Top 5 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Spain

By on Apr 11, 2014

Spain is one of the best-known tourist destinations in Europe, if not the world. Aside from the delightful tapas and the modern wonders in its major cities, Spain is also home to several UNESCO World Heritage Sites—and this list briefly describes the top five heritage sites in the country.

The Works of Antoni Gaudi

The Works of Antoni Gaudi

Antoni Gaudi (1852 – 1926) is one of the most important architects of Spain. As a leading figure in Catalan Modernism, Gaudi designed a number of eye-catching and culturally important structures throughout the country.

The original list of the architectural masterpieces included the Park Guell, the Palau Guell, and the Casa Mia. When the list was extended in 2005, the list included the Sagrada Familia, the Casa Vicens, the Casa Batilo, and the Colonia Guell.

The Archaeological Site of Atapuerca

The Archaeological Site of Atapuerca

Declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000, the Archaeological Site of Atapuerca was unearthed while a railway was being constructed—in 1964, remains of people from the Bronze Age were unearthed, as well as stone artifacts from prehistoric times.

The site includes points of interest such as the Portalon (ceramic artefacts), Galeria de la Eduarda y el Kolora (rock and cave paintings), Galeria (remains of Homo heidelbergensis), Sima de los Heusos (Homo heidelbergensis and Ursus deningeri remains), Sima del Elefante, Cueva del Mirador, Orchids Valley, Hundidero, and Hotel California.

The Cave of Altamira

The Cave of Altamira

Found near the town of Santillana del Mar in Cantabria, Altamira was declared as a World Heritage Site in 1985. The cave became renowned for its cave paintings from the Upper Paleolithic area, which were well-preserved, thanks to the climate of the region.

The paintings proved that prehistoric humans had the capacity to interpret the life they are experiencing and translate these lives into artistic products. In 2005, the inscription was extended to include the Paleolithic Cave Art of Northern Spain.

Alhambra, Generalife, and Albayzin

Alhambra, Generalife, and Albayzin

Located in Granada in the Andalusian autonomous community, these sites are great examples of the Moorish cultural influences in the southern part of the country. Alhambra is home to a 14th century fortress, while Generalife has a palace; both of which were important structures to the Emirate of Granada. These two sites were declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, while Albayzin was included in the extension of the inscription in 1994.

Albayzin includes the ruins of an Arab bath, the Archaeological Museum of Granada, the Church of San Salvador, and original by the medieval Moorish settlers in the region.

El Escorial

El Escorial

Once the residence of the Kings and Queens of Spain, the Royal Seat of San Lorenzo de El Escorial was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984. The site includes two important complexes: the royal monastery of El Escorial and the La Granjilla de La Fresneda, which was once a hunting lodge for the exclusive use of the Spanish King.

The proximity of the site to the capital city of Madrid makes El Escorial a popular destination among day-trippers and tourists.

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