Spain is a fascinating country with so many things to see and do. In this article, we’re sharing our top 10 attractions in Spain that tourists are sure to love. From Aqueduct of Segovial to the ruins of Moorish Gibraltar, this travel guide has it all!
La Sagrada Familia is an attraction that no one in Barcelona should miss because it is regarded as one of the most magnificent structures anywhere in the world. The renowned Catalan architect Antoni Gaud was in charge of designing this spectacular church, which features three stunning facades that each depict a different stage in the life of Christ. The church’s interior is designed to look like a mystical forest thanks to the columns, shaped like trees with branching topiaries, and the rainbow stained glass windows. La Sagrada Familia was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2005 owing to its cultural significance and undeniable aesthetic appeal. The structure perfectly depicts Gaud’s architectural progression throughout his career.
With thousands of visitors passing through its halls and gardens daily, this Arabic palace complex in Granada is Spain’s most popular tourist attraction. Beginning in the late 800s, the Alhambra castle, as it is known today, was constructed over several centuries on the site of an old stronghold. But it wasn’t until the emir Mohammed ben Al-Ahmar made it his royal home in the 1300s that it genuinely gained “fame.” His successors expanded the Alcazaba stronghold over the following 200 to 300 years, creating the portions of the Alhambra that are still visible today. It was recognized as a World Heritage site in 1984 for its extraordinary representation of Moorish and Andalusian culture, global beauty, and capacity to communicate the changes in the history of the region over time through its architectural design and decorative schemes.
The Great Mosque of Cordoba, commonly known as La Mezquita and once the most significant mosque of western Islam, is one of the largest mosques in the world and the pinnacle of Moorish construction in Spain. The Great Mosque is one of the two most magnificent specimens of Islamic art and architecture in western Europe, together with the Alhambra in Granada. Despite later changes that removed much of its center to make room for a Catholic cathedral, the site still retains its charm. Building materials from Roman and Visigothic buildings were employed in the construction, which began in 785 and continued until it reached its current dimensions in the year 1000, with its prayer hall containing no less than nineteen aisles. Anywhere you stand or turn your head, you can see symmetrical patterns in the rows and columns and circular Moorish arches.
You need to see this building in person to appreciate it fully; no photograph has ever done justice to this beautiful symphony of shapes. American architect Frank Gehry employed blocks of limestone and wavy titanium sheets to subvert the idea of a modern building.
When the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao opened 25 years ago, it transformed the poor urban area into a thriving cultural hub. In the last 25 years, this architectural wonder on the Nervion River bank in Bilbao has accomplished the unexpected: It has changed the face of a city that was once thought to be all but lost. The structure created by Frank Gehry is now the city’s icon. The 24,000 square meter museum’s halls house exhibitions and a vast collection of modern art. Among the best pieces are those by Andy Warhol, Willem de Kooning, and Anselm Kiefer.
Although it is now exclusively used for state functions, the Royal Palace is the formal residence of the Spanish royal family in Madrid. The royal palace transports guests on a voyage through Spain’s history. It was constructed on the location of the former Alcázar, the Moorish stronghold, which was destroyed by fire in 1734. The historic city wall that surrounded this region can still be seen. The intriguing Palacio Real, which has over 3000 rooms and is constructed in the shape of a square, was inspired by sketches created by Bernini for the building of the Louvre Museum in Paris. You’ll come across a stunning staircase made by Sabatini, a Throne Hall with a Tiepolo-painted ceiling, and the Royal Armory, which stores the weaponry and armor used by the kings of Spain, as you meander through this enormous operating royal palace in Europe. The Royal Palace’s Painting Gallery, which features pieces by Caravaggio, Velázquez, and Goya, is another area that must be seen.
Seville’s iconic landmarks—La Giralda, the Catedral de Sevilla, and the Alcázar—have been designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. La Giralda, the city’s main attraction, was originally a tower and is all left of the city’s Great Mosque, which was destroyed to make room for the cathedral. It is regarded as a masterpiece of Almohad architecture. The marvelous interior of the Cathedral of Seville is larger than that of St. Peter’s in Rome, and it features a 37-meter main altar with carved sculptures that are entirely plated in gold. Four enormous figures support the mausoleum belonging to Christopher Columbus. After the Christian Reconquest, Pedro I had the Moorish-built Alcázar across from the cathedral completely renovated. The salons and rooms are stunning, with ornate details like patterned ceilings and intricately tiled walls. The magnificent Alcázar grounds were also depicted in the famous Game of Thrones television series.
Ciutat de Les Arts I Les Ciències, Valencia‘s top attraction, is regarded as one of Spain’s “12 Treasures.” This historical and artistic complex was built to increase tourism in the area, and it quickly achieved the aim of its construction. The futuristic and stunning structure was entirely created by the Spanish architects Santiago Calatrava and Félix Candela and took about ten years to build. Also called the City of Arts and Sciences, it is home to the largest oceanic aquarium in Europe, an interactive science museum, and an IMAX theatre, among other notable structures. The complex serves as the venue for numerous community celebrations and events throughout the year, including the Exposicion del Ninots and the Festival de las Artes.
One of the highly preserved Roman remnants in Spain is the Aqueduct of Segovia. With around 24,000 large granite blocks and no mortar, the historic Aqueduct transports water from the Frio River to Segovia across a distance of about 16 kilometers or 10 miles. It was most likely built around 50 AD and still supplied the city with water until the 20th century. The Aqueduct was added to the World Heritage List in 1985 and dominated Segovia’s urban environment. It was also included in the World Monuments Watch in 2006, which brought attention to the building on a global scale.
Located about 45 kilometers northwest of Madrid, San Lorenzo de El Escorial served as the summer residence of the Spanish monarchy. In 1563, construction began on a massive complex that would become a memorial to Philip II and his rule and comprise a monastery, chapel, royal palace, mausoleum, library, and museum. The final structure is a mind-boggling array of attractions built around 16 courtyards and connected by 16 kilometers of corridors between its rooms and buildings. The building’s focal point is the church, highlighted by Herrera’s 30-meter-tall retablo, built of red marble and jasper and accessed via 17 stairs. Be sure to visit the Bourbon Suite at the palace, adorned with unique furniture and 338 tapestries to resemble Charles IV’s state quarters. Beyond are Philip II’s lavishly decorated private chambers. Fine paintings by Hieronymus Bosch, Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese, and El Greco are among the many masterpieces in the picture gallery below.
Teide National Park is a paradise for people interested in outdoor activities and is located on Tenerife Island in the Canary Islands. The Teide-Pico Viejo stratovolcano, the third-tallest volcanic edifice in the world, is the main attraction in the park. It is considered the highest point in all of Spain, with a height of 3,718 meters. Keep an eye out since there is something beautiful to see at every turn. Invertebrates, in particular, along with the flora that has adapted to the distinctive geological formations in Europe, have found a home in this ecosystem, and it is definitely worth watching. In the national park, visitors can trek Mount Teide, take a cable car ride up the mountain for a breathtaking view of the park, or enjoy some fun, stargazing activities.