8 Wonderful Spanish Landmarks worth visiting in Spain
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, 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 Spain Landmarks. !Vamanos!
Famous Landmarks in Spain
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 facade. Then wander inside and take a seat in the chapel to truly take in the splendor 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.
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.
Planning a day trip to Segovia from Madrid? Read my in-depth article on the best ways to travel between Madrid and Segovia!
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.
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 visit to this gorgeous plaza is definitely one of the best things to do when visiting Seville.
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.
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.
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.
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 travelers every year journey dozens of kilometers 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 decor.
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.
No matter which famous landmark in Spain you decide to visit, you can venture forth knowing that its beauty will be just as eye-popping as its detailed history. Wherever you’re headed in Spain, you’re bound to stumble upon a famous landmark, emblematic of the country’s rich culture and sense of style. Really, what more could you ask for?