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A guide to its main attractions
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Selected by piero scaruffi | Back to the travel page | Suggestions
This page provides a list of the main things to see in Spain. "++" identifies the top attractions.
castillo = castle
basilique = basilica
catedral = cathedral
monasterio = monastery

Santiago de Campostela (Galicia): ++catedral (+Goldsmith's portal of 111x and +Gloria Portal of 1188), convento de San Martino Penario, Hostal de los Reyes Catolicos, Praza do Obradoiro, Peter Eisenman's Cidade da Cultura
Santillana del Mar (Asturias): La Colegiata
Oviedo (Asturias): Cathedral San Salvador, San Julian de los Prados (830), Naranco's Santa Maria (848)

Guadalupe (Estremadura): +Monasterio
Trujillo (Estremadura): Plaza Mayor
Caceres, (Estremadura): Casa de los Golfines, Santa Maria,
Merida (Estremadura): Teatro romano, Puente romano

  • ++El Prado
  • Plaza Mayor
  • Plaza de la Villa
  • Puerta del Sol
  • Palacio Real
  • Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales
  • Plaza de Cibeles
  • Centro de Arte Reina Sofia
  • +Torres Puerta de Europa (Plaza de Castilla, Line 10 Cuzco station)
  • Edificio Torres Blancas (Corazon de Maria & Avenida de America)
  • Skyscrapers near Line 10 Santiago Bernabeu Station: Picasso Tower (157 m), Europa Tower (121 m), Banco de Bilbao Tower (107 m), Titania Tower (104 m)
  • Skyscrapers near Line 10 Chamartin Station: Caja Madrid Tower (highest in Spain), Sacyr Vallehermoso Tower, Cristal Tower and Espacio Tower

++El Escorial
Segovia (Castilla): ++Alcazar, Catedral, +Roman aqueduct
Belmonte (Castilla): castillo
Ponferrada (Castilla): castillo
Puebla de sanabria (Castilla): castillo
Astorga (Castilla): Catedral, Gaudi's Palacio Ebiscopal
Leon (Castilla): +Catedral, Basilica de San Isidoro (+Panteon de los Reyes, 1067)
Sahagun (Castilla): +San Tirso (12th c)
Zamora (Castilla): +Catedral, +San Pedro dela Nave at El Campilo (680 AD)
Ciudad Rodrigo (Castilla): Catedral
++Salamanca (Castilla): Plaza Mayor, Torre del Clavero, +Catedral (+Torre del Gallo), Universidad, Casa de las Conchas
Avila (Castilla): ++Walls (11th c), San Vicente (12th c), Monasterio de Santo Tomas, Catedral (1160)
Coca (Castilla): castillo
Penafiel (Castilla): castillo
Tordesilla (Castilla): Convento de Santa Clara
Valladolid (Castilla): Catedral, Colegio de San Gregorio
Medina de Rioseco (Castilla): Santa Maria de Mediavilla
Fromista (Castilla): Iglesia de San Martin
Palencia (Castilla): Catedral
Frias (Castilla): Puente medieval
Covarrubias (Castilla): Iglesia colegial, Tower of Dona Urraca (950)
Burgos (Castilla): +Arco de Santa Maria, Monasterio de las Huelgas, Cartuja de Miraflores, +Catedral (1224, +puerta sarmential, +Judgement of the world in portal), San Baudelio de Berlanga (11th c)
Alava: Bodegas Ysios
Lerma (Castilla): old town, Monasterio de Santo Domingo de Silos
Burgo De Osma (Castilla): Catedral
Molina de Aragon (Mancha): old town
Guadalajara (Mancha): +Palacio de los Duques
Cuenca (Mancha): +Casa Colgadas, Catedral
Toledo (Mancha): Iglesia de Santo Tome (+El Greco's painting), ++Catedral (stain glass window, +retablo "El Trasparente"), Alcazar (16th c), Sinagoga del Transito, Sinagoga de Santa Maria, +Monasterio de San Juan, +Mezquita del Cristo de la Luz (tenth-century mosque)
Belmonte (Mancha): +castillo
Alarcon (Mancha): old town
Albacete (Mancha): +Alcala del Jucar, castillo de Almansa
Alcaraz (Mancha): Tardon, Trinidad
Calatrava la Nueva (Mancha): +castillo

Bilbao (Basque): +Guggenheim with Louise Bourgeois' sculpture "Maman"
San Sebastian (Basque): old town
Olite (Basque): Palacio Real
Pamplona (Basque): old town
Loarre: Castle (12th c)
Elciego (Basque): Gehry's Hotel Marques de Riscal
Leyre (Basque): monasterio
Ainsa (Aragon): old town
San Juan de la Pena (Aragon): monasterio
Alquezar (Aragon): old town
Zaragoza (Aragon): catedral, Nuestra Senora del Pilar
Daroca (Aragon): old town
Teuel (Aragon): catedral

Barcelona (Catalonia): +Sagrada Familia, Gaudi homes (+Casa Batllo, Casa Mila La Pedrera), Barrio gotico, Cathedral, Museo Picasso, Juan Miro foundation, Jean Nouvel's ++Angbar Tower (2005), Meier's Museum of Contemporary Art, St Paul Hospital, Park Guell (Gaudi)
Near Barcelona: Gaudi's crypt in Colonia Guell, Bofill's Kafka Castle in Sant Pere de Ribes (1968)
Figueres (Catalonia, 1 hour from Barcelona by fast train): Dali museum and Torre Galatea
Ripoll (Catalonia): +Monasterio de Santa Maria (mostly 19th century, but +doorway with reliefs)
Santander (Catalonia): Villa Quijana (Gaudi), Altamira Caves with paleolithic wall paintings (pinturas rupestres) of 14,000 BC
Besalu (Catalonia): old town
Girona (Catalonia): old town
Figueres (Catalonia): Dali museum
Montserrat (Catalonia): +monasterio, Santa Cecilia (957)
Lerida (Catalonia): Cogul Caves with paleolithic wall paintings (pinturas rupestres) of 10,000 BC
Cardona (Catalonia): old town (+San Vicente)
Poblet (Catalonia): +monasterio
Tarragona (Catalonia): anfiteatro, catedral
Morella (Murcia): old town, cave paintings (pinturas rupestres) of 3,000 BC
Peniscola (Murcia): Castel del Papa Luna, old town
Sagunt (Murcia): Castillo, Teatro romano
Valencia: Catedral, Torres de Serranos, Santiago Calatrava's +City of Arts and Sciences
Murcia: Catedral

Sevilla: Hospital La Caridad, +Torre del Oro (12th c), +Catedral, Los Venerables, ++Alcazares, ++Plaza de Espana, Altar of San Luis (1731)

Alcala de Guadaira's fortress (a few kms east of Sevilla)
Granada (Andalucia): +++Alhambra, Generalife, Catedral, Capilla Real
  • Torres Bermejas (12th century)
  • Puerta de la Justicia (1348)
  • Puerta del Vino (14th c)
  • Torre de la Vela
  • Mexuar: the Serrallo facade (the southern facade), especially the eaves
  • Patio de los Arrayanes (sometimes called de la Alberca, del Estanque or de los Mirtos): semicircular arches of the ceiling, wooden ceiling in the north gallery
  • Sala de la Barca: inverted boat of the ceiling
  • Salon de Embajadores
  • Banos Reales : polychromatic decoration in the main room, frescoes in the Tocador de la Reina
  • Sala de las Dos Hermanas: dome
  • Sala de los Reyes (or de la Justicia)
  • Patio de los Leones: gallery supported by 124 white marble columns, +fountain with 12 lions, +alabaster basin)

Ronda (Andalucia): old town, Puente Nuevo
Cadiz (Andalucia): Catedral
Malaga (Andalucia): Catedral, The King's Path (El Caminito del Rey, scariest walk in the world)
El Chorro/Alora: El Caminito Del Rey (walkaway and bridge 100 meters over the river)
El Chorro: El Caminito del Rey
Carmona (Andalucia): +Medina Azahara
Cordoba (Andalucia): Alcazar, ++Mezquita, old town
Ubeda (Andalucia): old town
Baeza (Andalucia): old town
Almeria (Andalucia): Alcazaba, La Chanca
Mallorca: Monasteri de Lluc, Catedral de Palma
Menorca: Ciutadella

Things that annoyed me in Spain:

  • The "corrida" (bullfight) is a barbaric tradition (let the coward toreadores fight with their hands, not with the sword, and with no help)
  • Barcelona (2017) is one of the most expensive cities in the world for tourists. Personally, i think that Gaudi is one of the most overrated artists of the 20th century, but Barcelona has done an excellent job of publicizing his works. Entrance prices to anything Gaudi are astronomical. If you pay that much to see a childish house or a weird church, you only have two options: 1. You tell your friends that you were an idiot (my case); 2. You tell your friends that it's a masterpiece. Most people choose the latter. I literally couldn't stop laughing at Parc Guell thinking that i paid to see that little Disneyland.
  • Beware of Barcelona's high crime rate
  • Montserrat (2017): The roundtrip ticket from Espanya station costs E20 and includes either teleferica or cremallera (teleferica has better views if you are not afraid of heights but might not work in bad weather) Beware that there are three train stations called Montserrat and you need to know which one to use for the funicular (second stop) or the cremallera (third stop). These vehicles are fully automated, which means that there is no human being to help you. They are also synchronized so that one leaves when the other one arrives (eg the train for Barcelona leaves a few minutes after the cremallera reaches the train station). Making a mistake is fatal: you'll have to wait one hour for the next train. The monastery itself is not worth the trip, IMHO, nor is the church, nor is the view, but, again, Catalunia has been very good at marketing this place.
Notes (2021):
  • Madrid's airport is well served by railway and metro. The first train to Madrid leaves at 5:56, and the last at 22:25. There are trains to both Chamartin station (15 minutes) and Atocha station (30 minutes). The metro runs 06:00-01:30 and the journey to Nuevos Ministerios takes 40 minutes.
  • Madrid. The metro is generally about 2 euros but you need to buy the specific rides. First of all you need a "pasaporte" and then load onto it the money you need to pay for your tickets. (All courtesy of the "How to Complicate Simple Things" office). The metro runs all the way to the airport. Line 8 connects the airport with Nuevos Ministerios. Most of the famous sites are around the Sol metro station: Plaza Mayor, the Royal Palace, etc. Most of the famous museums are at Estacion del Arte metro station.
  • Toledo. There is a high-speed train that takes just 30 minutes from Madrid (13 euros). It leaves from Madrid Atocha and arrives at the Toledo station, from which it's a 500 meter walk to the main gate to enter the old town. There are normally 6 trains per day travelling from Madrid to Toledo. Unless you're a specialist, Toledo is easily seen in a couple of hours. There is little left that is truly "historic". All the homes and streets have been rebuilt with modern materials.
  • Segovia. You can take a bus for 10 euros with Avanzabus (leaving from the Moncloa Station (in the north of Madrid). The advantage of the bus is that it drops you off right in the middle of the city's historic center. Avanzabus company offers two different bus routes between Madrid and Segovia: "directo", which takes approximately 50 minutes and "no directo", which takes approximately 2 hours. Buy bus tickets to Segovia on
  • Segovia. There is also a high-speed train that takes just 30 minutes (11 euros). It leaves from Madrid's Chamartin station and arrives at Segovia Guiomar, for example 14:40-15:07. Unfortunately the Segovia Guiomar station is very far from Segovia (an impressive example of human stupidity). Bus 11 terminates at the Aqueduct from which several streets lead uphill to the old town. The Alcazar is located on the other side of the hill from the bus stop, eg first ascend to the cathedral and then descend to the Alcazar.