Spain is a country full of art, history, mountains, beaches, and tasty tapas. It has quite a few big cities with their own special cultural perks. You can find Gaudi’s modernist architecture in Barcelona, or medieval castles in Segovia. If beaches and nightlife are more your thing, Spain can even offer that – in Ibiza! Here are some of Spain’s top tourist attractions.
Basilica de la Sagrada Familia
Antoni Gaudi spent over 40 years designing the Temple of the Sagrada Familia. The temple was left unfinished upon his death, but is now pending completion. Nearby, you can find the Gaudi House Museum, where Gaudi lived for 20 years while working on his masterpiece.
The Alhambra and Generalife Gardens
These palaces in Granada are a highlight of Spain’s Islamic period during the Middle Ages. The complex includes several buildings, towers, walls, gardens, and a mosque – all with delicate carvings, tile-lined ceilings, and the arches that Islamic work is known to have.
Cordoba’s Great Mosque: Mezquita
Mezquita is one of the world’s greatest works of Islamic architecture. It is a large, spacious mosque with numerous arches striped with orange color. Although it is heavily crowded by tourists, it is still said to have a calming effect on those visiting from abroad.
The Prado and Paseo del Artes
Madrid is home to the Prado Museum, one of the top art museums in the world for all that it has to offer, but the Paseo del Artes makes this stop all the more memorable. For one mile along the boulevard, there is a high concentration of artwork held in many more museums, including Reina Sofia National Art Museum, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, and the CaixaForum.
San Lorenzo de El Escorial
Travel about 45 kilometers northwest of Madrid to the summer home of Spain’s kings to see a huge complex of attractions. At San Lorenzo de El Escorial, the complex includes a monastery, church, royal palace, mausoleum, library, and museum. There are 16 courtyards, and the church sits at the complex core. This church is made of jasper and red marble.
Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao
This museum is one of modern and contemporary art designed by Frank Gehry and located in Bilbao, Spain. It is one of the largest museums in Spain and the building itself is one of the most admired works of contemporary architecture, and it has been frequently named as one of the most important works completed since 1980 in the World Architecture Survey.
Seville Cathedral and Alcazar
La Giralda tower, Seville Cathedral, and the Alcazar are a combined UNESCO World Heritage Site. These three buildings form a complex in the heart of Sevilla. They date back to the Reconquest of 1248 to the 16th century and feature Moorish influences. This is where you can find the tomb of Christopher Columbus, and valuable documents from the archives of the colonies of the Americas are kept there as well.
Santiago de Compostela Cathedral
The Santiago Cathedral was a destination for medieval pilgrims who walked the Way of St. James for months before arriving there. It is home to the relics of St. James, and so many pilgrims have laid their hands on the pillars that a groove has been worn in the stone.
Located in Spain’s capital city of Madrid, Plaza Mayor has been important to this country since the 16th century. It has played its part over the years as a stage of ceremonial events such as the proclamation of a new king, the canonization of saints, the burning of heretics, knight’s tournaments, and bull fights. It’s a pedestrian-only square, so there aren’t any vehicles coming in to ruin the charm of it.
Costa del Sol
Said to be one of Europe’s sunniest places, the beaches of Costa del Sol (coast of the sun) are accurately named. After initial overdevelopment of the beaches, the province of Andalucia has taken steps to undo some of the building to take the beaches back to their former, clean and attractive glory. Even the coast’s city of Malaga is getting a bit of an upgrade, so everything flows in harmony with the beachy surroundings.
Toledo’s Old City
This city sits high on a granite hill and is surrounded on three sides by the Tagus River. Its buildings are made up of Moorish, Gothic, and Renaissance architecture, and the town is laid out with narrow streets and alleys to reflect its Moorish past. Churches and convents are also present here and give a view of the Christian period as well.
Spain has a rich culture and a long history, and it’s easy to see in each of its districts and cities. Visiting or living abroad there will bring you any amount of adventure, and you’re sure to fall in love with this country.
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