Beautiful and Interesting Places to visit in Spain. World Heritage Sites
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World Heritage Sites
Beautiful and Interesting Places to visit in Spain
World Heritage Sites

Alhambra, Generalife and Albayzín, Granada (1984, 1994) 21
Burgos Cathedral (1984)
Doñana National Park (1984, 2005)
Historic Centre of Cordoba (1984, 1994) 22
Monastery and Site of the Escurial, Madrid (1984)
Works of Antoni Gaudí (1984, 2005) 23
Altamira Cave (1985)
Monuments of Oviedo and the Kingdom of the Asturias (1985, 1998) 24
Old Town of Ávila with its Extra-Muros Churches (1985)
Old Town of Segovia and its Aqueduct (1985)
Santiago de Compostela (Old Town) (1985)
Garajonay National Park (1986)
Historic City of Toledo (1986)
Mudejar Architecture of Aragon (1986, 2001) 25
Old Town of Cáceres (1986)
Cathedral, Alcázar and Archivo de Indias in Seville (1987)
Old City of Salamanca (1988)
Poblet Monastery (1991)
Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida (1993)
Route of Santiago de Compostela (1993)
Royal Monastery of Santa María de Guadalupe (1993)
Historic Walled Town of Cuenca (1996)
La Lonja de la Seda de Valencia (1996)
Las Médulas (1997)
Palau de la Música Catalana and Hospital de Sant Pau, Barcelona (1997)
Pyrénées - Mont Perdu (1997, 1999) *
San Millán Yuso and Suso Monasteries (1997)
Rock Art of the Mediterranean Basin on the Iberian Peninsula (1998)
University and Historic Precinct of Alcalá de Henares (1998)
Ibiza, Biodiversity and Culture (1999)
San Cristóbal de La Laguna (1999)
Archaeological Ensemble of Tárraco (2000)
Archaeological Site of Atapuerca (2000)
Catalan Romanesque Churches of the Vall de Boí (2000)
Palmeral of Elche (2000)
Roman Walls of Lugo (2000)
Aranjuez Cultural Landscape (2001)
Renaissance Monumental Ensembles of Úbeda and Baeza (2003)
Vizcaya Bridge (2006)

Its historic centre is designated World Heritage. This city, which was a major centre of world power and culture under Moorish rule, is home to one of the Caliphate's most spectacular works of art: the Great Mosque.

Situated deep in Andalusian Autonomous Region, Cordoba is a compendium of history and modernity. This ancient city, which has been declared World Heritage Site, is a living legacy of the diverse cultures that settled in it throughout history.
Very few places in the world can boast of having been the capital of Hispania Ulterior under the Roman Empire, and the capital of the Umayyad Caliphate. Such splendour is palpable in the intellectual wealth of this centre of wisdom and knowledge, that has seen the birth of figures like Seneca, Averroes and Maimonides.
To take a stroll through the historic quarter of Cordoba is to discover a beautiful network of small streets, alleys, squares and whitewashed courtyards arranged around the Mosque-Cathedral, which reflects the importance of the city during medieval times and which is a real symbol of the capital.
Without disregarding its splendid past, Cordoba is definitely a modern city that has been able to adapt to the present day, offering the most modern infrastructures and services, as well as a large network of hotels.

Very well connected to the other Andalusian capitals, Cordoba also has the high speed train (AVE) and a very extensive railway network linking it to all the big cities, like Madrid and Seville. Once inside the city, a large network of buses and taxis enable visitors to reach any destination in a few minutes.
Cordoba is also synonymous with art, culture and leisure, thanks to a myriad of cultural events that are organised here throughout the year: Flamenco festivals, concerts, ballet and other activities that are complemented by a number of museums and an exciting nightlife.
Meanwhile, the province is home to important buildings of the Andalusian heritage, whose highest expression is the Medina Azahara, located on the outskirts of the city. But there is great spectacle also for nature lovers. The parks of Sierra de Cardeña in Los Pedroches and Montoro, the Hornachuelos Sierra and Sierras Subbéticas offer the possibility of practising all kinds of open-air sports, while at the same time enjoying the natural wealth of this province.
Art and Culture
Marked by the ancient splendour of the Caliphate of Cordoba
The historic quarter of Cordoba, declared a World Heritage Site, still preserves traces of the ancient splendour of the Caliphate of Cordoba, which made this city one of the most cultured and refined of medieval Europe.
Fun for the whole family
Cordoba has lots of green areas throughout the city, suitable for going for walks and for children to play. The Botanic Garden, situated on the right bank of the Guadalquivir River, is one of the most remarkable.
Congresses and Business
Modern facilities for trade fairs and conventions
Cordoba, a traditional melting pot of different cultures, stands today as an important business centre. For this purpose, the city offers the most modern facilities, which can host all kinds of trade fairs, conventions and forums, both national and international.
Food and Wine
An extensive variety of inland produce
The cobbled streets of the old quarter of Cordoba are filled with small shops selling quality craft products. Ornately carved silver, leather repoussé work and food produce are the most popular souvenirs of the city.
Sport and Nature
Nature Reserves of Great Environmental Value
Nature lovers, and fans of environmentally friendly sports will find protected areas of great value, such as the nature reserves of Sierra de Cardeña and Montoro, Sierra de Hornachuelos and Sierras Subbéticas.
A wide range of youth activities
Cordoba is a joyful and lively city, that connects easily with young people.

Name of the Inscribed Sector Historic Centre of Cordoba

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List 1984

Location and site Córdoba is situated on the Guadalquivir River, the Andalusian route leading to the Atlantic Ocean. It is close to the Sierra Morena mountains and the passes which allow access to the Meseta. A rich agricultural plain is located nearby.

Historical Function Politics and culture.

Administrative Status Chef-city of the province of Cordoba.

Foundation Before the Roman Conquest in 206 B.C., Córdoba was part of the Punic Empire of Spain.

Population 314000

Upon their arrival in Córdoba, the Romans erected solid foundations around the town. At the outset of the 1st millennium A.D., the city became the capital of Hispania Inferior (Baetica) and the Roman metropolis of Andalusia.
Following the Visigoth invasion of 572, Córdoba became part of the dependency of Toledo, which was capital of unified Spain.
Shortly after the invasion of the Moors in 711, the city was made capital of Muslim Spain. In 756, Abd-al-Rhaman, the last descendent of the Umayyads of Damascus, settled there and proclaimed himself to be its ruler. The Great Mosque, his masterpiece, is the most splendid monument of this Eastern civilisation in the territory of Spain.
In the 10th century, after acquiring the status of a caliphate, Córdoba experienced a glorious heyday. As the most populated city in the West, it rivalled the great capitals of Islam; within its limits are as many as 300 mosques.
In the 11th century, the caliphate became politically divided. The Almoravids and the Almohads, two dynasties of Berber origin, re-established peace during the 12th century.
In 1236, the expulsion of the Moors by Ferdinand III, combined with Córdoba's joining the Christian kingdom of Castile, led to a long decline. In the 15th century, under Charles-Quint, the Great Mosque, which had already been adapted to the new religion, was transformed into a cathedral.

Urban Morphology

The historic centre of Córdoba has conserved its medieval plan and the irregular layout of its narrow streets. The squares, promenades, ornamental lakes and magnificent gardens are integrated into the landscape of the city, which is constructed on the bank of a meandering section of the river. The Roman bridge, which has served vast regions over the course of its history, remains the anchor point of Córdoba.
Like its layout, Córdoba's domestic architecture reminds us of its Moorish period. In addition to the houses, which are built around patios enclosed by grillwork, are monuments which testify to the different periods in the city's history: Roman vestiges, Moorish minarets and the Moorish Almodovar Gate, the Jewish synagogue, and various Christian monuments, including the reconstructed Alcázar, the Calahorra Tower and numerous churches of Mudéjar and Gothic inspiration. The mosque-cathedral and the Roman bridge remain the principal landmarks of this historic landscape.

Inscription Criteria
Inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1984, the site of the Mosque of Córboba was extended in 1994 to include the historic centre of the city in accordance with the same criteria. It is a unique artistic achievement due to the scale and boldness of its interior elevation. (I) Córdoba exerted a considerable influence on western Muslim art from the 13th century and on the development of 'Neo-Moorish' styles in the 19th century. (II) It constitutes an irreplaceable testimony to the civilisation of the caliphate of Córdoba (III) and is one of the exemplary types of Islamic religious architecture. (IV)
Spain's World Heritage Cities - And Their Paradors
There are certain cities and places in the world that are so special, so emblematic of a particular kind of cultural wealth and uniqueness - that they have been declared as part of the 'Heritage of Mankind' by UNESCO. These places contain an "invaluable and irreplaceable heritage of not only each country, but of Mankind as a whole."
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Spain is the world's nation with the second most designated World Heritage Sites. In order to receive this privileged designation, a site must form a unique artistic achievement, have influenced a specific period in history or constitute an exceptional testimony to a culture no longer in existence. These are just some of the requisites.  Spain's cultural inheritance is incalculable, for its tradition, history, wealth and diversity. This is backed up by UNESCO's recognition and by the fact that Spain is one of the countries with most World Heritage Sites. The approval of this international body is a privilege because it implies that these sites are a reference point, the best example of the world's cultural diversity. However, it also requires a deep commitment: to guarantee their protection and conservation for the enjoyment of future generations.
If Spain appeals to you as a cultural destination, then exploring its World Heritage Cities is the best option. You can experience their cultural wealth from close to, given that many historic buildings have been restored and are now used for a range of different functions: exhibition centres and craft sales centres, art galleries, markets, and first-rate accommodation such as the luxury "Parador" hotels. You will find that they are also dynamic cities, full of life. The majority of them are home to universities, and their student populations imbue them with a special atmosphere and vitality.


These places are jewels of immense cultural value for a variety of reasons. Cities like Cordoba, Toledo and Salamanca reflect Spain's urban history, displaying the transformations and influences they have undergone over the ages. An important element is the way the urban landscape is integrated into its natural surroundings: rivers, mountains and narrow passes are part of the personality of cities such as Segovia, Cuenca and Toledo. Not forgetting, of course, the fact that these cities also possess some of the world's most important monuments: the Great Mosque of Cordoba, the city walls of Ávila and the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela are just three examples.
Spain's World Heritage Cities come together to offer the chance to discover an outstanding, heterogeneous and extremely valuable universal heritage. Each one of these cities stands out for one particular element or characteristic, but they all have much, much more to offer. Whichever you choose to visit, you will be pleased with result:


This old city and its Roman aqueduct have also received the prestigious UNESCO designation. The aqueduct, especially, is a marvel of engineering. It is built using only blocks of stone, without mortar, held together simply by a perfect, ingenious balance of forces.
Medieval cities were like this. Its city wall is the best conserved in Europe. The old town and the churches to be found outside the walls are on the World Heritage list.

Spain's World Heritage Cities - And Their Paradors
There are certain cities and places in the world that are so special, so emblematic of a particular kind of cultural wealth and uniqueness - that they have been declared as part of the 'Heritage of Mankind' by UNESCO. These places contain an "invaluable and irreplaceable heritage of not only each country, but of Mankind as a whole."

Spain holds an esteemed position in this regard - as it possesses one of the longest lists of these World Heritage sites of any of the world's countries. This list (and the names roll sweet off the tongue - for these are truly special places) include the cities of; Avila, Caceres, Cordoba, Cuenca, Salamanca, Santiago de Compostela, Segovia, and Toledo.

By visiting any of these extraordinary cities, travelers will be immersing themselves in the culture, art, and traditions of ancient peoples and civilizations which continue to flourish today.

Each of these World Hertage Cities contains one of the Spanish Parador system's fine hotels. These hotels take unusual pride in participating in, and promoting the unique cultural heritage and traditions of these cities. You'll find no better place to stay during your visit.

Avila -

This is perhaps the the most 'Castillian of the cities in this heartland area of Spain - Castilla Y Leon. It is located at the highest altitude of any Spanish capital (and so experiences very cold winters), and also completely surrounded by splendid and perfectly preserved 11th century stone walls. For these reasons perhaps, Avila has an introspective nature, somewhat reserved, somber and medieval.

Two of Spain's, and Catholicism's, most famous saints made Avila their home; Santa Teresa (a 16th century mystic nun), and Saint John of the Cross. Avila has many monasteries, convents, and churches - as well as a grand cathedral - and these maintain a feeling of piety and peacefulness that has been many centuries in the making.

The Parador Avila (official name is Parador Raimundo De Borgoñas) presents a wonderful opportunity to literally walk in the footsteps of history. There still stands an ancient mulberry tree in the gardens of the Avila Parador that was climbed by Saint Teresa when she was a child! This building was a palace known as Piedras Albas in the 16th century. The Parador has floors of solid granite, beautiful decorative elements throughout, antique Castillian furniture in the public rooms, and very pleasant and spacious bedrooms decorated in a rustic style.

Visiting Avila and staying at the wonderful Parador of Avila there gives the traveler a great chance to feel an older era - to get a sense of what a major city in Castillian Spain was like during those ancient times.

Caceres -

This incredibly well preserved "city of stone" got its name during the Moorish control wehn it was know as the place of many citadels - "alcazares" in Arabic. This city is a jewel of medieval stone architecture. It has one of the most complete and well-preserved Medieval and Renaissance quarters in the world. The Romans founded the city in the 1st century B.C. as Norba Caesarina. The old part of Caceres is encircled by an ancient stone wall. This old section of the city - the "barrio antiguo" - is definitely for walking. A car would only inhibit your explorations.

This is the area of Spain perhaps most reminiscent of the era of the conquistadores and the Golden Age of Spain. Stay for awhile - experience the history and ambience of one of Spain's finest cities and most interesting hotels.

And there is no better place to stay than the Parador de Caceres. This Parador incorporates the extended area of a former palace, and four ancestral mansions; the Palace of Torreorgaz, and the Casas de Ovando, Mogollon, Pareo y Paredes. It contains labyrinthine passages, quaint 'hidden' courtyards, and patios. The Palaces were originally Gothic in architectural style. The Caceres Parador is located on a very quiet street and provides the traveler with modern accommodations that still blend harmoniously with the medieval city beyond its walls.

Cordoba -

This city, along with Granada and Sevilla, embodies the haunting spirit and mystery of the epoch of the Caliphs and the enlightened rule of the Moors which lasted for many centuries. The Mezquita mosque is one of the modern architectural wonders of the world. Only one descriptive word does it justice - "awesome."

Cordoba is more than 2,000 years old - having been founded in the earliest times of Roman rule. The old quarter here is a wonder of winding, white-washed lanes justifiably famous for their many beautifully decorated patios.

Cordoba is Andalucia at it best, and the best place to stay is the wonderful Parador De La Arruzafa which sits in the cooler foothills just outside of, and looking back down over the city.

The Pardor has a distinct feeling of 'freshness' and 'well-being' that is enhanced by the swimming pool and the surrounding grounds featuring a garden known as 'Los Naranjos' ('The Orange Trees'), where the first palm trees planted in Europe are found. The inner rooms are elegant and very bright, with large living rooms and spacious bedrooms.

Cuenca -

This is the city of the famous "hanging houses." These are buildings (originally constructed in the 16th century) that literally cling to the edge of the Huecar river canyon walls - as if ready to take flight out across the river far below.

Cueca is a city of the arts. There are three fascinating art museums here - one of which is installed in one of the famous "hanging houses." Cuenca has an amiable feel. Night time strolling through the city's old quarter - the so-called "high quarter" (as opposed to the commercial and newer "low quarter") - has a special appeal - as does hiking along the river below the city and gazing back up at the soaring, venerable "skyscrapers" of Cuenca.

The elegant Parador Cuenca is a converted 16th century convent, San Pablo. The Parador is spectacularly located on its own 'mesa' rising up from the middle of the Huecar gorge. Many of the rooms have breathtaking direct views across to the famous "hanging houses." Just a few yards from the Parador, there is a pedestrian only, walking bridge that spans the gorge and crosses over to the center of the old quarter across teh canyon gorge.

Frescos and ornate plasterwork are everywhere, and a soothing garden now fills the original cloister. This 4 star hotel assures a remarkable experience, and is, by far, the best choice for lodging while visiting Cuenca.
Salamanca -

Salamanca is a visually luscious city. Ever changing hues of color - golden, honey and copper - reflect off the sandstone walls of the scores monumental structures made of the native stone. The Plaza Mayor, the Casa de las Conchas (house of conch shells), and the Plaza de Anaya - among many others - all gather and return the wondrous play of light in this splendid city.

Salamanca is an amber gem. The congruency and perfect "fit" of its stone architecture creates a beauty unsurpassed in any other city in Spain. The Plaza Mayor here is perhaps the grandest in all of Spain. It is the heart - from which the evening paseo radiates out in to the vibrant streets that surround it.

There is a wonderful mix here of the old, and the new - the profound magic of its ancient and proud history counterbalanced by the vitality of the thousands of students that are enrolled at its two great universities.

Staying at the wonderful Parador of Salamanca while visiting this World Heritage City will assure a memorable stay. This classy Parador sits just across the river form the old quarter, and has unmatched views back to the Cathedrals and other monuments.

Santiago de Compostela -

This wondrous city, and its cathedral were at one time the main pilgrimage destination of Europe. Through the centuries, millions of the faithful have faced tremendous hardship to make the long trek here - just to worship in the great Gothic Cathedral that is said to contain the bones of Saint James.

This city is the heart and soul of Galicia. It's streets take the traveler on an altogether pleasant meander back through time. The city is at once venerable and dynamic. The Plaza Obradoiro is spectacularly grand, and the place to begin your wanderings of this most fascinating city.

The Parador Santiago De Compostela (official name is Parador Hostal Dos Reis Catolicos) is one of the world's finest hotels - and its oldest! This building has been operating as a hostelery since 1499. The building was originally dedicated as a hostelry and hospital for pilgrims. It became a place for weary pilgrims to sleep and get medical attention after their long ordeal of traversing the Camino de Santiago - The Way of St. James - also called "The Route of Forgiveness."

The Parador Santiago has all the fine touches and attention to detail that distinguish world-class hotels. Your quarters will have marble bathrooms, and heated towel racks add to the elegant feel. The public areas of the hotel include four cloisters of immense beauty and a dining room that can be described in no other way than regal. The 'signature' of the building is the intricate Plateresque entry which was added in 1678.


Segovia -

This city has been a melting pot, and retains some of each of the cultures that have contributed to its present form. Legend has it that the city was founded by Hercules - originally named "Briga." The Romans came over 2000 years ago. It is said they adopted the strong, fast horses used by those original descendants of Hercules, and used them in conquering most of the rest of Europe. The Visigoths and Moors followed the Roman occupation - then came the Christian re-conquest. They've all left their marks and helped create a fascinating city in a stunning setting.

Segovia is one of the most interesting and visually pleasing of cities for the visitor. Standing and gazing out from its world-renown castle, one is transported as if to some vaguely-recalled fairytale. Everything about Segovia is mesmerizing and photogenic.

The fine Parador of Segovia is the perfect place to stay for visitors while they are discovering the enchantments of this historically fascinating area of Spain. The Parador building is set on a high hill just outside the city, and has tremendous views back down to the old city below, as well as across to the mountains of the Sierra de Guadarrama - appearing to be so close you could seemingly reach out and touch their snowy peaks.

Toledo -

This is a city of great beauty and harmony. Toledo - the Imperial city - was once the capital of Spain. For many, Toledo mesmerizes - it exudes a strangely powerful attraction - dark, claustrophobic and profound. It was the seat of the Spanish Inquisition, the home of the brilliantly disturbed El Greco, and the scene of both vicious and heroic events during the Spanish civil war.

Dignified Toledo is full of splendor and endless surprises for the traveler. It is architecturally and culturally fascinating like few other cities could be. To gaze at Toledo from afar, is to be beguiled and astonished.

For sheer number of important sites for the visitor to visit, Toledo has perhaps no other rival in Spain.

The Parador of Toledo (official name is Parador Conde De Orgaz) is set on a remarkable site, the "Hill of the Emperor," that has unmatched views out over the city below. From the Parador's terrace restaurant and from many of the rooms, there can be had a panoramic view of the city spread out below. One can see how the grand old city of Toledo is like an island - almost completely encircled by the Tajo river. This has restricted its growth, and for this reason, there is a high concentration of fascinating, centuries-old buildings all within walking distance of one another.

The Toledo Parador building was originally built by the Count of Toledo in the 14th century and is completely Toledan in character. The restaurant serves as a school for the chefs of the other Paradors, and the meals are nothing short of spectacular. The official name of the Toledo Parador is the "Parador Conde de Orgaz" comes from the famous painting by El Greco - an adopted son of Toledo - titled "The Burial of the Count of Orgaz."

Many travelers make it a point to visit all the these captivating cities during one grand tour around Spain. Few travel itineraries inside one single country - could possibly match it. Whether you can "do them all," or are able to visit only a few of them - you will be richly rewarded.

Spain's grand World heritage Cities have an ever-lasting allure for travelers, and especially for lovers of Spanish culture. The Paradors as well attract a devoted group of aficionados who would never think of staying anywhere else while traveling through this most historically and culturally fascinating land.