Spain is one of the most visited countries in the world. Although the country is renowned for its beautiful beaches and warm weather, some of the most popular attractions in Spain are the historical and cultural monuments. So if you’re a history buff, read on!
History buffs rejoice
Spain is home to some of the world’s oldest and most historic buildings and monuments; in fact, it has more UNESCO World Heritage listed sites than any other country in the world and the second most World Heritage cities after Italy.
Wherever you go in Spain you will come across architecture that dates back hundreds of years including breathtaking cathedrals, castles, palaces and more. However, there are several specific historical and cultural monuments in Spain that attract more visitors than others, and we look at some of the most popular below.
La Sagrada Familia Cathedral, Barcelona
The beautiful La Sagrada Familia Cathedral in Barcelona is one of Spain’s most visited attractions. Featuring the architecture and art of Antoni Gaudi, the exquisite Roman Catholic cathedral is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site despite never being completed.
The architecture of the cathedral blends Art Nouveau with Gothic, which is what makes its design so unique. Unfortunately, Gaudi died approximately a quarter of the way through the project. Using his drawings, the cathedral was slowly built over the next few decades.
Tours of La Sagrada Familia Cathedral are available throughout the year.
Cave of Altamira, Santillana del Mar
The Cave of Altamira is home to some of the world’s oldest examples of early human life. Within the caves are paintings from the Upper Paleolithic era and the paintings are the first prehistoric ones to be found in the world.
The caves are situated approximately 30km west of Santander in northern Spain. Currently, you cannot access the actual caves as carbon monoxide from the breath of visitors was damaging them. However, there are plans to open the caves for a brief period for visitors in the near future. There is a replica cave for visitors to see.
Monastery and Site of the Escorial, Madrid
The Monastery and Site of the Escorial is one of Madrid’s most popular historical attractions. Situated approximately 45km away from the centre of Madrid, the Monastery and Site of the Escorial is a historical residence of the king of Spain.
The impressive buildings date back to the 15th century and there are numerous sections that you can visit. The Basilica, Palace of Phillip II, Pantheon of the Princes and Gardens of the Friars are particularly exquisite.
Visitors are able to walk around the beautiful buildings either alone or on guided tours. Tours are available in several languages, including English, and are well worth doing to find out some interesting facts.
Vizcaya Bridge, Portugalete
For those interested in spectacular engineering projects, the Vizcaya Bridge in Portugalete is one of the most amazing of them all. Built in 1893 it is the world’s oldest transporter bridge and was designed by Alberto Palacio – a disciple of Gustave Eiffel’s (the creator of the Eiffel Tower).
The bridge was built to connect to cities on opposite sides of the Nervion River without disrupting maritime traffic. The bridge is 164 metres tall and is still in use today, being able to transport six cars and almost one hundred passengers on every trip. The gondola runs every 8 minutes during the day and once every hour at night. It is a popular tourist attraction for visitors from around the world.
Tower of Hercules, A Coruna
The Tower of Hercules, situated in the town of A Coruna in north-western Spain is one of the oldest monuments in the country. Dating back to the ancient Roman period, the Tower of Hercules (in Spanish: Torre de Hercules) is 180 feet tall and was built as a lighthouse that looks out over the North Atlantic coastline of Spain.
Not only is the Tower of Hercules a National Monument of Spain but in 2007 it was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Despite being built so long ago, it is still the second tallest lighthouse in Spain, after the Faro de Chipiona.
The lighthouse is situated approximately 2.5km outside of A Coruna and is one of Spain’s most visited historical monuments.