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World heritage sites in Spain

Alhambra Alhambra, Generalife and Albayzín, Granada

Alhambra
Province of Granada, Autonomous Community of Andalusia
Rising above the modern lower town, the Alhambra and the Albaycin, situated on two adjacent hills, form the medieval part of Granada. To the east of the Alhambra fortress and residence are the magnificent gardens of the Generalife, the former rural residence of the emirs who ruled this part of Spain in the 13th and 14th centuries. The residential district of the Albaycín is a rich repository of Moorish vernacular architecture.

Altamira Altamira Cave

Altamira Cave
Santillana del Mar, Province and Autonomous Community of Cantabria
This prehistoric site in the province of Santander was inhabited in the Aurignacian period and then in the Solutrean and Magdalenian periods. Most of the stone implements and, in particular, the famous paintings in the great chamber (in ochre, red and black and depicting a variety of wild animals such as bison, horses, fawns and wild boar) date from this latter period.

Aranjuez Aranjuez Cultural Landscape

Aranjuez Cultural Landscape
Province and Autonomous Community of Madrid
The Aranjuez cultural landscape is an entity of complex relationships: between nature and human activity, between sinuous watercourses and geometric landscape design, between the rural and the urban, between forest landscape and the delicately modulated architecture of its palatial buildings.

Merida Archaeological Ensemble of Merida

Archaeological Ensemble of Merida
Province of Badajoz, Autonomous Community of Extremadura
The colony of Augusta Emerita, which became present-day Mérida in Estremadura, was founded in 25 B.C. at the end of the Spanish Campaign and was the capital of Lusitania. The well-preserved remains of the old city include, in particular, a large bridge over the Guadiana, an amphitheatre, a theatre, a vast circus and an exceptional water-supply system. It is an excellent example of a provincial Roman capital during the empire and in the years afterwards.

Tarragona Archaeological Ensemble of Tarraco

Archaeological Ensemble of Tarraco
Province of Tarragona, Autonomous Community of Catalonia
Tarraco (modern-day Tarragona) was a major administrative and mercantile city in Roman Spain and the centre of the Imperial cult for all the Iberian provinces. It was endowed with many fine buildings, and parts of these have been revealed in a series of exceptional excavations. Although most of the remains are fragmentary, many preserved beneath more recent buildings, they present a vivid picture of the grandeur of this Roman provincial capital.

atapuerca Archaeological Site of Atapuerca

Archaeological Site of Atapuerca
Province of Burgos, Autonomous Community of Castile-Leon
The caves of the Sierra de Atapuerca contain a rich fossil record of the earliest human beings in Europe, from nearly one million years ago and extending up to the Common Era. They represent an exceptional reserve of data, the scientific study of which provides priceless information about the appearance and the way of life of these remote human ancestors.

Burgos Burgos Cathedral

Burgos Cathedral
Province of Burgos, Autonomous Community of Castile-Leon
Our Lady of Burgos was begun in the 13th century at the same time as the great cathedrals of the Ile-de-France and was completed in the 15th and 16th centuries. The entire history of Gothic art is summed up in its superb architecture and its unique collection of works of art, including paintings, choir stalls, reredos, tombs and stained-glass windows.

Catalan Catalan Romanesque Churches of the Vall de Boi

Catalan Romanesque Churches
Province of Lleida, Autonomous Community of Catalonia
The narrow Vall de Boí is situated in the high Pyrénées, in the Alta Ribagorça region and is surrounded by steep mountains. Each village in the valley contains a Romanesque church, and is surrounded by a pattern of enclosed fields. There are extensive seasonally-used grazing lands on the higher slopes.

Alcazar Cathedral, Alcazar and Archivo de Indias in Seville

Cathedral, Alcazar and Archivo de Indias
Province of Seville, Autonomous Community of Andalusia
Together these three buildings form a remarkable monumental complex in the heart of Seville. The cathedral and the Alcazar – dating from the Reconquest of 1248 to the 16th century and imbued with Moorish influences – are an exceptional testimony to the civilization of the Almohads as well as that of Christian Andalusia. The Giralda minaret is the masterpiece of Almohad architecture. The ancient Lonja, which became the Archivo de Indias, contains valuable documents from the archives of the colonies in the Americas.

Cordoba Historic Centre of Cordoba

Historic Centre of Cordoba
Province of Cordoba, Autonomous Community of Andalusia
Cordoba's period of greatest glory began in the 8th century after the Moorish conquest, when some 300 mosques and innumerable palaces and public buildings were built to rival the splendours of Constantinople, Damascus and Baghdad. In the 13th century, under Ferdinand III, the Saint, Cordoba's Great Mosque was turned into a cathedral and new defensive structures, particularly the Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos and the Torre Fortaleza de la Calahorra, were erected.

Toledo Historic City of Toledo

Historic City of Toledo
Province of Toledo, Autonomous Community of Castile-La Mancha
Successively a Roman municipium, the capital of the Visigothic Kingdom, a fortress of the Emirate of Cordoba, an outpost of the Christian kingdoms fighting the Moors and, in the 16th century, the temporary seat of supreme power under Charles V, Toledo is the repository of more than 2,000 years of history. Its masterpieces are the product of heterogeneous civilizations in an environment where the existence of three major religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – was a major factor.

Cuenca Historic Walled Town of Cuenca

Historic Walled Town of Cuenca
Province of Cuenca, Autonomous Community of Castile-La Mancha
Built by the Moors in a defensive position at the heart of the Caliphate of Cordoba, Cuenca is an unusually well-preserved medieval fortified city. Conquered by the Castilians in the 12th century, it became a royal town and bishopric endowed with important buildings, such as Spain's first Gothic cathedral, and the famous casas colgadas (hanging houses), suspended from sheer cliffs overlooking the Huécar river. Taking full advantage of its location, the city towers above the magnificent countryside.

Valencia La Lonja de la Seda de Valencia

La Lonja de la Seda de Valencia
Province and Autonomous Community of Valencia
Built between 1482 and 1533, this group of buildings was originally used for trading in silk (hence its name, the Silk Exchange) and it has always been a centre for commerce. It is a masterpiece of late Gothic architecture. The grandiose Sala de Contratación (Contract or Trading Hall), in particular, illustrates the power and wealth of a major Mediterranean mercantile city in the 15th and 16th centuries.

Medulas Las Medulas

Las Medulas
Province of Leon, Autonomous Community of Castile-Leon
In the 1st century A.D. the Roman Imperial authorities began to exploit the gold deposits of this region in north-west Spain, using a technique based on hydraulic power. After two centuries of working the deposits, the Romans withdrew, leaving a devastated landscape. Since there was no subsequent industrial activity, the dramatic traces of this remarkable ancient technology are visible everywhere as sheer faces in the mountainsides and the vast areas of tailings, now used for agriculture.
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