Spain – UNESCO World Heritage Cities

By Michael Russell

Magnificent, unique monuments. Streets that carry you back in time. In Spain you will find unique places where you will live art and history at each step. These are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Spain- Camino de Santiago -  pilgrimage route  Photo by Ana Sansão

Exploring them you will enjoy a privileged journey back in time, where you can discover Spain’s important cultural heritage.

There is lots to see in Spain. It is no coincidence that Spain is the country with the second largest number of UNESCO World Heritage sites. Presented here in no particular order other than roughly north to south, you will discover outstanding examples of Spain’s rich, varied cultural treasures.

In each location you will find a beautiful “urban museum”, packed with history, offering a range of superb monuments in different artistic styles. Just one piece of advice: take your time. Take a relaxed stroll through the streets and let each city captivate you with its own special magic.

We start in the northwest in Santiago de Compostela. With its majestic Cathedral, it is the final destination for thousands of people who go on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route every year.

In the west central region not far from the border with Portugal, you will come to the historic city of Salamanca where you will find unique places like its University, one of the world’s oldest and its emblematic Plaza Mayor Square.

Further south along the Portuguese border, is Caceres with its amazing succession of historic buildings and palaces, especially when they are illuminated by night.

In central Spain grouped around Madrid are five more UNESCO Historic Sites.

Segovia has some of the best-conserved Romanesque monuments in Europe. You will be left speechless when you see its Roman Aqueduct, a truly stunning feat of engineering.

In Avila you will feel like a medieval knight – here you can imagine what towns were like in the Middle Ages. Its defensive wall is the best conserved in Europe and its Gothic Cathedral is Spain’s oldest.

Alcala de Henares on the road to Guadalajara from Madrid, is the model of a university town that was exported to Europe and America. Its University is not to be missed, of course, along with Calle Mayor Street and the house where Miguel de Cervantes, author of Don Quixote, was born.

Toledo was a melting pot of cultures for centuries. Go on an adventure and search out the legacy of Muslims, Jews and Christians, who once lived together in these narrow city streets.

Cuenca’s unique historic center looks out over rocky canyon walls in the heart of the Cuenca mountains in the region of Castile-La Mancha. Its famous “hanging houses” are an example of architecture and nature in perfect harmony.

In southern Spain you will find the historic old town of Cordoba. Here you will see the splendour of ancient Moorish culture, with the Great Mosque – considered the most important Islamic monument in the Western World – being the prime example.

Not forgetting Ibiza in the Balearic Islands also has UNESCO’s prestigious designation: for its biodiversity and archaeological heritage. The same is true of the town of San Cristobal de la Laguna in the Canary Islands, whose architecture displays the origins of Latin American urban development.

In these Spanish cities, overflowing with art and culture, you will be sure to discover the pleasure of history. Enjoy!

About the Author

Michael Russell, Your Independent guide to Travel

Written by J. Lee

A seasoned world traveller, J. Lee writes about his weekend trips away, travel for work, and his many Europe vacations.

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