If you’re looking to explore historic sites in Spain then you can explore our interactive map above or navigate further by using the links below.
There’s a fantastic selection of historic sites in Spain and you can plan some great things to see on your trips by browsing our selection. Once you’ve explored the historic sites of Spain you can use our itinerary planner tool to plan out your trip and then print off a free pocket guidebook.
Our database of Spanish historic sites is growing all the time, but we may not cover them all. Remember, if you know of other historic sites in Spain, you can always add them to Trip Historic now by visiting our upload page.
The Alcazar of Segovia is an imposing medieval fortress turned royal palace.
The Alcazar of Segovia (Alcazar de Segovia) is an imposing medieval fortress which embodies much of what one would consider to be the ideal vision of a fairytale castle, complete with picturesque turrets and cliff-top location.
It is thought that a fort has existed on this site since Roman times, but the first known written mention of the Alcazar of Segovia is found in twelfth century Christian records. Having started life as an Arab fort, in the thirteenth century, the Alcazar of Segovia made the transition from military stronghold to palatial residence and was slowly renovated in a gothic style, with further changes made in the sixteenth century.
The interior of the Alcazar of Segovia doesn’t disappoint and visitors can tour this magnificent site as well as climbing to its towers for great views of the town. This spectacular castle features as one of our top Tourist Attractions of Spain.
The Roman town of Baelo Claudia in Spain is a well-preserved ancient city which sits on the Andalusian coast, providing a beautiful backdrop to these ancient remains.
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.
Although founded in the second century BC, Baelo Claudia began to expand as an important trading post in the first century BC and first century AD, particularly under the rule of the Roman Emperor Claudius. Baelo Claudia was expanded to include significant municipal areas, including a forum, theatre and market. It was particularly known for its trade in the Roman sauce called garum.
In latter centuries, it is believed that Baelo Claudia suffered due to an earthquake and the onset of raiders and pirates in the area and the site was abandoned towards the end of the Western Roman Empire period, probably in the 6th century.
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 such as that which is dedicated to Isis. Beyond these elements are a Basilica, administrative buildings or the municipal archive, market, theatre, baths, city walls & gates, streets, aqueducts and cisterns.
There are numerous Roman cities whose remains can still be seen in greater or lesser measure in the Andalusian territory and a visit to Baelo Claudia is certain to inspire further exploration.
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. This amazing ancient city features as one of our Top 10 Tourist Attractions of Spain.
El Escorial is an impressive sixteenth century royal complex built under the orders of King Philip II of Spain. UNESCO listed.
El Escorial, the full name of which is The Royal Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial (Real Monasterio de San Lorenzo de El Escorial) is an impressive sixteenth century royal complex built under the orders of King Philip II of Spain. Intended to mark the celebration of Spain’s victory over the French in the Battle of St Quentin, El Escorial was constructed between 1563 and 1567. It would go on to serve as the king’s palace and the seat of his empire.
The architecture of El Escorial is one of its most significant elements. The style, now known as Herrerian, was developed by El Escorial’s architect Juan de Herrera and was considered an innovation at the time.
Many of Spain’s monarchs are buried within the grand granite walls of El Escorial, including several members of the Habsburg Dynasty as well as the Bourbons.
Today, El Escorialis a UNESCO World Heritage site and is open to the public, who can tour its various buildings, courtyards, vast library, towers and halls as well as viewing its around 1,600 paintings. This site also features as one of our top Tourist Attractions in Spain.
Belchite contains the ghostly remains of a town destroyed during the Spanish Civil War.
Belchite, near Zaragoza, contains the ruins of a town destroyed in the 1937 Battle of Belchite, during the Spanish Civil War. Left untouched as a symbol of the conflict, Belchite gives a rare glimpse of the intensity and destruction wrought by this terrible war.
Today a modern town of the same name sits alongside the ruins and visitors are relatively free to explore the old town’s remains. Among the most prominent structures within Belchite is the eerie Church of San Martin, which seems more like a medieval ruin than a victim of 20th century conflict. Other areas within the old town include the remains of the main street, the Church of San Juan and the Convent of San Agustín.
Certain areas of Belchite are restricted due to unstable structures and care is advised when visiting the site. Belchite features as one of our recommended key places to visit when touring Spain.
La Sagrada Família is an iconic church in Barcelona with UNESCO status. It is the final resting place of Antoni Gaudi.
La Sagrada Familia (Church of the Holy Family) is an iconic yet incomplete church in Barcelona.
Works on La Sagrada Familia were begun in 1882 under the architect Francisco de Paula del Villar, then continued under Antoni Gaudi. Gaudi did not live to see the church completed and, since his death in 1926, and with the exception of the period of the Spanish Civil War, La Sagrada Familia has been under construction.
Nevertheless, despite its incomplete state, La Sagrada Familia’s incredible architecture draws in hordes of tourists each year. From its beautiful facades to its looming towers and inherent symbolism, La Sagrada Familia is an iconic part of Barcelona.
There is entry into the church to see Gaudi’s crypt as well as to go to the top of the stunning Nativity and Passion Facades (access to the lifts costs extra). Guided tours are available for a fee.
Together with seven other pieces of Gaudi’s work, La Sagrada Familia is a UNESCO World Heritage site and also features as one of our Top Ten Tourist Attractions in Spain.
The Lugo Roman Walls have been described by UNESCO as "the finest surviving example of late Roman military fortifications", a title they truly deserve.
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.
Although the Lugo Roman Walls were built at a time when foreign invasion was a threat to all Roman Hispania, it is believed that they were actually intended to defend the city from internal threats, particularly from revolts of local tribes’ people. In the end, it wasn’t disgruntled locals who breached the Lugo Roman Walls, but the Germanic Suevi tribe in the fifth century.
Other peoples later captured Lugo, including the Visigoths and the Moors, followed by the Christians under Alfonso I and the Normans.
Several aspects of the Lugo Roman 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 Lugo Roman Walls remarkable is that they are predominantly Roman.
It is also worth noting that, during the medieval period, pilgrims passed through the gates of the Lugo Roman Walls - especially Porta Mina - along the famous route to Santiago de Compostela.
Visitors can stroll along the Lugo Roman Walls, a great way to appreciate their exceptional nature and to see the town.
The Royal Palace of Madrid was built in the eighteenth century and was the home of the Spanish royal family until 1931.
The Royal Palace of Madrid (Palacio Real de Madrid) is the official - although not the actual - home of the Spanish royal family. Now used mainly for ceremonial and public functions, the Royal Palace of Madrid is open to the public as a museum of the building’s and the country’s history.
Prior to the building of the Royal Palace of Madrid, the site on which it sits was home to the Antiguo Alcazar, translated as the Old Fortress. When this burnt down in 1734, Felipe V (Philip V) ordered the construction of what would become the Royal Palace of Madrid.
Begun in 1738, the Royal Palace of Madrid would take seventeen years to complete and its first resident was the infamous Charles III (Carlos III). It would serve as the home of the Spain’s monarchs until 1931 under Alfonso XIII.
Visitors to the Royal Palace of Madrid can view the armour and weaponry of the Kings of Spain in the Royal Armoury, the Royal Pharmacy and several fascinating rooms such as that of Charles III and his Hall of Mirrors and the Throne Room.
As well as the historical significance of the Royal Palace of Madrid, the site also has stunning gardens in which to wander around. On Wednesdays, there is a changing of the guard ceremony. The Royal Palace of Madrid features as one of our Top 10 Visitor Attractions in Spain.
The Alcazar of Toledo in Spain is a fortress dating back to the third century AD.
The Alcazar of Toledo, or the Toledo Fortress, in Spain is a square fortified building with four imposing towers sitting high atop a hill overlooking the 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. As a result, each of its four facades bears a different style, including Renaissance, Plateresque, medieval and Churrigueresque, making the Alcazar of Toledo architecturally as well as historically fascinating.
During the Spanish Civil War, the Alcazar of Toledo 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 and, according to legend, maintained this control despite the kidnap and subsequent shooting of his son. The Siege of Alcazar turned this site into a symbol of Spanish nationalism. The Alcazar of Toledo now houses an army museum.
The Merida Roman Theatre is a well-preserved first century BC structure and a UNESCO site.
The Merida Roman Theatre or “Teatro Romano” is one of the most impressive of the ruins of this former colony of the Roman Empire. Together, these ruins, which include Guadiana Bridge and Merida Amphitheatre, form the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida.
Constructed in approximately 15-16 BC and able to accommodate almost 6,000 people, the Merida Roman Theatre would have been one of many public buildings erected in the area. At the time, Merida was known as Augusta Emerita and was the capital of Lusitania.
Now partially reconstructed, the Merida Roman 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.
The Merida Roman Theatre also features as one of our Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Spain.
The Alhambra in Granada, Spain was a fortified palace complex of the Nasrid Dynasty conquered by the Christians.
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.
Originally established in 1238 by the founder of the Nasrid Dynasty, Muhammad Ibn al Ahmar, it was expanded in the 13th century by Yusuf I, Sultan of Granada of the Nasrid Dynasty, who passed the project onto his son and heir, Mohammad V. Mohammed completed the Alhambra in the 14th century, including the Palacio Nazaríes. Thus the Alhambra became the royal residence of the Nasrid ‘emirs’ or princes until 1492, when it was conquered by the Christians.
In fact, Arabic texts show that there was a fortress at the Alhambra from the 9th century and evidence even points to it being inhabited during Roman times, but the work of the Nasrid Dynasty was the first incarnation of the Alhambra fortified palace complex as it is known today.
The Alhambra area, known as Albayzin, was also an important stronghold for the eleventh century Zirid Dinasty and for the Andalusians in the twelfth century.
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.
The Alhambra contains a wealth of building and monuments and a visit usually lasts around 3 hours. The Alhambra’s website is very useful for downloading tours onto mobile devices as well as maps and itineraries. Audio guides are available on site.
The Alhambra is a UNESCO World Heritage site and also features as one of our Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Spain.
Palma Cathedral is a vast and imposing Gothic cathedral in the capital of Majorca.
Palma Cathedral, known as “La Seu” or the “Cathedral of the Sea”, is a vast and imposing Gothic cathedral in Majorca’s capital.
Construction of Palma Cathedral is said to have been ordered by King Jaume I in 1230, just a year after this Christian crusader conquered the island. Built atop a mosque, the process of erecting Palma Cathedral lasted around three hundred years, stretching from 1301 to the seventeenth century.
In fact, renovations and even additions are still undertaken from time to time. Parts of Palma Cathedral were designed by famous twentieth century architect Antoni Gaudi, but his contributions are limited as he stopped his involvement due to a dispute with the contractor.
Inside, there is a small museum housing earlier parts of Palma Cathedral and the cathedral’s Trinity Chapel houses the tombs of Kings Jaume II and III. Audio guides are available for a fee.
Palma Cathedral features as one of our Top Tourist Attractions in Spain.
Albuera Battlefield was the site of one of the battles of the Peninsula War in 1811.
Albuera Battlefield in Spain was the site of a clash between France’s Army of the South or ‘Armée du Midi’ led by Marshal Soult and British, Spanish and Portuguese forces on 16 May 1811 in the Peninsula War.
The Battle of Albuera almost resulted in defeat for the allied armies, but ended largely inconclusively with terrible losses on both sides. Albuera Battlefield is now an open space with few obvious signs of its history, but there is a memorial to the battle in the town of Albuera.
The Alcazaba Fortress in Merida was a defensive structure built in the middle of the ninth century.
The Alcazaba Fortress of Merida was a stronghold built in approximately 835 AD, during the reign of Abd al-Rahman II. This commanding ninth century structure with its twenty five bastions remains today, albeit with medieval additions and renovations.
The Alcazaba Fortress of Merida also has characteristics typical of other civilisations, notably the Visigoths, indicating that it may have been constructed earlier.
Very little remains of the original interior within the ten-metre high walls of Alcazaba Fortress, though an original well has survived. The ruins of several Roman buildings can also be seen. Overall, this is considered to be an important site, not least because there are few remains from this era in the area.
The Alcazaba Fortress of Merida is grouped as part of the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida.
The Alcazaba (from the Arabic al-qasbah, meaning "citadel") is a palatial fortification built by the Hammudid dynasty in the early 11th C in MÃ¡laga, Spain.
The Alcazaba of Malaga (Alcazaba de Málaga) is a picturesque 11th century Moorish citadel said to be one of the most important of its kind in Spain. Historians have put its construction as having taken place between 1057 and 1063 under the rule of Berber king, Badis ben Habus. Over the years, the Alcazaba of Malaga has been restored several times, but its original grandeur and imposing nature remain clear.
Visitors to the Alcazaba of Malaga can also see the remains of a ruined Roman theatre, whose materials are also said to have been used in building the palace fortress.
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.
The Alcazar of Seville has been described as ‘one of history’s architectural high points’. The word Alcázar comes from the Hispano-Arabic word ‘Alqáşr’ meaning ‘room of the Prince’ or ‘royal house’ and the palace is truly one of the most striking in all of Spain. In fact the Spanish royal family still use it as their official Seville residence.
The oldest royal palace still in use in Europe was founded originally as a fort for the area’s Cordoban governors in 913AD. Two centuries later through Europe’s Dark Ages, the city’s Moorish Muslim leaders built Al-Muwarak (‘The Blessed’) and then in the centuries that followed, Moorish (12th – 13th), Gothic (13th), Mujédar (14th) and Renaissance (15th – 16th) architecture was added to form a visually magnificent yet architecturally eclectic palace. In fact, Alcázar of Seville is widely regarded as the finest example of Mujédar architecture on the entire Iberian peninsula.
The excellently-named Peter the Cruel rebuilt the existing structures in the 14th century and established the palace as a royal residence. Each individual section is as stunning as the next and visitors can walk through, amongst many other rooms, halls, gates and piazzas the Puerta del León (Lion Gate), the Patio de las Doncellas (Courtyard of the Maidens), Los Baños de Doña María de Padilla (the Baths of Lady Maria de Padilla) and La Casa de Contratación (House of Trade) as well as the equally impressive gardens. The highlight of which is the Galeria de Grutesco , a raised gallery with 16th century porticoes crafted from an old Muslim-era wall.
It was only a matter of time until the Game of Thrones location researchers came across Alcázar of Seville and it was the perfect setting for the Water Gardens palace in Dorne, the home of House Martell of Sunspear featured in season six.
The Alcudia City Walls were built following the Spanish conquest of Majorca in the fourteenth century.
The Alcudia City Walls date back to the fourteenth century, following the Spanish conquest of the island of Majorca. Dotted with twenty-six towers and some gates, mainly Xara and Palma, the Alcudia City Walls were further reinforced with the seventeenth century with a second wall.
The Arch of the star is the main wall gate of the old town of Caceres in Spain.
The Arch of La Estrella (Arco de la Estrella) – translated as the Arch of the Star – is an 18th century gate designed by Manuel de Lara y Churriguera and located in the main square or Plaza Mayor of Cáceres in Spain.
Badajoz Fortress is a 12th century fortification captured by the British during the Peninsula War.
Badajoz Fortress or 'Alcazaba de Badajoz' is a 12th century fortification in the city of Badajoz in Spain which now houses the Provincial Archaeological Museum. During the Peninsular War, the British made three attempts to breach Badajoz Fortress to capture it from the French.
The third attempt, known as the Battle of Badajoz, took place between 16 March and 6 April 1812 and saw an Anglo-Portguese force, led by Arthur Wellesley the (future) Duke of Wellington, eventually breach the thick curtain walls of Badajoz Fortress. The allied forces then stormed Badajoz, causing large-scale destruction.
The breaches in the Badajoz Fortress walls can still be seen today.
The Banys Arabs in Palma are one of the sole surviving examples of Islamic architecture in Majorca.
The Banys Arabs or “Arab Baths” in Palma are a small site containing one of the sole surviving examples of Islamic architecture in Majorca. Dating back to the eleventh century, the Banys Arabs would probably have been part of the home of an affluent Moorish resident.
Today, visitors to the Banys Arabs can see the two rooms of these Arabs baths which remain. Interestingly, parts of the Banys Arabs actually date further than the site itself. In particular, some of the columns are ancient Roman.
Barcelona Cathedral is a gothic cathedral dating back over five hundred years.
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.
Basilica de la Virgen de los Desamparados is a 17th century church built in a Baroque style.
Basilica de la Virgen de los Desamparados (Basilica of Our Lady of the Forsaken) is a 17th century church built in a Baroque style and dedicated to the patron saint of Valencia.
Begun in 1652 and completed in 1667, Basilica de la Virgen de los Desamparados is considered to be the most important religious building in Valencia built that century.
Basilica Vega del Mar was a Paleo-Christian basilica in Marbella with a history dating back to the fourth century AD.
Basilica Vega del Mar was a Paleo-Christian basilica in Marbella with a history dating back to the fourth century AD.
Now in ruins, only the outline of Basilica Vega del Mar can be seen, surrounded by almost two hundred graves of various periods. It is also sometimes referred to as the Moorish cemetery.
The ultimate symbol of Caceres, the Torre de Bujaco is a tower along the Almohad walls of CÃ¡ceres connected with a small bridge.
Bujaco Tower (Torre de Bujaco) is a 12th century Moorish Tower in the centre of the Spanish city of Cáceres. The namesake of Bujaco Tower was Caliph Abú-Ya’qub, who led his troops to victory in conquering Cáceres in March 1173 after a six month long siege.
The Burgos Cathedral - one of the most beautiful in Spain - is of majestic proportions and contains splendid collection of religious works of art. In the centre of the transept, we can find the Cid sepulchre.
Burgos Cathedral is a majestic, mainly Gothic cathedral, widely considered to be one of the most beautiful in Spain. With its grand proportions as well as a fine collection of religious works of art, Burgos Cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Construction of Burgos Cathedral began in 1221 during the reign of King Ferdinand and, whilst it was consecrated in 1260, it was only completed in 1567 and changes continued until 1795. The layout of Burgos Cathedral is of a Latin cross, while the dome of the transept is octagonal in shape.
Carranque Archaeological Park contains a series of Ancient Roman ruins built in the fourth century AD.
Carranque Archaeological Park (Parque Arqueologico de Carranque) contains a series of Ancient Roman ruins built in the fourth century AD. The site is believed to have a connection with Emperor Theodosius I the Great.
Carranque Archaeological Park is mainly comprised of a well preserved villa - known as the Materno Villa - as well as a nymphaeum (temple) and a basilica. There is also a small ancient burial ground.
A good place to either start or end your trip is at the visitor centre, which contains some of the objects found at the Carranque Archaeological Park as well as models of how it would once have looked.
Casa de Colon is a museum of the history of the Canary Islands, particularly as relates to Christopher Columbus and the Americas.
Casa de Colon (Columbus House) is a museum of the history of the Canary Islands, particularly as relates to Christopher Columbus and the Americas. Whilst the current Casa de Colon dates to the eighteenth century, its predecessor was once the seat of the governors of Gran Canaria and a said stopping off point for the explorer Christopher Columbus in 1492, hence its name.
Today, Casa de Colon exhibits collections ranging from pre-Columbian pieces to items that belonged to Columbus including navigational tools. It also looks at the period he spent in the Canary Islands.
The Casa de las Conchas (house of shells) is a historical building from the late 15th century of Gothic facture with Renaissance and Mudejar elements, known as Isabelline art.
Casa de las Conchas (The House of Shells) in Salamanca is a distinctive 15th century Gothic building best known for the approximately 300 shells which adorn its façade. Today, Casa de las Conchas is a public building housing, amongst other things, the public library.
A mine build at the beginning of the 14th century previously used in Moorish times as the only source of water for the town.
Casa del Rey Moro (House of the Moorish King) in Ronda was – contrary to its name – actually built in the 18th century on the site of a former Moorish castle and is home to both hanging gardens and a Moorish water mine. The mine was built in the 14th century as a water supply for the town at a time when sieges often made this task a clandestine one. It was the Moorish King Abomelic who is said to have ordered slaves to build the Casa del Rey Moro Water Mine and local legend has it that he hid his gold there.
Today, a trip to the mine offers an atmospheric descent down some 300 steps through various chambers including the intriguingly named Sala de Secretos or Room of Secrets.
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.
The Casa-Museo Federico García Lorca, located in the Huerta de San Vicente, is a museum in Granada which is dedicated to the life, writings and cultural activities of the Spanish poet, playwright and prose writer Federico García Lorca.
The Huerta de San Vicente, which was the summer house of Lorca’s family between 1926 and 1936, is open to the public and filled with original furnishings and paintings, as well as an exhibition of Lorca’s writings and letters.
The Huerta de San Vicente (Orchard of Saint Vincent) is located in the expansive palm tree-filled Parque Federico García Lorca, a public park in Granada which was constructed in the 1990s in memory of the poet and playwright.
García Lorca wrote some of his most important works, such as ‘Bodas de Sangre’ (Blood Wedding), ‘Yerma’ or ‘Así que pasen cinco años’ (When Five Years Pass), in the house. García Lorca lived in the house during the days leading up to his detention and assassination by the supporters of the military rebels at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War. García Lorca was targeted by his killers due to his sympathy for the Popular Front government elected in February 1936, his profound commitment to the progressive cultural, social and political project of the Second Republic (1931-1936), and for his open homosexuality. He was detained in killed in August 1936.
Lorca, who is among the most famous Spanish writers of the Twentieth Century, saw the house as a refuge and a tranquil and creative environment. In 1933, he wrote: “Later we spend all the summer together/ well I have to work a lot and it is there/ in my Huerta de San Vicente/ where I write my most tranquil theatre.”
Castell de Bellver is a striking fourteenth century citadel near Palma in Majorca.
Castell de Bellver or “Bellver Castle” is a striking completely round fourteenth century citadel near Palma in Majorca. Set high atop the bay of Palma, it comes as little surprise that the Catalan name “Castell de Bellver” translates as “The castle with a lovely view”.
Construction of Castell de Bellver began in 1300 under the rule of King Jaume II and it remains extremely well preserved. With three main towers centred on a pretty courtyard and a looming keep, Castell de Bellver is a great example of military advances of the time, particularly as this style of castle is fairly unusual in Spain.
The lower levels of Castell de Bellver have a history of their own, having acted as a prison. The most famous figures imprisoned at Castell de Bellver include the family of King Jaume III.
Today, Castell de Bellver houses a museum of history (Museu de Mallorca), displaying objects ranging from ancient Roman artefacts through to Arab pottery and seventeenth century ceramics.
Castillo de San Andres is the pretty ruin of an eighteenth, perhaps seventeenth, century fortification in Tenerife.
Castillo de San Andres is the pretty ruin of an eighteenth - perhaps seventeenth - century fortification built to deter pirates from the island of Tenerife. All that remains today are parts of its main tower, the ruins of which are on display in a public plaza.
Castillo de San Jose is a dramatic cliff-top eighteenth century fort built to protect Lanzarote’s main port from pirate attacks.
Castillo de San Jose is a dramatic cliff-top eighteenth century fort built to protect Lanzarote’s main port from pirate attacks. Commissioned by King Carlos III, Castillo de San Jose was completed in around 1779.
At a time of the construction of Castillo de San Jose, the Canary Islands had undergone a period of great hardship. As such, the work provided by the project of building Castillo de San Jose was greatly welcomed by the locals, leading it to being known as Fortaleza del Hambre or the "Hunger Fortress".
In later years, as the threat of raids subsided, Castillo de San Jose was used as a munitions storage facility before being left to decay.
Since 1976, Castillo de San Jose has been home to the Museo Internacional de Arte ContemporÃ¡neo (Contemporary Art Museum). Visitors to the site can enjoy a great mix of the old and new, being the contrast between the older architecture of the castle and the modern artwork on display.
Catedral de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is a pretty sixteenth century cathedral.
Catedral de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (Las Palmas or Santa Ana Cathedral) is a stunning cathedral begun in the fifteenth century and constructed in several phases, particularly during the sixteenth century. A combination of neoclassical, gothic and other architectural styles, Catedral de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria also houses several works of religious art.
Catedral de San Cristobal de La Laguna is an early twentieth century Neoclassical cathedral.
Catedral de San Cristobal de La Laguna (San Cristobal de La Laguna Cathedral) is a Neoclassical building mostly built between 1904 and 1915. However, the site of Catedral de San Cristobal de La Laguna has a history dating to the sixteenth century, when a church was first built there.
Catedral de Toledo is a thirteenth century cathedral in Spain.
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.
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.
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.
The Battle of the Ebro took place between 24th July and 18th November 1938 and was one of the final offensives launched by the Republican forces. Their defeat left Republican military capabilities severely diminished, paving the way for the eventual Nationalist victory.
The offensive was launched by Republican leader Juan Negrin, who was trying to relieve pressure from the Madrid front. The initial Republican attack failed to achieve a breakthrough and the resultant Nationalist counter-attack left the Republican forces in tatters and led to the withdrawal of the International Brigades.
The Republicans lost at least 30,000 dead and 20,000 wounded, while the Nationalists lost at least 30,000 killed and wounded.
The Centre d'Interpretació 115 Dies contains a number of exhibits that shows the battle’s progression and uses a number of video and audio guides to take visitors on a journey through the history of the battle.
It is a good place for those interested in the Ebro Battlefields to begin their travels and provides excellent views of the surrounding areas where much of the fighting took place.
Circo Romano de Toledo is a site which houses the ruins of a Roman circus in Toledo, Spain.
Circo Romano de Toledo (Roman circus of Toledo) stands just outside the (also Roman) walls of this Spanish city.
Toledo was once the Roman city of Toletum and was an important regional centre and capital of the Roman province of Carthaginensis.
Very little remains of this site, but it is thought to have once been the biggest Roman Circus of the time and similar in style to Rome’s Circus Maximus. Visitors can wander through the pretty modern-day park in which the circus is found and explore the ruins with ease.
The remains of the circus are mostly comprised of an array of low-lying arches from the lower levels of the structure and it gives little impression as to what the original circus would have looked like.
Complutum is an Ancient Roman site in Spain which was once an important city.
Complutum is an Ancient Roman site in Spain first conquered by the Romans in the first century BC.
Located within the UNESCO-listed Alcalá de Henares, approximately 30km east of Madrid, Complutum offers a number of things to see including its forum and Domus. One of its most famous sites is the House of Hippolytus, once part of an estate and a former college for Roman nobility.
Complutum is also known as the site of the martyring of saints Justus and Pastor.
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.
Built by the Romans in the first century BC, the Roman Bridge of Cordoba, as described in around 1140 by Arab geographer Muhammad al-Idrisi, ‘surpasses all other bridges in beauty and solidity'.
Rather than simply an object of beauty which it undoubtedly is, the bridge was a vital player in the city of Cordoba’s battles with, amongst others, the ominously-named Peter the Cruel in the 1350s.
Cordoba Roman Bridge was built in the first century BC and straddles the 657km Guadalquivir River. It has 16 arches supported by irregular semi-cylindrical buttresses and is 247 metres long by approximately nine metres wide.
At the southern end is the Torre de la Calahorra (Calahorra Tower), a fortified tower built in the 12th century by the resident Almohad Caliphate to protect the bridge and at the northern end is the Puerta del Puente (Gate of the Bridge) built over 300 years later in the 1570s.
The original bridge was probably wooden before it got replaced and it has undergone a number of reconstructions over the centuries and today, only the 14th and 15th arches from the northern end are original. In the 17th century a sculpture of St. Raphael was added to the eastern side by renowned Renaissance sculptor Bernabé Gómez del Rio.
In season five of Game of Thrones, the Roman Bridge of Cordoba doubled as The Long Bridge of Volantis spanning the mouth of the Rhoyne River.
Ducal Palace is a 17th century fortress in Lerma, built in the 17th century by its Duke, a favourite of Phillip III.
Ducal Palace is a 17th century fortress in Lerma, Spain designed by Spanish Renaissance architect Francisco de Mora.
A small hilltop town, Lerma is a little off the tourist track, but has a variety of interesting sites to see, especially at its summit. Here stands the Ducal Palace (now a Parador hotel) which looks out over what was, in the 17th century, the largest Plaza Mayor in the country.
Duke Francisco Gomez de Sandoval, who was responsible for building both the Ducal Palace and the Plaza Mayor, was a major power in Spain during the reign of Phillip III, one of the Hapsburg kings of Spain.
The Duke was also responsible for building the six convents and monasteries which can be found close by. It was rumoured that the Duke, who was obsessed with the religious orders, had tunnels dug to them from the Ducal Palace.
The Plaza Mayor is now mainly used as a car park. To avoid a long, uphill walk to see the Palace and other buildings, you may wish to park there.
El Miguelete is an iconic gothic bell tower built in 1381 and joined onto Valencia Cathedral in the 15th century.
El Miguelete (The Micalet Tower) is an iconic gothic bell tower built in 1381 and joined onto Valencia Cathedral in the 15th century.
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.
The site of Empuries in Catalonia contains the remains of an ancient Greco-Roman city and military camp and is one of the oldest of its kind found on the Iberian Peninsula.
The history of Empuries dates back to the early Iron Age, but the remains that can be seen today at the Empuries archaeological site are those of both a Greek trading port and a Roman military camp.
Founded in the sixth century BC by ancient Greek traders from Phocaea, Emporion – as it was originally known – was used by Greek merchants who utilised the advantageous location of its valuable natural harbour. The very name of the city implied its commercial purpose – empurion meaning ‘market’ in ancient Greek.
In 218 BC the Romans took control of Empuries in an attempt to block Carthaginian troops during the Second Punic War. By 195 BC a Roman military camp had been established and over the next century a Roman colony named Emporiae emerged at the site, lasting until the end of the third century AD. However, over time the city waned as the nearby centres of Barcino (Barcelona) and Tarraco (Tarragona) grew. The importance of Empuries dwindled and the city was largely abandoned at this time.
In the eighth century AD the Franks took control of the region, after defeating the Moors, and the area took on an administrative function – becoming capital of the Carolingian county of Empúries. This role remained until the eleventh century, when it was transferred to Castellon. From then on Empuries served as the home of small groups of local fisherman and was largely forgotten.
Today, the archaeological site of Empuries is nestled between the coastal village of Sant Marti d’Empuries and l’Escala, on the Costa Brava. Remains at the site include the ruins of the Greek market and port, an ancient necropolis as well as the Roman-era walls, mosaics, amphitheatre and early Christian basilica.
The ruins illustrate the rich and diverse history of the city, from holy areas and temples to a statue honouring Jupiter. Many of the finds from Empuries can be seen in the small on-site museum, which contains replicas as well as original items. Artefacts from the site can also be found at the central museum in Barcelona.
The site’s location on the Balearic Sea boasts magnificent views, making it a perfect location to explore history in scenic surroundings.
Empuries is managed by the Museu d’Arqueologia de Catalunya, which looks after other historic sites nearby and on the peninsula.
Contributed by Ros Gammie
Fort Conception is a seventeenth century Spanish fort which served as a British base during the Peninsular War.
Fort Conception (Fort Concepcion) is a seventeenth century Spanish fort near the border with Portugal which was used as a base by the British Light Division in the Peninsular War.
In 1810, the Light Division blew up Fort Conception as enemy forces approached, but it is still incredibly well preserved.
The Galdar Archaeological Site houses the best preserved remains of the prehistoric inhabitants of the Canary Islands.
The Galdar Archaeological Site houses the best preserved remains of the prehistoric inhabitants of the Canary Islands. Known as the Guanches, these were the indigenous people of the islands and are believed to have originated from North Africa sometime in the first millennium BC.
The Galdar Archaeological Site is also known as Cueva Pintada or the "Painted Cave", a reference to its most celebrated find, a series of red, black and white cave paintings. Also there is a museum of finds from the Galdar Archaeological Site as well as the remains of a Guanche village.
The General Archive of the Spanish Civil War (Archivo General de la Guerra Civil EspaÃ±ola) is a specialist archive related to the Spanish Civil War located in Salamanca.
The General Archive on the Spanish Civil War in Salamanca holds vital records from this period of Spanish history and about the regime of General Franco. Today, visitors to the General Archive on the Spanish Civil War can also see a display of various photographs, posters and documents. Although it is mostly in Spanish, there are some explanations in other languages.
There is also a section on freemasonry including a 10-minute video. The masonic lodge can be visited.
Located within the ForÃ§a Vella, the Jewish Quarter consists of a labyrinth of narrow streets and patios that have maintained their medieval atmosphere.
The Gerona Jewish Quarter (El Call) is said to be one of the world’s best preserved Jewish quarters, although it no longer has a Jewish population.
Whilst Jews first arrived in Gerona in the 9th century, it was between the 13th and 15th century that the community thrived. At this time, Gerona’s Jewish Quarter was a hub of learning and the home of the rabbi Nahmanides, founder of Cabbalist teaching. Persecuted from the 11th century onwards, the decline of the Jewish community would continue until the expulsion of all Spain’s Jews in 1492.
Made up of historic winding streets, the highlight of the Gerona Jewish Quarter is the Museum of Jewish History (Centre Bonastruc Ca Porta, named after the Spanish name for Nahmanides) with its detailed history of the Jewish community in the city and, amongst other things, a tombstones exhibit.
Romanesque structure imitating Medieval Muslim baths. Its existence has been documented from the 12th century.
The Girona Arab Baths (Banys Arabs Girona) are a Romanesque 12th century creation built for King Alfons I.
Destroyed at the latter end of the 13th century by French invasion, the Girona Arab Baths were rebuilt between 1294 and 1296 and later incorporated into the convent built on the site in the 17th century.
Today visitors can enter the Girona Arab Baths with their stunning stonework, majestic columns, rectangular structure, frigidarium, apodyterium, and octagonal pool.
Cathedral built between the 11th and 18th centuries, it includes a series of walls and spaces in different styles, from Romanesque to the baroque faÃ§ade and steps.
Girona Cathedral (Catedral De Girona) is best known for its vast nave, being the widest Gothic nave in the world. In fact, Girona Cathedral’s nave was the cause of much controversy. Inititially intended to have three naves, the change in plans to just one caused much discord.
Having been built and altered over a period stretching from the 11th to the 18th centuries, Girona Cathedral blends a variety of styles, including Romanesque, Baroque and, of course, Gothic.
The Guadalmina Roman Baths are the ruins of a Roman baths complex in Marbella.
The Guadalmina Roman Baths, known locally as Las Bovedos, meaning “The Domes”, are the ruins of a small Roman baths complex in Marbella.
Located near the beach, the Guadalmina Roman Baths are comprised of seven stone rooms built in an octagonal shape and probably date to the second or third century AD.
Guadiana Bridge in Merida was one of the largest bridges built by the Roman Empire.
Guadiana Bridge in Merida, known locally as Puente Romano, is a large Ancient Roman construct which crosses the Guadiana River. In fact, at a length of almost 800 metres, Guadiana Bridge was one of the biggest bridges known to have been built by the Romans.
The origins of Guadiana Bridge date back to the founding of Merida itself, which occurred in 25BC during the reign of the Emperor Augustus. Merida, then known as Augusta Emerita, became an important city and the capital of Lusitania.
Many of the original features of Guadiana Bridge, including a number of its arches, have been restored and today it is a working pedestrian bridge. Guadiana Bridge is one of several historic sites in Merida which are inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de la Concepcion is an 18th century church with a history dating back to the 16th century.
Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de la Concepcion (Church of the Immaculate Conception) in La Orotava in Tenerife was built in the 18th century but its history dates back to the 16th century, when a chapel was founded there.
Iglesia de Santo Domingo de Guzman is a church dating mostly to the seventeenth century.
Iglesia de Santo Domingo de Guzman is a church dating mostly to the seventeenth century, but with an eclectic range of art and architecture including a sixteenth century doorway and twentieth century murals.
Itálica was the birthplace of more than one Roman emperor and includes some impressive ruins.
Itálica near Seville was an impressive city and the hometown of Roman emperors Trajan and Hadrian. It would have been a vital hub in its time, both politically and in terms of military strategy. Today it is a fascinating archaeological site.
Established in 206 BC, Itálica was initially founded under the auspices of General Publius Cornelius Scipio following a victory at the Battle of Ilipa. The site was already home to a Turdetanian community, but in time it became first a town, then acquiring municipal status under Hadrian.
At its peak, Itálica would have been an imposing place, the evidence of which can still be seen today. Its size alone, some 60 hectares is impressive alone. Visitors to Itálica can appreciate its broad streets, the remains of its large amphitheatre as well as houses and public buildings including various mosaics and gardens.
The La Almudaina Royal Palace in Palma was a Muslim citadel turned into a Majorcan palace.
La Almudaina Royal Palace, also known as Palau de l'Almudaina, in Palma was a Muslim citadel turned into a Majorcan palace. This transformation occurred from 1281, after which it was used by monarchs of Majorca. Even today, the king of Spain uses La Almudaina Royal Palace as a summer residence.
Inside La Almudaina Royal Palace, visitors can see various displays including a variety of Flemish tapestries and tour the palace as a whole, including the king’s and queen’s rooms, the royal chapel and the impressive gothic hall.
The Giralda is a former minaret that was converted to a bell tower for the Cathedral of Seville which was registered in 1987 as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO
La Giralda of Seville has the honour of being both one of the world’s most famous bell towers and minarets, earning it UNESCO World Heritage status. Originally built between 1172 and 1198 as part of a magnificent mosque under Emir Yaqub al-Mansur, it is considered to be a brilliant example of the Almohad style.
Following the re-conquest of Seville in 1248, La Giralda was transformed into the bell tower of Seville Cathedral, thereby avoiding destruction. It was further added to in the 16th century when it was crowned with its bronze weather vane. Visitors are now invited to climb La Giralda to enjoy stunning views of Seville.
La Olmeda Roman Villa is a well-preserved fourth century AD Roman home in Palencia in Spain.
La Olmeda Roman Villa (Villa Romana de La Olmeda) is a well-preserved fourth century AD Roman home in Palencia in Spain.
Spanning 3,000 square metres and comprised of 27 rooms, La Olmeda Roman Villa is best known for its mosaics, the most important of which depict great mythological scenes and can be found in its main hall. Several of the rooms in Olmeda Roman Villa also still contain the remains of the Roman under floor heating systems known as hypocausts.
In addition to the main building, the Olmeda Roman Villa site is surrounded by other Roman ruins such as numerous burial sites and a set of thermal baths.
The Convento de las DueÃ±as is a Dominican convent located in the city of Salamanca.
Las Duenas Convent (Convento de las Duenas) is a Dominican convent in Salamanca best known for its beautiful cloister. Founded in 1419, Las Duenas Convent is housed in a grand Moorish style building and remains home to the Dominican nuns whose life of prayer and work is reflected in their surroundings. The church belonging to Las Duenas Convent was built in the 16th century.
Lugo Cathedral was mainly built from 1129 to 1273 and added to over the centuries.
Lugo Cathedral (Catedral de Lugo) was mainly built from 1129 to 1273 and added to over the centuries, thus explaining its mixture of styles. In particular, some of its chapels date to the fourteenth century and were built in a Gothic style, while the cloisters were constructed in 1710 and the facade is Neoclassical.
The Lugo Roman Baths were built in approximately 15BC, around the time when the city was founded and remain well-preserved.
The Lugo Roman Baths were built in approximately 15BC, around the time when the city was founded and remain well-preserved.
As with all such bathing complexes, the Lugo Roman Baths attracted Romans by virtue of their believed healing powers, in particular the properties of the water which they drew from the thermal spring. Still running today, this water is naturally at a temperature of 44 degrees Celsius and contains elements such as sulphur and sodium.
Today, the Lugo Roman Baths are located within the Hotel Balneario de Lugo and can be visited for free upon contacting the hotel’s reception. Still clearly discernible are the changing rooms - the Apodyterium - and there are several impressive elements, including remaining arches and a bathing room.
Known as La Manquita (the One-Armed One), the cathedral of the EncarnaciÃ³n of MÃ¡laga erected in the first half of the 16th C. is one of the town's most important monuments and landmark.
Malaga Cathedral is a stunning example of Spanish ecclesiastical architecture blending Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque styles. Begun in the 1530’s on the former site of an Almohad mosque, construction continued through to the 17th century. Yet, even today Malaga Cathedral is unfinished. Indeed the fact that it is lacking its south tower – amongst other elements – has given to it being known as ‘one armed’ or ‘La Manquita’. In fact its full name is Nuestra Senora de la Encarnacion (Our Lady of Incarnation).
A famous landmark not just in Malaga, but Andalucia and Spain in general, Malaga Cathedral has a museum displaying interesting works and details of its story.
MÃ¡laga's Roman Theatre - dating to the 1st century BC - lies at the foot of the Alcazaba fortress in the historical center of Malaga, Spain.
Malaga Roman Theatre (Teatro Romano de Málaga) is a picturesque surviving vestige of ancient Malaga. Constructed in the first century AD, during Augustus’ reign, this picturesque theatre rose approximately 16 metres in high and spanned 31 metres in diameter. In use until the third century, Malaga Roman Theatre was used for its materials over the years, particularly for the Alcazaba fortress which overlooks it.
Unexcavated until 1951, today Malaga Roman Theatre is open to the public with an interpretative centre on site.
The Marbella Castle Walls were once part of an impressive Moorish citadel built in the tenth century.
The Marbella Castle Walls (Murallas del Castillo) were once part of an impressive Moorish citadel built in the tenth century. Relatively little remains of this once great site.
Today, tourists are confined to viewing this fortification from the outside as it is not open to the public.
Merida Amphitheatre is an Ancient Roman ruin and a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Merida Amphitheatre is a reasonably well preserved Ancient Roman amphitheatre in the Spanish city of Merida.
The Emperor Augustus (63 BC - AD 14) established the Roman colony known as Augusta Emerita - later to become modern Merida - in 25 BC. Soon after its founding, Augusta Emerita became the capital of Lusitania and, as an important city of the empire, had several impressive public buildings. Merida Amphitheatre was one of these.
Completed in 8 BC and able to seat up to 15,000 spectators, this elliptical amphitheatre was finally abandoned in the fourth century AD. Today, the walls of Merida Amphitheatre are still intact together with some of its seats and it gateways, showing a detailed outline of what it would have looked like in its day.
Together with other sites, such as the Merida Roman Theatre and the Guadiana Bridge, Merida Amphitheatre is a UNESCO World Heritage site known as the Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida.
The Merida Roman Circus was an Ancient Roman chariot racing arena which remains well preserved.
The Merida Roman Circus or “Circo Romano de Merida” was built in the time that the city, then known as Augusta Emerita, was part of one of the colonies of the Roman Empire.
A vast sports arena able to accommodate up to 30,000 people, Merida’s Roman Circus would have been the site of chariot races and even naval games. It is considered to be one of the largest of its kind and, whilst it is unclear as to when the circus was constructed, it may have been around 25 BC, when Merida itself was founded.
Today, Merida’s Roman Circus is in fairly good condition for a ruin of this type, still having its original track, stands and gateways. There is now a visitor centre where tourists can learn about its history. Like other historic sites in Merida, the Roman Circus is part of the Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Mithraeum House is a Roman villa which is part of the Roman archaeological ensemble of MÃ©rida, Spain.
Mithraeum House (Casa del Mitreo) in Merida was an impressive Roman home built sometime in the late first, early second century. Centred on three main courtyards and with some of its intricate decoration still evident, it is clear that Mithraeum House would have been a grand residence.
The current name of Mithraeum House derives from the artefacts found there relating to the cult of Mitra.
The Monasterio de Piedra is a monastery located in Zaragoza, Spain. The building was constructed between 1195 and 1218, and is surrounded by acres of spectacular parkland.
Nestled amid acres of dramatic parkland crisscrossed by waterfalls, streams and idyllic natural pools, Monasterio de Piedra is a picturesque medieval monastery in the municipality of Nuévalos, in the province of Zaragoza in Northeast Spain.
The Monastery, whose name translates literally as 'The Stone Monastery', was founded in 1194 when Alfonso II, the king of Aragon, donated a castle and the land surrounding it to thirteen Catholic monks from the Order of the Cistercians. The castle dated back to the period of the Muslim Caliphate of Córdoba (929-1031) and had been a Muslim defensive stronghold during the battles against the Christian kingdoms of Northern Spain.
Monasterio de Piedra was constructed over 23 years using materials from the castle and the wall which enclosed it. At the time, the conquest of the region by Catholic forces in 1120 was a relatively recent memory, and the Catholic kingdoms' campaign to re-conquer Spain ('la reconquista') was still underway. In this context, the vast building project served as a symbolic means of proclaiming, consolidating and reinforcing Catholic identity and Catholicism's public presence.
The monastery was built during the transition from Romanesque to Gothic art, and is characterised by an austere and simple architectural style. It does, however, contain various baroque elements, which were added in the eighteenth century.
Cistercian monks lived in the Monasterio de Piedra between 1195 and 1835. They had to abandon the building on three occasions: in 1808 during the War of Independence; during the Liberal Triennium of 1820-23; and finally in 1835, when the building was expropriated by the Liberal Government as part of its disentailment policy (which involved the suppression of Spain's male religious orders and the expropriation and sale of their property). During the latter two periods, many of the monastery's statues and images were decapitated in anticlerical attacks.
Today, Monasterio de Piedra is privately owned and open to the public. Within the building's walls, visitors will also find a wine museum and an exhibition about the history of chocolate. The Monastery grounds also contain a fish farming centre, a luxury hotel, a spa and several restaurants. This site features as one of our Top Ten Visitor Attractions in Spain.
Contributed by Maria Thomas
Monestir de Pedralbes is a fourteenth century church and a museum.
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.
Santa Maria de Montserrat is a Benedictine abbey located on the mountain of Montserrat, in Monistrol de Montserrat, in Catalonia, Spain. It is notable for enshrining the image of the Virgin of Montserrat.
Officially titled Santa Maria de Montserrat, Montserrat Monastery is an important medieval abbey and one of the most important religious sites in Catalonia.
Sitting high among the mountains of the Catalan countryside, it offers visitors stunning views of the surrounding area as well as eye-catching architecture and history.
It is believed the history of the Montserrat monastery site stretches back to at least the ninth century AD, when it is thought an early Christian chapel stood on the site. The monastery itself was founded in 1025 by Abbott Oliba, who was one of the most important religious figures in Catalonia at the time.
The structure we now see has its roots in the 13th century and was constructed in Romanesque form. Today visitors to Santa Maria de Montserrat can explore the historic monastery as well as taking in the Montserrat Museum which contains a collection of important works of art, including works by Picasso.
Murcia Cathedral is a picturesque Roman Catholic cathedral in Spain dating back to the 14th century.
Murcia Cathedral (Iglesia Catedral de Santa Maria en Murcia) is a picturesque Roman Catholic cathedral in Spain dating back to the 14th century.
Known as the Cathedral Church of Saint Mary, Murcia Cathedral was constructed from 1394 on what had been the site of a mosque. Elements of a prayer room from the mosque can be seen at the Cathedral Museum.
With an intricate Baroque façade, dramatic Gothic interior and with Renaissance influences, Murcia Cathedral is a stunning mix of styles, a legacy gained from the long period over which it was built. Indeed, it took around two centuries to complete its bell tower.
UNESCO cultural site, the fortified old town of Caceres - also known as the city of storks and scene of conquest and reconquest between the Muslims and the Christians (12th century) - is still almost entirely surrounded by the walls and towers built by the Muslims around 1184.
The Old Town of Caceres in Spain is an embodiment of centuries of conflict, with its winding streets, palaces and general style telling the stories of those who fought for its conquest. Founded by the Romans under the name Norbensis Caesarina in the 1st century BC, medieval Caceres was the subject of a constant tug of war between the Moors and the Christians, eventually and finally conquered by Alfonso IX of León in 1229.
Whilst some remains of the Roman walls can be found by those who seek them out, most of the imposing towers and walls can be dated back to the 12th century under the Almohads. The most famous of the thirty or so towers is the Bujaco Tower, which is found at the epicentre of the Old Town of Caceres, its main plaza. There are historic houses and sites at every turn in the Old Town of Caceres – indeed it is all an UNESCO World Heritage Site - but highlights include the Gothic Palace of Los Golfines de Abajo and the Procathedral of Santa María.
For the local information, head to Plaza de Santa María, where the Carvajal Palace – which has its origins in the 15th and 16th centuries - plays host to the tourist board.
A palace built by the GolfÃn family after the Spanish Reconquest located in CÃ¡ceres, and was used as the residence of the Catholic Monarchs on their visits to this historic city.
The Palacio de los Golfines de Abajo is an impressive, mostly Gothic, stately home in the historic Old Town of Cáceres, said to be the lodgings of royalty whenever they visited. It is not open to the public, but its rustic façade is one of the most notable in the old town quarter.
Palacio del Infantado is a fifteenth century palace in Guadalajara built by the Mendoza family.
Palacio del Infantado (Infantado Palace) is a renaissance style palace designed by Juan Guas under the orders of don Íñigo López de Mendoza, the second Duque del Infantado.
Palacio del Infantado is interesting both in terms of its stunning architecture and its status as a museum of fine art and archaeology. Palacio del Infantado also contains the tomb of doña Aldonza de Mendoza.
The Pablo Picasso Foundation Museum showcases original works by Pablo Picasso in its permanent collection and temporary exhibitions. The museum occupies the first floor of the building where the painter was born.
The Picasso Birthplace Museum (Casa Natal Picasso) in Malaga, Spain, is dedicated not just to the artist’s work, but to giving an insight into his family life.
It was on 25 October 1881 that Pablo Picasso was born on the first floor of the building which now houses the Picasso Birthplace Museum. A series of works of the founder of Cubism and that of his artist father can be viewed in the Picasso Birthplace Museum as well as personal items belonging to his parents and a recreation of the 19th century hall as it would have been when the family lived there.
Pollentia is an Ancient Roman site in Alcudia in Majorca.
Pollentia is an archaeological site in Alcudia, Majorca housing the remains of an Ancient Roman city.
It is thought that the Romans established Pollentia in either the first or second century BC and that the city was thriving by the second century AD.
Sadly, Pollentia has been the subject of significant looting over the centuries, but there are still several monuments to see. The most significant of these is Pollentia’s first century AD Roman Theatre. This is Spain’s smallest surviving Ancient Roman theatre and would have held around 2,000 spectators. It is still used for shows today.
Visitors can also make out the foundations of the forum of Pollentia including some temples and shops.
Puente de Alcantara is a Roman bridge crossing the Tagus River in Spain.
Puente de Alcantara (Alcantara Bridge) in Spain is an impressive stone arch structure crossing the Tajo River and acting as the entrance to Alcantara.
Puente de Alcantara was originally built by the Romans, but much of it has since been the subject of reconstruction, mostly due to damage caused during battles.
In 1214, the Moors destroyed one of its arches, which was reconstructed in 1543 and, in 1762, King Charles III repaired another Puente de Alcantara arch which the Spanish had destroyed to keep Portuguese forces out during the War of the Spanish Succession.
In the middle ages, Puente de Alcantara was a checking point for merchants and visitors and included a fortified entrance way. The centre of the bridge contains an arch dedicated to the Emperor Trajan.
Gate built in the 13th century by the Knights Hospitaller as an entry point into the city of Toledo.
The Sun Gate of Toledo (Puerta del Sol) was built by the Knights Hospitaller in the 14th century, although it is said that the original gate may date back to the Taifa kingdom of the 11th century. Today, the impressive Moorish style Sun Gate of Toledo is a popular monument in the city.
Refugi 307 was one of thousands of bomb shelters built in Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War.
Refugi 307 (Shelter 307) was one of thousands of bomb shelters built in Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War.
Intended to defend the citizens from the raids instigated by Franco and his army from 13 February 1937 onwards, these were built under houses, in metro stations and throughout the city, creating a virtual underworld and involving great cooperation between the people of Barcelona.
Comprised of over 400 metres of tunnels and with facilities such as a hospital, Refugi 307 is just one of these shelters and is now open to the public as part of the Barcelona History Museum. Visitors can tour Refugi 307 to see the way in which Barcelona’s citizens lived during the conflict.
The Rio Verde Roman Villa was a first to second century Roman home in Marbella.
The Rio Verde Roman Villa (Villa Romana de Rio Verde) was a first to second century AD Roman home and villa complex in Marbella, Spain.
Today, the highlight of a visit to the Rio Verde Roman Villa are the impressive Roman mosaics, which depict mostly culinary and religious imagery. These mosaics are comprised of intricate patterns of black and white tiles and have survived in truly excellent condition.
The Roman Necropolis of Barcelona contains 95 Ancient Roman tombs.
The Roman Necropolis of Barcelona (Necrópolis Romana) is a realtively obscure site which contains 95 second and third century Roman tombs.
As with most Roman cities, Barcino (Barcelona) required all burials to take place outside of its city walls. Today, the Roman Necropolis can be seen in a small park within Barcelona, each grave marked with a small monument known as a “cupae”.
The Royal Palace of Aranjuez is a magnificent Spanish palace built between the 16th and 18th centuries.
The Royal Palace of Aranjuez (Palacio Real de Aranjuez) is a magnificent Spanish royal palace south of Madrid and made up of a blend of styles. It was King Philip II who commissioned the building of Aranjuez Palace in the 16th century, with plans drawn up by Juan Herrera, also the architect of El Escorial. Yet work would continue through to the reign of Charles III, under whom the Royal Palace of Aranjuez was completed in the 18th century. Indeed it is the latter work which is most evident today.
Sagunto Castle was a large Moorish citadel, the impressive remains of which overlook the modern town.
Sagunto Castle (Castillo de Sagunto) is a vast ruin spread over a kilometre and overlooking the town.
The most impressive parts of Sagunto Castle date back to around the eighth century and were built by the Moors as an imposing fortress. However, the site also shows signs of previous inhabitants of Sagunto, namely the Iberians and the Romans.
In particular, the site of Sagunto Castle houses the remains of a Roman forum.
The Sagunto Roman Theatre dates back to the first century, when it was built into the side of a mountain.
The Sagunto Roman Theatre (Teatro Romano de Sagunto) dates back to the first century, when it was built into the side of a mountain.
The site has the honour of being the first ever to be declared a Spanish National Monument, an accolade it achieved in 1896. However, while the initial incarnation of the Sagunto Roman Theatre would have been an Ancient Roman creation, the theatre seen today has undergone significant - and controversial - renovations, making it appear brand new.
Today, the 8,000-seater Sagunto Roman Theatre plays host to events and shows as well as generally being open to the public for visits.
The Salamanca Battlefield was the site of a major victory by the Duke of Wellington in 1812 during the Peninsular Wars.
The Salamanca Battlefield was the site of the Battle of Salamanca, a major clash in the Peninsular Wars, part of the Napoleonic Wars.
On 22 July 1812, the Duke of Wellington led the combined British, Spanish and Portuguese army to victory over the French forces led by Marshal Auguste Marmont.
There is a small monument on the Salamanca Battlefield commemorating this historic event.
Roman bridge part of the Roman paved road of the Plata. Several hypothesis date it at Augustus, Vespasian or Trajan ages.
The Salamanca Roman Bridge (Puente Romano de Salamanca) is a picturesque stone arched bridge said to date back to the first century AD. This would place it in the reign of Marcus Ulpius Traianus, when the bridge was part of the 'Plata' or ‘silver’ route between Merida and Astorga.
Much of the Salamanca Roman Bridge was rebuilt in the 18th century, but its city-side arches remain original.
San Andres Gate is one of the gates of Segovia’s historic city walls.
San Andres Gate (Puerta de San Andres) is one of the gates of Segovia’s historic city walls. Whilst evidence of the existence of San Andres Gate can be traced as far back as 1120, today’s gate was renovated sometime between the end of the 15th and beginning of the 16th centuries. As with all such gates of its time in Segovia, this would have been the work of the Counts of Chinchón, who endowed the gate with the protection of the religious image of the Virgen del Socorro.
Today San Andres Gate is home to the City Wall Information Centre as well as being one starting point for a tour of the walls.
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.
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.
An utterly unique historical site, the medieval Romanesque cloister sits directly underneath a huge rocky outcrop which looms ominously overhead and leaves the sanctuary almost tucked into the mountain itself. The monastery gained its name from that of a famous hermit who lived in solitude atop the cliff in the ninth century. Today it is largely this unusual visual oddity which brings tourists to the site, ensuring San Juan de la Peña remains a popular attraction.
The wider monastery complex is made up of two areas - the old monastery and the new monastery. The older structure was built in the 10th century AD and was updated over the following centuries. Most of the structure you can see today is built in the Romanesque style and dates to the 12th century AD. The overhung cloisters mentioned above belong to the old monastery and date to this period.
The new monastery was built in 1675 AD after a devastating fire caused considerable damage to the older structure. The new structure was built in the Baroque style and as well as exploring the building itself there is a visitors’ centre inside which explains more about the history of San Juan de la Peña and historical context of the time.
Santa Eulalia Basilica was an Ancient Roman church, the remains of which are located in Merida.
Santa Eulalia Basilica in Merida, known locally as Basílica de Santa Eulalia, is an Ancient Roman church the remains of which lie under the present eighteenth century church.
The namesake of Santa Eulalia Basilica was a girl who was martyred upon being burnt at the stake during the Christian persecutions under the reign of the Emperor Diocletian. According to legend, she is buried nearby.
Santa Eulalia Basilica is one of an ensemble of UNESCO World Heritage sites in Merida.
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.
At Canet del Mar on Spain’s northeastern Balearic coast, 47km north of Barcelona sits the 11th century Santa Florentina Castle.
It was built on the site of a Roman villa complex (the remains of which were incorporated into the castle) by Guadimir de Canet and it served as a private residence for 250 years.
In the 14th century, a descendent of Canet named Ferrer de Canet, a noble knight, an advisor to the excellently-named King Alfonso V the Magnanimous and a Papal ambassador no less fortified the house with two towers and medieval gates that offered protection against the pirates of the Mediterranean.
Over the centuries the house passed through many owners until the 16th when the owner’s daughter married a Barcelona-based lawyer named Felipe Dimas de Montaner, a direct descendent of the Montaner family that still lives there to this day. In 1949 the house was designated a cultural heritage monument and the November 1998 issue of the Architectural Digest Journal listed Santa Florentina Castle as one of the world’s most beautiful houses.
In season six of Game of Thrones, Santa Florentina Castle features as House Tarly of Horn Hill, one of the most powerful vassal houses who swear fidelity to House Tyrell of Highgarden.
Today, Santa Florentina Castle hosts an annual classical music festival and because it remains a private residence, the very few guided tours available are by appointment only.
Santa MarÃa la Blanca ("Saint Mary the White") originally known as the Ibn Shushan Synagogue is a museum and former synagogue in Toledo, Spain. It is disputably considered the oldest synagogue building in Europe still standing.
Santa María la Blanca Synagogue in Toledo, Spain, has the unique disposition of originally being a Moorish construction built for a Jewish synagogue which was converted into a Christian church in the 15th century. Santa María la Blanca Synagogue was first constructed in 1180, completed in the early 13th century, and it was originally called Ibn Shushan Synagogue.
Today Santa María la Blanca Synagogue is a popular tourist destination.
Eglesia de Santa Maria del Mar is a fourteenth century church in Barcelona and an excellent example of Catalan-Gothic architecture.
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.
Santiago de Compostela Cathedral in Spain is home to the relics of Saint James and a place of pilgrimage for centuries.
Santiago de Compostela Cathedral (Catedral de Santiago de Compostela), or simply “Santiago Cathedral”, in Spain is believed to house the tomb of one of the Twelve Apostles, Saint James the Greater, making it one of the most important places of pilgrimage within Catholicism.
In fact, since the Middle Ages, millions of pilgrims have made their way along the Way of St James to Santiago de Compostela Cathedral to pay their respects and visit his relics.
Whilst the grand and ornately carved Romanesque structure which today makes up Santiago de Compostela Cathedral was built from 1075, it is not the first such church on this site. The earliest incarnation of this cathedral was built in the ninth century AD atop the saint’s tomb under the orders of King Alfonso II.
Over the centuries, several additions have been made to the architecture of Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, which is considered to be a masterpiece of Romanesque construction, a view shared by UNESCO, who listed it as a World Heritage site in 1985.
Santiago del Arrabal is a church in Toledo, Spain, built in 1245-48, at the orders of Sancho II, on the site of an older church and a mosque that is known to been used since 1125.
Santiago del Arrabal Church (Iglesia de Santiago del Arrabal) is a 13th century structure widely considered to be one of Toledo’s most impressive Mudejar style buildings and built under the auspices of Sancho II.
The Segovia Aqueduct is one of the best preserved Roman structures in Spain. UNESCO listed.
Segovia Aqueduct is one of the best preserved Roman structures in the world and represents a brilliant feat of engineering.
Built at around the end of the first / beginning of the second century AD, the Segovia Aqueduct still stands tall and includes two levels of granite arches to a total length of 800 metres.
Despite suffering damage under the Moors, this stunning site now weaves through Segovia, looming over the urban sprawl at a maximum height of almost 30 metres. The best place to see Segovia Aqueduct is probably at the Plaza de Azoguejo.
Segovia Aqueduct is part of the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Old Town of Segovia and its Aqueduct.
Segovia Cathedral is an impressive gothic structure in the Old Town of Segovia.
Segovia Cathedral (Catedral de Segovia) is an impressive gothic cathedral which looms over the town of Segovia.
Begun under Carlos V in 1525, Segovia Cathedral was only consecrated in 1768.
Today, Segovia Cathedral is part of the Old Town of Segovia and its Aqueduct UNESCO World Heritage site.
Graveyard of the Jewish Quarter of Segovia located all over a hill known as â€œel Pinarilloâ€. Human-shaped graves and funerary mounds carved in stones have been preserved until the present day.
Segovia Jewish Cemetery, also known as “El Pinarillo”, was the cemetery of the city’s Jewish community. Whilst there are no official dates associated with the cemetery, it would have served the community before the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492.
Today, visitors to Segovia Jewish Cemetery can see the remains of tombs and carvings in the limestone.
The old main synagogue is a religious building in Segovia, Spain, dating back to the 14th century and converted into a church in 1410.
Segovia Old Main Synagogue (Antigua Sinagoga Mayor), now known as the Convent of Corpus Christi or Iglesia del Corpus Christi, was used as a synagogue from the 14th century until 1410, when it was seized and converted into a church. It remained as such until 1889 when it was destroyed by a fire. Very little remains of the original building, it mostly having been restored in 2004. Today, it is a convent.
The Serranos Towers are a duo of medieval defensive towers which once formed part of Valencia’s fortifications.
The Serranos Towers (Torres de Serranos) are a duo of medieval defensive towers which once formed part of Valencia’s fortifications.
Begun in 1392, the purpose of the Serranos Towers was to help defend what was then the city’s most active gates.
From 1586, the Serranos Towers took on an entirely different function, this time as an aristocratic prison, holding the likes of knights and noblemen. It would continue to be used as such until 1887, in the meantime being spared the destruction which befell the rest of the medieval walls.
Seville Cathedral is the third largest cathedral in the world, a World Heritage site and the resting place of Christopher Columbus.
Seville Cathedral (Catedral de Sevilla) 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.
Construction of Seville Cathedral took just over a century, spanning from 1402 to 1506. However, the intention and first steps towards building the cathedral can be traced back to 1248, when Seville was conquered by Fernando III of Castile, who is buried there.
Seville Cathedral took the place of the Almohad Mosque, which had stood on the site previously but had been damaged by an earthquake in 1356. Its construction was funded by Seville’s citizens, who were determined to create a magnificent place of worship which, records show, was supposed to be “so beautiful and so great that those who see it built will think we were mad”.
In fact, elements of the original mosque are still visible, particularly in the fact that the church was built to follow its square shape and because the architects preserved the Moorish entrance and the bell tower called the Giralda, which tourists can climb for fantastic views.
Designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987, Seville 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 main things to see at Seville Cathedral include its stunning stained glass windows, the organ and the Royal Chapel. The tomb of Christopher Columbus also offers a big draw to tourists, who flock to see the final resting place of this famous explorer.
The Spanish National Museum of Archaeology displays historical artefacts from throughout the country’s history as well as from around the world.
The Spanish National Museum of Archaeology (Museo Nacional de Arqueologia) in Madrid displays historical artefacts from throughout the country’s history as well as from around the world.
The periods covered by the Spanish National Archaeological Museum range from prehistory to the nineteenth century and include Ancient Roman and Greek works, Egyptian mummies, Moorish objects and Iberian pieces such as the famous Lady of Elche and Lady of Baza sculptures.
The Talavera Battlefield Monument commemorates the first major victory won by the Duke of Wellington in the Peninsular War.
The Talavera Battlefield Monument near Talavera in Spain, commemorates the Battle of Talavera, which took place on 27 and 28 July 1809 and was the Duke of Wellington’s - then Sir Arthur Wellesley’s - first major victory of the Peninsular War, part of the Napoleonic Wars.
The Talavera Battlefield Monument is a large memorial on the battlefield itself, although much of the battlefield is now separated by a road. It is actually a new monument, the original now being located on private land.
Tarragona Amphitheatre is a second century AD construction would once have played host to gladiatorial battles.
Tarragona Amphitheatre (Anfiteatro Romano de Tarragona) is a second century AD sports arena in Spain which would once have played host to the pastimes of the Ancient Romans, particularly to gladiatorial battles.
It was probably built during the reign of Trajan or Hadrian. At the time, Tarragona Amphitheatre was part of the Roman city of Tarraco, the remains of which are a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The elliptical structure and seating plan of Tarragona Amphitheatre can still be seen. It would once have held up to 14,000 spectators.
Tarragona Amphitheatre was in use until the fourth century AD, after which it was abandoned. Later, a sixth century basilica and a twelfth century gothic church were built on the site - the remains of which can be seen today.
The Pont de les Ferreres, also known as Pont del Diable is a Roman bridge, part of the Roman aqueduct built to supply water to the ancient city of TÃ¡rraco, today Tarragona. The aqueduct bridge is located 4 kilometers north of the city.
The stunning Tarragona Aqueduct is the last remaining section of the ancient aqueduct which served the Roman city of Tarraco.
Also known as Pont de les Ferreres or Pont del Diable, it is believed to have been built in the first century AD during the reign of the Emperor Augustus. The original Roman aqueduct ran for over 25km and took water from the river Francoli all the way to the city of Tarraco.
Most of the aqueduct fell to ruin after the fall of the Empire but the impressive surviving section, which spans a small valley about 4km to the north of modern Tarragona, was preserved and restored over the centuries - including by caliph Abd-el Rahman III and later repairs in the 18th century.
Today the Tarragona Aqueduct is a beautiful site to visit, nestling as it does in the green valleys and picturesque hills of the Spanish countryside. The remaining section rises a colossal 90 feet from the ground at its highest point, and has an upper tier containing 25 arches with 11 underneath. Tours are available to take visitors across the bridge, though they’re not for the faint-hearted!
As an interesting side-fact, the Pont de les Ferreres is also widely known as the or Pont del Diable - meaning the Devil’s Bridge because of a local legend which says it was constructed by the Devil after winning a bet in which a fair lady bet her soul. Dark stuff…
Tarragona Roman Circus was built in the first century AD and is one of the best preserved Roman sites in this Spanish city.
Tarragona Roman Circus (Circo Romano de Tarragona) is an ancient racing arena, probably built under the Emperor Domitian in the first century AD, which still contains some astonishing subterranean Roman tunnels.
When Tarragona Roman Circus was constructed it would have been able to accommodate up to 30,000 spectators and was just one of a series of impressive public buildings serving the Roman settlement of Tarraco. It was in use until the fifth century AD, when it was abandoned and slowly fell to ruin.
Today, though little of the original structure survives, visitors can still get an insight into the original scale and setting of this ancient chariot racetrack. Most of the circus is now buried under the more modern buildings which were built atop the ruins, largely in the 19th century, though the small exposed area is actually quite well preserved.
At one end of the Circus complex stands the Praetorium, a Roman tower which once formed the corner of the large Roman forum. This forum was connected to the circus complex below via a series of passageways and tunnels, which were also used to service the games held at the circus. Miraculously, some of these underground tunnels have actually survived and are now open to the public – making a visit to this site a genuinely impressive experience.
Tarragona Roman Circus is part of the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Archaeological Ensemble of Tarraco.
The Tarragona Roman Forum houses the ruins of what was the central square of the Ancient Roman city of Tarraco.
The Tarragona Roman Forum houses the ruins of what was the central square of the Ancient Roman city of Tarraco. The site is UNESCO listed.
A major Roman city, Terraco was the capital of the province of Nearer Spain. Operating at the very heart of this ancient city, the Forum was the cultural and political hub of Roman life here and stood as a mixture of public and religious buildings.
Today, little remains at this site beyond a scatterting of ruins and a few standing columns, a mere shadow of its former glory.
The Temple of Augustus is a first century Ancient Roman ruin hidden in Barcelona’s back streets.
The Temple of Augustus is a poorly preserved first century AD Roman ruin hidden in Barcelona’s back streets.
Built in honour of the Emperor Augustus in the first century AD, all that remains of this temple are four main columns, hidden away within the medieval quarter in the courtyard of the Centro Excursionista de Cataluña.
When it was built, the Temple of Augustus would have been far more prominent and would have formed part of the Forum of Barcelona.
The Temple of Diana is a very well-preserved UNESCO-listed Ancient Roman temple in Merida.
The Temple of Diana (Templo de Diana) in Merida was a sacred site constructed by the Romans in the early first century AD, after the conquest of the area by the Emperor Augustus.
Roman Merida, known as Emerita Augusta, became an important centre of Roman power in the region. Originally formed of veterans of the Roman conquest, the city quickly grew to become a thriving metropolis. Within this ancient city, the Temple of Diana would have formed a central part of the Roman Forum, where the principle civic buildings of the city originally stood.
Incredibly well-preserved, probably due to its incorporation into a sixteenth century palace, the Temple of Diana’s Corinthian columns still stand in their original rectangular formation. It is part of UNESCO’s Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida.
The Tenerife Archaeological Museum contains archaeological finds from around the Canary Islands.
The Tenerife Archaeological Museum (Museo Arqueologico de Tenerife) contains archaeological finds from around the Canary Islands.
In particular, the Tenerife Archaeological Museum houses a comprehensive exhibition on the Guanches, the prehistoric to ancient inhabitants of these islands. From pottery to utensils and even mummies, the Tenerife Archaeological Museum has a range of artefacts of the Guanches.
The Alcala Gate is an iconic eighteenth century triumphal arch in Madrid constructed under King Charles III of Spain.
The Alcala Gate (Puerta de Alcala) is an iconic eighteenth century triumphal arch in Madrid constructed under King Charles III of Spain (Carlos III).
Completed in 1778, the Alcala Gate was built in celebration of the king’s arrival in the city.
The Cibeles Fountain is an iconic monument in Madrid which was built under the orders of King Charles III.
The Cibeles Fountain (Fuente de Cibeles) is an iconic monument in Madrid which was built under the orders of King Charles III (Carlos III) in the late eighteenth century.
Today it is often the site where football victories are celebrated.
The Debod Temple is an Ancient Egyptian temple in Madrid gifted to Spain in the 1960s.
The Debod Temple (Templo de Debod) is an Ancient Egyptian temple in Madrid gifted to Spain in the 1960s.
Originally built in Aswan by Kushite King Adikhalamani, the Debod Temple dates back to the second century BC and was added to over the centuries, including by some of the rulers of the Ptolemaic dynasty as well as by the Ancient Romans.
Made up of three main reconstructed monuments, the Debod Temple is a beautiful site surrounded by a pool of water.
The House of Robert Graves in Mallorca is a small museum dedicated to the life of this famous author and poet.
The House of Robert Graves in Mallorca is a small museum dedicated to the life of author Robert Graves and is located in the home in which he lived.
Sometimes called Ca n'Alluny, the villa has been returned to very much as it was when Graves returned to his home in 1946 after sitting out the Spanish Civil war and the Second World War in England.
The tour begins with a 15 minute video outlining Graves’s life and work. He is best known for his books I, Claudius and Claudius the God, but he was a prolific writer both of novels and poetry.
As you go through the house, you have the impression that it is still a home and that Graves and his family still inhabit it.
There are beautiful gardens, mostly laid out by Graves himself, which contain citrus groves and a grotto.
Graves is buried in the graveyard at the local church, which is a steep walk from the village. Individual travellers are welcome, but it is wise to check, as individuals cannot go in if there are coach parties.
The Los Milagros Aqueduct in Merida supplied water to the Ancient Roman city of Augusta Emerita.
The Los Milagros Aqueduct (Acueducto de Los Milagros) is an incredibly well-preserved Roman water supply system in Merida, Spain.
Comprised of a trio of levels of looming brick arches, the remains of the Los Milagros Aqueduct are a fantastic example of Roman engineering. In ancient Roman times, the Los Milagros Aqueduct would have supplied water to Augusta Emerita, which was the capital of Roman Lusitania and which would become modern Merida. Today, it is visible from afar and can be viewed from the roadside and surrounding fields.
Together with other sites such as the Merida Roman Circus and Merida Amphitheatre, the Los Milagros Aqueduct is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The Plaza de toros de Ronda is the oldest bullfighting ring in Spain. It was built in 1784 in the Neoclassical style by JosÃ© Martin de Aldehuela, who also designed the Puente Nuevo.
The Ronda Bullring, also known as La Ronda or Plaza de toros de Ronda has attained iconic status and is one of the oldest in Spain. Opened in 1785, the Ronda Bullring can hold some 6,000 spectators and, with its Neoclassical architecture, is popular for its style as well as its history and prestige.
Today, the Ronda Bullring is open as a tourist attraction and includes a museum of its own past.
The Toledo Sephardic Museum is dedicated to the history, culture and legacy of the city’s Jewish population.
The Toledo Sephardic Museum (Museo Sefardi) is a museum dedicated to the history, culture and legacy of the city’s Jewish population.
From Roman times to the 15th century expulsion of the Jewish community, the Toledo Sephardic Museum covers a wide range of periods. The building in which the Toledo Sephardic Museum is located is itself a part of this heritage, having been built as a synagogue in the 14th century known as the Transito synagogue.
Tordesillas was the location of the imprisonment of Juana of Castil (Juana la Loca)
Tordesillas is an interesting small town off the E80 in Northern Spain. It has a number of historic sights, including the convent of Santa Clara, which was originally built as a castle by King Alphonso XI in 1344.
The significance of Tordesillas in Spanish history lies in two events: the signing of the treaty between Portugal and what is now Spain, and the incarceration of Juana of Castile.
The treaty signed in1494, established the division of how the new world, and its valuable resources would be divided up between Spain and Portugal. This treaty, which was soon ignored by both signatories, has given a certain amount of fame to the name Tordesillas.
What makes the name of Tordesillas more recognisable to modern History enthusiasts is the fact that Juana of Castile (also known as 'la Loca') was incarcerated there for nearly fifty years. Juana was the third child of the Catholic Monarchs, Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile, and she had been married at the age of 16 to Philip the Fair a Hapsburg Prince. Due to the failure of the senior lines of the family, Juana stood to inherit both thrones on the death of her parents.
Isabella died in 1504, and when Juana claimed her inheritance, Philip became, by right of his marriage, de facto King. He consistently tried to usurp her powers as Queen Regnant, and put out rumours that she was mad. However, he died in 1506, leaving Ferdinand to become joint ruler with Juana. To achieve his ambition of becoming sole ruler of Castile, Ferdinand had Juana imprisoned in the convent in Tordsillas.by reason of her 'madness'.
She was supposed to have had Philip embalmed and she took him with her into her prison. On the death of her father in 1516, and the accession of her son, Charles I, both crowns were united.(Charles is better known as the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V). Juana again had her rights usurped, and she was kept a prisoner, isolated in windowless rooms in the convent, until her death in 1555 at the age of 75.
Although she has gone down in history as 'la Loca', modern medical thinking is that she was either clinically depressed or Schizophrenic. Today, you can see the convent where Juana spent most of her life. Amongst the other interesting places in the town are four rather beautiful churches, two more convents and, of course, the Plaza Mayor.
The Trajan Arch of Merida is a UNESCO listed Ancient Roman granite gateway.
The Trajan Arch of Merida is part of UNESCO’s Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida and has in the past been said to have been a triumphal arch to the Emperor Trajan.
However, this has been cast into doubt and historians now think it may have been the entry gate to the nearby Temple of Diana.
A rounded, five metre high arch made of granite and probably once lined with marble, the Trajan Arch of Merida is inconspicuously located on a normal pedestrian street.
The University of Salamanca is the oldest university in Spain and the third oldest European university in continuous operations. Its library holds about 906,000 volumes. The most notable students are Miguel de Cervantes and Aristides Royo, President of Panama.
Salamanca University (Universidad de Salamanca) is the oldest university in Spain and one of the oldest in Europe. Dating back to 1218, it was founded under the orders of King León Alfonso IX. Today, highlights of a visit to the University of Salamanca include its Fray Luis de León lecture hall and its Plateresque façade as well as a ceiling painted by Fernando Gállego.
Valencia Cathedral was begun in the 13th century and boasts an eclectic range of styles including Gothic, Romanesque and Baroque.
Valencia Cathedral (Catedral de Valencia) was begun in the 13th century and boasts an eclectic range of styles. Whilst mostly completed by the end of the 15th century Valencia Cathedral was constructed over the course of several centuries, imbuing this mostly Gothic building with Romanesque, Baroque and other influences. All three main styles are represented in the cathedral’s main doors.
This diversity seems to also be mirrored in the actual history of the cathedral site. Before the creation of Valencia Cathedral, the site on which it stands today was once home to a mosque, which in turn had previously been a Roman temple. Aspects of this structure can still be seen today.
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.
Located fourteen hundred metres high up the Sierra de Caldereros, Zafra Castle has stood on its own on a sandstone outcrop for a thousand years.
Originally built in the 11th century by the Moors, it sits 5km from the village of Campillo de Dueñas although the castle you see today is mostly from the 13th century.
Local excavations uncovered Bronze and Iron Age remains as well as those of Celtiberians, Romans and Visigoths. The whole region was conquered (including the first incarnation of the castle) by the Christians from the north in around 1129 as part of the ‘Reconquista’ of the Iberian peninsula.
The castle’s defensive capabilities were seriously tested from the 12th century when Castilian King Fernando III unsuccessfully tried to take the castle all the way through to the civil wars of the 14th and 15th centuries. At the start of the 16th century it started to fall into ruin, not before ownership had been passed to various royals, conquerors, religious groups and local dignitaries.
Zafra Castle was owned by the state until 1971 when it was bought for 30,000 pesetas by Don Antonio Sanz Polo, a descendent of the 15th century owner Don Juan de Hombrados Malo and he spent the next 30 years and most of his fortune painstakingly restoring the ruined castle.
If you’re a Game of Thrones fan, Zafra Castle appears in season six as the Tower of Joy where a young Ned Stark clashes with Ser Arthur Dayne and according to current owner Daniel Sanz, the producers were ‘looking for a remote site and away from any building’.