Category Archives: Emblematic buildings

Alcázar de Toledo / Alcazar of Toledo

army museum square

The Alcazar of Toledo (Alcázar de Toledo) is an ancient stone-made fortification located uptown the Old City of Toledo, in Castile La Mancha region. The Alcazar is one of the icons of the city, which is visited for thousands of people every year.


About Toledo city

Toledo was the capital of Spain in the 16th century. Although, the history of the city began many centuries before, with the Celtic civilization.

Toledo has been habited by Romans, Goths, Muslims, Jewish and Christians. Currently, the city has around 80.000 inhabitants and is one of the main destinations for tourists who visit the centre of Spain.


The history of the Alcazar

alcazarThe Alcazar of Toledo was built initially in the third century A.D. by the Roman Empire. At first it was used as a palace, but some centuries later the building complex was restored by Alfonso VI, Alfonso XI and extended by King Carlos I of Spain and V of Germany in 1534, among others. The construction of the current building was ordered by King Carlos V in the 16th century, who got it built over the rests of the previous medieval castle.

The fortification has been modified and reconstructed many times and has been used for multiple purposes: A palace, a fortification, a King’s residence, a prison and a military headquarters, among others.

During the 20th century Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), the Alcazar of Toledo was occupied by the Nationalist Rebel Franco forces, and was attacked and destroyed by the Republican forces in the famous “Siege of the Alcázar”. After the civil war, the reconstruction of the building complex started in 1940.


The Army Museum (Museo del Ejército)

museo del ejercitoNowadays The Alcazar has an Army Museum inside. The people who enjoy seeing military museums will be able to discover the following areas: models, firearms, knives, uniforms, military orders and other documents.
The building also has a crypt and is the home of the Regional Library of Castile La Mancha.



More Popular places to visit in Toledo

What to visit in Toledo: Discover the most ancient and touristic places to see in Toledo, as the Old Town, the Cathedral (Catedral de Santa María de Toledo), the Synagogue (Sinagoga del Transito) or the The Greco Museum.

Castile la Mancha: Read here all our posts of this regions, including cities as Toledo or Cuenca.

Catedral de Burgos / The Burgos Cathedral


Burgos city has 180,000 inhabitants and is situated in the north of Spain. The Saint Mary Cathedral in Burgos, (Catedral de Santa María de Burgos), popularly known as The Burgos Cathedral is the most remarkable building in Burgos and one of most beautiful Gothic Cathedral in Spain, which has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1984.


History of the cathedral

fachada catedralThe colossal Burgos Cathedral was begun its construction in 1221 by the King Fernando III of Castilla, known as The Saint (1199-1252), and the Bishop of Burgos Don Mauricio and was finished its construction in 18th century. The current Cathedral was built on the site of a Romanesque church which had been demolished in order to build a temple bigger. In fact, the Cathedral has 3 naves, 19 interesting chapels, one of the best Gothic cloister in Spain which is dated in the 14th century and decorated with sculptures of the 13th and 14th centuries among other things.

As this cathedral has more than enough artworks to see in a visit, one option is to stroll along the streets bordering the Cathedral admiring its architecture. If visitors start their walk in Saint Mary square they can see the impressive main facade in Gothic style with its two outstanding towers which have 84 metres in height and were finished by Juan de Colonía (1410-1481), in the best Flamboyant Gothic style, the great stained glass rose window and its three gates. On the left, people can go upstairs to get Fernán González street in where they will find the fine Gothic Coronería or the Apostles gate. Continuing straight and turning on the right they can stare the Pellejería gate which was built in 1516 by Francisco de Colonía. Finally, taking Paloma street, walkers will arrive at the King Saint Fernando square where is the Gothic Sarmental gate built in the 13th century with the finest sculptures, it is really the more beautiful gate of the Cathedral and the original stained glass window on its facade; and turning on the right, strollers will see the Saint Mary square again. Do not leave without staring the Gothic Sarmental gate.


Visiting the cathedral of Burgos

retablo catedral burgosInside the Cathedral of Burgos, visitors can not miss out the unbelievable dome dates in the 16 century; in the central nave is the main altarpiece (16th century) which is considered to be one of the best altarpiece in Spain; the beautiful choir; the golden staircase from 16th century; the famous Papamoscas from 16th century (a strange figure doll on a clock that opens its mouth once a hour); the tomb of Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, known as El Cid Campeador (1044-1099) and his wife Jimena; the Flamboyant Gothic Condestable chapel which is a masterpiece by Simon de Colonia (1450-1511) from the 15th century and its stained glass window; the Saint Tecla chapel (18th century), and many more artworks.

People interested in attending Mass should go to the Saint Tecla chapel from 8,30 to 13,30 and 16 to 20, it will be closed for tourists.

The Cathedral is open for tourists from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. ( from 10 to 19). A ticket costs from 1,50 to 7 euros. Visitors must remember that Burgos Cathedral is an important point in the Way of Saint James’ pilgrims.

inside catedral burgosMoreover, before entering or after going out the Cathedral, tourists can enjoy the visit more if they take a look around the King Saint Fernando square to see the pilgrim statue and the noteworthy the Saint Mary arch which is opposite to the Cathedral and was one of the walls’ gates to enter the city in the medieval times. By the way, there are several cafes, restaurants, shops in this square.


Other interesting buildings to visit in Burgos, near the cathedral

The Saint Mary square is a starting point to get other interesting buildings in Burgos easily, for example, the Burgos Castle takes about 10 minutes on foot, it is the perfect place to take photographs and people can see the breathtaking view of the Cathedral and surroundings; the outstanding Saint Mary of the Huelgas Monastery (Monasterio de Santa María de las Huelgas) dated in the 12th century takes about 30 minutes on foot, tourists should not leave Burgos without visiting it.

Finally, Saint Nicholas church (Iglesia de San Nicolas) from the 15th century with an alabaster altarpiece worth a visit to 5 minutes from the square.



More places to visit in Spain

Castile and Leon: Read here the best places to visit in Castile and Leon, where is places Burgos.

The most popular monuments of Spain: Here you have a list with some of the most popular buildings to visit in Spain.

Top cities and destinations in Spain: What to see in Spain?  If you are thinking of visiting Spain but you don’t know exactly what are the best cities to see, this post is for you.

Torre Agbar / Agbar Tower (Barcelona)

torre agbar

Agbar Tower (Torre Agbar) is an omnipresent skyscraper located in Barcelona city. Although it was built recently, its colorful surface (above all at night), its unique shape and its visibility from many points of the city have favored its fame among citizens and visitors.

The skyscraper was designed by Jean Nouvel architect and was inaugurated in 2005. Jean Nouvel said that the design of the building was inspirited in Antoni Gaudi’ style, very popular in Barcelona.

agbarAgbar Tower has more than 30 levels and measures 145 metres in height, which means being the third higher building of the city. The skyscraper is placed at Diagonal Avenue number 211, in front of Catalan Glories Square (Plaza de las Glorias Catalanas).

To arrive at Agbar Tower you can go by metro Line 1 to Glories Metro Station. You can also go by tram, taking the Line T5 to La Farinera station or Line T4 to Ca l’Aranyó tram station.


Visiting Agbar Tower (Torre Agbar) in Barcelona

Agbar Tower has more than 50000 square metres of rooms. Inside the tower there is space for offices, an auditorium room and a luxury hotel.

Nowadays, Agbar Tower is considered as one of the main icons of Barcelona. It is recommended to visiting it at night, when the crystal-surface of the skyscraper is illuminated by a vast variety of colors, creating amazing dynamic images and animations.



Other popular places to visit in Barcelona

– Church of the Holy Family (La Sagrada Familia): It is a must for tourists that arrive in the Condal City see its outstanding architecture, design and sculptures.

– Las Ramblas Avenue: Las Ramblas goes from Catalonia Square to the seaport, and it has a lot of cafes, terraces, pubs and discotheques. In the end of the street, there is the Cristobal Colon statue, one of the icons of Barcelona.

– Columbus Monument (Monumento a Colón): One of the most famous statues of Barcelona city. It was built in 1888 for a Universal Exposition and it represents a statue of Christopher Columbus (Cristobal Colon) above a pillar, pointing with his right hand to the sea.

– La Barceloneta beach: In summer, you can sunbathe or swim in the beach of La Barceloneta, which is 5 minutes walking from Las Ramblas – Columbus Statue.

– Casa MilaPopularly known as La Pedrera, Casa Mila is a unique modernist building located at Paseo de Gracia. The building was designed by architect Antoni Gaudí and built between 1906 and 1912.

– The Güell Park: People who visit the beautiful Güell Park can enjoy strolling in its area, sitting down on its decorated benches or admiring its fantastic architecture and the perfection the artwork.

Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias / City of Arts and Sciences (Valencia)

valencia Arts and Sciences City

Located in Valencia, The City of Arts and Sciences (Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias) is a complex of futuristic buildings in where visitors can discover one of the greatest aquariums of Europe, a science and technology museum, cinemas, a theater and many more cultural zones. It also has leisure areas with gardens, lakes and restaurants.

map ciudad artes ciencias valenciaIt was designed by the famous architect Santiago Calatrava and finished in 2002. The budget was initially of 600 million euros, but at the end it cost four times more, which generated a lot of polemic among the population because of its high cost. However, nowadays most people agree on considering the City of Arts and Sciences as the more important touristic attraction of Valencia, and one of the places that tourists must see when visiting Spain.

To arrive at Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias you can take the bus (Lines 1, 13, 15 35, 47 and 95). Also you can go by metro (Line 5) to Ayora or Maritim Serreria Stations (15 minutes away on foot).


What to visit in City of Arts and Sciences?

The City of Arts and Sciences consists in a wide zone in the center of Valencia, near the sea and the Port of Valencia, in where are located the followings cultural and leisure buildings and structures:

hemisferic valencia– The Hemisferic (3-D IMAX cinema): Inside this impressive building, which is one of the main icons of the city, you will find the bigger cinema hall of Spain. Its exterior shape of its white structure surrounded by water represents a human eye.

– The Oceanográfic: The biggest aquarium of Europe with more than 10,000 square metres and which has around 45,000 living beings. It is composed by several separated zones in where are represented these environments: The Mediterranean sea, The tropical zones, Ocean Environments, Antarctic and Arctic, Islands and Humid regions. Moreover, it includes a dolphin area and a submarine restaurant.

– Museo de ciencias Príncipe Felipe (Sciences Museum): A science museum in where young and older people can discover the principles of the 21th century science and technology by touching and doing interactive experiments.

oceanografic valencia– Sophie Queen Arts Palace (Theater): The Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía has four big theater halls dedicated to classical music, opera and theater plays. It also includes an additional zone for expositions.

– The Agora (Square-Pavilion): A Pavilion for events, as concerts or similar activities.

– The Umbracle (gardens): A view point from where the people can observe the whole complex of buildings. The Umbracle include gardens and paths to walk and discover regional plants, statues and sculptures.

More places to visit in Valencia

The Turia Gardens: A public green park of more than 7,000 metres long with great variety of trees, plants ,flowers, herbs, grass, many fountains, several sports areas, some playgrounds, a lot of places to relax and rest, so on.

The Silk Market: A must for visitors who arrive in Valencia is the Silk Market (la Lonja de la Seda). It’s a masterwork of the 15th century declared a world Heritage site by UNESCO in 1996.

Read also our post with the best monuments and buildings to visit in Spain.

La Ciudadela de Jaca / The Jaca Citadel (The Pyrenees, Huesca)

ciudadela jaca

muralla ciudadela jacaLocated in Huesca province, Jaca is the biggest city of the Aragonese Pyrenees, and also the most touristic one. In Summer Jaca is always full of activity and people who want to camp nearby, make excursions through the valleys and mountains, or simply rest. In winter, Jaca is one of the capital cities of the sky in The Pyrenees.


The Jaca Citadel (La ciudadela de Jaca)

citadel jacaThe Citadel is the main icon of Jaca. Its pentagram-star shape and its location, in the center of the city has turned it in a clear distinctive of the region of La Jacetania.

Its constructions started in the last years of the 16th century, ordered by Felipe II to defend this strategical city against the French army. Once finished The Citadel the next century, it had never been damaged or attacked (only in 1809 was taken by France after the capitulation of the city because the lack of people to defend Jaca. Nevertheless the fortress was recovered five years later, in 1814).

citadel jaca 2The complex is formed by a fortification with a trench bordering its exterior walls and a drawbridge at its entrance. Inside its five pointed star walls there is a pentagonal construction, a church and a courtyard.

Currently you can visit exterior area of The Citadel for free (its highly recommended to visit it at night). You also can buy a ticket to have a guided visit of its interior. Inside the citadel there is also a military miniatures museum.

Other remarkable places to visit in Jaca city

The ice palace (Palacio de hielo): Jaca has two ice pavilions where people can do ice skating in its ice rinks all seasons of the year. Both pavilions are located together. The oldest one opened its gates in 1972; the newest one is an olimpic pabillion which was built in 2007 to improve and replace the older one.

view mountain from jaca– The pubs and restaurants area (Zona de restaurantes y bares): The restaurants and pubs zone of Jaca is located in the city centre, 4 minutes on foot from The Citadel. Thanks to the citizens and the visitors who come to Jaca to make excursions and enjoy the environment in Summer and ski in Winter, the zone is always full of activity.

– The surroundings of Jaca: Jaca is surrounded by many small towns, campings and mountains. Ideal for excursions!


More touristic destinations near Jaca

Ainsa: With almost 2300 inhabitants, nowadays Ainsa is a touristic village in where many people who enjoy being in nature can visit its old centre and its castle, try the gastronomy of the Pyrenees towns and observe its astonishing landscape.

ski pirineos aragonThe Pyrenees: In summer, many people camp in the Pyrenees for discovering its mountains, rivers and lakes, and for practicing sports in this environment. In winter, the Pyrenees ski stations are some of the most frequented places of Spain to ski (with Sierra Nevada at the south of the county).

The Pyrenees can be separated in five zones depending on what region are located: Aragon, Catalonia, Navarra, France and Andorra. The main sky stations of the Aragonese Pyrenees are these ones: Panticosa, Formigal, Candanchú, Cerler, Astún, Javalambre and Valderinares.

Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba / Mezquita-Catedral de Córdoba

mezquita cordoba 2

The Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba (La Mezquita de Córdoba) situated near the Guadalquivir river is one of the most remarkable and tourist places in Spain and in the world, and the most emblematic building in Córdoba city.  The Mosque of Cordoba is the symbol of the Andalusí art, one monument that remind us of the art and great power of the Caliphate of Cordoba during the 9th and 10th centuries.

The Mosque of Cordoba was declared a World Heritage site in 1984 by UNESCO.


History of the Great Mosque of Cordoba

The construction of the amazing Mosque in Andalusí style began in 786 on a Visigoth church (dating in the 6th century) destroyed by order of Abderraman I (Abd ar-Rahman) (born in 731 in Damascus and died in Córdoba in 788) who wanted a great Mosque in Córdoba. In fact, he had bought the Visigoth Saint Vicente the Martyr basilica in order to built the first Mosque aljama in Córdoba in the same place.

The Great Mosque aljama was built in different stages: Abderraman I who founded the dynasty Omeya (Umayyad) began the construction in 786; his son Hixem I (757-796) built the first minaret; Abderraman II (792-852) added eight rows; Abderraman III (891-961) constructed a new minaret in the 10th century; his son Alhaken II (915-976) added twelve naves and decorated the mihrab in the 10th century; the last construction was by Almanzor (Al-Mansur) (938-1002) who added eight naves at the end of 10th century.

mezquita cordobaThe great Mosque of Córdoba became the second largest Mosque in the world after the Mecca Mosque in Saudi Arabia until 16th century when was built the Blue Mosque in Istanbul (Turkey).

In 1236 Fernando III king of Castilla and León known as the Saint (1199-1252) conquered Cordoba, and the Great Mosque was converted into The Cathedral of Cordoba.

Unfortunately in 1523 inside the Great Mosque was begun to build the main chapel in Renaissance style, the transept and the choir of the cathedral until 17th century, and as a result part of the Great Mosque constructed by Abderraman II and Armanzor was demolished to built the current cathedral. Moreover, the minaret built by Abderraman III was cover by the new baroque bell tower which was constructed in the 16th century although it is said that the minaret is still underneath the Christian bell tower.

Therefore Charles I of Spain and V of Germany the Emperor (1500-1558) regretted having allowed the bishop of Cordoba to build inside the Great Mosque.


Visiting the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba

Nowadays, the Mosque- Cathedral of Cordoba has more than 800 granite, jasper and marble columns with double horseshoe arches, an beautiful orange tree courtyard, the incomparable miharb which is a masterpiece, the Chapel of Villaviciosa, other outstanding chapels, the beautiful choir, the bell tower and too beautiful artworks to see in only a visit.

In conclusion, the Mosque-Cathedral covers a quadrangular area of more than 23,000 m2 full the interesting artworks. Do not leave without visiting the Mosque of Cordoba.

In addition, People interested in night tour can visit the Mosque-Cathedal during the night because there are several guided visits in the evening and during the night. Although the visit takes place in groups about 80 people, it had better book the ticket in advance to avoid the wait and spend the free time strolling in its surroundings. It will be an unforgettable experience to know better this unique Mosque-Cathedral in Andalusí art.

The visit costs between 9 and 18 euros and it takes about one and a half hour the guided visit. By the way, visitors can enjoy the Mosque more if they border the building to admire its more the 15 doors in its facades.



More places to visit in Cordoba

Medina Azahara: Medina Azahara was a luxury wall city situated on a hill to 8 km away from Cordoba. It was begun its construction in 936 by Abderraman III and finished by his son Alhaken II with the finest decoration in Andalusi style.

Read also our recommendations about Granada and Seville and our list with the best cities and destinations of Spain.

Medina Azahara medieval palace (Cordoba)

medina azahara

Medina Azahara (Madinat al-Zahra) was a luxury wall city situated on a hill to 8 km away from Cordoba by Sierra Morena Mountain. It was begun its construction in 936 by Abderraman III and finished by his son Alhaken II with the finest decoration in Andalusí style.

Unfortunately the upmarket place, the royal castle, the mosque, gardens, fountains among other things were plundered during the wars in Al-Andalus in the 11th century.

However, important remains of the city can still be seen in the archaeological site. It is worth a visit. There are several buses to go to Medina Azahara, it costs about 9 euros. Another way is to take the buses with tourist guide it costs 20 euros. It is 8 km away from Córdoba.

It can take about 2 hours to arrive at the Medina Azahara on foot from the Mosque, and 14 minutes by bus.


More places to visit in Cordoba (Andalusia)

The Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba: Situated near the Guadalquivir river in Cordoba is one of the most remarkable and tourist places in Spain and in the world, and the most emblematic building in Córdoba city.

Read also our recommendations about Granada and Seville.

Catedral de Santa María y La Giralda / Santa Maria Cathedral and The Giralda (Seville)

catedral de sevilla

Santa Maria of the Sede Cathedral, Seville (Catedral de Santa María de la Sede in Sevilla)

Situated in the heart of Seville, catedral y giraldanear Guadaquivil river, the Gothic Santa María Cathedral in Seville is the largest Cathedral in Spain, and the largest Gothic Christian Cathedral in the world. In fact, the imposing Cathedral measures 116 metres in length and 76 metres in width, being together with the Zaragoza and the Toledo Cathedrals the three unique Gothic Cathedrals with five naves in Spain.

This outstanding cathedral sevilleCathedral was built between 1433 and 1519 on the site of the Great Mosque aljama demolished when the Almohad Mosque aljama (dating in 12th century) started being in ruins, but fortunately, the minaret (currently known as the Giralda), El Patio de los Naranjos (the Orange trees Courtyard), and the Puerta del Perdón (the Pardon Door) were not demolished and have remained in the place for more than eight centuries.

Being one of the buildings more visited by tourists in Spain, the Cathedral has more than enough interesting thing to spend several hours seeing its 138 Gothic stained glass windows, its unbelievable sculptures, its beautiful paintings by Murillo, Zurbarán, Valdés, Goya and others. Moreover, visitors can see the tomb of Christopher Columbus. Its artworks can be stared inside and outside the Cathedral. Therefore, it is said that 99 per cent of tourists who arrive in Seville do not miss out on the Cathedral.

la giralda


The Giralda (La Giralda de Sevilla)

Next to cathedralgiralda seville is its bell tower, the world renowned Giralda with its 24 bells is one of the most remarkable towers in Seville, it measures 13,61 m in width and the same in length (square) and 94,70 metres in height without the Giraldillo (the statue on its top).

It was constructed in two stages:

– The first stage was between 1184 and 1198 of Almohad architecture and was the minaret of the Great Mosque aljama of Isbiliya until 1248 when the king Fernando III of Castilla (1199-1252) conquered Sevilla and the Great Mosque and its minaret were converted into The Cathedral of Sevilla.

– The second stage was added from the bells to the Giraldillo between 1557 and 1568.

Do not leave without going up the Giralda there is a breathtaking view of Guadalquivir river, Santa Cruz neighbourhood, Patio de los Naranjos and the city.

To add, the Cathedral and its bell tower the Giralda together with The Alcazar, and Archive of Indias were declared World of Heritage sites by UNESCO in 1987.



More places to visit in Seville

Plaza de España: Plaza de España is located in the middle of Maria Luisa Park, in the city center. The square has a fountain in the middle, rounded for a small lake and a building behind it that gives a traditional style to all the place.

Torre del Oro: This ancient tower is by the river, near to San Telmo Bridge. The first part of its structure was constructed in the 13th century when the Muslims lived in Andalusia, one century later it was improved and finished by Pedro I.

Plaza de toros de la Maestranza.

Metropol Parasol: Metropol Parasol is the official name of this construction placed in Plaza de la Encarnación, near the city centre of Sevilla. Popularly, the structure is known as “Setas de la Encarnación” because of its similarity to a big-scale mushrooms.