Spain and Switzerland – Different Cultures, Joint Innovation

Spain and Switzerland – Different Cultures, Joint Innovation

Culturally, Switzerland and Spain have more in common than one might think. And where differences can be identified, they often lead to innovation. Read more about the fruitful exchange between the two countries on the occasion of the Spanish presidency of the Council of the European Union.

The cultures of Spain and Switzerland both have unique features. Spain is known for its lively music and dance scene. Monumental artists like Salvador Dalí or Pablo Picasso impress with their unique works. Also, Spanish cuisine is world-famous with dishes such as paella and tapas. Switzerland is proud of its picturesque Alpine landscapes, and has a long tradition of making chocolate, cheese, and watches. 


Spain’s Presidency of the Council of the EU

For the fifth time in its history, Spain has assumed the presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU) on July 1, 2023. During its term, Spain will chair a series of meetings in Brussels and at home, pursue its own priorities and try to mediate on controversial issues.

For Switzerland, as holder of the presidency of the Council of the EU, Spain will be an important partner in discussing the next steps in its relationship with the EU. Spain will also hold numerous ministerial meetings to which Switzerland will also be invited.

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Architectural Interactions

Despite all the cultural differences, there are also similarities between Spain and Switzerland. Precision and innovation, for example, can be found in the rich architectural heritage of Switzerland and Spain. At the same time, there are interventions from the respective other culture to marvel at in both countries.

The conversion of Stadelhofen station in Zurich was Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava’s first award-winning project: With his light, organic design of the station complex in 1990, he succeeded in perfectly integrating a modern building into a historic setting. Directly beside it, another spectacular Calatrava project is currently under construction.

In turn, the Swiss architectural firm Herzog & de Meuron has left its mark in a prominent location with the CaixaForum: The architects had to adhere to the basic dimensions of an old industrial-era power plant. A mesh of steel and latticework was put on top of the brick walls like a hat, contrasting markedly with the original building. A vertical garden on one facade refreshes the space in front of the cultural center. Which brings us to the topic in question. Culturally, too, many connections can be drawn.

Cultural Exchange in Front of and on the Big Screen

The San Sebastián Film Festival in Spain and the Zurich Film Festival have been “in a relationship” for a long time now. In 2022, they celebrated the ten-year anniversary of their collaboration. The two festivals take place at the same time. Instead of competing with one another, the organizations opted to work closely together, for strategic benefit. That was the start of a Swiss-Spanish friendship which helps to promote Swiss cinema in Spain and Spanish cinema in Switzerland.

The two countries also come together on the big screen, in the movie “Un Franco, 14 Pesetas” from the year 2006 for example. It tells the story of two emigrants who move from Madrid to Eastern Switzerland in the 1960s. The Spanish director and producer of the movie, Carlos Inglesias (born in Madrid in 1955), who also plays one of the main roles, presents a tale that could be seen as representative of hundreds of other migration stories.

Culinary Twins

The integration should not have been too difficult, at least in culinary terms. After all, there are also some similarities between Switzerland and Spain on the plate. Much-loved dishes in the cuisine of both nations are Roscón de Reyes and Dreikönigskuchen, and torrijas and Fotzelschnitten. Both Spain and Switzerland can boast a great variety of highquality cheeses. So it’s no coincidence that entrants from these countries attained the highest grade at the last two World Cheese Awards, which took place in Asturias in 2021 and Wales in 2022.