Cathedrals in Spain

Burgos Cathedral

The Burgos Cathedral construction began in 1221 and was completed in 1567. It is a comprehensive example of the evolution of Gothic style, with the entire history of Gothic art exhibited in its superb architecture and unique collection of art, including paintings, choir stalls, reredos, tombs, and stained-glass windows. The plan of the Cathedral is based on a Latin Cross of harmonious proportions of 84 by 59 metres. The ...
Founded: 1221 | Location: Burgos, Spain

Ávila Cathedral

The Cathedral of Ávila has Romanesque and Gothic architectural traditions. It was planned as a cathedral-fortress, its apse being one of the turrets of the city walls. It is surrounded by a number of houses or palaces. It is not known exactly when the construction of the Cathedral began, there being two theories. One states that Alvar García started its construction in 1091 inside the remains of the Church of the ...
Founded: 1091 | Location: Ávila, Spain

Valladolid Cathedral

The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Holy Assumption in Valladolid was originally designed as the largest cathedral in Europe. Initially planned as the Cathedral for the capital city of Spain, ultimately, only 40-45% of the intended project was completed, due to lack of resources after the court moved towards Madrid, and the expenses caused by the difficult foundations of the church. The structure has its origins in a late ...
Founded: 1589 | Location: Valladolid, Spain

León Cathedral

León Cathedral was built on the site of previous Roman baths of the 2nd century. During the Christian reconquest the ancient Roman baths were converted into a royal palace. King Ordoño II, who had occupied the throne of Leon in 916, defeated the Arabs in the Battle of San Esteban de Gormaz in 917. As a sign of gratitude to God for victory, he gave up his palace to build the first cathedral. Under the episcopate ...
Founded: c. 1205 | Location: León, Spain

Palencia Cathedral

Palencia Cathedral was built from 1172 to 1504 stands over a low vaulted Visigothic crypt (the Crypt of San Antolín). It is a large Gothic building, popularly dubbed as 'The unknown beauty' because not as well known as other Spanish cathedrals, though, it is a valuable building which has in its interior a large number of works of art of great value. Its more than 130 metres long, 42 metres high and 50 metr ...
Founded: 1172 | Location: Palencia, Spain

Old Cathedral of Salamanca

The Old Cathedral is one of two cathedrals in Salamanca. It was founded by Bishop Jerome of Périgord, in the 12th century and completed in Romanesque/Gothic style in the 14th century. It is dedicated to Santa Maria de la Sede. The apse houses a large cycle of 53 tableaux, 12 of which by the 15th-century Italian artist Dello Delli, depicting the life of Jesus and the Virgin Mary. A fresco of the Final Judgemen ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Salamanca, Spain

New Cathedral of Salamanca

The New Cathedral is located adjacent to the Old Cathedral in Salamanca. It was constructed between the 16th and 18th centuries in two styles: late Gothic and Baroque. Building began in 1513 and the cathedral was consecrated in 1733. The building began at a time when the gothic style was becoming less popular and was merging with the new Renaissance style, giving the resulting Plateresque style in Spain. Howev ...
Founded: 1513-1733 | Location: Salamanca, Spain

Zamora Cathedral

Built between 1151 and 1174, Zamora Cathedral is one of the finest examples of Spanish Romanesque architecture. A previous church, also entitled to El Salvador ('Holy Savior') existed at the time of King Alfonso VII of Castile, but it was apparently in ruins, so that the king donated the church of St. Thomas in the city to act as cathedral. The church was built under bishop Esteban, under the patronage ...
Founded: 1151-1174 | Location: Zamora, Spain

Segovia Cathedral

Begun in 1525, the construction of Segovia Cathedral was ordered by Charles V to replace an earlier cathedral near the Alcázar, which had been destroyed during the War of the Comuneros, a revolt against that king. The designs for the cathedral were drawn up by the leading late-Gothicist Juan Gil de Hontañón but executed by his son Rodrigo, in whose work can be seen a transition from the Gothic to the Renaissance style ...
Founded: 1525-1577 | Location: Segovia, Spain

Ciudad Rodrigo Cathedral

Construction of the Ciudad Rodrigo Cathedral began in the 12th century and did not finish until the 14th century. The architecture of the cathedral is uniform, despite later reforms and additions that can be seen in some of the chapels, such as the San Blas chapel. The Portico del Perdón alone contains more than 400 Romanesque and Gothic sculptures of great beauty. Although it began in the 12th century, the work continu ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Ciudad Rodrigo, Spain

Almudena Cathedral

When the capital of Spain was transferred from Toledo to Madrid in 1561, the seat of the Church in Spain remained in Toledo and the new capital had no cathedral. Plans to build a cathedral in Madrid dedicated to the Virgin of Almudena were discussed as early as the 16th century but even though Spain built more than 40 cities in the new world during that century and plenty of cathedrals, the cost of expanding and kee ...
Founded: 1879 | Location: Madrid, Spain

Astorga Cathedral

The Cathedral of Astorga edifice was begun in 1471, within the same walls of its Romanesque predecessors from the 11th-13th centuries. The construction lasted until the 18th century, thus to its original Gothic style appearance were added elements from later styles, such as the Neo-Classicist cloister (18th century), the Baroque towers, capitals and the façade, and the Renaissance portico. The interior houses nume ...
Founded: 1471 | Location: Astorga, Spain

Toledo Cathedral

The Primate Cathedral of Saint Mary of Toledo is one of the three 13th-century High Gothic cathedrals in Spain and is considered to be the masterpiece of the Gothic style in Spain. It was begun in 1226 under the rule of Ferdinand III and the last Gothic contributions were made in 1493 when the vaults of the central nave were finished during the time of the Catholic Monarchs. It was modeled after the Bourges Cathed ...
Founded: 1226-1493 | Location: Toledo, Spain

Alcalá de Henares Cathedral

The Cathedral of St Justus and St Pastor in Alcalá de Henares was constructed between 1497 and 1515 in late Gothic style. The tower was built between 1528 and 1582. During the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) the church was burned losing virtually all its treasures, saving some bars and some chairs from the old choir. In 1991 the diocese of Alcalá restored and elevated to the status of cathedral-master, the Diocese Comp ...
Founded: 1497 -1515 | Location: Alcalá de Henares, Spain

Palma Cathedral

Built by the Crown of Aragon on the site of a Moorish-era mosque, Palma cathedral is 121 metres long, 55 metres wide and its nave is 44 metres tall. Designed in the Catalan Gothic style but with Northern European influences, it was begun by King James I of Aragon in 1229 but only finished in 1601. It sits within the old city of Palma atop the former citadel of the Roman city, between the Royal Palace of La Almuda ...
Founded: 1229 | Location: Palma, Spain

Ciutadella de Menorca Cathedral

The Cathedral Basilica of Ciutadella de Menorca was constructed on the orders of King Alfonso III of Aragon, the conqueror of the island, in 1287 on the site of an old mosque. Construction started in 1300 and was finished in 1362, creating a building of the Catalan Gothic style, and is notable for the width of the nave, flanked by six chapels to each side. The five-sided apse is oriented to the east. After the d ...
Founded: 1300-1362 | Location: Ciutadella de Menorca, Spain

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Königstein Fortress

Königstein Fortress is located on the left bank of the River Elbe. It is one of the largest hilltop fortifications in Europe. The 9.5 hectare rock plateau rises 240 metres above the Elbe and has over 50 buildings, some over 400 years old, that bear witness to the military and civilian life in the fortress. The rampart run of the fortress is 1,800 metres long with walls up to 42 metres high and steep sandstone faces. In the centre of the site is a 152.5 metre deep well, which is the deepest in Saxony and second deepest well in Europe.

The fortress, which for centuries was used as a state prison, is still intact and is now one of Saxony's foremost tourist attractions, with 700,000 visitors per year.

By far the oldest written record of a castle on the Königstein is found in a deed by King Wenceslas I of Bohemia dating to the year 1233. It is probable that there had been a stone castle on the Königstein as early as the 12th century. The oldest surviving structure today is the castle chapel built at the turn of the 13th century. In the years 1563 to 1569 the 152.5 metre deep well was bored into the rock within the castle - until that point the garrison of the Königstein had to obtain water from cisterns and by collecting rainwater.

Between 1589 and 1591/97 Prince-Elector Christian I of Saxony and his successor had the castle developed into the strongest fortification in Saxony. The hill was now surrounded with high walls. Buildings were erected, including the Gatehouse (Torhaus), the Streichwehr, the Old Barracks (Alte Kaserne), the Christiansburg (Friedrichsburg) and the Old Armoury (Altes Zeughaus). The second construction period followed from 1619 to 1681, during which the John George Bastion was built. The third construction period is seen as the time from 1694 to 1756, which included the expansion of the Old Barracks. From 1722 to 1725, at the behest of August the Strong, coopers under Böttger built the enormous Königstein Wine Barrel, the greatest wine barrel in the world, in the cellar of the Magdalenenburg which had a capacity of 249,838 litres. It cost 8,230 thalers, 18 groschen and 9 pfennigs. The butt, which was once completely filled with country wine from the Meißen vineyards, had to be removed again in 1818 due to its poor condition. Because of Böttger, Königstein Fortress is also the site where European porcelain started.

Even after the expansion during those periods of time there continued to be modifications and additions on the extensive plateau. The Treasury (Schatzhaus) was built from 1854 to 1855. After the fortress had been incorporated in 1871 into the fortification system of the new German Empire, battery ramparts were constructed from 1870 to 1895 with eight firing points, that were to have provided all-round defence for the fortress in case of an attack that, in the event, never came. This was at this time that the last major building work was done on the fortress.

Because Königstein Fortress was regarded as unconquerable, the Saxon monarchs retreated to it from Wittenberg and later Dresden during times of crisis and also deposited the state treasure and many works of art from the famous Zwinger here; it was also used as a country retreat due to its lovely surroundings.

The fortress played an important role in the History of Saxony, albeit less as a result of military action. The Saxon Dukes and Prince-Electors used the fortress primarily as a secure refuge during times of war, as a hunting lodge and maison de plaisance, but also as a dreaded state prison. Its actual military significance was rather marginal.

Since 1955 the fortress has been an open-air, military history museum of high touristic value.