On the third Sunday in May, girls donning white bridal dresses clutch holy branches during the annual “Procession of the Hundred Maidens,” a tribute to the hundred maidens paid to the Moors during the Reconquista.

Sorzano, La Rioja

On the third Sunday in May, girls donning white bridal dresses clutch holy branches during the annual “Procession of the Hundred Maidens,” a tribute to the hundred maidens paid to the Moors during the Reconquista.
Photograph by Gerardo Alonso, National Geographic Your Shot

20 pictures that reveal the secret of Spain's allure

Castles, cathedrals, beaches, and more: here's why Spain is the second most-visited country in the world.

Spain’s cuisine, architecture, and beaches lure travelers to its shores, earning it the spot as the second most-visited destination on the globe after France.

Aqueducts and ancient ruins, which dot the countryside, are lingering signs from the Romans who once ruled. If you crisscross the country from the northern surf town (and unofficial capital of haute cuisine) San Sebastián along the French border to Andalucía’s ancient port city of Cádiz on the southwestern tip, you’ll discover a landscape as diverse as the people, where Moorish architecture clings to cliffs along the Mediterranean Sea and peaks in the Pyrenees offer up some of the country’s most spectacular hikes. (Discover more things to do in the Mediterranean.)

Throw in the Balearic Islands, two cities in North Africa, and the Canary Islands in the Atlantic—plus a culinary scene that’s birthed some of the world’s greats—and you’ll see why Spain must be visited.

Where to start? Let these 20 photos serve as an inspirational roadmap to some of Spain’s most beautiful sights.

Lane Nieset is a freelance journalist from Miami who currently calls Nice, France, home. Follow her travels on Twitter @LaneNieset.
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