Our first taster of Spain’s top historical sites, we will return.
There’s something to be said about the reminiscing of your travels. And when I wrote my previous two posts on UNESCO World Heritage Sites on Portugal and France, I loved it. So, I thought I’m going to do one for Spain too. Firstly, I didn’t realise Spain had so many UNESCO sites and secondly, I never realised how many we had already visited.
The Patio de los Naranjos, Córdoba
Gary and I usually look out for UNESCO World Heritage Sites in any regions we travel to. It wouldn’t be right if we didn’t go and hunt down a slice of local history.
Some of these UNESCO sites can get a little overcrowded, and there are few that you may never even have heard of.
However, regardless of their popularity, they are all worth a visit. Keep an eye out for part 2 of our UNESCO sites to visit in Spain.
North, south, east or west, Spain has something for everyone.
A helpful guide
There are so many incredible places to discover in Spain and I love planning road trips. I often use the DK Eyewitness books, I find them extremely informative, easy to follow and the pictures and maps tempt you into searching for more.
We used a previous version of this book to plan our Spanish road trips, now you can grab the revised copy.
Old Town of Cáceres
The birds fly high around San Francisco Javier church, Cáceres
There’s an incredible amount of history here, take a delightful evening stroll amongst the ochre-coloured city walls and weave your way through charming tiny lanes.
Turn after turn you’re greeted with ancient towers, churches and courtyards.
The quiet lanes of Cáceres
La Lonja de la Seda (Silk Exchange), Valencia
Mmmm yes, we are now in the spiritual home paella, you’ve got it, Valencia. Valencia is a beachside city on the eastern coast of Spain, and in my opinion, can easily give Barcelona a run for its money.
Silk Exchange or Llotja de la Seda, Valencia
Just after you’ve visited the bustling Mercado pop across the road to the La Lonja de la Seda. Built between 1482 and 1533 in late gothic style, the building was once used a Silk Exchange and added to the UNESCO list in 1996. It’s beautiful inside, and with an entrance fee of just €2, it’s well worth a visit.
To discover the in-depth history behind Valencia’s silk trade, enjoy this 2-hour guided tour and skip the lines too.
Historic Centre of Córdoba
Perhaps I shouldn’t say it, but the Mezquita in Córdoba is probably my favourite of all the places on this Spanish list. It really stopped me in my tracks when I walked in, you hear people say you must visit, but it is incredible. You feel like you are standing in a hall of mirrors within a forest of columns, you cannot believe how many of the red and cream arcs stretch out before you.
The interior of the Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba
The historic centre of Córdoba was inscribed onto the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1984. Although, it isn’t just the Mosque-Cathedral on the list, also included are other ancient sites around the historic city, AIcázar de Los Reyes Cristianos and the Roman bridge across the River GuadaIquivir.
The view from the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos, Córdoba
Monuments of Oviedo and the Kingdom of the Asturias
Just outside Oviedo on the hilltops above, is the beautiful church of Santa Maria del Naranco. This church was originally built as a royal palace for Ramiro I of Asturias in 848. It was then converted into a church towards the end of the 13th century, the building is sort of simple, but equally quite impressive, and you just want to climb its ancient steps and investigate further.
The entrance to Santa Maria del Naranco, Mount Naranco, Oviedo
Works of Antoni Gaudí
Dotted in and around Barcelona are works by Antoni Gaudi, of which the city has become so synonymous with. The buildings are so unique, and there’s no doubt when you come across one, that they are immediately recognisable as Gaudi.
La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona
View over Porters Lodge in Park Güell
Well, there is certainly no surprise that Alhambra Palace in Granada is on the UNESCO List. The palace in the beautiful region of Andalucía was added in 1984. Gary and I climbed to the top of the hill, where the Alhambra is located and arrived slightly tired in the Spanish heat, only to find out we had missed the chance of heading inside the palace.
A view from the gardens, Granada
Nevertheless, we were still able to tour the grounds and the castle, which were delightful, and you’d spend hours just visiting these on their own. So, don’t make the same mistake as us, grab your ticket in advance and jump the queues.
Top of the Torre de la Vela, Granada
The framed Parador de Granada
Old City of Salamanca
Heading further north now, and we are in the historic city of Salamanca in the Castile and León region of Spain. Salamanca is a lovely city with some magnificent architecture, it has two cathedrals, one of Europe’s oldest universities and a Plaza Mayor you will immediately fall in love with.
The old Cathedral of Salamanca
What I particularly liked about Salamanca, is that it still feels like it is slightly off of the tourist radar. Where in some cities in Spain English is spoken in a lot of places, Salamanca wasn’t like that. The old city was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1988.
Plaza Mayor, Salamanca
Something for the Traveller
Old Town of Ávila
Slightly inland from Salamanca and still in the Castile and León region of Spain is the impressive walled city of Ávila. The city is encircled by an incredible 82 semi-circular towers and nine gates. It was built in the 11th century to protect the Spanish territories against the Moors.
The old city walls of Ávila
The Old Town of Ávila was inscribed onto the UNESCO List in 1985. There are plenty of historic buildings still within the walls, including the ancient Gothic cathedral and four Romanesque churches.
Why not jump on a guided tour and combine a visit to Salamanca and the walled city of Ávila and discover their history?
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