Religious sites in 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

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

San Nicolás de Bari

Iglesia de San Nicolás de Bari is located next to the Camino de Santiago, in front of the cathedral. Since the Church of San Esteban was turned into a museum, it has served as the seat of the parish of San Esteban. The church was built in 1408, replacing another Romanesque temple. It contains notable examples of fifteenth century Castilian Renaissance art by Simón de Colonia and his son Francisco. Also of great inter ...
Founded: 1408 | Location: Burgos, 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

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

Oratorio del Caballero de Gracia

Oratorio del Caballero de Gracia is one of the best hidden architectural treasures in Madrid. This church looks small from the outside, but inside it unfolds into a neoclassical temple by Juan de Villanueva, which looks like a Roman basilica. Among its most noteworthy internal features are the single-piece granite columns, the vault and the sculptures of the Virgen del Socorro, signed by Francisco Elías in 1825, and of ...
Founded: 1786-1795 | Location: Madrid, 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

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

San Ginés Church

The church of San Ginés is one of the oldest churches in Madrid. It was one of the churches of the medieval Madrid, of Mozarab origin, from between the 12th and 13th centuries, and its name comes from the fact that it was dedicated to the patron saint of notaries and secretaries, Saint Genesius of Arles (San Ginés de Arlés). it was rebuilt in 1645. The church is preceded by an atrium enclosed by railings. It h ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Madrid, Spain

Convent of Las Descalzas Reales

The Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales, literally the 'Monastery of the Royal Barefooted', resides in the former palace of Emperor Charles V and Empress Isabel of Portugal. Their daughter, Joanna of Austria, founded this convent of nuns of the Poor Clare order in 1559. Throughout the remainder of the 16th century and into the 17th century, the convent attracted young widowed or spinster noblewomen. Each w ...
Founded: 1559 | Location: Madrid, Spain

Church of San Nicolás

San Nicolás church dates back to medieval times, although it has been much altered over the centuries. It is named in the Law of Madrid of 1202 as one of the oldest parishes in the city. Today it is the oldest church in Madrid, after the demolition of the Church of Santa Maria de la Almudena. Archaeological remains suggest that the church and its bell-tower may have been part of a former mosque. It was likely construct ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Madrid, 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

San Sebastian Church

The Saint Sebastian Church is a 16th-century church in central Madrid. The name arises from a devotional chapel which was found along the route to the Basilica of Nuestra Señora de Atocha, founded in 1541. The first architect around 1550 was Antonio Sillero, who also finished the Chapel of the Sagrado Corazón. This church like that of San Luis conserved for years the rights of asylum for those escaping official pers ...
Founded: 1550 | Location: Madrid, Spain

San Jerónimo el Real

San Jerónimo el Real, which has undergone numerous remodelings and restorations over the centuries, is the remaining structure of the Hieronymite monastery that once stood beside the royal palace of Buen Retiro, of which a portion now serves as the Prado museum. Its proximity to the royal palace also underscores a connection to royalty, serving for centuries as the church used for the investiture of the Prince of As ...
Founded: 1503-1505 | Location: Madrid, Spain

Iglesia del Sacramento

The Iglesia del Sacramento is a 17th-century, Baroque-style church. Since 1980 it has been the Military Cathedral of Spain and the seat of the Military Archbishop of Spain. It is considered by many experts to be a magnificent example of Madrid’s religious baroque style, despite the many imperfections it has suffered through time.
Founded: 1671 | Location: Madrid, 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

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

Iglesia de Santiago del Arrabal

Santiago del Arrabal was built in 1245-1248 at the orders of Sancho II on the site of an older church and a mosque that is known to have been used since 1125. Many characteristics of the mosque have remained in the present building which is built in the Mudéjar architectural style. The church is named after Saint James (Santiago) of the outskirts (Arrabal). The patrons of the church during its foundation were members ...
Founded: 1245-1248 | Location: Toledo, Spain

Santa María La Antigua

Under the current Santa María La Antigua church foundations have been found remains of a Roman hypocaustum. The church was likely founded in 1095 by Count Pedro Ansúrez, although there are no remains of this original structure. The oldest parts of the current temple date to the late 12th century: the gallery in the northern side of the building and the tower, both in Romanesque style. The tower, one of the symbols o ...
Founded: 1095 | Location: Valladolid, Spain

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Baths of Caracalla

The Baths of Caracalla were the second largest Roman public baths, or thermae, in Rome. It was built between AD 212 and 217, during the reigns of Septimius Severus and Caracalla. They would have had to install over 2,000t of material every day for six years in order to complete it in this time. 

The baths remained in use until the 6th century when the complex was taken by the Ostrogoths during the Gothic War, at which time the hydraulic installations were destroyed. The bath was free and open to the public. The earthquake of 847 destroyed much of the building, along with many other Roman structures.

The building was heated by a hypocaust, a system of burning coal and wood underneath the ground to heat water provided by a dedicated aqueduct. It was in use up to the 19th century. The Aqua Antoniniana aqueduct, a branch of the earlier Aqua Marcia, by Caracalla was specifically built to serve the baths. It was most likely reconstructed by Garbrecht and Manderscheid to its current place.

In the 19th and early 20th century, the design of the baths was used as the inspiration for several modern structures, including St George's Hall in Liverpool and the original Pennsylvania Station in New York City. At the 1960 Summer Olympics, the venue hosted the gymnastics events.