10 Famous Spanish People

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Artists and Authors and Actors

Taking a gap year to Spain but don't know much about famous natives? About to go backpacking but worried you'll look stupid in front of the locals? Oh my, do we have you covered! There have been many famous Spaniards, but because you can't learn them all here's a very quick cheat sheet for when you travel to this beautiful country.

1. Queen Isabella (1451 - 1504)

The Queen of Castile and Leon, she played a key role in reorganising the government and brought the crime rate down to record lows. She also financed Christopher Columbus's voyages to the Americas, and had a really quite impressive seven children.

2. Hernando Cortes (1485 - 1547)

This Spanish Conquistador is best known for leading the expedition that devastated the Aztec Empire, and was one of the first Spanish settlers to begin the colonisation of the Americas. He was eventually named Marques del Valle de Oacoaca. Catchy.

3. Miguel de Cervantes (1547 - 1616)

This is the guy that, arguably, invented the modern novel when he wrote Don Quixote. It's widely regarded as one of the greatest works of fiction ever created, and his influence on the Spanish language was so profound that it is sometimes referred to as 'The Language of Cervantes.'

4. Diego Velazquez (1599 - 1660)

One of the most famous Spanish painters, he was a portrait artist for the royal family, as well as other famous Europeans and commoners. Las Meninas is considered his masterpiece, depicting life in the Spanish court of King Philip IV.

5. Pablo Picasso (1881 - 1973)

Another artist well worthy of his place on this list. He was a prolific painter and sculptor who co-founded the Cubist movement, as well as other new styles of artistic expression. Amongst his best-known works are The Old Guitarist, Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, and Guernica.

6. Salvador Dali (1904 - 1989)

Probably the most famous surrealist artist to have ever lived, known for his dreamlike and sometimes disturbing imagery. He also dabbled in film. Amongst his best-known works are The Persistence of Memory, Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee, and The Elephants. He had one of the greatest moustaches of all time.

7. Penelope Cruz (1974 - )

The most globally recognised Spanish actress, Penelope Cruz won an Oscar for her role in Vicky Cristina Barcelona, and has also starred in successful films like Vanilla Sky, Volver, and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. She studied classical ballet for nine years before she became an actress.

8. Rafael Nadal (1986 - )

One of the greatest tennis players of all time, nicknamed 'The King of Clay' for his dominance on that surface. He's won 14 Grand Slam titles, as well as an Olympic gold medal and numerous other titles. 

9. Clara Alonso (1987 - )

The leading Spanish fashion model, she's become the advertising face of numerous companies like GUESS and Armani. She's one of the few Spanish models to walk in the Victoria's Secret fashion show, something she's done numerous times.

10. David de Gea (1990 - )

It's hard to pick a single Spanish footballer, but de Gea has risen to prominence as one of the best goalkeepers in the world during his time at Manchester United, the club he joined after a successful career at Spanish club Atletico Madrid.