You haven’t seen all the spectacular European sites until you’ve traveled to Spain. Spain is the second-largest country in the European Union and the fourth-most populous.
It is located in Southwestern Europe, partly surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean in the west and bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the east and south. Portugal borders it to the west, France to the north, and Gibraltar to its south.
Spain has a rich history that dates back 42,000 years and has been influenced by many cultures, such as the Romans, Greeks, and Germanic tribes.
However, after many conquerings of indigenous tribes, The Spanish Empire, one of the largest in history, became Spain’s dominant ruler, lasted from 1492 until 1976.
Spain’s diverse influence is reflected in its art, music, architecture, literature, and cuisine. Most notably, Spain is the world’s second-most visited country due largely to its World Heritage landmarks, which total 49 and are deemed the world’s fourth-largest number of World Heritage Sites.
There is little wonder, then, that Spain is the world’s second-most visited country, boasting 83.5 million visitors in 2019.
For the convenience of those who are curious, interested, or planning to visit Spain, the following ten famous World Heritage landmarks are highly recommended as they offer a plethora of settings and architecture to please different tastes.
Whether you love churches, parks, gardens, markets, monuments, or more, there is no limit to the history and beauty you can experience through these sites alone.
Famous Landmarks in Spain
1. La Sagrada Familia
This gothic-style church built in the Middle Ages is the largest unfinished Roman Catholic church. It is located in the Eixample district of Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain, and was designed by the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí.
It remains unfinished to the present day due to interruptions from war, vandalism, and disease. The project resumed in the 1950s but was slow to progress until 2010, when newer technologies led to faster procedures to complete the structure.
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An endeavor has been in the works to construct ten more spires to symbolize important biblical new testament figures.
Completion of the spires was expected for 2026 to honor Gaudi’s passing in 1926 but has been delayed again due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
2. Park Güell
Parc Güell is a private park with gardens located on Carmel Hill in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain, belonging to the mountain range of Collserola.
Its design, created by Antoni Gaudi, began in 1900 and lasted until 1914. It was created as a private entry for a gated housing development for 60 private villas. However, the project was unsuccessful because it sold only two houses.
However, Gaudi purchased one of the homes, Torre Rosa, built by Francesco Berenguer. Gaudi lived there from 1906 until he died in 1926.
In 1923, Park Guell became municipal property; in 1963, Gaudi’s house was converted into the Gaudi Museum. Since 1984, Park Guell has been considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Alhambra is a palace comprised of a series of monumental towers and gardens in Granada, Andalusia, Spain. It is famous for its well-preserved Islamic and Spanish Renaissance architecture.
Alhambra is Arabic for “Red Castle” and was named so due to its reddish walls. It is located on top of the hill al-Sabika to the west of Granada and on the left bank of the river Darro.
The first historical documents about the Alhambra date from the 9th century, when it was first used as a refuge during civil fights in Granada.
It had to be repaired after much destruction and eventually extended and populated.
4. Casa Milà
The Casa Milà, also known as La Pedrera or “The stone quarry,” is the architect Gaudi’s last civic project, which reflects his imaginative body of work about nature.
It was his last private residence, which he designed and built between 1906 and 1912 in Barcelona. The 4500 square meters divided across five floors were considered unconventionally ornamental for its day. For instance, some of its structure contains blocks of stone connected by metal components.
Through the La Pedrera Magical Vision! You can virtually tour the La Pedrera through innovative technology that allows you to view the real environment in holographic images.
5. Museo Nacional del Prado
Also known as The Prado Museum or Museo del Prado, it is the country’s main art museum in central Madrid.
Dating back 200 years, it reflects the tastes of Spain’s 16th- and 17th-century monarchs who tended to collect work by their favorite artists such as Bosch, Titian, El Greco, Rubens, Velázquez, and Goya, some numbering more than 100 works.
While the 18th century ushered in a new time in which non-Spanish artists were emphasized, by the 19th century, the Prado Museum’s collections reflected the history of Spain with the rediscovery of such artists as Goya, El Greco, and Velázquez.
6. Casa Batlló
Designed by Antoni Gaudi, the Casa Batlló, located in the center of Barcelona, is one of his greatest masterpieces.
It was remodeled from a previously built house yet was redesigned by him in 1904. It has been refurbished several times after that.
It is nicknamed the “house of bones” because of its eye-catching skeletal-like window frames, colorfully tiled rooftop, and extremely textured façade.
Visit its many rooms to see how it has been restored while also exploring Gaudi’s life and artistic inspiration via a 10-D tour. Take an audio tour of 5 different areas, especially the Noble Floor, to learn how the Batlló family once lived.
7. Royal Alcázar of Seville
This royal palace in Seville was constructed in the 10th century to be used as the new government headquarters to house the Christian king Peter of Castile. It was built on the site of a Muslim fortress.
Historically known as al-Qasr al-Muriq, it is popularly known as the Alcázar of Seville. It underwent many architectural changes through the centuries, such as Gothic, Romanesque, and Renaissance influences, leading to its present-day complexity of various cultural influences.
For example, travelers will glimpse Christianity and Islam in their architecture. It is the most visited site in Southern Spain.
It is recognized as the backdrop for the Water Gardens of Dorne in the hit TV series, Game of Thrones. In addition, it remains the Royal Family’s official residence in Seville.
8. La Rambla
La Rambla is a large avenue in Barcelona that runs through the city’s center. Its pretty tree-lined path attracts tourists who flock to see its street performers and human statues.
La Rambla runs north and south, with Port Vell at the southernmost end and Plaça de Catalunya at the northernmost end. It borders the neighborhood of Barri Gotic to the east and El Raval to the west.
It is a gateway to many parts of the city where you can find convenient public transportation, hotels, and many restaurants and shops. Be careful to avoid pickpockets and scam artists, especially at night.
9. Mercado de La Boqueria
One of the city’s most popular tourist landmarks, La Boqueria, was awarded the Best Market in the World in 2005 by the World Markets Congress.
Also known as The Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria or the San José Market. It is a large public market in Barcelona that attracts many for its fresh produce, meat, fish, vegetables, and delectable sweets.
You can enter it from La Rambla, near the Liceu, Barcelona’s opera house. La Boqueria was constructed beginning in 1835 on the remains of an old convent of San Jose de Los Carmelitas that was burned during a revolt and completed in 1840.
10. Plaza de España
The Plaza de España is a famous square in Seville that combines Baroque, Renaissance, and Moorish Revival styles of Spanish architecture.
It was built in 1928 for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929. Anibal Gonzalez designed the plaza de Espana to symbolize peace with Spain’s former American colonies. It is surrounded by a row of buildings that presently house government institutions, with a large fountain in the middle and tall towers on either side.
See the beauty of its numerous mosaic tiles and the 52 frescos, each depicting the Spanish provinces. Rent a boat, sail through its round canal, and see many picturesque bridges. The square underwent renovation in 2010.
Whether you enjoy the magnificence of royal palaces, the quaintness of churches, or are dazzled by Spain’s history-enriched arts, music, and culture; you won’t be disappointed as you explore the culture that cities like Seville, Barcelona, Madrid, and Granada have to offer.
Among these ten World UNESCO attractions, you are bound to find many treasures to serve your specific interests in the north or south of Spain.
Whether it’s the most famous square in Seville, the innovative art of the Prado Museum, or the architectural marvels of the palaces of Alhambra and Alcázar, consider your trip to Espana today.