Ten Famous Spaniards

Here are some of the most outstanding Spaniards who have made their marks not only in the history of their country, but have put Spain in the world map because of their contributions.

El Cid

“El Cid Campeador” or “The Champion” is Spain’s all-time war hero. Born in Vivar in 1043 AD, his real name was Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar. He was known for his military prowess, serving under several rulers and championing their wars and conquests. After serving under King Alfonso VI he ruled and lived in Valencia with his family until he was killed in battle with the Almoravids. A monument was built in Burgos to honor his service to the kingdom.

Queen Isabella I and King Ferdinand II

Both ruled the kingdoms of Castile and Leon and were credited for laying the foundations for a united Spain. They made a lot of significant contributions to Spain, the most notable was their funding the 1492 voyage of Christopher Columbus where he discovered the Americas.

Pablo Picasso

This native of Malaga known for one of his greatest works “The Guernica” is hailed as one of the greatest and most prolific artists of the 20th century. He was one of the proponents for Cubism for art and sculpture. Today, several museums around the world are dedicated to him and his works (Paris, Malaga, Barcelona) and some of his paintings are valued as among the most expensive paintings sold in auctions.

Francisco Goya

Spanish painter from the Romantic Movement, Goya was one of the most influential artists and one of the last of the Old Masters. His most famous work include “The Nude Maja” and “The Clothed Maja.” His style of painting has inspired other great painters such as Picasso, Manet and Bacon.

Salvador Dali

Born in Catalonia on 1904, Salvador Dali was a flamboyant artist whose works were highly influenced by Cubism, Dada and Surrealism. His most recognized work was “The Persistence of Memory,” and through his lifetime produced about 1,500 paintings along with sculptures, prints and other projects.

Antonio Gaudi

He was a proponent of Modernism in Architecture and an internationally-recognized architect. His most exemplary work, the Sagrada Familia is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Spain’s most visited site. Explore Barcelona by Gaudi to become more familiar with the work of this brilliant architect.

Miguel de Cervantes

Miguel de Cervantes was one of Spain’s most important literary figures, known around the world for his classic masterpiece “Don Quijote.” He was a poet, a playwright and a novelist whose works have greatly shaped Spanish literature and the language itself.

Hernan Cortes

He was a Spanish explorer and soldier known in history to lead the conquest of the Aztec Empire in Mexico, beginning the wave of colonization in the Americas.

Julio Iglesias

This Spanish crooner has gained international prominence for his romance ballads. He has sold over 300 million albums worldwide and is one of the top 15 best-selling musicians in history.

Jose Carreras

Internationally-known opera singer, Jose Carreras has gained worldwide fame for performing alongside two other famous tenors fellow Spanish Placido Domingo and Italian Luciano Pavarotti.

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