The 30 best places to visit in Spain

 

In the north west of the country in Leon province is the Las Médulas Cultural Landscape, once the the most important and largest open pit gold mine in the Roman Empire. Today the picturesque landscape is interspersed with ancient aqueducts and rock inscriptions among the unusual mountain formations. Due to it's historical importance the area of Las Médulas has been inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

30. Las Médulas

 

Built in the 2nd century AD in the extreme north west of the country, on a peninsula overlooking the Atlantic Sea is the ancient Roman lighthouse, The Tower Of Hercules. Standing at 57 metres (187 ft) high it is the second tallest lighthouse in Spain, and the oldest ancient Roman lighthouse in use today. The Tower Of Hercules has been inscribed as both a Spanish national monument and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Pictured is the statue of Breogán and the Tower Of Hercules.

29. Torre De Hércules

 

In the south of the country between Seville and Málaga is the small town of Setenil De Las Bodegas, famous for it's whitewashed houses built into the overhanging rock. Extending along the Rio Trejo Gorge, in places it appears as if enormous boulders rest on the buildings themselves. The towns hilltop castle was once an Arab fortress, which today offers visitors fantastic views over the town and the surrounding countryside.

28. Setenil De Las Bodegas

 

First built in the mid 15th century, in the far north of the country just south of the city of Pamplona is the Palace Of The Kings Of Navarre Of Olite, more simply known as the Palace Of Olite. During the Napoleonic French Invasion of 1813, the Spanish general Espoz y Mina set fire to the castle in order to stop French occupation, with only the church building having survived untouched. Largely restored over a thirty year period during the mid 20th century, the structure was returned to it's original external appearance, remaining one of the finest castles in the country.

27. Palacio De Los Reyes De Navarra De Olite

 

On the southern coast within the Costa Del Sol (Coast Of The Sun) in the autonomous region of Andalucía is the port city of Málaga, the 6th largest city in Spain. Though more well known for it's high rise hotels, resorts and sandy beaches, the cities history spans nearly 3,000 years, making it one of the oldest cities in the world. The archaeological remains and monuments from the Phoenician, Roman, Arabic and Christian eras make Málaga's historic centre an open air museum. Highlights include the two hilltop citadels, the Alcazaba and the partially ruined Gibralfaro, both remnants of Moorish rule. From their high vantage point both offer fantastic views over the city, the port and the long coastline.

Pictured from Gibralfaro.

26. Málaga

 

Completed in 1997 in the northern city of Bilbao is one of the most celebrated pieces of architecture in the world, the Guggenheim Museum. Designed by famous architect Frank Gehry, the man behind the Dancing Houses in Prague, and the Walt Disney Opera House in Los Angeles, the Guggenheim is the largest museum in Spain, displaying notable large scale modern and contemporary artworks. Considered a work of art in itself, the building is one of the most admired works of contemporary architecture.

25. Museo Guggenheim Bilbao

 

In the far north east of the country, on the northern coast near the town of Ribadeo are a set of natural arches known as 'The Beach Cathedrals'. Found on what the Spaniards call, 'The Beach Of Holy Waters', this natural monument got it's name from it's famous cliffs, which at low tide reveal themselves to be reminiscent of a cathedrals flying buttresses.

24. Playa De Las Catedrales

 

In the far north east of the country between Andorra and the city of Zaragoza is one of the most spectacular gorges in Europe, the Congost De Mont-Rebei. Visitors can hike the entire length of the gorge by following an ancient mule track carved into the rock face, or by kayak. In some places the walls of the gorge are 20 metres (65 ft) apart reaching a staggering 500 metres (1,640 ft) from the rivers surface.

Pictured is the Montfalcó Hanging Stairs. Installed in 2013, it consists of a zigzag stairway scaling the sheer cliff face.

23. Congost De Mont-Rebei

 

Completed in 1733 AD in the north western city of Salamanca, after 200 years of construction is the enormous Gothic and Baroque styled New Cathedral Of Salamanca. Sitting atop a hill in the centre of the city, with it's 92 metre (302 ft) high bell tower it can be seen for miles around. Visitors should look out for the carving of an astronaut on the main facade, something for which the cathedral received worldwide fame. Though many people still believe it to be proof of time travel, it was in fact added for fun during restoration work in 1992.

22. Catedral Nueva De Salamanca

 

North west of the southern port city of Málaga is the small village o El Chorro, meaning 'The Cascade', one of the most popular rock climbing locations in the country due to it's proximity to Desfiladero De Los Gaitanes, meaning 'Gorge Of The Gaitanes'. The gorge is famous for a walkway called Camino Del Rey (King's Pathway) which hangs 100 metres (328 ft) above the river below. Pinned along steep walls of the narrow gorge, the pathway was re-opened in 2015 after extensive repairs following a series of deaths. Though what stands there today is effectively a brand new walkway, it still holds the reputation of being one of the most dangerous in the world.

21. Desfiladero De Los Gaitanes

 

Founded in the 11th century within the Montserrat Mountains, just north of the city of Barcelona in the autonomous region of Cataluña is the Benedictine Abbey of the Santa Maria De Montserrat. Rebuilt in the 19th and 20th centuries after almost complete destruction in the Spanish civil war of independence, the abbey is notable for enshrining the image of the Virgin Of Montserrat, a 12th century Romanesque sculpture believed to have been sculpted in Jerusalem, one of the few Black Madonnas of Europe. Beautifully nestled within the Montserrat Mountains, the abbey remains an iconic architectural gem within absolutely stunning natural surroundings.

20. Santa Maria De Montserrat

 

To the south of the modern capital, Madrid, the main city of the autonomous region of Castile-La Mancha is the ancient city of Toledo. Once the capital of the Visigothic Kingdom, a fortress of the Emirate of Cordoba, an outpost of Christian kingdoms fighting the Moors, and in the 16th century the temporary seat of supreme power under Charles V, The Holy Roman Emperor, the city holds a wealth of history spanning more than 2,000 years. Influenced by Christians, Jews and Muslims, the architectural masterpieces within the walled city have been sculpted by these three major religions. Revered for it's extensive monumental and cultural history the entire city of Toledo has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

19. Toledo

 

Completed in 1584 to the north west of the capital, Madrid, is the royal site of San Lorenzo De El Escorial, one of the most important Renaissance monuments in the country. Having been built in a style unlike anything previous, it had considerable influence on Spanish architecture for more than half a century. Once a retreat of a mystic king, in the last years of Philip II's reign it became the centre of the greatest political power of it's time. Today this mammoth building operating as a monastery, basilica, royal palace, pantheon, library, university and hospital is a Spanish property of cultural and historical importance. Such is it's historical importance, the 16th century building has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

18. Monasterio Y Sitio De El Escorial

 

Completed in 1754 in a Baroque style on the banks of the Ebro River in the north eastern city of Zaragoza, is the large Cathedral Basilica Of Our Lady Of The Pillar, the first church in the world dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Within it stands a statue of Mary, of which many kings of Spain, and many foreign rulers and saints have shown their devotion to. One of two minor basilicas in Zaragoza, visitors should also pay a visit to the Cathedral Of The Saviour, another of the cities major stand out constructions.

17. Catedral De Nuestra Señora Del Pilar

 

In the north east of the country, between Zaragoza and Pamplona, in the middle of a depression of the Ebro Valley at the foot of the mountains is the Bardenas Reales, a 420 square kilometre (162 square mile) area of semi desert and natural badlands. Staying dry most of the year, the soil is made up of clay, chalk and sandstone eroded by water and wind creating a landscape of bizarre shapes, canyons, plateaus and isolated hills.

16. Bardenas Reales

 

In the extreme north west of the country is the famous pilgrimage city of Santiago De Compostela, the capital of the autonomous region of Galicia. Destroyed by Muslims at the end of the 10th century, it was completely rebuilt in the following century, becoming a symbol of the Spanish Christians' struggle against Islam. With it's Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque buildings, the old town of Santiago De Compostela is considered one of the most beautiful urban areas in the world.

Built in 1211 AD, the most important structure in the city is undoubtedly the Cathedral Of Santiago De Compostela, the reputed burial site of Saint James The Great, an apostle of Jesus Christ. This enormous Romanesque structure with Gothic and Baroque additions is one of the most spectacular cathedrals in the country, boasting it's main gate, the Pórtico Da Gloria (Portal Of Glory), considered the greatest work of Spanish Romanesque sculpture. Due to it's enormous historical importance the entire old town of Santiago De Compostela has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

15. Santiago De Compostela

 

Completed in 1959 after more than eighteen years under construction, close to the capital, Madrid, is the monumental memorial known as The Valley Of The Fallen. Conceived by the Spanish dictator, Francisco Franco, to honour and bury those who died in the Spanish Civil War, the architecture was designed to match the grandeur of monuments of old, which defy time and memory. A true feat of engineering, the underground Basilica Of The Holy Cross Of The Valley Of The Fallen has been hewn out of a granite ridge, it's dimensions making it larger than St. Peter's Basilica in The Vatican. The most prominent feature is the monumental cross, standing 150 metres (492 ft) high it is the tallest and largest cross on the planet.

14. Valle De Los Caídos

 

In the south of the country, to the west of Malaga is city of Ronda, famous for the Puente Nuevo, meaning New Bridge. Construction began in 1751 AD, and took 42 years to complete. Spanning a 120 metre (390 ft) chasm that divides the city, with a height of 98 metres (321 ft) within absolutely beautiful natural surroundings, the Puente Nuevo is one of the most iconic, dramatic, picturesque and famous bridges in the world.

13. Puente Nuevo

 

Constructed in the 1st century AD, to the north of the capital, Madrid, in the city of Segovia is the Aqueduct Of Segovia. Stretching 17 kilometres (10.5 miles) from the centre of the city to the nearby mountains, reaching a maximum height of 28 metres (91 ft) tall, the ancient Roman aqueduct impressively spans the centre of the old town. A symbol of the city, it is regarded an integral structure in the Segovia UNESCO World Heritage Site.

12. Acueducto De Segovia

 

In the extreme south of the country, slightly to the north of the port city of Málaga in the Sierra Del Torcal mountain range is the 17 square kilometre (6.5 square mile) nature reserve of El Torcal De Antequera. Known for it's unusual land formations, the area is considered one of the most impressive karst landscapes in Europe, with the entire nature reserve having been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

11. El Torcal De Antequera

 

Built around 1120 AD, to the north of the capital, Madrid, in the city of Segovia is the Segovia Fortress. Sitting on a rocky outcrop, shaped like the bow of a ship, this Romanesque and Gothic structure remains one of the most distinctive castle palaces in the country. Having been devastated by fire in 1862 and subsequently repaired, the castle has served as a royal palace, state prison, royal artillery college and military academy, today operating as a museum and major tourist attraction. One of the most visually striking castle structures in all of Europe, the fortress has been declared one of the most important structures in the Segovia UNESCO World Heritage Site.

10. Alcázar De Segovia

 

In the south west of the country, famous for orange trees and flamenco dancing is the beautiful city of Seville, the fourth largest city in Spain, the capital and largest city of the autonomous region of Andalucía, and the final resting place of Christopher Columbus. Home to the third largest old town in Europe as well as the third largest church in the world, Seville is one of the countries major tourist cities. With an array of attractions and impressive landmarks, the city is also home to three UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

With so much on offer, click here for the Must See Locations In Seville...

9. Seville

 

In the south west of the country close to the border with Portugal is the ancient city of Mérida, the capital of the autonomous region of Extremadura. Founded by the Romans in the 1st century BC, the city today is one of the largest and most extensive archaeological sites in Spain. Remains of the ancient city include the Teatro Romano, the Puente Romano and the adjoining Alcazaba, a 9th century Islamic fortress built over Roman walls. With such an array of ancient ruins, the Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Pictured is the Teatro Romano, constructed around 16 BC.

8. Mérida

 

In the city of Córdoba, directly north of the southern port city of Málaga is one of the finest pieces of architecture in the world, The Mosque Cathedral Of Córdoba, sometimes referred to as The Great Mosque Of Córdoba or The Cathedral Of Our Lady Of The Assumption. Starting out as a Catholic church in the 7th century, when Muslims conquered Spain in 711 AD it was transformed into a grand Mosque, which it remained until 1236 AD when Spain was returned to Christian rule. Considered one of the most accomplished monuments of Moorish architecture, it's incredible interior is certainly one of the most artistically decorated and impeccably designed buildings on the planet. Easily one of Spain's most renowned landmarks, one of the countries most visited attractions, The Mosque Cathedral Of Córdoba has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

7. Mezquita-Catedral De Córdoba

 

In the far south east of the country in the autonomous region of Andalucía is the Sierra Nevada, meaning 'Mountain Range Covered In Snow.' Containing the highest point within continental Spain, the Mulhacén stands at 3,478 metres (11,411 ft) above sea level, making it the third highest point in Europe after the Caucasus Mountains and the Alps. The largest area of protected land in the country, the Sierra Nevada National Park is a landscape of steep snow capped mountains, serene lakes and huge valleys.

6. Parque Nacional Sierra Nevada

 

In the far north east of the country is the world city of Barcelona, the second city of Spain, and the largest city and capital of the autonomous region of Cataluña. Known as the pick-pocketing capital of Europe, the city is renowned for it's art and architecture, famed for it's modernist landmarks designed by Antoni Gaudi. One of the most visited destinations on Earth, home to unique works of architectural art, the city boasts within it one of the most incredible buildings in the world.

With so much on offer, click here for the Must See Places In Barcelona...

5. Barcelona

 

In the far northern centre of the country, covering the autonomous regions of Asturias, Cantabria, Castile and León is a 646 square kilometre (249 square mile) area of protected land called Picos De Europa National Park, encompassing the Picos De Europa mountain range. Made up of high rocky peaks, glacial lakes, limestone valleys and rolling forested hills, highlights within the park include the pristine lakes of Ercina and Enol, known together as the Lakes Of Covadongo. Another favourite is the limestone peak of Naranjo De Bulnes, standing 2,519 metres (8,264 ft) above sea level it is the most iconic landmark in the range. One of several biosphere reserves in the Cantabrian Mountains, they are soon to be integrated into a single super reserve which will be known as Gran Cantábrica.

Pictured is the Naranjo De Bulnes.

4. Parque Nacional De Picos De Europa

 

At the tip of the Iberian Peninsula within the British overseas territory of Gibraltar is the monolithic limestone Rock Of Gibraltar, also known as one of the Pillars of Hercules. Rising an enormous 426 metres (1,398 ft) high on the Mediterranean coast, it is undoubtedly one of the most famous monolithic rocks in the world. Most of the upper area of the rock is covered by nature reserve, home to around 300 Barbary macaques, which along with the labyrinth of tunnels and the Moorish Castle attracts a large number of tourists every year. Though the Rock Of Gibraltar is not within Spain, it is on Spanish territory that visitors can get the best view of it.

3. El Peñón De Gibraltar

 

In the southern centre of the country, within the autonomous region of Andalucía is the city of Granada, nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Among the narrow cobbled streets that snake around the hilly terrain, Granada is known for grand examples of medieval architecture dating to the Moorish occupation, none more so than the Alhambra.

Built around the 13th century, the Alhambra is a sprawling hilltop fortress complex that encompasses royal palaces, viewing patios, reflecting pools, fountains, orchards and landscape gardens. One of the countries most visited attractions as well as one of the most famous buildings on the planet, the Alhambra is a jewel of man made construction within stunning natural surroundings. Certainly one of the most incredible fortified palaces on the continent, shortlisted as a candidate for one of the New 7 Wonders Of The World, it has unsurprisingly been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

2. Granada

 

In the far north east of the country on the southern side of the Pyrenees mountain range that separates Spain and France is the 156 square kilometre (60 square mile) Ordesa National Park. This mountainous region is one of steep cliffs, towering summits, wild forests and large valleys, the most notable of which is undoubtedly the vast Ordesa Valley.

First discovered around 1820, the glacial Ordesa Valley measures approximately 11 kilometres (7 miles) in length and is surrounded by some of the highest peaks within the Pyrenees Mountains. Within an area of outstanding natural beauty, the valley is considered one of the finest natural sights in Europe, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

1. Parque Nacional Ordesa y Monte Perdido

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