Spain is a stunning country with charming medieval towns, historical buildings, spectacular landscapes and a very diverse cultural heritage. So, there is no shortage of impressive landmarks in Spain that are well worth visiting. Most tourists either take a quick city trip to Barcelona, Madrid, or Valencia, or they stay longer to indulge themselves in the sun on one of the many pristine Spanish beaches along the Mediterranean coast while enjoying some of the most delicious Spanish food.

2 buildings of palacio de arts and sciences in valencia with water in front

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While planning your trip to Spain and still unsure which part of the country to visit, this list of some of the most famous landmarks in Spain will assist you in deciding where to go. When visiting Spain, landmarks like the Alhambra, the Giralda or the Mezquita in Andalusia, the Royal Palace in Madrid or the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona could be on your ‘to visit’ list.

With no less than 48 sites on the Unesco World Heritage list, there are plenty of famous buildings in Spain to visit, so we compiled this list of Spain’s most popular landmarks to help you make the most of your visit to Spain.

We have also limited this list of famous Spanish landmarks to the mainland only. Since there are so many famous monuments in Spain, we had to make a choice. We plan to highlight Spanish island landmarks in another article.

So without further ado, here is our list highlighting Spain’s landmarks.

plaza de españa in Sevilla with water in front and people waling

Sagrada Familia in Barcelona

One of the most famous and well-known landmarks in Spain is without doubt the Sagrada Família in Barcelona. The construction of this iconic church started in 1882 and is currently still ongoing, making it the largest unfinished Catholic church in the world.

sagrada familia cathedral in barcelona with cranes to build the towers

It was designed by the well-known Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí, a Modernist architect with a style characterised by organic forms, vibrant colours and intricate detailing. Unfortunately Gaudí died when the church was only about 25% finalised. It is expected that the construction will be finalised in 2026, 100 years after Gaudí’s death.

Millions of people are drawn to Barcelona to visit this iconic masterpiece and to admire its beauty, architecture as well as its historical and cultural significance. One of the most striking features are the towering spires, symbolising the connetion between heaven and earth. The Sagrada Familia has been included on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 2005.

Good to know: As it is one of the most visited landmarks in Spain it will be difficult to obtain tickets to admire the inside as they only allow a certain amount of people inside per day. The key is to purchase your tickets online as soon as you have booked your trip to Barcelona or Spain.

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Park Güell in Barcelona

Park Güell is one of the largest areas of urban parkland in Barcelona and is loved by locals and tourists alike. As with Sagrada Familia, the park is also designed by architect Antoni Gaudí. It was built between 1900 and 1914 and is a breathtaking and beautiful Spanish landmark with incredible landscaping and architecture. Located in the heart of Barcelona, it is a collection of structures and gardens created not only as a place of congregation and relaxation but also as a living work of art. This major tourist attraction has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1984.

colourful mozaic park guell in barcelona with view over city

Park Güell features manicured flower beds, tree-lined walkways and open areas for recreation as well as several mosaics, sculptures, paths and buildings designed in Gaudí’s signature style.

While most of the park is free to visit, there are some sections, namely the central ‘Park Güell monumental zone,’ that require an entrance fee. Paying extra to explore these monuments, such as the Jardins d’Àustria (Gardens of Austria), the Pòrtic de la Bugadera (Wash House Portico), and the Plaça de la Natura (Nature Square) is well worth it. After arriving by bus, metro or foot visitors can easily spend at least half a day in the park wandering around the grounds.

Good to know: As with all the monuments of Gaudi in Barcelona, Park Guëll is a very popular tourist attraction and entrance tickets will be very difficult to obtain on the day itself. So be sure to purchase your ticket in advance in order to avoid missing out on this masterpiece.

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Alhambra in Granada

It would be hard to find a more iconic and renowned landmark in Spain than the breathtaking Alhambra complex. Located in the historic Andalusian city of Granada against the backdrop of the Sierra Nevada mountains, it stands as one of the world’s most extraordinary monuments which consequently makes it one of the most famous landmarks in Spain.

Alhambra in Granada Andalusia

This architectural masterpiece began as a modest fortress atop Roman remains in the 9th century. It was during the 13th century that king Mohammed ben Al-Hamar, founder of the Nasrid Dynasty, decided to expand the construction of that fortress into a magnificent complex containing palaces, gardens, a Medina and a fortress. The building continued to evolve under Nasrid rule, with additional structures added when Spanish royals took over in the 15th century.

Undoubtedly, the Alhambra is one of the highlights of a trip to Andalusia and Spain, as well as one of the best things to do in Granada. Given its immense popularity, attracting nearly 2.5 million visitors annually, it’s essential to book tickets as far in advance as possible to avoid disappointment. 

Good to know: Be sure to read this guide on what is the best way to buy tickets online and consider these useful tips and tricks for visiting the Alhambra in Granada to make the most of your experience.

Plaza de España in Seville

The Plaza de España, located in Seville, Andalusia, within Maria Luisa Park or Parque de María Luisa is a grand square renowned as one of the country’s iconic landmarks. Constructed in 1928 for the Ibero-American Exposition, it is known for its grand architecture that blends Moorish, Renaissance and Baroque Revival styles with Aníbal González as its designer.

plaza de españa in Sevilla with water in front

The most notable feature of the Plaza de España is its half-circle layout with buildings encircling the perimeter which are then linked by four bridges over moats, symbolising the four ancient kingdoms of Spain. As you walk along the Plaza, in the half circle are 48 ceramic tiled alcoves representing the 48 provinces of Spain at that time. Each of the alcoves have benches which are adorned with azulejos or colourful tiles with images and colours representing that province as well as a tiled map of the location of that specific province.

The Plaza de España is absolutely stunning and a highlight of any visit to Seville, Spain. It has also been used as filming location numerous times of which the most famous movies filmed there are Star Wars – Attack of the Clones (2002) and Lawrence of Arabia (1962).

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Royal Palace in Madrid

The Palacio Real or the Royal Palace is a must-visit monument in Madrid for its historical significance, grandeur and exquisite architecture. Although the Royal Family does not reside in the palace, it does serve as the official residence of the Spanish monarchs. It is mainly used for official events and state ceremonies.

royal palace in madrid spain with people walking in the courtyard

With a floorspace of 135,000 m2 (or 1,450,000 sq ft) and over 3000 rooms, the Palacio Real in Madrid is considered to be the largest functioning palace in Europe. It was designed by the Italian architect Filippo Juvarra and constructed mid 18th century.

The royal palace is not only stunning from the outside. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to visit the interior as some of the rooms are open to the public, including the Throne Room, Royal Armoury and the beautiful Hall of Mirrors.

Good to know: The Royal Palace is one of the top attractions for tourists visiting Madrid so the number of daily visitors is limited. Be sure to purchase your entrance ticket with time slot well in advance.

Great Mosque in Cordoba (Mezquita)

The Great Mosque of Córdoba, also known as the Mezquita or Mosque-Cathedral is one of Spain’s premier tourist attractions. This iconic landmark stands as a symbol of the cultural and religious fusion of Christianity and Islam in Spain making it one of the country’s most significant historical sites.

Inside the Mezquita in Cordoba with red and white arches

It was in A.D. 785 that Abd al-Rahman I, founder of the Islamic Emirate of Córdoba, ordered the construction of the Great Mosque on top of the remains of a small Visigothic church. The mosque was expanded further by subsequent Muslim rulers. In 1236, during the Reconquista, Córdoba was conquered by King Ferdinand III of Castile and the building was then converted into a Catholic cathedral. The Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984. It is a great example of the Umayyad style in combination with Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque art.

The most famous part of the Mezquita is undoubtedly the inside where rows upon rows of red and white painted horseshoe arches welcome visitors.

Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia

The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is one of the most important religious and historical landmarks in Spain. This iconic Cathedral is located in Galicia and serves as the final destination of the famous and popular pilgrimage route, the Camino de Santiago or the St. James Way. This pilgrimage route has been attracting millions of pilgrims since the Middle Ages and remains very popular.

The construction of the Cathedral started in A.D. 1075 under the reign of Alfonso VI of Castile and was built on the site where the remains of St. James the Apostle are believed to be buried. It is one of the few remaining churches in the world thought to be built over the tomb of an apostle.

Every day at noon there is a pilgrim mass held at the high altar of the cathedral attended daily by hundreds of pilgrims who have walked hundreds of kilometres to reach the cathedral. It is the spiritual culmination of their journey.

The Historic city of Toledo

Toledo is an ancient city in central Spain. It is rich in history and culture and one of the more beautiful cities in Spain. It is located just 70 km (or 44 miles) south of Madrid and is recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1986.

City view of Toledo old town with water in front near Madrid

Toledo is often referred to as the City of Three Cultures due to successive Islamic, Jewish and Christian influences. Such is reflected in its architecture, traditions, culture and art. The medieval old town of Toledo was built on a hilltop surrounded by the Tagus River and is remarkably well preserved.

Within the ancient walls surrounding the city centre you’ll find narrow cobbled streets, historical buildings, synagogues, churches, mosques, the Alcázar or fortress, the Jewish quarter and the museum of the 16th century Greek painter El Greco.

Toledo was once the capital city of Spain until 1560 when King Philip II decided to move his court to Madrid.

Montserrat in Barcelona

A visit to the Benedictine monastery of Santa Maria de Montserrat is quite a unique experience. It is located in a breathtaking setting in the Montserrat mountain range, only a 50 km (or 30 miles) drive northwest of Barcelona.

montserrat abbey in montserrat with mountains landmark in spain

The Montserrat abbey was founded in A.D. 1025 and is still mainly visited by pilgrims. Over the centuries it kept growing but had to be rebuilt in the 19th and 20th century after it had been destroyed in the Battle of Montserrat in 1811.

A day trip from Barcelona to the Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey is highly recommended in order to visit the monastery and basilica built in the Gothic Renaissance style, as well as the statue of the Black Madonna and to listen to the Boys Choir, known as L’Escolania.

Be sure to take enough time to also explore the surrounding area. Hiking or taking the cable railway high up into the mountains will provide magnificent views down over the monastery’s location on the side of the mountains.

City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia

The City of Arts and Sciences or Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias in Valencia is a must-see highlight of Spain. Designed by the renowned Spanish architect and structural engineer Santiago Calatrava, its innovative architecture and distinctive structures have captivated visitors since its inauguration in 1998.

2 buildings of palacio de arts and sciences in valencia with water in front

Situated at the southern end of the former riverbed of the Turia River, which has been transformed into a beautiful park, the complex comprises various striking buildings and structures, like the Oceanografic (Europe’s biggest aquarium), the Hemisphere (3D cinema), Science Museum and the Palau de les Arts.

The City of Arts and Sciences has become a symbol of Valencia’s unique blend of historical heritage and contemporary innovation attracting millions of tourists each year to marvel at its ornate architecture and to explore the diverse attractions it has on offer.

For Valencia, the complex plays a significant role in the city’s cultural, technological and economic impact as well as its environmental landscape.

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La Pedrera (Casa Milà) in Barcelona

Celebrated for its structural innovations and imaginative design elements, La Pedrera is another masterpiece designed by the famed Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. The building was constructed between 1906 and 1912 and is notable for its undulating stone facade and wrought-iron balconies and overall distinctive organic appearance.

la pedrera house or casa mila in barcelona facade

Named after the original owners, the official name of the building is Casa Milà (Mila House). However, the building is more commonly known as La Pedrera, meaning The Stone Quarry in Catalan. It was given that name as its appearance resembles an open quarry.

When visiting don’t miss out on the magnificent roof terrace. Not only does it provide wonderful views over the city of Barcelona, you can also marvel over the various stairwells, whimsical chimneys and ventilation towers.

Good to know: It is without a doubt that this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a very popular tourist destination. So in order to visit we recommend buying your ticket in advance in order to avoid disappointment. You can book your ticket here.

Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao

The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, in the Basque Country, is one of the most recognisable landmarks in Spain. The building was designed by the Canadian architect Frank Gehry and is part of one of the seven Guggenheim Museums in the world. Its iconic architecture and distinctive design not only captivates contemporary art and architecture enthusiasts but also serves as a major attraction for tourists exploring Bilbao.

Guggenheim museum in Bilbao with yellow water of river in front

The Guggenheim Museum stands as a masterpiece of modern architecture in Europe, blending its unconventional form into the urban landscape. Situated along the banks of the Nervion River, its location creates a mesmerizing mirror effect with the building perfectly reflected in the water.

The diverse range of modern and contemporary art inside the Guggenheim museum is worth visiting. Its collection includes works from local Spanish as well as renowned international artists like Richard Serra, Jeff Koons and Anish Kapoor.

The museum has had a significant transformative impact on the city of Bilbao, called the ‘Bilbao effect’, but which is sometimes also referred to as the ‘Guggenheim effect’. Since its opening in October 1997, the museum has given a major boost to the city’s economy and cultural scene making Bilbao a popular tourist destination in Spain.

Cathedral and Giralda in Seville

The magnificent Seville Cathedral or Catedral de Santa María de la Sede and its renowned Giralda Tower are some of the most stunning Spanish landmarks and must-visit attractions. The Cathedral was built in the 15th century on the grounds of the Almohad Mosque and is the world’s third largest Catholic church.

Giralda towers and cathedral of Seville Spain

Some elements of the original mosque are still visible. For instance, the Giralda or the Bell Tower was the former minaret of the mosque. It is possible to climb up to the top of the minaret, a mere 100 meters (343 feet) mainly by means of a ramp from which you have incredible 360° views over the city of Seville.

Some of the highlights to see inside the Seville Cathedral are the tomb of Christopher Columbus, the beautiful stained glass windows, the organ and the Royal Chapel. 

Good to know: You will need to Buy your ticket in advance for a specific date and time slot. The tickets are valid for both the Cathedral and the Giralda tower.

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Temple of Debod in Madrid

The Temple of Debod is a stunning landmark in Madrid that is well worth visiting. This ancient Egyptian temple dates from the 2nd century BC and was donated to Spain by the Egyptian government in 1968.

Spain participated in the International Campaign to Save the Monuments of Nubia where various structures had to be relocated due to the area being flooded after the construction of the Aswan Dam.

Egyptian temple templo de debod in madrid is a spanish landmark

The tempel was dismantled, transported and completely rebuilt in the Parque del Oeste in Madrid, close to the Royal Palace.

Not only is the temple worth a visit, but also the park which offers splendid views over the Royal Palace and the Almudena Cathedral as well as the surrounding countryside. It’s a lovely spot to sit, relax and especially to watch the sunset.

Roman Aqueduct in Segovia

The Roman aqueduct in Segovia was constructed in the 2nd century AD during the reign of Roman Emperor Trajan. It was built to transport water from the nearby river to the city over a distance of 15 km or 9.3 miles. The aqueduct was in use right up until 1973 but has hardly undergone any modifications over the centuries.

Aqueduct of Segovia with people walking in front

It is currently one of the best-preserved Roman aqueducts in the world. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985, mainly for its magnificent state of conservation as well as for its wonderful location right in the heart of the city center of Segovia.

What makes the Segovia Aqueduct so special is that it has been constructed without any cement, but rather through a great use of balance of forces. The aqueduct itself spans 813 meters (2667 ft) in length and consists of 167 granite arches.

The Walls of Avila

With its medieval city walls, also known as Murallas which enclose the entire old town of Ávila it was subsequently declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985. The wall has a perimeter of about 2.5 km (or 1.5 miles) and an average width of 3 metres (or 9.8 ft) It also has 9 gates and 87 semicircular towers, also called turrets.

Located in central Spain, about 100 km northwest of Madrid, the town of Ávila was founded in the 11th century. The construction of the wall which dates back to the late 11th and 12th century was to protect the old town from attacks by the Moors.

These medieval walls which rank among the world’s finest defensive perimeters of the Middle Ages are a must-see Spanish landmark. You can visit the walls by either walking around the entire outside perimeter for free or partly on top, for which tickets need to be obtained.

San Lorenzo de Escorial in Madrid

The Royal Site of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, also known as El Escorial de Arriba was built in the 16th century as a monastery, royal palace and burial place during the reign of King Philip II. The monumental complex is one of the most important architectural monuments of Spanish Renaissance. It also stands as a testament to Spain’s rich cultural heritage.

Top view of Monastery de Escorial near Madrid

The whole complex consists of various buildings, including a monastery, basilica royal library, church, gardens and college. It is famous for its extensive art collection as well as the Pantheon of Kings where many Spanish monarchs are buried.

It is beautifully located at the foothills of the Sierra de Guadarrama mountains, approximately 45 km or 28 miles northwest of Madrid. The building is spectacular in its grandeur, symmetry and simplicity.

Close up of Escorial near Madrid

Puente Nuevo in Ronda

Situated in Andalusia in southern Spain, the city of Ronda rests atop a plateau in the dramatic El Tajo Gorge while being surrounded by rugged mountains and deep valleys. The Guadalevín river runs through the city of Ronda dividing the new and the old part by a 120 meter deep gorge named El Tajo gorge.

One of 3 bridges, the Puente Nuevo, or New Bridge in Ronda was built at the end of the 18th century to connect the new and old towns. As the name indicates, the Puente Nuevo is the newest and the tallest of the bridges, even though it is 250 years old at the time of writing. The Puente Nuevo was built with a chamber in the top arch which is now used as an exhibition room about the bridge’s history.

It is without doubt the most iconic symbol of Ronda and is what attracts most people to visit the city as a day trip from Malaga or the surrounding areas.

San Juan de Gaztelugatxe

The hermitage of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe is dedicated to Saint John the Baptist. It sits in an enchanting location on top of a rocky outcrop just off the rugged coast of the Basque Country north east of Bilbao.

Gaztelugatxe is a small islet connected to the mainland by a picturesque stone bridge. The hermitage can only be reached by climbing the 241 steps of said bridge. Built in the 10th century, the hermitage of San Juan is a truly magical and fairytale-like place. The setting is stunning, the history of the place is fascinating and the views are absolutely breathtaking.

Hermitage of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe near Bilbao Basque Country

Gaztelugatxe became world famous after it was used as a movie location for the series Game of Thrones.

Good to know: Getting to the hermitage is not for the faint hearted. Expect a steep climb both up and down, twice. There are some viewpoints to the right of the car park for people with reduced mobility. There are also no public toilets up at the hermitage but there may be light refreshments and souvenirs on sale in the chapel. It would also be appreciated if you took all your own rubbish back with you as the only way of getting anything on or off the rock is by foot.

Tibidabo Cathedral in Barcelona

Previously known as the ‘Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor’, the Tibidabo Cathedral is a stunning Roman Catholic basilica located on top of Mount Tibidabo near Barcelona. It was designed by the Catalan architect Enric Sagnier, the construction of which was finalised in 1961.

With acute attention to detail, the architecture of the church is a blend of both gothic and modernist styles. Tibidabo Cathedral is not only a religious landmark but also a cultural and architectural gem.

Tibidabo cathedral in Barcelona

Mount Tibidabo reaches an altitude of 512 metres (1679 Ft) above sea level while overlooking the city of Barcelona and the Mediterranean Sea. Apart from a visit to this stunning building, Mount Tibidabo is home to various attractions like an amusement park, a funicular railway and a telecommunications tower.

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