Historic Sites in Spain

What are the best Historic Sites in Spain?

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There's a host of top Historic Sites in Spain to visit and among the very best are the Alcazar of Segovia, Baelo Claudia and El Escorial. Other popular sites tend to include Belchite, La Sagrada Familia and Lugo Roman Walls.

We’ve put together an experts guide to Spanish cultural locations, landmarks and monuments, with our top ten places to visit as well as a full list of Historic Sites in Spain, which shouldn’t be ignored if you have the time.

1. Baelo Claudia

The Roman city of Baelo Claudia in Andalusia is one of the best surviving examples of an ancient Roman town in Spain. Sitting directly on the coast, Baelo Claudia is a beautiful site to visit, with both stunning views and ancient ruins. The remains of Baelo Claudia, near the modern town of Tarifa, have been beautifully restored and preserved because of the good general conservation of the ruins, their easy interpretation and the beauty of their surroundings.

Today, Baelo Claudia is a place where visitors can observe the fundamental characteristics of a classical Roman city and there are many aspects to the site that can still be viewed. These include the forum and the temples of the Capitolium as well as temples of eastern character. Baelo Claudia has a visitor’s centre on site and has many facilities to make a trip there convenient for tourists, including a car park next door.

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2. Lugo Roman Walls

The Lugo Roman Walls have been described by UNESCO as "the finest surviving example of late Roman military fortifications", a title they truly deserve. Built in the third and fourth centuries AD to protect the Roman city of Lucus Augusti, the Lugo Roman Walls are incredibly well preserved, rising up to a height of between eight and twelve metres and their over two kilometre circuit remaining entirely intact.

Several aspects of the walls are particularly impressive, including the fact that five of its ancient gates and forty six of its ancient towers are intact. While additions have been made over the centuries, what makes the walls remarkable is that they are predominantly Roman.

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3. Alcazar of Toledo

The Alcazar of Toledo is an imposing fortress with four looming towers which dominates the skyline of this Spanish city.

Dating back to the third century Roman era, the Alcazar of Toledo was restored under the rule of Alfonso VI and Alfonso X. It was once again restored under Charles V in 1535, with each ruler adding different elements to its design. During the Spanish Civil War, it was the site of the dramatic Siege of Alcazar, when the Nationalist Colonel José Moscardó Ituarte managed to hold the fort despite fierce attempts by the Republicans. The Alcazar of Toledo now houses an army museum.

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4. Merida Roman Theatre

The Merida Roman Theatre is one of the most impressive of the ruins of this former colony of the Roman Empire. 

Now partially reconstructed, the theatre is extremely well preserved, particularly its lower levels. The semi-circular walls are intact and the back wall of the stage or “frons scenae” with its double-tiered columns has been beautifully restored.

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5. Alhambra

Calat Alhambra or the “Red Fortress” in Granada, Spain, is a complex of royal palaces, mosques, baths, shops and other buildings surrounded by an imposing two kilometer fortified wall.

Today, the Alhambra is open to the public. Visitors can tour its palaces, including the Palacio Nazaríes and the 16th century Palace of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. The Alcazaba or “citadel” is another highlight of the Alhambra, this being the main element of the complex’s fortifications.

The Alhambra is centred on two main courtyards, the Court of the Lions and the Court of Myrtles, the former with a fountain and the latter with a long pool. Its beautiful Generalife gardens and buildings are also worth visiting, while the Alhambra Museum offers everything from Nasrid art to archaeological finds.

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6. Seville Cathedral

Seville Cathedral is an impressive gothic structure and, with a total area of 11,520 square metres, is only beaten in size by London’s St Paul’s Cathedral and Rome’s St. Peter’s, making it the third largest cathedral in the world. Some even argue that it is actually the largest when comparing volume.

Designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987, the cathedral is an incredible historic site where visitors can appreciate the sheer scale of the building from inside, including its central nave which stands at a grand forty metres high. With its ornate, gold-laden interiors and eighty chapels, the scale of Seville Cathedral alone is quite a sight, coupled with the wealth of architectural influences, ranging from Gothic and Baroque to Mudejar.

The tomb of Christopher Columbus also offers a big draw to tourists, who flock to see the final resting place of this famous explorer.

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7. Monestir de Pedralbes

Monestir de Pedralbes is a gothic church and monastery in Barcelona. Established by Queen Elisenda, the wife of James II of Aragon, in 1326, Monestir de Pedralbes is the oldest building in the wealthy Pedralbes quarter and an architectural gem.

Having once housed the nuns of Order of Saint Clare and later Queen Elisenda herself, Monestir de Pedralbes is now a museum, its beautiful gardens and arches providing a tourist haven. The museum focuses on the lives of the nuns in the fourteenth century, with many original pieces of furniture, gold and silverware and religious artifacts.

Guided tours and an audio guide are available.

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8. Santa Maria del Mar

Eglesia de Santa Maria del Mar (St Mary of the Sea Church) is a fourteenth century Catalan-Gothic church in Barcelona’s Born District.

Originally built to celebrate the Catalan conquest of Sardinia, Santa Maria del Mar is now one of Barcelona’s most famous churches and its best example of Catalan-Gothic architecture, designed by architect Berenguer de Montagut.

With the sheer size and scale of Santa Maria del Mar, it is somewhat surprising to find that its construction, begun in 1324, was completed in the relatively short time of 59 years.

Upon entering Santa Maria del Mar, one is struck by the feeling of space provided by its incredible height and supported by a central nave flanked by looming arches and octagonal pillars. This feeling is all the more potent given its empty interior, mostly due to a fire which destroyed much of its internal furnishing in 1936 during the Spanish Civil War.

If visiting on Sundays at 1pm, visitors can enjoy a choir performance.

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9. Barcelona Cathedral

Barcelona Cathedral (Catedral de la Santa Creu i Santa Eulàlia) is the seat of the Archbishop of Barcelona. The original building on the site on which Barcelona Cathedral sits was destroyed by the Moors in 985 and replaced by a Romanesque church in 1085.

It was over the crypt of this church that construction of the current Barcelona Cathedral began in 1298 and continued through the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, accounting for its gothic architecture. Whilst most of the cathedral was finished by 1450, parts of Barcelona Cathedral, most notably its gothic façade, were only completed in 1890.

It is dedicated to Eulalia of Barcelona, the city’s co-patron saint who Catholics believe was a virgin horrifically martyred during the Roman era. The fact that she was martyred at the age of thirteen is marked by the thirteen geese that are kept in Santa Eulalia’s cloisters.

Barcelona Cathedral is an absolutely stunning building, with dramatic vaulted ceilings, golden pillars and a tower which visitors can climb for great views. It also contains numerous religious and historical artifacts, such as a cross once born by a ship that fought in the sixteenth century Battle of Lepanto.

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10. Catedral de Toledo

Catedral de Toledo (Toledo Cathedral), which bears the full name 'The Cathedral of Saint Mary of Toledo', is a gothic church in Spain and the seat of the Archdiocese of Toledo. Original construction of Catedral de Toledo began in 1226 during the reign of King San Fernando and continued for over two centuries.

The final building is mostly gothic in style, with a central nave which was completed in 1300, the fifteenth century Santiago Chapel, beautiful stained glass windows and eighty eight columns. However, in a purported concession to the mosque that once stood on the site, it does contain aspects of the Mudejar style in the cloisters and the cathedral’s triforium.

Catedral de Toledo forms a central aspect of the city and is one of its most popular sites. It is of both architectural and historical importance and contains many original artifacts as well as artwork by Lucas Jordan, Juan de Borgona and el Greco. It also houses the sarcophagi of the Constable of Castile, Alvaro de Luna and his wife. Visitors can also see sixteenth century gilded wood depictions of scenes from the New Testament in its main chapel and scenes from the conquest of Granada in the choir stalls, created in the fifteenth century.

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Full list of Historic Sites in Spain

Beyond the most famous Spanish cultural locations, landmarks and monuments there’s many similar places to visit, including Alcazar of Toledo, Merida Roman Theatre and Alhambra to name but a few. We’re constantly expanding this list of Historic Sites in Spain and you can view the current selection below.

Albuera Battlefield

Albuera Battlefield was the site of one of the battles of the Peninsula War in 1811.

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Alcazaba Fortress

The Alcazaba Fortress in Merida was a defensive structure built in the middle of the ninth century.

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Alcazaba of Málaga

The Alcazaba of Malaga is a picturesque and formidable 11th century Moorish citadel.

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Alcazar of Segovia

The Alcazar of Segovia is an imposing medieval fortress turned royal palace.

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Alcazar of Seville

Predominantly built in Europe's Dark Ages of the 1300s, the Alcázar of Seville is one of Europe’s most intricately beautiful palaces and is the perfect setting for the Water Gardens of Dorne in Game of Thrones.

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Alcudia City Walls

The Alcudia City Walls were built following the Spanish conquest of Majorca in the fourteenth century.

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Arch of La Estrella

The Arch of La Estrella is an 18th century gate in Cáceres.

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Badajoz Fortress

Badajoz Fortress is a 12th century fortification captured by the British during the Peninsula War.

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Banys Arabs

The Banys Arabs in Palma are one of the sole surviving examples of Islamic architecture in Majorca.

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Basilica Vega del Mar

Basilica Vega del Mar was a Paleo-Christian basilica in Marbella with a history dating back to the fourth century AD.

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Basilica de la Virgen de los Desamparados

Basi­lica de la Virgen de los Desamparados is a 17th century church built in a Baroque style.

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Bujaco Tower

Bujaco Tower is a Moorish tower in the Cáceres Plaza Mayor.

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Burgos Cathedral

Burgos Cathedral is UNESCO-listed and a stunning example of Gothic style, with a history begun in the 13th century.

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Carranque Archaeological Park

Carranque Archaeological Park contains a series of Ancient Roman ruins built in the fourth century AD.

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Casa de Colon

Casa de Colon is a museum of the history of the Canary Islands, particularly as relates to Christopher Columbus and the Americas.

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Casa de las Conchas

Casa de las Conchas is a distinctive Gothic building best known for the approximately 300 shells which adorn its façade.

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Casa del Rey Moro

Casa del Rey Moro is home to hanging gardens and a fascinating Moorish water mine.

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Casa-Museo Federico Garcia Lorca

The Casa-Museo Federico Garcia Lorca is dedicated to the life of Spanish poet, playwright and writer Federico Garcia Lorca. It is housed in the Huerta de San Vicente, the summer house of the Garcia Lorca family.

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Castell de Bellver

Castell de Bellver is a striking fourteenth century citadel near Palma in Majorca.

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Castillo de San Andres

Castillo de San Andres is the pretty ruin of an eighteenth, perhaps seventeenth, century fortification in Tenerife.

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Castillo de San Jose

Castillo de San Jose is a dramatic cliff-top eighteenth century fort built to protect Lanzarote’s main port from pirate attacks.

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Catedral de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

Catedral de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is a pretty sixteenth century cathedral.

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Catedral de San Cristóbal de La Laguna

Catedral de San Cristobal de La Laguna is an early twentieth century Neoclassical cathedral.

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Centre d'Interpretació 115 Dies, Corbera d’Ebre

The Centre d’Interpretació 115 Dies in Corbera d’Ebre is a museum dedicated to the bloody Battle of the Ebro in the Spanish Civil War.

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Circo Romano de Toledo

Circo Romano de Toledo is a site which houses the ruins of a Roman circus in Toledo, Spain.

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Complutum

Complutum is an Ancient Roman site in Spain which was once an important city.

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Cordoba Roman Bridge

The stunning Roman Bridge in the Spanish city of Córdoba was built in the first century BC and straddles the 657km Guadalquivir River. In season five of Game of Thrones, it doubled as The Long Bridge of Volantis spanning the mouth of the Rhoyne River.

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Ducal Palace, Lerma

Ducal Palace is a 17th century fortress in Lerma, built in the 17th century by its Duke, a favourite of Phillip III.

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El Escorial

El Escorial is an impressive sixteenth century royal complex built under the orders of King Philip II of Spain. UNESCO listed.

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El Miguelete

El Miguelete is an iconic gothic bell tower built in 1381 and joined onto Valencia Cathedral in the 15th century.

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Empuries

The ruins of a Roman military camp built on the remains of a bustling Greek city, Empuries is the only archaeological site on the Iberian Peninsula that boasts such an ancient history.

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Fort Conception

Fort Conception is a seventeenth century Spanish fort which served as a British base during the Peninsular War.

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Galdar Archaeological Site

The Galdar Archaeological Site houses the best preserved remains of the prehistoric inhabitants of the Canary Islands.

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General Archive of the Spanish Civil War

The General Archive on the Spanish Civil War holds vital records from this period of Spanish history.

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Gerona Jewish Quarter

The Gerona Jewish Quarter is a warren of medieval streets and includes a Jewish history museum.

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Girona Arab Baths

The Girona Arab Baths are a Romanesque 12th century creation built for King Alfons I.

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Girona Cathedral

Girona Cathedral is famed for its nave, the widest of its kind in the world.

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Guadalmina Roman Baths

The Guadalmina Roman Baths are the ruins of a Roman baths complex in Marbella.

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Guadiana Bridge

Guadiana Bridge in Merida was one of the largest bridges built by the Roman Empire.

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Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de la Concepcion

Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de la Concepcion is an 18th century church with a history dating back to the 16th century.

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Iglesia de Santo Domingo de Guzman

Iglesia de Santo Domingo de Guzman is a church dating mostly to the seventeenth century.

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Itálica

Itálica was the birthplace of more than one Roman emperor and includes some impressive ruins.

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La Almudaina Royal Palace

The La Almudaina Royal Palace in Palma was a Muslim citadel turned into a Majorcan palace.

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La Giralda

La Giralda is the famed bell tower of Seville Cathedral and which began as a 12th century minaret.

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La Olmeda Roman Villa

La Olmeda Roman Villa is a well-preserved fourth century AD Roman home in Palencia in Spain.

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La Sagrada Familia

La Sagrada Família is an iconic church in Barcelona with UNESCO status. It is the final resting place of Antoni Gaudi.

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Las Dueñas Convent

Las Duenas Convent is a Dominican convent in Salamanca founded in 1419.

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Lugo Cathedral

Lugo Cathedral was mainly built from 1129 to 1273 and added to over the centuries.

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Lugo Roman Baths

The Lugo Roman Baths were built in approximately 15BC, around the time when the city was founded and remain well-preserved.

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Malaga Cathedral

Malaga Cathedral is a stunning example of Spanish ecclesiastical architecture.

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Malaga Roman Theatre

Malaga Roman Theatre is an impressive surviving vestige of ancient Malaga.

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Marbella Castle Walls

The Marbella Castle Walls were once part of an impressive Moorish citadel built in the tenth century.

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Merida Amphitheatre

Merida Amphitheatre is an Ancient Roman ruin and a UNESCO World Heritage site.

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Merida Roman Circus

The Merida Roman Circus was an Ancient Roman chariot racing arena which, though in ruins, is one of the better preserved of its type.

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Mithraeum House - Merida

Mithraeum House in Merida was a grand Roman home dating back as far as the late first century.

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Montserrat Monastery

Officially titled Santa Maria de Montserrat, Montserrat Monastery is an important medieval abbey and one of the most important religious sites in Catalonia.

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Murcia Cathedral

Murcia Cathedral is a picturesque Roman Catholic cathedral in Spain dating back to the 14th century.

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Old Town of Caceres

The Old Town of Caceres embodies centuries of conquest and re-conquest in its winding streets.

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Palacio de los Golfines de Abajo

The Palacio de los Golfines de Abajo is a mostly Gothic stately home in the historic Old Town of Cáceres.

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Palacio del Infantado

Palacio del Infantado is a fifteenth century palace in Guadalajara built by the Mendoza family.

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Picasso Birthplace Museum

The Picasso Birthplace Museum in Malaga exhibits his work and gives an insight into his family life.

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Pollentia

Pollentia is an Ancient Roman site in Alcudia in Majorca.

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Puente de Alcantara

Puente de Alcantara is a Roman bridge crossing the Tago River in Spain.

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Puerta del Sol Toledo

The Sun Gate of Toledo was built by the Knights Hospitaller in the 14th century.

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Refugi 307

Refugi 307 was one of thousands of bomb shelters built in Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War.

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Rio Verde Roman Villa

The Rio Verde Roman Villa was a first to second century Roman home in Marbella.

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Roman Necropolis of Barcelona

The Roman Necropolis of Barcelona contains 95 Ancient Roman tombs.

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Royal Palace of Aranjuez

The Royal Palace of Aranjuez is a magnificent Spanish palace built between the 16th and 18th centuries.

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Sagunto Castle

Sagunto Castle was a large Moorish citadel, the impressive remains of which overlook the modern town.

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Sagunto Roman Theatre

The Sagunto Roman Theatre dates back to the first century, when it was built into the side of a mountain.

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Salamanca Battlefield

The Salamanca Battlefield was the site of a major victory by the Duke of Wellington in 1812 during the Peninsular Wars.

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Salamanca Roman Bridge

The Salamanca Roman Bridge is said to date back to the first century AD.

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San Andres Gate

San Andres Gate is one of the gates of Segovia’s historic city walls.

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San Juan de la Peña Monastery

A fascinating and visually striking medieval monastery complex, the San Juan de la Peña monastery in Aragón once ranked among the most important religious complexes in what is now Spain.

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Santa Eulalia Basilica - Merida

Santa Eulalia Basilica was an Ancient Roman church, the remains of which are located in Merida.

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Santa Florentina Castle

Built in the 11th century 47km north of Barcelona, Santa Florentina Castle served as a fortification to fend off attacks from the pirates of the Mediterranean. In season six of Game of Thrones, it features as House Tarly of Horn Hill.

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Santa María la Blanca Synagogue

Santa María la Blanca Synagogue in Toledo was a medieval synagogue built in Mudéjar style, eventually becoming a church.

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Santiago de Compostela Cathedral

Santiago de Compostela Cathedral in Spain is home to the relics of Saint James and a place of pilgrimage for centuries.

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Santiago del Arrabal Church

Santiago del Arrabal Church is widely considered to be one of Toledo’s most impressive Mudejar style buildings.

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Segovia Aqueduct

The Segovia Aqueduct is one of the best preserved Roman structures in Spain. UNESCO listed.

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Segovia Cathedral

Segovia Cathedral is an impressive gothic structure in the Old Town of Segovia.

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Segovia Jewish Cemetery

Segovia Jewish Cemetery was the medieval cemetery of the city’s Jewish community.

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Segovia Old Main Synagogue

Segovia Old Main Synagogue was a synagogue until 1410, when it was seized and converted into a church.

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Serranos Towers

The Serranos Towers are a duo of medieval defensive towers which once formed part of Valencia’s fortifications.

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Spanish National Museum of Archaeology

The Spanish National Museum of Archaeology displays historical artefacts from throughout the country’s history as well as from around the world.

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Talavera Battlefield Monument

The Talavera Battlefield Monument commemorates the first major victory won by the Duke of Wellington in the Peninsular War.

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Tarragona Amphitheatre

Tarragona Amphitheatre is a second century AD construction would once have played host to gladiatorial battles.

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Tarragona Aqueduct

The stunning Tarragona Aqueduct is the last remaining section of the ancient aqueduct which served the Roman city of Tarraco.

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Tarragona Roman Circus

Tarragona Roman Circus is an ancient chariot racetrack, probably built in the first century AD but degraded over time.

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Tarragona Roman Forum

The Tarragona Roman Forum houses the ruins of what was the central square of the Ancient Roman city of Tarraco.

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Temple of Augustus - Barcelona

The Temple of Augustus is a first century Ancient Roman ruin hidden in Barcelona’s back streets.

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Temple of Diana - Merida

The Temple of Diana is a very well-preserved UNESCO-listed ancient Roman temple in Merida.

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Tenerife Archaeological Museum

The Tenerife Archaeological Museum contains archaeological finds from around the Canary Islands.

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The Alcala Gate

The Alcala Gate is an iconic eighteenth century triumphal arch in Madrid constructed under King Charles III of Spain.

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The Cibeles Fountain

The Cibeles Fountain is an iconic monument in Madrid which was built under the orders of King Charles III.

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The Debod Temple

The Debod Temple is an Ancient Egyptian temple in Madrid gifted to Spain in the 1960s.

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The House of Robert Graves

The House of Robert Graves in Mallorca is a small museum dedicated to the life of this famous author and poet.

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The Los Milagros Aqueduct

The Los Milagros Aqueduct in Merida supplied water to the Ancient Roman city of Augusta Emerita.

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The Ronda Bullring

The Ronda Bullring is amongst the oldest of its kind in Spain.

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Toledo Sephardic Museum

The Toledo Sephardic Museum is dedicated to the history, culture and legacy of the city’s Jewish population.

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Tordesillas

Tordesillas was the location of the imprisonment of Juana of Castil (Juana la Loca)

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Trajan Arch of Merida

The Trajan Arch of Merida is a UNESCO listed Ancient Roman granite gateway.

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University of Salamanca

Salamanca University is the oldest university in Spain.

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Valencia Cathedral

Valencia Cathedral was begun in the 13th century and boasts an eclectic range of styles including Gothic, Romanesque and Baroque.

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Xativa Castle

Xativa Castle is a staggering embodiment of centuries of history, from Hannibal's campaigns to the War of the Spanish Succession and beyond.

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Zafra Castle

Built in the 12th century by the Moors, Zafra Castle is a remote, virtually impregnable castle in the northeastern corner of the Guadalajara province in the Sierra de Caldereros. In Game of Thrones it appears as the Tower of Joy where Ned Stark clashes with Ser Arthur Dayne.

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Our database of Historic Sites in Spain is growing all the time, but we may not cover them all. So, if you know of other Spanish cultural locations, landmarks and monuments, you can always add them to Trip Historic now by contacting us today.