UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Spain

Tower of Hercules

The Tower of Hercules (Torre de Hércules) is an ancient Roman lighthouse on a peninsula about 2.4 km from the centre of A Coruña. The structure is 55 metres (180 ft) tall and overlooks the North Atlantic coast of Spain. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2009. It is the second-tallest lighthouse in Spain. The tower is known to have existed by the 2nd century, built or perhaps rebuilt under Trajan, possibly ...
Founded: 2nd century AD | Location: A Coruña, Spain

El Escorial

The Royal Site of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, commonly known as El Escorial, is a historical residence of the King of Spain about 45 kilometres northwest of Madrid. It is one of the Spanish royal sites and has functioned as a monastery, basilica, royal palace, pantheon, library, museum, university and hospital. El Escorial comprises two architectural complexes of great historical and cultural significance: the royal ...
Founded: 1563 | Location: San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Spain

Alcalá de Henares University

Founded by Cardinal Jiménez de Cisneros in the early 16th century, Alcalá de Henares was the world"s first planned university city. It was the original model for the Civitas Dei (City of God), the ideal urban community which Spanish missionaries brought to the Americas. It also served as a model for universities in Europe and elsewhere. The property includes a magnificent complex of historic buildings, such as the ...
Founded: 1499 | Location: Alcalá de Henares, 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

Santa María del Naranco Church

The church of St Mary at Mount Naranco is a pre-Romanesque Asturian building on the slope of Mount Naranco. Ramiro I of Asturias ordered it to be built as a royal palace, part of a larger complex that also incorporated the nearby church of San Miguel de Lillo, 100 meters away. The palace was completed in 842 and had in part a religious function, being consecrated in 848. Its character as a civil building changed in the 1 ...
Founded: 848 AD | Location: Oviedo, Spain

La Foncalada

La Foncalada is a fountain of potable water located outside the city walls of Oviedo; it was built by king Alfonso III of Asturias in the 9th century. This building remains the only surviving civil architectural item for public use of the Early Middle Ages. Its name was given after the inscription in Latin: fontem calatam written on it. Built in Pre-Romanesque style, it has been included with other Asturian Pre-Romanesque ...
Founded: 9th century AD | Location: Oviedo, Spain

San Julian de los Prados Church

San Julián de los Prados, also known as Santullano, is a Pre-Ramirense church from the beginning of the 9th century in Oviedo, the capital city of the Principality of Asturias, Spain. It is one of the greatest works of Asturian art and was declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1998. The church"s construction was ordered by Alfonso II of Asturias and it was built by the court architect Tioda c. 830. It is d ...
Founded: c. 830 AD | Location: Oviedo, Spain

San Miguel de Lillo Church

St. Michael of Lillo is a Roman Catholic church built on the Naranco mount, near the Church of Santa María del Naranco. It was completed in 842 and it was consecrated by Ramiro I of Asturias and his wife Paterna in the year 848. It was originally dedicated to St. Mary until this worship passed to the nearby palace in the 12th century, leaving this church dedicated to Saint Michael. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Sit ...
Founded: 842 AD | Location: Oviedo, 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

Santa Cristina de Lena Church

St Christine of Lena is an Asturian pre-Romanesque church located in the Lena municipality, on an old Roman road that joined the lands of the plateau with Asturias. The church has a different ground plan to Pre-Romanesque"s traditional basilica. It is a single rectangular space with a barrel vault, with four adjoining structures located in the centre of each facade. The first of these annexes is the typical Asturian ...
Founded: 852 AD | Location: Lena, 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

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Veste Coburg

The Veste Coburg is one of Germany's largest castles. The hill on which the fortress stands was inhabited from the Neolithic to the early Middle Ages according to the results of excavations. The first documentary mention of Coburg occurs in 1056, in a gift by Richeza of Lotharingia. Richeza gave her properties to Anno II, Archbishop of Cologne, to allow the creation of Saalfeld Abbey in 1071. In 1075, a chapel dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul is mentioned on the fortified Coberg. This document also refers to a Vogt named Gerhart, implying that the local possessions of the Saalfeld Benedictines were administered from the hill.

A document signed by Pope Honorius II in 1206 refers to a mons coburg, a hill settlement. In the 13th century, the hill overlooked the town of Trufalistat (Coburg's predecessor) and the important trade route from Nuremberg via Erfurt to Leipzig. A document dated from 1225 uses the term schloss (palace) for the first time. At the time, the town was controlled by the Dukes of Merania. They were followed in 1248 by the Counts of Henneberg who ruled Coburg until 1353, save for a period from 1292-1312, when the House of Ascania was in charge.

In 1353, Coburg fell to Friedrich, Markgraf von Meißen of the House of Wettin. His successor, Friedrich der Streitbare was awarded the status of Elector of Saxony in 1423. As a result of the Hussite Wars the fortifications of the Veste were expanded in 1430.

Early modern times through Thirty Years' War

In 1485, in the Partition of Leipzig, Veste Coburg fell to the Ernestine branch of the family. A year later, Elector Friedrich der Weise and Johann der Beständige took over the rule of Coburg. Johann used the Veste as a residence from 1499. In 1506/07, Lucas Cranach the Elder lived and worked in the Veste. From April to October 1530, during the Diet of Augsburg, Martin Luther sought protection at the Veste, as he was under an Imperial ban at the time. Whilst he stayed at the fortress, Luther continued with his work translating the Bible into German. In 1547, Johann Ernst moved the residence of the ducal family to a more convenient and fashionable location, Ehrenburg Palace in the town centre of Coburg. The Veste now only served as a fortification.

In the further splitting of the Ernestine line, Coburg became the seat of the Herzogtum von Sachsen-Coburg, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg. The first duke was Johann Casimir (1564-1633), who modernized the fortifications. In 1632, the fortress was unsuccessfully besieged by Imperial and Bavarian forces commanded by Albrecht von Wallenstein for seven days during the Thirty Years' War. Its defence was commanded by Georg Christoph von Taupadel. On 17 March 1635, after a renewed siege of five months' duration, the Veste was handed over to the Imperials under Guillaume de Lamboy.

17th through 19th centuries

From 1638-72, Coburg and the Veste were part of the Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg. In 1672, they passed to the Dukes of Saxe-Gotha and in 1735 it was joined to the Duchy of Saxe-Saalfeld. Following the introduction of Primogeniture by Duke Franz Josias (1697-1764), Coburg went by way of Ernst Friedrich (1724-1800) to Franz (1750-1806), noted art collector, and to Duke Ernst III (1784-1844), who remodeled the castle.

In 1826, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was created and Ernst now styled himself 'Ernst I'. Military use of the Veste had ceased by 1700 and outer fortifications had been demolished in 1803-38. From 1838-60, Ernst had the run-down fortress converted into a Gothic revival residence. In 1860, use of the Zeughaus as a prison (since 1782) was discontinued. Through a successful policy of political marriages, the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha established links with several of the major European dynasties, including that of the United Kingdom.

20th century

The dynasty ended with the reign of Herzog Carl Eduard (1884-1954), also known as Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a grandson of Queen Victoria, who until 1919 also was the 2nd Duke of Albany in the United Kingdom. Under his rule, many changes made to the Veste in the 19th century were reversed under architect Bodo Ebhardt, with the aim of restoring a more authentic medieval look. Along with the other ruling princes of Germany, Carl Eduard was deposed in the revolution of 1918-1919. After Carl Eduard abdicated in late 1918, the Veste came into possession of the state of Bavaria, but the former duke was allowed to live there until his death. The works of art collected by the family were gifted to the Coburger Landesstiftung, a foundation, which today runs the museum.

In 1945, the Veste was seriously damaged by artillery fire in the final days of World War II. After 1946, renovation works were undertaken by the new owner, the Bayerische Verwaltung der staatlichen Schlösser, Gärten und Seen.

Today

The Veste is open to the public and today houses museums, including a collection art objects and paintings that belonged to the ducal family of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a large collection of arms and armor, significant examples of early modern coaches and sleighs, and important collections of prints, drawings and coins.