Looking for a list of the most famous landmarks in Spain?
There’s no denying that Spain is one of the most beautiful countries in Europe. With more than 3,000 miles of coastline and the most mountainous terrain in Europe outside of Switzerland, Spain is renowned for its natural beauty as well as its breathtaking architecture and popular Spanish landmarks.
Located on the Iberian peninsula, the country boasts a rich and intricate history filled with enough legends, Moorish invasions, and conquistadors to keep you captivated by hasta la manana.
As a result, many of these historical events and figures have had famous buildings in Spain erected in their honor, as well as other notable Spanish monuments. From the sweeping halls of the famed La Alhambra in Granada to one of the world’s most stunning museums in Valencia, to the impressive architecture and landmarks of Madrid, there’s no shortage of famous Spanish landmarks to see throughout Europe’s fourth-largest nation.
What’s more, Spain is one of the sunniest countries in Europe, experiencing almost 3,000 hours of sunshine per year and some of the mildest weather. You could realistically take a trip to its golden coasts nearly year-round.
If you’re longing to visit the most famous landmarks of Spain, look no further than this guide. Every entry on the list is guaranteed to be more unforgettable than the last, so don’t miss out on these 29 amazing Spain Landmarks. !Vamanos!
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Famous Landmarks in Spain
1. La Sagrada Familia
It was designed by the eccentric Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi, and ground broke for the 560-feet tall Roman Catholic basilica all the way back in 1882. La Sagrada Familia has been under construction ever since, as Gaudi died in an unfortunate accident in 1926, with less than a quarter of the project complete.
Thankfully, Gaudi’s untimely death didn’t stop the basilica’s development; it has continually grown by leaps and bounds in the near-century since his passing. When you visit, marvel at the detailing on its towering spires and gothic carvings in its façade. Then wander inside and take a seat in the chapel to truly take in the splendour of its vaulted ceiling and stained-glass windows. More than 130 years in the making, there must be something special about this World UNESCO Heritage Site, so book your tickets online to avoid the rush at the door.
2. Spain – Historical Sites: The Aqueduct of Segovia
For the next entry, we have to journey back to the Bronze Age. The Aqueduct of Segovia is one of Spain’s most historical monuments and one of the few remaining relics from Roman times. Although the exact date of its construction remains a mystery, it was erected sometime around the 1st century. Either way, it was an amazing feat of engineering for its time, built to carry water from the Frio river 11 miles away.
At its highest, the aqueduct stands 93-feet and 6-inches tall and features 75 single and 44 double arches, supported by pillars made of brickish granite blocks, totaling 167 arches. This World UNESCO Heritage Site is one of the most well-preserved Roman aqueducts in the world and is definitely worth taking a trip to Segovia to see.
3. La Alhambra
Let’s journey south to Andalusia to seek out our next Spanish landmark, La Alhambra in Granada. The legends of La Alhambra are complex and storied, with the current Moorish palace once finding its origins in Roman territory. What began as a long-abandoned Roman fortress was eventually repurposed and rebuilt in grandeur by the Emirate of Granada in 1333 to become “the pearl set in emeralds” that it is today.
As the Emirate intended the palace to host the royal family, La Alhambra’s renovation included the addition of several mini-palaces, hammams (bathhouses), picturesque gardens, a throne room, and defensive towers. The expansion spans over 1,530,000 square miles. “La Alhambra” translates to “The Red One,” referring to the red, sun-dried bricks made from the raw earth used in its construction.
Aside from being one of Spain’s most famous landmarks, it’s also a World UNESCO Heritage Site. Tickets are required to visit La Alhambra, so make sure to book yours online weeks in advance.
Better yet, for a more immersive experience, consider booking this 3-hour Alhambra & Nasrid Palaces Guided Tour.
4. Plaza de España in Sevilla
If you go to any major Spanish city, you’re bound to stumble upon a Plaza de Espana eventually, but none rivals the beauty of the one in the Andalusian city of Sevilla. Its architect wanted to pay homage to all the different influences from Spain’s notable history, so the plaza was constructed in 1928 in honor of the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929.
A wide array of architectural styles were used in the plaza’s design, such as Baroque Revival, Renaissance Revival, and Neo-Mudejar (Moorish Revival). It’s made up of an enormous half-circle enclosed by several tiled alcoves, each denoting a province in Spain. It also features a grand fountain and a moat, where you can rent a boat and row underneath every one of its four bridges.
This plaza isn’t just famous in Spain: it’s been used as a filming location for many blockbuster movies, including Lawrence of Arabia and Star Wars II. Don’t be surprised if you’re more than a little awestruck by the plaza’s exquisite decor, as you’d be in good company. Get there for sunrise to have this place all to yourself while you can.
Get to know all the sights and sounds of Seville by whizzing around the city on this awesome 75-minute Segway Tour around Seville.
5. Real Alcázar of Sevilla
If you’re already in Sevilla for the last entry on the list, you should definitely check out this royal palace. It was commissioned by King Pedro I in 1364 after he’d reconquered the former Moorish fortress. Real Alcazar’s roots trace back nearly half a millennium, before the original building was constructed in 913 by the first caliph of Andalusia after a revolt against the Umayyad Caliphate of Cordoba.
However, it would only be a couple more centuries until the Christian monarchs reclaimed the territory. After nearly 500 years of construction, Real Alcazar displays a unique blend of Mudejar, Romanesque and Gothic styles.
Stroll around its massive gardens teeming with lush landscapes and exotic plant life, or twirl beneath its intricately-carved ceilings while you ramble about below its gilded arches.
The World UNESCO Heritage Site has also starred in popular movies and TV shows, such as when it functioned as the set of Dorne in Game of Thrones. Make sure to buy your tickets in advance as the daily capacity is limited, and keep an eye out for La Puerta de Leon, its main entrance.
Immerse yourself in the history and incredible architecture of the Alcazar of Seville on this 1.5 Hour small group guided tour of this exquisite complex.
6. City of Arts and Sciences
Let’s take a trip into the future by hopping over to this sophisticated feat of engineering in Valencia, located on Spain’s east coast. Considered one of the 12 Treasures of Spain and another of the most famous landmarks of Spain, the City of Arts and Sciences is a gigantic architectural and cultural complex housing an IMAX Cinema, an open-air aquarium, an opera house, a science museum, a botanical garden, and a planetarium – just to name a few of its endless facilities.
You could easily spend hours walking around the City’s grand vistas and unmatched design within its vast grounds. Make sure to check out L’Hemisferic – constructed to resemble a giant 13,000-m² eye – and L’Umbracle, filled with a diversity of plants specifically chosen to change color with the changing of seasons.
You might be shocked to find out that the entire area was underwater just half a century ago due to a terrible flood in 1957. Still, you’re sure to be nothing short of amazed when you venture to the City of Arts and Sciences, originally opened in 1998.
7. Santiago de Compostela Cathedral
Another notable landmark in Spain, the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral is famous for holding the tomb of Saint James and, therefore, one of the only three known resting places for any of Jesus Christ’s 12 apostles. Once the body of Saint James was discovered in the 11th century in Galicia to Spain’s northwest, the Spanish monarchy commissioned the erection of the cathedral in honor of the martyr, who would eventually become Spain’s patron saint.
Its construction was completed in 1211 in a Romanesque style, but Gothic and Baroque touches were later added, culminating in 246-feet-tall work of wonder for the Middle Ages.
Since then, thousands of travellers every year journey dozens of kilometres on foot to see his remains in a pilgrimage known as Saint James’ Way, leading right to one of the most gorgeous Spanish Roman Catholic cathedrals smackdab in the heart of Galicia. The church is normally free to visit, so drop in and pay your respects as you check out the elegant interior décor.
8. Modern Landmarks Spain: Guggenheim Museum Bilbao
The last entry on our list certainly isn’t the least, as the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao holds some of the most important works of art in contemporary and modern history. Situated in the Basque Country to Spain’s northeast, the museum was inaugurated in 1997 as part of the Guggenheim Foundation. It displays around roughly 250 pieces in a myriad of exhibitions.
The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao is just as renowned for its exterior beauty as it is for the hidden gems within it, so it should be no surprise that the museum typically receives over one million visitors each year. Be sure to snap a picture with the enormous spider sculpture outside before heading inside to see what other treasures lie in store for you, but book your Guggenheim entry tickets online to beat the crowds.
Or better yet, skip the line and make the most of your visit on this 2-hour Guided Tour of the Guggenheim.
9. Dalí Theatre-Museum in Figueres
By Džangir from Dr Jam Travels
Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dalí I Domènech, 1st Marquess of Dalí de Púbol is an artist from the 20th century that worked successfully in many fields: painting, drawing, photography, sculpture, writing, film, and jewellery. But he is most famous for his surrealist work. We can find many of his works in a museum dedicated to his work in the Dalí Theatre-Museum in Figueres, Spain.
The Theatre that was burned down in the Spanish Civil war was given to Dali by the town Mayor in 1968. After renovations, the museum was opened again in 1974. Dali is strongly connected to this place, his first exhibition was here and after his death, he was buried here.
You will find this museum in a town called Figueres, Spain. It is located halfway between Barcelona in Spain and Perpignan in France. It is located in the central part of the town of Plaça Gala I Salvador Dalí, 5.
His works are set in a dream-like environment full of symbols like melting watches, angels, elephants, crutches, ants, eggs and more. When you arrive at the museum the red facade with eggs will greet you. Inside are many different works, from paintings, statues, furniture, and jewellery. Among the most recognizable are Courtyard with figurines and Cadillac, Abe Lincoln picture, Mae West room.
Opening hours are 10:30 until 15:00. You will pay 14 € for the entrance fee
10. Peñón de Ifach
By Jori from The Tejana Abroad
One of the most beautiful landmarks on the eastern coast is hands down the Peñón de Ifach (also known as Penyal d’Ifac in Valenciano).
Historically seen as the “Northern Rock” in order to differentiate it from the Rock of Gibraltar, today this Spanish landmark stands at 332 meters and has been converted into a national park near the city of Calpe in the region of Alicante.
It’s fun to simply see the rock from the insanely beautiful beaches on either side, but it’s also popular to climb the rock for a great view of the city of Calpe, its surrounding villages, and the Mediterranean Sea. On a good day, you can even see the Balearic Islands (Ibiza, Palma de Mallorca, etc.)!
In order to avoid the heat, I recommend starting the hike fairly early in the morning. It takes around 2.5 hours to reach the top and come back down. Afterwards, you can cool off on the beaches close by. Peñon de Ifach makes Calpe one of the best day trips from Valencia, along with many other gorgeous seaside villages.
By Carol from Is This Even a Road
Of all the notable landmarks that Spain has to offer, Santa Maria de Montserrat Monastery should be at the top of any Spain itinerary.
The ancient monastery is located a little more than an hour northwest of Barcelona or a short drive from Spain’s rolling vineyards and wineries. Montserrat is accessible by car, train or private guided tour from Barcelona. A scenic serpentine road twists through the unique rock formations along the drive up the mountain offering amazing views of the valley below.
The actual 11th-century Benedectine Abbey is located 1236 meters up and tucked into the side of Montserrat mountain in Catalonia Spain.
To take a 5-minute ride in the Aeri de Montserrat Cable Car to the top, park at the base of the mountain. (11.50€ both ways).
The ornate Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey has free admission. It is known for its stunning landscape, and La Moreneta, a rare Black Madonna (the patron saint of Catalonia). The carved 12th-century Romanesque polychrome Madonna can be seen above the high altar in the basilica and is said to have healing powers.
Montserrat is currently home to over 70 monks and the L’Escolania boy’s choir has daily performances.
A short walk from the monastery, the Funicular Sant Joan (20€ round trip) takes visitors another 300 meters up Montserrat mountain. At the top are hiking trails, a nature park and a breathtaking panorama. Small chapels can be found along the mountain paths.
Pro tip: Make sure to go early to avoid lines as this is undoubtedly one of the most popular day trips from Barcelona!
12. Park Güell
By Vicki from Vickiviaja
Besides the world-famous Sagrada Família, Park Güell is probably the most popular sight of Barcelona designer Antoni Gaudí. The extraordinary park is located on a hill slightly above the rooftops of Barcelona and therefore offers a quite outstanding view over the city to the sea.
But not only the beautiful view from the park is a reason for a visit to Park Güell. Because also the famous arts of Gaudí, which are located here, attract hundreds of visitors every day. If you’ve ever seen a picture of Barcelona that doesn’t show the Sagrada Família, it was probably taken here. That’s because the mosaic benches and statues of Park Güell are one of the most popular photo spots in the entire city.
The famous park was built in the early 20th century, and its design was initially strongly inspired by exotic English gardens that Gaudí had visited during his travels.
In the rest of the park, you can also take a relaxing walk while enjoying the tranquillity and plants as well as other Gaudí masterpieces.
If you want to visit Park Güell, be sure to book your ticket in advance. There are almost always long lines on site. If you want to visit several sights in the city, it can also be worth buying one of the Barcelona Passes.
13. Asturias pre-Romanesque UNESCO Sites
By Talek from Travels With Talek
The Kingdom of Asturias in northern Spain is a region bursting with history, art, natural beauty and everything Spain is rightly famous for. It is the only part of Spain that was never conquered by the Moors and the former home of Asturian royalty.
With a culture dating back thousands of years, it is not surprising to find three UNESCO World Heritage sites dating back to the 9 and 8th centuries CE, just outside Asturias’ capital city of Oviedo.
Despite their age, the structures are remarkably well-preserved in the pre-Romanesque style. Here you’ll find the church of Santa María del Naranco, formerly the official residence of Asturian royalty. Close by are the churches of San Julián de Los Prados with frescoed walls over one thousand years old and San Miguel de Lillo. The structures are well maintained and nestled in lovely meadows.
The sites are periodically opened to visitors so do check the schedule to plan your visit.
Asturias is a fascinating part of Spain and an ideal destination to spend a couple of weeks. If you are interested in history and want to see a truly unique site, you definitely want to add these graceful and historically significant sites to your itinerary for Asturias.
14. Alcazaba of Almeria
By Paulina from Paulina on the Road
Are you planning a trip to Southern Spain? If yes, then a must-visit destination is the Alcazaba Almeria. It is situated on the corner of the Mediterranean coast of Spain and is known as a true hidden gem in Andalucia.
Almeria is a well-preserved beauty of Andalucia and has a well-preserved fortress, the Alcazaba of Almeria.
Almeria Alcazaba is a 1430 meter long fortress and is mentioned in UNESCO’s heritage list. It is a must-visit landmark in Southern Spain. The fort was built in 955 by And-al-Rahman III. He was a powerful caliph who had also erected Cordoba’s Medina Azahara. It is a strong military fortress with three curtain-like walls and magnificent crenellated battlements with sharp merlons.
It was once the major Moorish port and Moorish fleet’s headquarters. It attracted various merchants from the corners of the Mediterranean. Due to this, Almeria became an important trading city of Andalucia.
It is now the largest Moorish defence fortress in Spain and one of the best things to do in Almeria. You can visit the fort via the Albarran tower and hike through a long ramp with zigzag routes. It is visible from any part of the city, and you can reach there via any public or private transport in Almeria.
The best time to visit Almeria Alcazaba is between late July and early September because the city enjoys moderate weather.
15. El Caminito del Rey in Malaga
By Linn from Andalucia Hiking
El Caminito del Rey in Malaga is one of the most mind-blowing landmarks in Spain, once said to be the most dangerous walk in the world. Until it was reopened in 2015. Today, the iconic path, pinned 100 meters up the vertical cliff wall is a safe hike where you can only go if you have pre-booked a ticket.
Independent tickets are 10€ or you can pay a bit more for guided tours in Spanish or English. Both tickets include a mandatory helmet.
The hike goes through the jaw-dropping Desfiladero de Los Gaitanes gorge attracting visitors from all over the world. But if you’re faint-hearted, this walk might just not be for you. Along the path, you will see the old path just a meter or two below you. A reminder of all the adventurous souls that have lost their lives there before the renovation of the path. The hike is one-way and takes about two hours to complete, depending on how much you stop to take pictures.
To get to the trail, start by El Kiosko restaurant by El Chorro Lakes, where you can choose between two paths to get to the checkpoint where you show your tickets, get helmets, and a security brief.
One trail takes 20 minutes and the other one takes 50 minutes. The walk ends in Chorro village where the train station is. There is a shuttle bus between El Chorro and El Kiosko restaurant that costs 1.55€.
16. La Alcazaba de Málaga
By Cristina from My Little World of Travelling
La Alcazaba de Málaga is often an overlooked landmark in Spain. Located in the heart of Málaga, Southern Spain, it is a must-see building for anyone who loves learning about history and architecture.
This fortress-palace was built during the Muslim period (1057-1063) upon the instructions of the King of the Berber Taifa of Granada, and the main purpose of the palace was to serve the military due to its strategic location – next to Malaga’s port.
Nowadays, it’s a landmark in which you can enjoy contemplating the beautiful and unique Moorish architecture as well as one of the best panoramic views in the city. The palace also has charming patios and gardens with beautiful flowers and fountains that are worth seeing.
Despite several restorations, including one in the 20th century, the Alcazaba is the best preserved Moorish fortress palace in Spain, and therefore, it is visited by thousands of tourists every year.
After visiting the Alcazaba, head to the Roman theatre, which is located next to it, to learn more about Malaga’s history.
The best time to visit the Alcazaba is early in the morning to have a relaxing experience. Although there is a small entrance fee (€1.80), you can visit it for free on Sundays at 2 pm.
17. La Pedrera / Casa Mila
By Cal from Once in a Lifetime Journey
One of the most noticeable monuments in Barcelona is La Pedrera, also known as Casa Mila, on Passeig de Gracia. It was designed by Catalan architect extraordinaire, Antoni Gaudi, whose monuments fill Barcelona.
Its most prominent feature is its undulating “curtain wall” facade which can actually be removed and the building would still stand. Commissioned by the Mila family, the building took 6 long years to complete due to restrictions imposed by the city council.
The reason why the facade can be removed is that it extended into the pavement illegally, so Gaudi claimed it could just be cut off if needed. After becoming a National Monument in 1909, the issue was finally resolved and the building was completed in 1912.
The interior, while changing drastically since completion, still features some of Gaudi’s most iconic elements like the catenary arches, as well as Gaudi’s signature chimneys and ventilation towers.
La Pedrera, along with Park Guell and Palau Guell, were the first of Gaudi’s landmarks to be included as World Heritage Sites in 1984 and the building was opened to the public in 1996 (although some floors are still occupied by tenants). A visit to the chocolate shop Chocolate Amatller under La Pedrera is also a must.
Prices to enter the building go from 24€ to 41€ per person, where the nighttime visits are pricier. As the building is an exhibition centre too, you can also find performances and exhibitions that change frequently, so it’s best to check on their website before going.
18. Puente Nuevo in Ronda
By Alison from Alison in Andalucia
The highpoint (quite literally) of a visit to Ronda is the Puente Nuevo – one of Andalucia’s most recognisable landmarks.
Puente Nuevo spans the El Tajo gorge, connecting Ronda’s old town (la Ciudad) and new town (el Mercadillo), and a walk across the bridge is a must as you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views of the Serrania de Ronda.
Despite its name (Puente Nuevo means new bridge), it was actually completed in 1793. To learn more about the history of the bridge there’s a small Interpretation Centre above the central arch, with displays highlighting its construction and importance to the people of Ronda.
During the Spanish Civil War, the room housing the Interpretation Centre was used as a prison and, rumour has it, a torture chamber, with some prisoners being thrown to their deaths from here.
There are bars and restaurants on each side of the gorge where you can enjoy excellent close-up views of the bridge while you savour some traditional Spanish tapas. However, to see the bridge in all its glory you’ll need to walk down into El Tajo gorge where there are a number of miradors offering picture-postcard views.
A footpath starts on the old town side of the bridge and it’s an easy walk down to the first viewpoint, Mirador Puente Nuevo de Ronda. It gets extremely hot during the summer months so do make sure that you take plenty of water for the walk, and wear comfortable shoes!
19. The Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia – Barcelona Cathedral
By Alexander and Cynthia from Travel Your Memories
In the historic centre of Barcelona, you can visit one of the most beautiful sights of Spain, namely the Cathedral of Barcelona. The construction of this Gothic church started in the 13th century, today it is the home of the Archbishop of Barcelona.
Where most people think of La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia is one of the sights in Barcelona that amazes many travellers. The beauty of the cathedral is that it is located in the old city centre of Barcelona. The square in front of the church is very atmospheric and nice to enjoy your free time.
When you enter the cathedral you will be impressed by what you will see as you would expect from any cathedral. The most unique thing about this cathedral and the reason it surprises many people is the romantic little garden with palm trees, 13 geese, and a beautiful fountain. The 13 geese symbolize 13 years of the life of Santa Eulalia (a Christian martyr who was tortured and killed by the Romans). You can also take the elevator to get to the roof of the cathedral. From the roof, you have a great view of the historic centre.
The ticket costs 9€. If you want to learn everything about the cathedral of Barcelona you can take a tour for 12€. You can easily buy tickets via the official website. You can visit from 10:30 am to 2:00 pm and from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm.
20. Cordoba Mosque-Cathedral
By Becki from Meet Me In Departures
One of the most beautiful cities in the south of Spain is the UNESCO listed city of Cordoba. The city is filled with so much history including Roman, Islamic and Jewish influenced architecture. One of the most iconic Spanish landmarks in the city is the UNESCO Heritage-listed Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba. This monument needs to be at the top of your Cordoba itinerary.
Inside, you’d have to be blind to miss the vast arcaded hall which features the famous red and white coloured arches. There are a total of 856 columns that support the roof of the building. Although the whole complex is absolutely stunning, in particular, the gigantic Capilla Mayor along with the intricate Marsura Dome are really quite special.
Other beautiful places in Cordoba are the Alcazar of the Christian Monarchs (Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos) as well as the photogenic Roman Bridge. If you have a car, then also add the ruins of Medina Azahara as something to see. The ruins are nestled in a hillside about 8km outside of the city.
If you’re in Cordoba during May, then your trip will coincide with the patio festival, where pretty flowers and decorated terraces turn the city into a stunning floral garden.
21. Plaza Mayor in Madrid
By Daniel from Urban Abroad
When looking for famous landmarks to visit in Spain, Plaza Mayor in Madrid should be somewhere near the top of your list. This Spanish landmark is not only one of the main historical sites that thousands of tourists walk through every day, but, if you dare to look closer this place is full of history.
Plaza Major was once the home to the main market in Madrid and was even a place where many public executions took place. Today it is one of the many safe places to visit in Madrid that is open and free to walk through both day and night.
There is no best time to visit but during the daytime, you’ll find some of Madrid’s most outstanding street performers who perform some of the most extravagant shows such as fire breathing, juggling, and even robot people. Plaza Major also makes the perfect place to stop and take in the atmosphere while feasting on a menu del día which are a great option during lunch hours. Whether it be Spanish tapas or Paella you can find yourself a great deal at one of the restaurants that line the square’s perimeter.
All in all this landmark gives you a chance to take in the sights, sounds, and sun of Madrid. The landmark is situated only a few blocks from Puerto del Sol so it is an area you’ll find yourself walking through on more than one occasion when spending time in Madrid.
22. Dalt Vila, Ibiza
By Nadine from Le Long Weekend
If you’re visiting Ibiza for the island’s famed party scene, you may be surprised by what you find in the heart of Ibiza’s capital. Dalt Vila is the name of Ibiza’s old town, which sits at the helm of the main port. Surrounded by ramparts and adorned with a 13th-century cathedral, it’s a fascinating place to discover. Full of historical treasures, it’s also a colourful and vibrant part of the city, full of charming boutiques and cosy restaurants.
The main entrance at Portal de Ses Taules takes you through a stone drawbridge flanked by Roman statues and draws you into another world. Immediately, the bustling city beneath you dissolves away and life here is taken at a slower pace. Savour the journey as you wander through the cobbled lanes and hidden alleyways, finding stunning viewpoints over the city and sea as you go.
Dalt Vila was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1999 and noted for its examples of Renaissance military architecture. This part of Spain has been occupied by many cultures throughout history, and many of them have left their mark on the city. If you’re holidaying on the island, Dalt Vila also makes an excellent place to stay in Ibiza, as you can stay surrounded by history, while still being within walking distance of the beaches, nightclubs, and main shopping districts.
23. Patios of Cordoba
By Yulia from MissTourist
Thanks to Cordoba’s consistent dry heat, homes in the city were traditionally built around central courtyards or “patios” to provide a place of cool solace as well as light to more rooms in the buildings. Since then, the locals of Cordoba have made it a tradition to fill their patios with all sorts of colourful flowers and decorative features, turning these practical spaces into delightful retreats. Thankfully for us, many of these courtyards open up to the street so visitors have the chance to glimpse in and take a peek at these incredible displays.
The best time to visit Cordoba in order to see the patios at their best is the first week of May. Since 1921 The Town Hall has held an annual competition among residents to see who can decorate the most beautiful patio. The award has become quite prestigious amongst the locals and has been upscaled to an entire festival revolving around the event. Not only are the streets filled to the brim with colourful flowers and other incredible decorations, but during the Courtyards Festival of Cordoba, you can enjoy live performances by some of the best musicians of the area as well as some delicious tapas and wine of course!
While the festival in May gives you the most access to some of the private patios that are normally off-limits, but if you do visit Cordoba outside of this period, there are still a number of patios open to the public for free all year round. Check out this PDF for all the details.
24. La Giralda
By Tjasa from The Travel Momento
Undoubtedly, the bell tower reflecting the cultural melt-pot of Seville in its architectural styles is one of the most important and recognizable symbols of the city. It’s located in the middle of the old town of Sevilla, next to the well-known Alcazaba. With 104,1 meters of height and 24 bells, it was listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site from 1987.
La Giralda was primarily built as a minaret of the Great Mosque when the Moorish ruled Spain. Their influence is seen in the stone blocks with Latin descriptions that form the tower bases. The main square body gained today’s Renaissance-style bell top in the 16th century after the expulsion of Muslims from Andalucia. It was designed by Hernán Ruiz II. At the peak of the bell tower is a symbol from which the name of Giralda comes. El Giraldillo or weathervane with an animal or human figure.
The best time to visit this landmark is in the early afternoon, so you can fully enjoy the spectacular views over Seville from the rooftop. You can also book a guided tour at the visitors centre. The cathedral and the tower are open every day of the week for a price of 9€. Make sure to put aside at least an hour to visit this site.
25. Toledo Cathedral
By Sinjana from Backpack & Explore
Toledo is the erstwhile capital of Spain and the historic city of three cultures. Its rich and long history is preserved beautifully and gives it the honour of a UNESCO world heritage site. Located in Toledo, the Toledo Cathedral is a significant landmark in Spain. It is also called, Catedral Primada or the Primate Cathedral of Saint Mary. This twelfth-century masterpiece of French Gothic architecture took 266 years to build.
At the north tower of the cathedral hangs the famous “Fat Bell”, which is one of the largest bells in the world but is never rung. There is much folklore about what happened when the bell was the first rung- some say that all the windows of the buildings across the city collapsed, while some even say that all pregnant women who came to see the ceremony had pre-mature delivery at the instant!
The other side features the Baroque dome of the Mozarabic chapel. At the main entrance are lion sculptures that give it the name “portal of lions”. The original plan was to build two twin towers for the cathedral. But due to shifting grounds discovered at the time of building the second tower, the Baroque dome was built instead.
This is a must-see monument even on a one day trip to Toledo.
26. Castillo de la Mota
By Victoria from Guide Your Travel
The Castillo de la Mota is a beautiful 12th-century castle located in San Sebastian in northern Spain. This is one of the most famous landmarks in the area and an absolute must-see if you’re visiting San Sebastian. The Castillo de la Mota sits on top of Monte Urgull which is a little mountain with some of the best views of the city.
The best way to see the Castillo is to walk there. The mountain is covered in dense forest and there are several walking paths that lead to the top. The walk takes between 15 and 30 minutes depending on which route you take. It’s fairly easy to manage but can get quite hot if you’re visiting during the summer.
At the top, you can admire the historic castle and the large Jesus statue that overlooks San Sebastian. Conveniently there is also a small restaurant and bar at the Castillo. This is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the views after your hike up to the castle. You can visit the Castillo de la Mota for free although the inside is not accessible. The best time to visit is definitely in the mornings or early afternoon to avoid the tourist crowds.
27. Mediterranean Balcony in Benidorm
By Jürgen & Martina from Places of Juma
For many tourists, one of the most beautiful attractions in Spain is the Mediterranean Balcony in Benidorm. The so-called Balcon de Mediterraneo is located in the small old town of the coastal metropolis, directly in the middle of the two large main beaches and the mighty skyline.
It is situated on the Cerro Canfali rock and forms a grandiose contrast to the skyscrapers. Thanks to its unique ambience of the viewing platform, with the white building with the impressive stairs and the deep blue sea in the background, this sight quickly became the landmark of the popular seaside resort.
Whether during the day or at night, the Mediterranean Balcony is always open and is also always well attended. However, the scenery is most beautiful in the early morning, when you can enjoy this attraction almost all to yourself. On the top floor, there are white benches and some lovely places to take photos, and if you go further down the white stairs there is a small, 5-cornered peninsula with a magnificent sea view.
Few people know that this magical place also has a special significance. In the Middle Ages (14th to 17th-century), there was a fortress on the rock of the town that defended the place from pirate attacks. Later taken over by the French and then destroyed by the English, only a few traces remain today on the rocks of this picturesque vantage point.
28. Cathedral-Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar in Zaragoza
By Roxanne from Faraway Worlds
Reportedly the first church dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the Cathedral-Basilica of the Lady of the Pillar in Zaragoza is probably one of the more underrated destinations in Northern Spain. An imposing, Baroque building, the cathedral was first conceived in 40 A.D. by the Apostle James.
According to tradition, St James, sat down at the bank of the Ebro River in Zaragoza, distraught that his attempts at spreading Christianity in Spain seemed to be failing. The Virgin Mary appeared to him and told him his efforts would be successful if he consecrated a church in her name. The current cathedral is said to have been built on the spot where she appeared.
Almost 2,000 years later, the cathedral is filled with art and ornate sculptures and has many more intriguing stories associated with it. It’s a pleasure to wander through and if you take the elevator to the top of the tower, you’ll be rewarded with a panoramic view over the city.
The cathedral-basilica is also the site of more modern miracles. Perhaps the most remarkable occurred during the Civil War in 1936 when a plane dropped three bombs on the basilica – and none exploded. Two of the bombs are currently exhibited in the basilica and a plaque marks the spot where another struck the ground outside.
29. Mercado Central in Valencia
By Laura from Travelers Universe
The Central Market (Mercado Central) is one of the most important landmarks in Valencia and the largest fresh produce market in Europe (with 1200 stalls over 8,000 m2).
This huge Modernist (the local take on Art Nouveau) building with colourful stalls, is a foodie and architecture lover’s paradise. A visit here ranks among the top things to do in Valencia. Plus it is located next door to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of La Lonja, which makes it really easy to fit in any itinerary.
Valencia’s Central Market is the ideal place to grab a snack or buy ingredients for your next meal. Stop by a bakery, have a glass of horchata (a refreshing tigernut drink typical from Valencia), get a takeaway ration of paella, buy some turron as a souvenir or pick up some fresh fruits and vegetables. Besides all this, you’ll also find a great variety of stalls selling cheese, spices, nuts, fish, seafood, and meat.
If you really want to spoil your senses, stop by Central Bar for a bocadillo (Spanish sandwich in baguette bread). This tiny bar is owned by Michelin-starred chef Ricard Camarena, so be prepared to wait in line.
Mercado Central is open in the morning from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m from Monday to Saturday, but I recommend you visit before 2 p.m. if you want to enjoy its bustling atmosphere.