From medieval castles to dreamy mosques and futuristic museums, the list of landmarks in Spain is truly impressive. From Barcelona to Madrid and beyond, these incredible Spain landmarks tell stories of the country’s rich history.
From Gothic to Gaudi to Gehry, Spain has stunningly beautiful and innovative monuments and landmarks. So, here are 30 famous landmarks of Spain to tick off your bucket list.
- 30 Spain Landmarks To Tick Off Your Bucket List
- Famous Spain Landmarks
- Historic Landmarks in Spain
- Religious Landmarks of Spain
- Spain’s Natural Landmarks
- Landmarks in Madrid
- Intangible Landmarks of Spain
30 Spain Landmarks To Tick Off Your Bucket List
Famous Spain Landmarks
1- Basilica La Sagrada Familia (Barcelona)
Conjured from the fertile imagination of one of the world’s most famous architects of all time, Basilica La Sagrada Familia is Gaudi’s most famous work and a landmark in Barcelona that stands out.
He started building it in Barcelona in 1883 and worked on it right up until his death but even today, this world-famous landmark in Spain is still not complete.
When Gaudi took over the project from the original architect, who had planned a neo-Gothic building, it changed Barcelona forever taking its place as one of the most famous landmarks in Spain.
Gaudí managed to complete the chapel of San José, the crypt and the door of El Nacimiento.
La Sagrada Familia is at Carrer de Mallorca, 401, 08013 Barcelona, Spain. Book a tour to see it here.
2- Alhambra (Granada)
Alhambra is a Spain landmark that impresses most visitors. It’s a dreamy palace and fortress in Andalucia.
The Alhambra in Granada is a mysteriously alluring complex of buildings and gardens, with tree-lined walkways and flowing streams.
Once a major political hub for the Muslims in the west, the palace is a breathtaking geometrical landmark in Spain with rectangular courtyards and fountains.
It’s a fairytale palace with Nasrid buildings, which was once where the Muslim rulers lived, and the enchanting courtyard of the Lions with its magical fountains.
Alcazaba citadel is the oldest structure in Alhambra while the view from La Vela tower is stunning.
Spain’s most famous landmark can be explored while on an Andalucia road trip.
Alhambra is a popular attraction that can get very busy so beat the queues and pre-purchase your ticket and tour here.
Alhambra is at Calle Real de la Alhambra, Granada, Spain.
3- Guggenheim Museum (Bilbao)
As soon as you set eyes on the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao you will know why it’s a famous landmark in Spain. The futuristic design by Frank Gehry is jaw-dropping.
A contemporary architectural masterpiece in the heart of Spain’s Basque Country, Bilbao’s Guggenheim Museum is a Spain landmark that is truly awe-inspiring.
Built from titanium, glass and limestone, the futuristic design of the museum makes it one of the most impressive buildings of the 20th century.
The titanium curves and soaring glass gives the building a timeless look that would most likely not be out of place 100 or 200 years from now.
Even though there are a number of worthwhile things to do in Bilbao, spending time in this modern museum designed by Frank Gehry and admiring its architecture is one of the main reasons why you would visit this city.
Guggenheim Museum Bilbao is at Abandoibarra Etorb., 2, 48009 Bilbo, Bizkaia, Spain.
4- Alcázar Fortress (Segovia)
Alcazar is one of the most famous landmarks in Spain.
Built on to of a rock, Alcazar Fortress in Segovia looks like a fairytale castle straight out of a Medieval story.
Alfonso VIII lived in the fortress in the 12th century before architectural improvements turned it into a Gothic castle in the 13th century.
Charles II founded the Royal College of Artillery at the fortress in 1764 and it’s worth paying a visit to the Artillery Museum.
The fortress has secret passageways used to escape to the river and connected a number of palaces within the city.
Alcazar is a popular landmark in Spain and the palace is often packed with visitors so do book your ticket in advance to avoid having to queue.
Alcazar is at Patio de Banderas, Sevilla, Spain.
5- Great Mosque (Cordoba)
The Great Mosque in Cordoba is a unique landmark in Spain.
Built in 785 by Emir Abdurrahman I, the Great Mosque of Cordoba is a representation of Spain’s Muslim art.
One of the unique things about this mosque is it was constructed on the site where the ancient Visigoth church of San Vicente once stood.
Inside the mosque is a labyrinth of columns with double arcades and horseshoe arches.
In 1523, the Christians conquered the region and built a cathedral inside the mosque.
The internal craftsmanship is impeccable and it’s impressive to see the Byzantine mosaic and crafted marble.
Mosque of Cordoba is at Calle Cardenal Herrero, Córdoba, Spain.
For more about Spain read:
- 10 Things To Do In Bilbao
- 12 Things To Do In San Sebastian
- 10 Things To Do In Oviedo
- Storybook Village of Santillana del Mar
- An Amazing Andalusia Road Trip
6- Niemeyer Centre (Asturias)
The Niemeyer Centre in Asturias is one of the most architecturally intriguing Spanish landmarks of modern times.
Located minutes from the historic town centre of Aviles, the Niemeyer Centre is a modern architectural Spanish landmark built in 2011.
Designed by Oscar Niemeyer, the famous architect who designed many Brazilian landmarks, the centre is a cultural hub with a programme of concerts, exhibitions, plays, dances, films and cultural events.
The design consists of an auditorium, dome, a 20m tower and there’s also a restaurant with great views of the city.
Niemeyer Centre is at Avenida del zinc s/n, 33402 Avilés, Asturias (Principality of Asturias).
7- Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias (Valencia)
Another contemporary landmark in Spain is the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia.
Spanish architect’s Santiago Calatrava’s stunning suite of contemporary buildings is an impressive landmark in the Spanish city of Valencia.
The futuristic cluster of museums and art halls along with an aquarium designed by another Spaniard Félix Candela were completed in 2005 have been used as film sets for Dr Who and Tomorrowland.
Oceanografic resembles a water lily and is Europea’s largest aquarium, home to over 500 species of marine life from all over the world.
The Principe Felipe Science Museum has interactive displays and demonstrations of scientific principals while the Hemisferic Cinema, with its spherical roof, is the place to watch fascinating 3D shows.
Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias (City of Arts and Sciences) cost €900 million to build and is at Av. del Professor Lopez Pinero, Valencia. This ticket offers discounts to the Hemisferic, Principe Felipe Science Museum and Oceanographic.
Historic Landmarks in Spain
8- Parc Guell
Parc Guell is a colourful and creative creation from the imagination of Spain’s most famous painter, Antonio Gaudi.
The UNESCO World Heritage Site is an opulent artistic attraction in Barcelona built between 1904 and 1906 that was originally intended to be a garden.
Visiting Parc Guell offers a peek into the flamboyant world of Gaudi and Catalan Modernisme architecture where there are no straight lines.
Highlights are the Gaudi Museum House, Greek Theatre, Austrian Garden and Hypostyle Room. Book your ticket to Parc Guell here.
9- Altamira Caves (Cantabria)
Two kilometres from the picturebook town of Santillana del Mar lies 14,000-year-old cave paintings of animals in the Altamira Caves.
This World Heritage-listed site is home to some of the best prehistoric rock art in the world.
The paintings depict prehistoric scenes of animals such as bison, deer and wild boar using natural red ochre with black outlines.
Unfortunately, you’re not allowed into the original cave as the paintings are fragile but there’s a reproduction in the Altamira Museum cave.
Altamira Caves is at Avenida Marcelino Sanz de Sautuola, s/n, 39330, Cantabria, Spain. Visit Santillana del Mar and the Altamira Museum together.
10- The Walls of Avila
The medieval walls of Avila, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, were constructed between the 11th and 14th centuries.
The Walls of Avila form a circuit of 2.5 km (1.5 miles) around the old city.
The 88 semi-circular towers are an impressive sight as you walk around the walls, making this a spectacular Spain monument.
Once part of Roman Lusitania, Avila was conquered by Arab and Berber invaders in 714 CE before Alfonso VI of León and Castile sacked the Muslim rulers in 1088 AD.
Avila is about 100km from Madrid in Castile and León’s autonomous community.
11- Roman Walls (Lugo)
Lugo’s Roman walls were built in the 3rd century as a defence for Lugo’s town (then known as Lucus Augusti) from 263 to 276 AD against Germanic attackers.
The wall stretches over two kilometres surrounding the town and is in good shape.
There are 10 gates, five of which date back to the Roman era, and 49 original towers that are still intact.
The UNESCO’s World Heritage-listed wall is one of the finest remaining in Europe.
12- Roman remains of Tarragona
Tarragona’s Roman remains is one of the iconic Spain landmarks because it is the most intact Roman remains in the country.
Also known as Tárraco, it was the first Roman settlement on the Iberian Peninsula and a thriving city of Roman times.
The 2nd AD amphitheatre, Roman walls, Roman forum and citadel form part of this incredible World Heritage Site.
Tarragona is a Mediterranean city port on the Costa Daurada in Catalonia.
13- Plaza de España (Seville)
Plaza de España (Spanish Steps) is a landmark in Seville located within Maria Luisa Park.
Famous for its blend of Renaissance, Baroque and Moorish architecture, Plaza de Espana was built in 1928 for the Ibero-American Exposition.
It’s home to government offices and surrounded by lovely gardens.
This Spanish landmark’s unique feature is the half-circle design with a moat and buildings linked by bridges symbolizing Spain’s four ancient kingdoms.
Vicente Traver fountain is an eye-catching landmark within a landmark that compliments the plaza’s blue-tiled walls.
Plaza de España is in Seville and can be reached on the metro Prado de San Sebastian (line 1).
14- Tower of Hercules (La Coruna)
One of Spain’s oldest landmarks, the Tower of Hercules in La Coruña is a lighthouse dating back to the 2nd century.
This famous landmark graces the Galician coast and is a replica of the Pharos of Alexandria.
The Tower of Hercules was an offering to Mars, the Roman god of war, and has been a beacon on the coastline or 1,900 years.
Here are more amazing landmarks in Europe
Religious Landmarks of Spain
15- Santiago de Compostela Cathedral (Santiago)
Cathedral Santiago de Compostela is a beautiful landmark in Spain that attracts pilgrims from around the world.
Of all the monuments in the World Heritage city of Santiago, the Cathedral Santiago de Compostela is the one that stands out as a landmark in Spain that has stood the test of time.
The cathedral is in Plaza del Obradoiro square and is where all roads into Santiago converge.
The most significant feature of this hallowed Spain landmark is the Cathedral is the final stop on the pilgrims’ journey.
Built the Romanesque architectural style, construction started in 1075 during the reign of Alfonso VI but over the years, Gothic, Baroque, Plateresque and Neoclassical extensions and improvements have been added to the original building.
The floor plan is a Latin cross and the La Gloria portico at the main entrance has a display of 200 figurines representing the Apocalypse.
Saint James the apostle stands on a column to welcome pilgrims.
The Cathedral’s Obradoiro façade, the work of Fernando de Casas y Novoa, is one of the most famous examples of Spanish Baroque design.
Santiago de Compostela is at Praza do Obradoiro, s/n, 15704 Santiago de Compostela, A Coruña, Spain. Book this full-day tour of Santiago de Compostela.
16- Tibidabo Cathedral
The impressive Tibidabo Cathedral is a landmark in Spain everyone should visit while in Barcelona.
It took two generations of architects to complete Tibidabo Cathedral between 1902 and 1961.
The modernista and neogothic cathedral sits on Tibidabo hill and is a handsome architectural landmark of Barcelona the resembles the Basilica de Sacre-Coeur in Paris.
The cathedral has beautiful stonework, amazing stained-glass windows, a crypt and viewing platforms to enjoy views of Barcelona.
Tibidabo Cathedral is at Cumbre del Tibidabo, Barcelona. These tours will get you to Tibidabo:
17- Burgos Cathedral
The Santa Iglesia Catedral Basílica Metropolitana de Santa María de Burgos is a Catholic church in the city of Burgos.
This relatively unknown gem is one of the great Gothic churches of Spain and honours the Virgin Mary.
This historic landmark in Spain has beautiful French Gothic architecture from the 13th century and is home to artworks and sculptures.
The UNESCO World Heritage-listed cathedral has 15 chapels, altars and beautiful spires.
Burgos Cathedral is at Plaza de Santa María, Burgos.
18- Monuments of Oviedo and the Kingdom of the Asturias
Another UNESCO World Heritage gem, the Monuments of Oviedo represent a time when Christianity reigned supreme on the Iberian Peninsula.
These Spanish historical monuments date back to the 9th century. They are some of the most significant examples of religious architecture.
Many are within Santa Maria del Naranco, Santa Cristina de Lena and San Miguel de Lillo churches.
Another iconic monument here is the hydraulic engineering structure, La Foncalada, which is visionary for its time.
For more landmarks in the Americas see:
Spain’s Natural Landmarks
19- Antequera (Andalusia)
Antequera is another UNESCO World Heritage archaeological gem, located in the heart of Andalusia in Southern Spain.
Its impressive megalithic tombs (Viera, El Romeral and Menga) dates back to the Neolithic and Bronze Age and are the best-preserved dolmens in Europe.
Antequera’s natural monuments, La Peña de los Enamorados (Lover’s Rock) and El Torcal are uniquely-shaped rocks that are two of Spain’s best natural landmarks.
The closest airport to Antequera is Malaga Airport.
20- Torre de Cerredo (Picos de Europa)
Torre de Cerredo (2650m) is the highest peak in Picos de Europa (or peaks of Europe) and a stunning natural landmark of Spain.
The mountain range is on the north coast, 20 km inland from the northern coast of Spain.
Although Torre de Cerredo is the tallest mountain, what makes this range such an attraction is there are many peaks over 2600 m.
This stunning mountain range is a hidden gem that is a magnet for those who love hiking and mountaineering.
With a landscape of glistening glacier-fed lakes, soaring limestone peaks and plunging gorges, Picos de Europa is a place in Spain to tick off your bucket list.
The villages of Espinama and Sotres are excellent places to use as a base for hiking trips. The nearest airports Santander and Bilbao.
21- Monte Perdido (Pyrénées)
The Pyrénées straddles Spain and France, however, the Spain side of the border has the largest and deepest canyons.
Monte Perdido is 3,355 m high Monte Perdido is the third-highest mountain in the Pyrenees, and its summit is in Spain.
It’s is home to canyons, lakes, alpine flora and fauna such as the Lammergeier (Bearded Vulture).
The range’s pastoral landscape holds the history of the region’s agricultural activities and the curving mountain roads lead past farms, fields and pastures.
Monte Perdido is to the north of Huesca province.
Landmarks in Madrid
Watching Flamenco dancers, eating in tapas bars and exploring museums are some of the exciting things to do in Madrid and beyond. Madrid is Spain’s capital and also home to several historic landmarks of Spain. So, if you only have time to visit Madrid, here are some Spain landmarks you can see in one visit.
22- San Lorenzo de El Escorial
Saint Lorenzo El Escorial is a stunning Spain landmark near Madrid.
San Lorenzo de El Escorial is a sprawling historic royal complex with a grand palace, monastery, church, mausoleum, library and museum.
This Spanish monument is dedicated to the reign of Philip II and has courtyards, rooms and halls connected by 16 km of corridors.
Herrera’s 30 m jasper and red marble retablo is an impressive religious work of art and a main feature in the church while the Tibaldi’s frescoes a festooned in the library and other rooms.
The Panteón de los Reyes is a historic Baroque burial vault and final resting place of several Spanish kings.
The palace highlights the grand lifestyles of Spain’s monarchy with displays of paintings by famous artists, tapestries and antique furniture.
San Lorenzo de El Escorial is in El Escorial de Arriba, which is a town 47 km from Madrid. As this is a very popular attraction, it’s worth skipping the line and booking a tour like this one in advance.
23- Plaza Mayor
As you sit in one of the alfresco cafes in the centre of Plaza Mayor sipping on a café solo, a shot of strong black coffee, it is easy to envisage the bustling marketplace that once took place right in Madrid’s historical heart.
This lively town centre also played host to royal festivities, the ritual burning of heretics and gory bullfights.
Today’s entertainment, however, is a touch milder with local artists painting pictures of bullfights, people queuing up for promotional sachets of food samples and a myriad of busy craft shops filled with visitors hunting for souvenirs.
In the centre of the Plaza, there is a statue of King Felipe III astride his mighty stallion.
If you happen to be in Madrid on a Sunday morning, you’ll find a bustling stamp and coin collectors’ market here.
Stroll through Plaza Mayor into the charming Hapsburg section of town, known to the locals as the Austrian area.
In 1516 Carlos V rose to power and the Hapsburg reign flourished for almost two hundred years in Spain.
Plaza Mayor is at Plaza Mayor, 28012 Madrid, Spain.
24- Palacio Real
In the 9th century, the Islamic Kingdom of Toledo built a defensive fort on the site where Palacio Real now stands.
As European palaces go, Palacio Real holds its own.
The current palace was built in Italianate baroque style by the Bourbons in the 18th century and served as the royal residence until 1931.
It’s a massive monument to a bygone royal era; with over 2800 rooms although only 50 are open to visitors.
Highlights include the opulent red and gold Throne Room, and a Gala Dining room which seats thousands.
The Royal Armoury displays some intriguing sets of armour that belonged to the various rulers of Spain.
The rooms of Carlos II feature a vault fresco known as The Apotheosis of Trajan by Anton Raphael Mengs.
The Gasparini Room has a delicate stucco ceiling and walls of embroidered silk. Watch the changing-of-the-guard on the first Wednesday of every month.
The Royal Palace of Madrid is at Calle de Bailén, s/n, 28071 Madrid, Spain.
25- Museo Nacional del Prado
The Prado Museum is one of the top Spain landmarks to visit.
With over 8600 paintings, Museo Nacional del Prado is one of Europe’s best art museums.
The museum has an impressive array of Spanish paintings that – over the centuries – graced the walls of Spain’s royal palaces for the private viewing of the royal family.
Most of these royal paintings were never shown to the public and the court painters remained unknown until the Prado Museum collection was formed to display these national treasures.
There are 12th-century Romanesque murals, Renaissance works by El Greco and over 100 works by Goya, as well as paintings by Ribera, Murillo and Velazquez.
There are also works by French, Flemish, Dutch, German and Italian painters and sculptors.
The Prado Museum is the jewel in Madrid’s crown and a museum you should make a point of visiting, even if you aren’t a fan of museums.
The number of masterpieces on display is mind-boggling and the talent of the artists is absolutely inspiring.
It makes you wonder how so much talent could have ever existed in the past.
The gallery houses major European masterpieces, among them are Goya’s The Third of May, The Annunciation by Fra Angelico and Ribera’s Jacob’s Dream.
Fans of Harry Bosch (the detective in Michael Connelly’s novels who was named after the European master) will love seeing The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymous Bosch.
Of course, besides the staple masterpieces, the museum also has exhibitions, such as a showcase of the works of Luis de Morales (one of the most significant Spanish Renaissance masters).
Museo Nacional del Prado is at Calle de Ruiz de Alarcon, 23, 28014 Madrid, Spain.
26- Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas
Plaza de Toros is a famous Spain landmark.
While bullfighting is a controversial sport in Spain today, it remains an undeniable part of Spanish history.
The best time to see a bullfight in Madrid is during the Feria de San Isidro (Festival of San Isidro) that takes place from mid-May through to June.
During the festival, there are fights every evening.
The festival has a variety of different fights including bullfights with novillos (young bulls), rejones (bullfights on horseback) and Goyesca fights (in period costume).
At other times, regular bullfights occur from March to October, generally on Sunday evenings at the Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas.
Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas is at Calle de Alcalá, 237, 28028 Madrid, Spain
27- Real Madrid Santiago Bernabeu Stadium
Head to Santiago Bernabeu Stadium and join the crowds cheering for soccer star David Beckham and celebrity team Real Madrid.
Real Madrid recently beat Manchester United for the title of the world’s richest football club.
This 100 plus year-old team were the 2002 European Champions and have a massive fan base.
Santiago Bernabeu Stadium is at Av. de Concha Espina, 1, 28036 Madrid, Spain.
28- Atocha railway station
On 11 March 2004, terrorist bombs ripped through a number of trains heading into Atocha railway station killing 191 people.
On the second floor or the station, there is an area which is dedicated as a shrine to the victims of that bombing.
Visitors can leave hand-silhouettes and messages on one of the graffiti remembrance tubes that hang from the ceiling.
The station itself is worth a look for its iron-and-glass architecture that houses a 2,000-square-meter botanical garden.
Moist air is pumped into the centre of the station so that giant ferns, palms and massive banana trees are able to thrive next to lily-filled ponds.
Pop into the café beneath the rainforest for a drink and a snack.
Madrid Atocha Railway Station is at 28045 Madrid, Spain.
Intangible Landmarks of Spain
Although Spain has many breathtakingly beautiful monuments that are landmarks across the country, thousands of years of history also means there are some amazing cultural landmarks to experience.
29- Flamenco Dancing in Madrid
The Flamingo dance is one of the cultural landmarks in Spain.
Soak in the atmosphere and passionate rhythms of the Flamenco at one of Madrid’s many Tablao Flamencos.
Although the Flamenco originated in southern Spain, some of the best artists continue to flock to Madrid establishing this city as one of Spain’s popular Flamenco hotspots.
Flamenco consists of three artistic elements – the singing, the dancing and the guitar performance.
While there is a basic structure for the performers to follow, much of the Flamenco is an improvised form of expression centred on the singing.
Corral de la Moreria (tel: +91 365 8446) has a nightly event with foot-stomping performances that convey that passionate Spanish soul.
This well-known Flamenco establishment features some of the best Flamenco performers, as well as an impressive list of international dignitaries and famous patrons.
You never know which famous person you might spot at the table next to you; recent notaries include George Bush, Samuel Jackson, Hugh Grant and Demi Moore.
30- Tapas bars
Act like a local and nibble your way through the city’s tapas bars.
You’ll fill up on a huge variety of delicious titbits like albondigas (meatballs), bacalao (cod), chorizo (spicy sausage), jamon (ham) and tortilla espanola (potato and onion omelette).
The practice of eating tapas originated in the 18th century and is a way of life for the people of Madrid.
There is a large concentration of tapas bars in the old part of town around the Villa y Corte area.
Favourite local haunts can be found around La Latina, Lavapies, Chueca and Malasana.
How to travel around Madrid:
One of the best ways to get around the city is to buy a two-day ticket for the hop-on-hop-off bus network. These bright red open-top double-decker buses follow three routes (historical, modern and monument) that cover most of the city’s main sights.
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