I hope you all had an enjoyable Dia de Los Reyes Magos (Three Kings' Day) yesterday, and didn't eat too much roscon!
Around this time of year, the newspapers are full of lists - the top 10 photos of last year, top 20 companies to look out for this year, top 20 scandals etc. Yesterday, in one of the newspapers I read, there were two such lists: the 500 most powerful people in Spain (lots of politicians, unsurprisingly); and the 100 most important people in the history of Spain.
Anyone who's interested in the long, rich and varied past of this country will be as fascinated by this list as I was. It may sound facile, but these names appear on street signs and buildings all over Spain, and are often familiar but without us being sure why.
It starts with a skull found in Burgos, pre-homo sapiens, which is 500,000 years old, and carries on all the way up to the 20th century with Adolfo Suarez, the man charged by King Juan Carlos with overseeing Spain's delicate transition from dictatorship to democracy.
Several Andalucians feature - first of all the Roman emperor Trajan, born in the Roman city of Italica near Seville (as was his nephew and successor, Hadrian).
In the seventh century AD, San Isidoro de Sevilla was, along with his brother Leandro, a religious thinker, scholar and writer. There is a huge monastery named after Isidoror in Santiponce, the modern-day town near Seville where Italica is located.
In the Moorish era, Abderraman III was Caliph of Cordoba in the 10th century AD - he built the Mezquita. The city was the largest in Europe at that time, with 150,000 inhabitants, and was a centre of science and learning.
Also from Cordoba was Averroes, the philosopher, mathematician and doctor, in the 12th century.
Boabdil is well-known as the last Moorish king of Granada, ousted by the Catholic Kings in 1492. As he crossed the Alpujarras on his way to exile, the monarch is said to have wept, prompting his mother to utter the immortal words: "Do not cry like a woman for what you could not defend like a man".
One of the most famous conquistadores was Hernan Cortes; born in Medellin (Castilla), he lived for a time in the town next door to mine, Castilleja de la Cuesta, where his house is preserved. Cortes defeated the Aztecs in Mexico, using the "divide and conquer" strategy to overcome the natives.
Moving along to the 20th century, Blas Infante is revered as the father of modern-day Andalucia - he campaigned for the region's autonomy. Born in Caceres (Malaga), he later lived in Coria del Rio (Sevilla), and was executed by Franco's forces on the road to Carmona. His house in Coria is preserved as the Museum of Andalucian Autonomy, and his home in Caceres also has artefacts from his life and work.
Federico Garcia Lorca is Spain's most important modern writer. From Granada, the left-leaning, openly gay poet and playwright was shot at the beginning of the Civil War.
The Gaditano composer, Manuel de Falla, was a friend of Lorca's. The main theatre in Cadiz, where all the Carnaval competitions take place, is named after him.
One of Spain's most famous painters - if not the most famous - Pablo Picasso was from Malaga, although he lived most of his life in France. He has his own museum in the city, and you can also visit his casa natal (the house where he was born).
The full article appeared in the Cronica section of yesterday (Sunday)'s El Mundo newspaper - you can read it here.