Who were the greatest Spaniards in history ?


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This thread is intended to complement the greatest Spanish contributions of the world. Instead of contributions, we will now be voting for individuals, regardless of whether their achievements had an impact on the rest of the world or just in their country or region. They can be national heroes, great athletes, artists, scientists, or politicians that shaped the country's identity and history.

Check the Wikipedia list of famous Spaniards to get some inspiration.

The short list of the greatest Spaniards ever will depend on what meaning we attribute to "great". It is a very subjective term. If greatness is changing your country's history and bring it wealth and fame, then conquistadors like Hernán Cortés and Francisco Pizarro surely deserve to be on top of the list, for their achievements have made Spain a great colonial power and made it the richest country in Europe during the 16th century. They also contributed in the long-term establishment of Spanish language in Central and South America, making Spanish one of the world's main languages. Of course none of this was great when you look at the human cost.

In the arts, who represents better Spain than anybody else ? In painting, and modern art in general, it is surely Picasso and Dali. In architecture I would give the palm to Gaudi. In literature, it would be Miguel de Cervantes, although there are plenty of other noteworthy writers, including five Laureates of the Nobel Prize of Literature (Aleixandre, Benavente, Cela, Echegaray and Jiménez). In cinema, Spain has give us Pedro Almodóvar and actors/actresses Antonio Banderas and Penélope Cruz, although their recent fame will surely fade with time and their achievements are not substantial enough to be listed among the greatest Spaniards in history. There are also many Spanish singers, but I also don't think that any can surpass the people I have mentioned so far for the title of greatest Spaniard ever.
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