Spain is well known as the birthplace of sangria and flamenco, but did you know that Chupa Chups and spacesuits were also invented here? Learn more about Spain's most famous inventions and take a trip to the places where these creations were born with Paradores' luxury hotels in Spain.
The traditional beret, or boina, is one of the oldest Spanish inventions. Dreamed up by shepherds hundreds of years ago in the Basque Country and surrounding area, this flat-crowned hat was developed to protect herders from the cold and rain that is common in the lush mountainous regions in the north of Spain. Throughout the years, the boina became a key element of the area's regional dress -traditionally blue in the Basque areas and red in Navarre- and today they continue to be worn by practical citizens and uniformed police officers alike.
Don your own boina to keep warm while touring the Basque Country from Parador Argómaniz, the magnificent Renaissance palace at the foot of the Gorbea Mountains. Surrounded by nature reserves, this palace once hosted Napoleon's troops en route to Vitoria and still features the noble coat of arms of the Larrea family, who once owned the property. Its restaurant boasts the finest regional dishes, including perretxikos, a mushroom dish, and goxua, a custard and caramel sponge dessert.
Alcalá de Henares is famous for being the birthplace of Miguel de Cervantes, the author of Don Quixote de La Mancha. It is also well known for its incredible old town and 17th century Parador Alcalá de Henares, both recognized as World Heritage sites by UNESCO.
But this Renaissance city has a more recent claim to fame - it is also the birthplace of the spacesuit. Indeed, the first such suit was invented in 1935 by Colonel Emilio Herrera de Hinares, who created it in preparation for a trip to the stratosphere on an aerostatic balloon. Unfortunately the Spanish Civil War, which broke out in 1936, prevented Herrera from testing his suit, but his ground-breaking design went on to inspire the spacesuits worn during the first trips to space.
Another unexpected Spanish invention is the modern mop, invented by aeronautic engineer Manuel Jalón Corominas in 1964. During a trip to the US in the 1950s, Corominas noticed that people used a cloth wrung out through rollers in a bucket to clean an aeroplane hangar. He was then inspired to create his version of the mop, which perfected the process by making the head of the mop circular and by incorporating a cage with which to squeeze out the excess liquid into the water bucket.
Visit Corominas' native land of Aragón, and stay at the Parador Alcañiz, a splendid 12th-13th century castle with impressive views of the surrounding landscape.
If you have a sweet tooth, take a trip to Asturias, where Enric Bernat invented the beloved Chupa Chups lollipops in 1958. Bernat, an employee at an apple jam factory, came up with the idea for Chupa Chups after seeing a mother grow annoyed upon seeing how a melted sweet had left her child's hands sticky. By placing the sweet on a stick and marketing them in brightly wrapped papers, Bernat appealed to both parents and children. A redesign of the logo by artist Salvador Dalí in 1968 cemented the sweet's iconic status.
Chupa Chups now sells more than four billion lollipops in 150 countries each year. Enjoy this delightful candy in its birthplace while staying at Parador Gijón, a lovely century-old mill located within the port city's Isabel la Católica Park.
This peaceful location offers easy access to the coast as well as a delicious menu of regional Spanish cuisine, such as fabada stew and cream-filled crêpes known as frixuelos.
Interested in learning more? Contact Paradores today.