Sport and the Arts

Spanish cultural life has been reinvigorated in recent years. Spanish-made films – notably those of cult directors Pedro Almodóvar and Alejandro Amenabar – have been able to compete with Hollywood for audiences, and the actress Penélope Cruz won an Oscar in 2009. The overall level of reading has risen, and contemporary literature has steadily gained a wider readership. The performing arts have been restricted by a lack of facilities, but recent major investments have provided new venues, regional arts centres and new symphony orchestras. The country has produced many remarkable opera singers, including Montserrat Caballé, Plácido Domingo and José Carreras. Spain has also excelled in design, particularly evident in the interior furnishings shops of Barcelona.

Spaniards are the most avid TVwatchers in Europe after the British. There are two state-owned TV channels in Spain, as well as a growing number of private channels and regional TV stations thanks to digital platforms. Sports are one of the mainstays of TV programming. Spanish sportsmen and women have been very successful – for example, tennis player Rafael Nadal and Formula 1 driver Fernando Alonso. Such role models have encouraged participation in sport and new facilities have been provided to meet this demand. Most popular are basketball and, above all, soccer.

Bullfighting has enjoyed renewed popularity since the late 1980s. For aficionados, a corrida is a unique occasion that provides a link to Spain’s roots, and the noise, colour and argumentative attitude of the crowd are as much of an attraction as the bullfight itself.

A matador plays a bull in the Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza, Seville

Poster for a Pedro Almodóvar film

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