UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Spain

San Vicente Basilica

Outside the city walls, the Basilica of San Vicente was built in Caleno granite in a way that was greatly conditioned by the lie of the land and in the place where tradition situates the martyrdom and burial of Vincent, Sabina and Cristeta. It is the prime model of the Romanesque style in Ávila and its measured proportions make it a unique example of the Hispanic Romanesque style. With its outside influences and the infl ...
Founded: c. 1120 | Location: Ávila, Spain

Royal Palace of Aranjuez

Palacio Real de Aranjuez is a former Spanish royal residence. It was established around the time Philip II of Spain moved the capital from Toledo to Madrid. Aranjuez became one of four seasonal seats of government, occupied during the springtime (from about holy week). Thereafter, the court moved successively to Rascafría, El Escorial and wintered in Madrid. Aranjuez Cultural Landscape is an UNESCO World Heritag ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Aranjuez, Spain

San Pedro Church

Residing over Plaza del Mercado Grande, San Pedro projection is similar to that of the Basilica of San Vicente. The monarchs swore their respect for the charters of Castile in the atrium of the church, which underlines its importance during the period in which the town achieved its greatest relevance in the world of politics. San Pedro has a Latin-cross layout with a central nave that is larger than the side naves. Its c ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Ávila, Spain

Medina Azahara

Medina Azahara ("the shining city") is the ruins of a vast, fortified Andalus palace-city built by Abd-ar-Rahman III (912–961), the first Umayyad Caliph of Córdoba. Located on the western outskirts of Córdoba, it was the de facto capital of al-Andalus as the heart of the administration and government was within its walls. In 2018, the site was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Built beginning in 936- ...
Founded: 936 AD | Location: Córdoba, Spain

Roman Walls of Lugo

Roman Walls of Lugo are an exceptional architectural, archaeological and constructive legacy of Roman engineering, dating from the 3rd and 4th centuries AD. The Walls are built of internal and external stone facings of slate with some granite, with a core filling of a conglomerate of slate slabs and worked stone pieces from Roman buildings, interlocked with lime mortar. Their total length of 2117 m in the shape of an obl ...
Founded: 3rd century AD | Location: Lugo, Spain

San Segundo Church

Situated on the banks of the River Adaja, San Segundo church was built in Caleno granite between 1130 and 1160. Before it was dedicated to St Segundo after the remains of the town's first Bishop were found in 1519, it had been dedicated to St Sebastian and St Lucia. The Bishop's remains were moved in 1615 with great pomp and ceremony to the chapel of St Segundo, which was built on to the apse of the Cathedral specifically ...
Founded: 1130-1160 | Location: Ávila, Spain

Royal Monastery of Santo Tomás

The Dominican Monastery of Santo Tomás was built under the patronage of Hernando Núñez de Arnalte (treasurer of the Catholic Monarchs), his wife, María Dávila, the Inquisitor Fray Tomás de Torquemada and the Catholic Monarchs. The work began in 1482 and was completed in 1493; however, at the Catholic Monarchs" initiative, a palace was built around the eastern cloister, together with the sepulchre of Prince Jua ...
Founded: 1482-1493 | Location: Ávila, Spain

San Martín Church

Built outside the walls to the north of the walled enclosure, San Martín Church has a Roman origin, as confirmed by the latest archaeological explorations. After the Roman building had been apparently ruined, it was rebuilt and radically transformed in the 16th century and at the beginning of the 18th century. In the 14th century, the tower was built on a base made of granite ashlar work and an upper body made of brick ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Ávila, Spain

Convento de San José

The Convento de San José is a monastery of Discalced Carmelite nuns in Ávila. It is situated not far from the center of the city but outside the medieval walls. Saint Teresa of Jesus was the driving force behind the foundation of the monastery, which was built from 1562 onwards. The statue in the facade was commissioned by King Philip III of Spain via artist Giraldo de Merlo. In 25 August 1963, Pope Paul VI ...
Founded: 1562 | Location: Ávila, Spain

Antequera Dolmens Site

The Antequera Dolmens Site is a cultural heritage ensemble comprising three prehistorical monuments: the Dolmen of Menga, Dolmen of Viera and Tholos of El Romeral.  It was declared a World Heritage Site in 2016 together with two natural mountain features (the Peña de los Enamorados and El Torcal). Built during the Neolithic and the Bronze Age out of large stone blocks that form chambers and spaces with lintelled roofs ...
Founded: 3000 BCE | Location: Antequera, Spain

Santa María de la Cabeza

Built outside the walls to the north of the town, Santa María de la Cabeza was consecrated in 1210 and is the last example of the Romanesque style in Ávila. Its upper end was begun in Romanesque style and was followed by the construction of the naves in unquestionable Mudejar style. The three apses, which open into three naves, were built in granite on the outside and finished off with a small, plain cornice in Caleno g ...
Founded: 1210 | Location: Ávila, Spain

Las Médulas

Las Médulas is a historic gold mining site near the town of Ponferrada. It was the most important gold mine (and largest open pit gold mine) in the entire Roman Empire. Las Médulas Cultural Landscape is listed by the UNESCO as one of the World Heritage Sites. The spectacular landscape of Las Médulas resulted from the ruina montium (wrecking of the mountains), a Roman mining technique described by Pliny the ...
Founded: 0-100 AD | Location: Las Médulas, Spain

Monastery of La Encarnación

The Monastery of La Encarnación was founded inside the town's walls in 1478, and as a Carmelite convent it was moved to outside the town in the 16th century. The new monastery was built on land that had been acquired by the Council on what had previously been a Jewish cemetery. On 4 April 1515, the date on which the saint was baptised, the unfinished monastery was opened with four naves enclosing a central courtyard and ...
Founded: 1478 | Location: Ávila, Spain

San Andrés Church

San Andrés church was built in the quarter of Ajates (a suburb of mediaeval origin in which the main trade was masonry) in the second quarter of the 12th century. It was made in Caleno granite (very typical of the Romanesque style in the town) and is set according to liturgical criteria with an upper end with three apses that correspond to the three naves in the interior; it does not have a transept nave. The protruding ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Ávila, Spain

Cave of Altamira

The Cave of Altamira is located near the historic town of Santillana del Mar. It is renowned for prehistoric parietal cave art featuring charcoal drawings and polychrome paintings of contemporary local fauna and human hands. The earliest paintings were applied during the Upper Paleolithic, around 36,000 years ago. Because of their deep galleries, isolated from external climatic influences, these caves are particularly we ...
Founded: 36,000 BCE | Location: Santillana del Mar, Spain

San Nicolás Church

San Nicolás church stands in the suburb of the same name outside the walls, a medieval quarter inhabited by Christians and dedicated to agriculture and sheep farming. It also had a large number of Mudejar residents. It was built in Caleno granite in the late-Romanesque style of Ávila between the second half of the 12th century and the beginning of the 13th. The upper end and porches remain from the original construction ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Ávila, Spain

Archaeological Site of Atapuerca

The Archaeological Site of Atapuerca is located near the city of Burgos. The property contains a rich fossil record of the earliest human beings in Europe, from nearly one million years ago and extending into the Common Era. It constitutes an exceptional scientific reserve that provides priceless information about the appearance and way of life of these remote human ancestors. The Sierra de Atapuerca sites provide uniqu ...
Founded: 800000 BCE | Location: Atapuerca, Spain

Siega Verde

Siega Verde is an archaeological site in Serranillo, Villar de la Yegua. It was joined to the Côa Valley Paleolithic Art site in the World Heritage List in 2010. The site consists of a series of rock carvings, discovered in 1988 by professors Manuel Santoja, during an inventory campaign of archaeological sites in the valley of the Águeda river. Subjects include equids, aurochs, deer and goats, among the most com ...
Founded: 18000 BCE | Location: Villar de la Yegua, Spain

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Kisimul Castle

Dating from the 15th century, Kisimul is the only significant surviving medieval castle in the Outer Hebrides. It was the residence of the chief of the Macneils of Barra, who claimed descent from the legendary Niall of the Nine Hostages. Tradition tells of the Macneils settling in Barra in the 11th century, but it was only in 1427 that Gilleonan Macneil comes on record as the first lord. He probably built the castle that dominates the rocky islet, and in its shadow a crew house for his personal galley and crew. The sea coursed through Macneil veins, and a descendant, Ruari ‘the Turbulent’, was arrested for piracy of an English ship during King James VI’s reign in the later 16th century.

Heavy debts eventually forced the Macneil chiefs to sell Barra in 1838. However, a descendant, Robert Lister Macneil, the 45th Chief, repurchased the estate in 1937, and set about restoring his ancestral seat. It passed into Historic Scotland’s care in 2000.

The castle dates essentially from the 15th century. It takes the form of a three-storey tower house. This formed the residence of the clan chief. An associated curtain wall fringed the small rock on which the castle stood, and enclosed a small courtyard in which there are ancillary buildings. These comprised a feasting hall, a chapel, a tanist’s house and a watchman’s house. Most were restored in the 20th century, the tanist’s house serving as the family home of the Macneils. A well near the postern gate is fed with fresh water from an underground seam. Outside the curtain wall, beside the original landing-place, are the foundations of the crew house, where the sailors manning their chief’s galley had their quarters.