sound like those insanely annoying people that say: “if only you’d seen Spain
ten twenty thirty years ago…” Don’t you just hate it when people tell you that?
What if you want to see places where Spain still really looks like Spain today? Then you are in luck!
You only have to wonder around the barrio of Malasaña in Madrid to find an area that is still timelessly Madrileño, and you just have to stray 2 minutes from the tourist-hell of Barcelona’s Rambla to see the deliciously seedy Raval and feel like you’re on another, much more interesting planet. And you simply have to drive far enough inland from any coastal building site to find those same beautiful hillsides that always looked so raw and ‘Un-European’.
Here are the first few places I’d tell someone to look for “untouched Spain” if they asked for directions, maybe you can help me out:
1. Soria, town and province – largely undiscovered, even by me!
2. Ourense, town and province – if you are passing through Galicia… a town and province by the same name, both rough-hewn from ganite and rain.
3. Teruel, town and province – so far off the beaten track that even the locals aren’t sure if it exists anymore…
4. Extremadura – wild, vast, full of lushous landscapes and fine ham!
5. ??? – Yes, over to you again: tell us where to find “untouched Spain”, and I’ll add your suggestions to the map below!
For locations and details, click on the blue markers on the map below: