Religious sites in Spain

Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba

The Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba, also known as the Great Mosque of Córdoba and the Mezquita is regarded as one of the most accomplished monuments of Moorish architecture. According to a traditional account, a small Visigoth church, the Catholic Basilica of Saint Vincent of Lérins, originally stood on the site. In 784 Abd al-Rahman I ordered construction of the Great Mosque, which was considerably expanded by later ...
Founded: 784 AD | Location: Córdoba, Spain

Seville Cathedral

Seville's cathedral, Santa Maria de la Sede, is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world, and is recognised as UNESCO World Heritage. After its completion in the early 16th century, Seville Cathedral supplanted Hagia Sophia as the largest cathedral in the world, a title the Byzantine church had held for nearly a thousand years. History The basilica occupies the site of the great Aljama mosque, built in the late ...
Founded: 1401 | Location: Seville, Spain

Santiago de Compostela Cathedral

The Santiago de Compostela Cathedral is the reputed burial place of Saint James the Great, the apostle of Jesus Christ. It is also one of the only three known churches in the world built over the tomb of an apostle of Jesus. According the legend, the tomb of Saint James was rediscovered in 814 AD. The king Alfonso II of Asturias ordered the construction of a chapel on the site. This was followed by the first church in 82 ...
Founded: 1075 | Location: Santiago de Compostela, Spain

Monastery of San Martiño Pinario

The monastery of San Martiño Pinario is the second largest monastery in Spain after San Lorenzo de El Escorial. Little remains of the original medieval buildings (founded around 899 AD), as the monastery has been largely rebuilt since the sixteenth century. Throughout the Middle Ages the monastery grew so that by the end of the fifteenth century the monastery became the richest and most powerful of Galicia. This brought ...
Founded: 1587 | Location: Santiago de Compostela, 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

Granada Cathedral

Unlike most cathedrals in Spain, construction of Granada Cathedral was not begun until the sixteenth century, after acquisition of the Nasrid kingdom of Granada from its Muslim rulers in 1492. While its earliest plans had Gothic designs, such as are evident in the Royal Chapel of Granada by Enrique Egas, most of the church"s construction occurred when the Spanish Renaissance style was supplanting the Gothic in Spanis ...
Founded: 1518 | Location: Granada, 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

Monastery of San Paio de Antealtares

King Alfonso II founded the Monastery of San Paio de Antealtares in the year 830. It fell into decay at the end of the 13th century, and in ruins, the Catholic Monarchs eliminated it and included it into S. Martín Pinario. In 1495, Gómez de Marzoa´s efforts to set up a college for poor students led to the monastery becoming Compostela´s first school and the origin of Galicia´s Renaissance University. The Order of ben ...
Founded: 1599 | Location: Santiago de Compostela, 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

Málaga Cathedral

The Cathedral of Málaga is in the Renaissance architectural tradition. The cathedral is located within the limits defined by a now missing portion of the medieval Moorish walls, the remains of which surround the nearby Alcazaba and the Castle of Gibralfaro. It was constructed between 1528 and 1782, following the plans drawn by Diego de Siloe in Renaissance style. The cathedral, built on a rectangular plan, is composed o ...
Founded: 1528 | Location: Málaga, Spain

Igrexa de San Xurxo

Igrexa de San Xurxo (Iglesia de San Jorge) was built in 1725-1767 in Baroque style. Here first same-sex marriage in Spain took place between Elisa and Marcela in 1901, which is the basis for the movie of the same name.
Founded: 1725 | Location: A Coruña, 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

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Charlottenburg Palace

Charlottenburg Palace is the largest palace in Berlin and the only surviving royal residence in the city dating back to the time of the Hohenzollern family. The original palace was commissioned by Sophie Charlotte, the wife of Friedrich III, Elector of Brandenburg in what was then the village of Lietzow. Originally named Lietzenburg, the palace was designed by Johann Arnold Nering in baroque style. The inauguration of the palace was celebrated on 11 July 1699, Frederick's 42nd birthday.

Friedrich crowned himself as King Friedrich I in Prussia in 1701 (Friedrich II, known as Frederick the Great, would later achieve the title King of Prussia). Two years previously, he had appointed Johann Friedrich von Eosander (also known as Eosander von Göthe) as the royal architect and sent him to study architectural developments in Italy and France, particularly the Palace of Versailles. On his return in 1702, Eosander began to extend the palace, starting with two side wings to enclose a large courtyard, and the main palace was extended on both sides. Sophie Charlotte died in 1705 and Friedrich named the palace and its estate Charlottenburg in her memory. In the following years, the Orangery was built on the west of the palace and the central area was extended with a large domed tower and a larger vestibule. On top of the dome is a wind vane in the form of a gilded statue representing Fortune designed by Andreas Heidt. The Orangery was originally used to overwinter rare plants. During the summer months, when over 500 orange, citrus and sour orange trees decorated the baroque garden, the Orangery regularly was the gorgeous scene of courtly festivities.

Inside the palace, was a room described as 'the eighth wonder of the world', the Amber Room, a room with its walls surfaced in decorative amber. It was designed by Andreas Schlüter and its construction by the Danish amber craftsman Gottfried Wolfram started in 1701. Friedrich Wilhelm I gave the Amber Room to Tsar Peter the Great as a present in 1716.

When Friedrich I died in 1713, he was succeeded by his son, Friedrich Wilhelm I whose building plans were less ambitious, although he did ensure that the building was properly maintained. Building was resumed after his son Friedrich II (Frederick the Great) came to the throne in 1740. During that year, stables for his personal guard regiment were completed to the south of the Orangery wing and work was started on the east wing. The building of the new wing was supervised by Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff, the Superintendent of all the Royal Palaces, who largely followed Eosander's design. The decoration of the exterior was relatively simple but the interior furnishings were lavish. The ground floor was intended for Frederick's wife Elisabeth Christine, who, preferring Schönhausen Palace, was only an occasional visitor. The decoration of the upper floor, which included the White Hall, the Banqueting Hall, the Throne Room and the Golden Gallery, was lavish and was designed mainly by Johann August Nahl. In 1747, a second apartment for the king was prepared in the distant eastern part of the wing. During this time, Sanssouci was being built at Potsdam and once this was completed Frederick was only an occasional visitor to Charlottenburg.

In 1786, Frederick was succeeded by his nephew Friedrich Wilhelm II who transformed five rooms on the ground floor of the east wing into his summer quarters and part of the upper floor into Winter Chambers, although he did not live long enough to use them. His son, Friedrich Wilhelm III came to the throne in 1797 and reigned with his wife, Queen Luise for 43 years. They spent much of this time living in the east wing of Charlottenburg. Their eldest son, Friedrich Wilhelm IV, who reigned from 1840 to 1861, lived in the upper storey of the central palace building. After Friedrich Wilhelm IV died, the only other royal resident of the palace was Friedrich III who reigned for 99 days in 1888.

The palace was badly damaged in 1943 during the Second World War. In 1951, the war-damaged Stadtschloss in East Berlin was demolished and, as the damage to Charlottenburg was at least as serious, it was feared that it would also be demolished. However, following the efforts of Margarete Kühn, the Director of the State Palaces and Gardens, it was rebuilt to its former condition, with gigantic modern ceiling paintings by Hann Trier.

The garden was designed in 1697 in baroque style by Simeon Godeau who had been influenced by André Le Nôtre, designer of the gardens at Versailles. Godeau's design consisted of geometric patterns, with avenues and moats, which separated the garden from its natural surroundings. Beyond the formal gardens was the Carp Pond. Towards the end of the 18th century, a less formal, more natural-looking garden design became fashionable. In 1787 the Royal Gardener Georg Steiner redesigned the garden in the English landscape style for Friedrich Wilhelm II, the work being directed by Peter Joseph Lenné. After the Second World War, the centre of the garden was restored to its previous baroque style.