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The 10 best historical monuments in Spain

The 10 best historical monuments in Spain

Here are 10 of the best historical monuments of Roman, Gothic, Renaissance or Mudejar style that Spain has together.

Spain is the paradise of architecture, literally. Few countries in the world bring together so many architectural styles and buildings as overwhelmingly beautiful as Spain does. Strolling through any of its cities is like taking a trip back in time through its cobbled streets, historical monuments and unique architectural pieces. This country is a mecca for stylish construction. In fact, some of the monuments on the list were pioneers in their day. Before its construction, its existence was thought impossible. Discover them with this ranking of the 10 best historical monuments in Spain!

1. Alhambra of Granada, Andalusia, Historical Monuments

Alhambra of Granada, Andalusia

Arab writers used to compare Granada to a great Crown on the forehead of which the diadem of the Alhambra stands out. Although, eminently Nasrid in style, this monument is a super imposition of different periods and architectural styles. It was originally built in 889, in the middle of the middle Ages, and then widely ignored until the Moorish conquest .The Muslims brought this palace out of ruin and turned it into a true architectural gem. With a clear Byzantine influence, the artists who forged this piece of monument developed a new style that is reflected in the capitals, arches and decorative details on the ceilings. When the Christians took control of Granada they began to alter parts of the castle to make room for the Renaissance by removing details and arabesque decorations. Still today, a visit to the Alhambra is an unforgettable experience in which the beauty intoxicates you.

2. Mosque of Córdoba, Andalusia

Mosque of Córdoba, Andalusia

And from one Hispanic-Muslim work to another. In fact, the construction of the Alhambra in Granada is said to be inspired by the magnificent details of the Mosque in Córdoba. Construction began on this Umayyad-style religious building in 785, after the Muslim invasion. The work grew throughout the time that the Islamic conquest lasted. But once the Christians regained control of the city, modifications and additions began. Back in 1500 a Renaissance-style basilica was incorporated into the mosque. The Christian cathedral and the Muslim mosque became a single building, the one they are today. Without divisions neither physical nor spiritual, two opposing worlds in many ways coexist in perfect harmony complementing each other stylistically. The history of civilizations summarized in one of the most beautiful monuments in Spain.

3. Aqueduct of Segovia, Castilla y LeónIn

Aqueduct of Segovia, Castilla y LeónIn

The heart of Castilla we find a glimpse of what was once one of the best civil works in history. It is the imposing aqueduct that the Romans built back in the 1st century and that served to transport water from the mountains to the city. The aqueduct of Segovia has 166 arches that run about 15 kilometers through the countryside and urban areas. This marvel of civil engineering has stood almost intact for thousands of years despite wars and conflicts. In 1992 the city council of Segovia decided to cut the traffic below the aqueduct since the vibration produced by the traffic was affecting its structure.

4. Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Monuments

Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

La Sagrada Familia is the unfinished work of the star architect of Modernism, Antoni Gaudí. Well it is much more than that. It is the monument that attracts more tourists a year in Barcelona. This colossal temple is one of your favorites for many reasons. But one of them is the magnificent Nativity façade, richly ornamented. Or its interior, which resembles a forest of white columns that are tinged with colors thanks to the reflection of the sun on the large stained glass windows. If you go over there you will see how they are working on the construction of the first sacristy and the central towers. And when they finish with it, the main façade, also known as the Portal de la Gloria, will still have to be built.

5. Cathedral of Burgos, Castilla y León

Cathedral of Burgos, Castilla y León

It is difficult to talk about the Cathedral of Burgos without paying special attention to its main façade inspired by those of the cathedrals of Paris and Reims and which is considered the most important sculptural manifestation of Gothic in Castile. Although impressive, we recommend that you take your time and enjoy all the treasures that are hidden inside. They include the Chapel of the Constable, of Elizabethan Gothic style; as well as the wonderful golden staircase and the tomb of the Cid and doña Jimena. Come on, one of the monuments of Spain that you should see by now… if you haven’t done it yet.

6. Toledo Cathedral, Castilla-La Mancha

Toledo Cathedral, Castilla-La Mancha

The Cathedral of Toledo is the masterpiece of Gothic art in Spain. But it was not always like this. They say that in the place where this Catholic temple stands majestic today, there used to be the former Toledo mosque, and in it it is possible to see some of its vestiges. When you go, look at the Islamic column embedded inside the Chapel of Santa Lucía, the marble shafts that line the exterior of the choir or the interlaced Caliphal-style clerestory arches of the Capilla de Mayo. You are sure to fall in love with this incredible piece of history.

7. Wall of Ávila, Castilla y León

Wall of Ávila, Castilla y León

Apparently you like stones and history. Or at least that is what can be deduced from the fact that the Wall of Ávila is one of your favorite monuments in Spain. This huge piece of living history is the most well preserved walled enclosure in the world. Avila’s wall was built between the 11th and 14th centuries to prevent Muslim attacks on the city and it still stands today, a silent witness to battles and conflicts. If you want to know it well, we recommend that you take a walk outside, ideally at night, to see it illuminated. It is only 3 kilometers and you will enjoy the view.

8. Roman Theater of Mérida, Extremadura, Historical Monuments

Roman Theater of Mérida, Extremadura

The Roman Theater of Mérida is the oldest monument on this list of the best monuments in Spain. Its construction dates back to 15 or 16 BC, for the entertainment of the high society that lived in the Colonia Iulia Augusta Emerita. With the fall of the Empire, the theater fell into disuse and was buried underground until an archaeological excavation in 1910 rescued it from oblivion. Ironies of fate, today this Roman building continues to be used for the same purpose for which it was built more than 2,000 years ago. Every summer it hosts the International Classical Theater Festival of Mérida and is the best backdrop to see the Trojans recounting their misfortunes or witness the miseries of Oedipus.

9. Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, Galicia
Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, Galicia

When you get to the Cathedral of Santiago make sure you surround it well until you reach the main façade; the Obradoiro. Ascend the stairs. Once inside, you will be greeted by a magnificent Romanesque work representing the History of Salvation. The view will take you to the High Altar. Go up the right side and give a hug to the image of the Apostle who presides over the temple following the centennial tradition of the pilgrims. Below is the crypt, the true goal of the Camino: the walls of the old tomb and, in the middle, the urn that contains the remains of the Apostle Santiago. 

Exit the Cathedral through the South door, the Puerta de las Platerías; Look at the facade. In the mullion, between the arches of the two doors, there is a Crismón, symbol of Christ. But the letters are backwards: Alpha has become Omega, and vice versa. The end becomes the beginning. The goal of the Path is now the beginning of another path, of the new life that you are starting. A cathedral full of symbols and messages. Do not miss it.

10. Alcázar of Seville, Andalusia, Historical Monuments
Alcázar of Seville, Andalusia

The Alcázar of Seville exudes sensuality, charm and exoticism. As with the Alhambra in Granada, this walled palace is a kaleidoscope of styles. Between the Patio de las Doncellas, the Hall of Ambassadors, the baths, the Garden of the Poets or the Room of the Tapestries you can see represented basically almost all the architectural styles of history (Gothic, Mudejar, Islamic, Renaissance, Baroque … ). This is not surprising considering that the Alcázar has witnessed Viking attacks, civil wars and even the births of kings. With each stage of the history of Spain, the palace expanded and took shape until reaching our days. Don’t miss the dramatized tours that enact the history of the place with much more flair and sympathy than any newsletter or information pamphlet. They also organize them when the sun has already fallen and, that, in Seville is always appreciated.