10 Best Famous Buildings In Spain - Updated 2024

| 4 min read

Located in the Iberian Peninsula, Spain is undoubtedly one of the most vibrant European countries in terms of historical and architectural legacy. From its delicious cuisine to its magnificent landscapes, Spain is equally lauded for its sublime and impressive architectural works that visitors from all over the world can marvel at. There are many reasons to visit Spain, but surely, one of the most distinctive is the rich architectural buildings that are mostly listed under the UNESCO World Heritage Site such as the notable La Sagrada Familia, Alhambra, and Mosque of Cordoba. Interested to learn more about the history of these grand masterpieces? Scroll down for a list of some of the best famous buildings in Spain.

1. Alhambra

Alhambra und Granada
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Carsten Volkwein used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Alhambra is no doubt one of the most sought-after attractions in southern Spain. Thanks to its rich historical legacy, this palace is protected by UNESCO. Initially built in 889 CE as a small fortress, it went through a complete renovation in the mid-13th century by the Emirate of Granada known as Nasrid emir Muhammad ben Al-Ahmar. It was when Alhambra was gloriously rebuilt and intricate details were added to its interior. The fortress was then converted to a royal palace by Yusuf I, Sultan of Granada in 1333, and later became the Royal Court of Ferdinand and Isabella.


Address: Calle Real de la Alhambra, s/n, 18009 Granada, Spain

Opening hours: 8:30am - 8pm (daily)

Price: 16 USD

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Did you know that the stucco decoration of the Alhambra is one of the most exquisite things in the Islamic world? Do you think this was manually sculpted? Or maybe it was done more intelligently, and this sophisticated design went through serial production. Be sure to check it out in person when you're here. There are so many beautiful details that require close attention, even inside the Nasrid Palaces. But, as seen in the video, even from afar, the Alhambra commands attention.

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At the Alhambra complex, you'll find several Nazarene slogans inscribed on the columns. One of them is in Arabic and translates to "There is no winner than Allah." It's written in Arabic and often interpreted erroneously from a war's point of view. However, the real meaning of this slogan is that it's Allah who will remain and everything else will disappear including the gorgeous complex of Alhambra. This structure is indeed a memorial that is made of transitory inspired by an eternity.

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Alhambra Alhambra Alhambra
Photos of Alhambra shared by Granada tour guide, Asier.

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Did you know that the Alhambra was built with the comfort of its inhabitants in mind, utilizing natural light, architectural orientation, and temperature? An interesting fact is that the rooms featured a central water fountain that pushed hot air upwards, accumulating it in the dome and expelling it out through the windows, creating a cooling effect. Additionally, the room's orientation ensured that direct sunlight never penetrated, significantly lowering the temperature.

Inside, you’ll notice that the decoration of the Alhambra is closely tied to the sultan himself, like the facade of Comares, where there isn't even room for an extra millimeter of decoration. It serves as the antechamber to the main palace for receiving ambassadors. One of the most important decorative elements of the Alhambra is the ceramic decoration with patterns made through tessellations. The shell or scallop is one of Alhambra's most common decorative motifs. It’s related to baptism and purification in Christianity and is a common element in venerated prayer niches and fountains in Islam. I like the decoration on the intrados (inner area) of the arches, and the Tree of Life is my favorite. 

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2. Burgos Cathedral

Burgos, Cathedral of Saint Mary of Burgos 079
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user JoJan used under CC BY 4.0

Another famous landmark that has attracted hordes of tourists in Spain is Burgos Cathedral or Cathedral of Saint Mary of Burgos situated in the historical downtown area of the city of Burgos. The cathedral was constructed in 1221 and incorporated a very distinct French Gothic architecture, but it went through massive renovations in the 15th and 16th centuries, whereby “Chapel of the Constable” and the dome of the transept were added. A subtle dash of Renaissance and Baroque elements were also incorporated into its architectural design.

Burgos Cathedral

Address: Plaza de Santa María, s/n, 09003 Burgos, Spain

Website: Burgos Cathedral

Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 8:30am - 12pm, 6:30pm - 8pm; Sun: 8:30am - 12pm, 6:30pm - 8:30pm

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3. Mosque of Cordoba (from USD 28.85)

If you’re traveling to Cordoba in Spain, then do visit Mosque of Cordoba, which is also a cathedral dedicated to Assumption of Mary. This beautiful amalgamation of mosque and cathedral represents the cultural and historical legacy in this part of Spain. Moorish culture once flourished and it was converted into a church during the years of Reconquista. The interior of this historical complex is breathtaking, think beautiful arches and color palettes. The building is another Spanish landmark protected by UNESCO World Heritage.

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Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba Guided Tour with Admission Ticket, Cordoba, Andalusia, Spain

Duration: 1hrs15 Min Duration

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4. Catedral-Basílica de Santa María de Mallorca (from USD 10.88)

famous buildings in spain | catedral-basílica de santa maría de mallorca

If you’re visiting the sublime city of Mallorca, then check out Catedral-Basilica de Santa Maria de Mallorca, also known as La Seu, tucked within the old city of Palma just between Royal Palace of La Almudaina and Episcopal Palace. This historical cathedral was built by the Crown of Aragon on a site that had previously been a Moorish mosque. The building is 121 meters (397 feet) long and is designed in a Catala Gothic style. It faces the gorgeous Parc de la Mar and the glistening Mediterranean sea.

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Palma: Cathedral of Mallorca Skip-the-Line Entry Ticket

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Spain Tour Guide

Asier Garmendia

Asier Garmendia

Hi! I’m Asier, welcome to Granada, the most wonderful and charming city in the world. I am a licensed tour guide, with a degree in Art History and specialized in the Alhambra. Let me show you as a local our traditions, food and heritage. The city of the Alhambra will not disappoint you !. Please don`t hesitate to contact me for private and flexible tours. My job is my passion!

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5. Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela (from USD 16.32)

famous buildings in spain | cathedral of santiago de compostela

Located in Galicia, Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is featured as one of the three well-known churches built over the tomb of Saint James the Great, an apostle of Jesus. The religious landmark has served as a place of pilgrimage on the Way of St. James since the early middle ages. Its architecture is styled in a refined Romanesque structure, and later, some elements of Gothic and Baroque elements were added.

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Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela

Photo of Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela shared by content creators from the United States, Mel & Tim.

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Santiago de Compostela Cathedral and Museum Guided Tour

Duration: 2.0 hour

330 reviews

6. Temple of Debod

Templo de Debod (3612937187)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Felipe Gabaldón used under CC BY 2.0

The magnificent Temple of Debod is a 2nd-century-old Egyptian temple built by the Meroe King Adijalamani, who dedicated this holy complex to the god, Amun and the goddess, Isis. The temple was gifted by the Egyptian government to Spain, who helped in the construction of the great Aswan Dam in Egypt. Currently, the temple stands beautifully at Parque del Oeste in the city of Madrid. The ancient complex is made up of gateways and a chapel which has been decorated with high reliefs.

Temple of Debod

Address: Calle de Ferraz, 1, 28008 Madrid, Spain

Website: Temple of Debod

Opening hours: Tue - Sun: 10am - 7pm (closed on Mon)

Price: Free

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7. Guggenheim Museum Bilbao (from USD 102.47)

famous buildings in spain | guggenheim museum bilbao

One of the many brainchildren of the Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao has been recognized as one of the most imperative works since 1980 in the world of architecture. This sublime masterpiece is one of the symbols of modern and contemporary architectural design. Tucked alongside the Nervion River, the museum is owned by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. It displays some of the great artwork of both Spanish and international artists and is featured as one of the largest museums in Spain.

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Bilbao: Guggenheim Museum Skip-the-Line Guided Tour

Duration: 2.0 hour

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8. Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar

Catedral-Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar (Front)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Kreepin Deth used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Another holy place in Spain where you can admire the sheer architectural beauty is the 17th-century cathedral, Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar, originally designed by architect Felipe Sánchez y Herrera. The cathedral was then re-designed by the royal architect Ventura Rodríguez, who designed the legendary pillar, Santa Capilla, located at the east end of the complex. He also added about 10 mini-domes around the main dome. The cathedral is also believed to be standing on a holy site, where Virgin Mary appeared to St. James the Apostle.

Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar

Address: Plaza del Pilar, s/n, 50003 Zaragoza, Spain

Website: Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar

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9. La Sagrada Familia (from USD 36.74)

la sagrada familia

One of the iconic buildings in Spain is hands down Basilica de la Sagrada Familia or Sagrada Familia which stands majestically in the Eixample district of Barcelona. Annually, this spectacular landmark attracts millions of visitors, and the reason is its grand architecture which was designed by architect Antoni Gaudi. Today, this Roman Catholic basilica is listed under the UNESCO World Heritage Site for its refined structures which is a combination of Gothic and curvilinear art nouveau forms. The basilica’s facades are very symbolic as they represent the apostles and Virgin Mary.

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La Sagrada Familia La Sagrada Familia

Photos of La Sagrada Familia shared by Barcelona tour guide, Perry.

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Barcelona: Sagrada Familia Entry Ticket with Audio Guide

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10. Catedral de Sevilla (from USD 164.0)

Among its many magnificent cathedrals, one of the most incredible is Catedral de Sevilla or Seville Cathedral dedicated to Saint Mary. This Roman Catholic cathedral is located in Seville and is featured under the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The church is known to be the fourth-largest church in the world and also the largest Gothic cathedral. Built between 1434 and 1517, this marvelous masterpiece consists of a mighty bell tower known as The Giralda, which still retains the original structure of a mosque’s minaret. There is also the monumental tomb of Christopher Columbus.

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Barrio de Santa Cruz & Seville Cathedral private guided tour

Duration: 2 hours 30 minutes

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Appreciate the views of some of the most famous buildings in Spain

From the north to the south, Spain offers avid travelers an eclectic range of some of the best architectural landmarks to visit. Whether you’re into the sublime work of the Moorish architecture or Gothic style, there are many iconic places to visit. Check out some of the famous buildings in Spain and enjoy the views.

Discover the history of the Royal Chapel of Granada

Contributed by Tour Guide, Asier Garmendia

Royal Chapel of Granada
Source: Asier Garmendia

The early-16th-century Royal Chapel of Granada boasts gorgeous Isabelline-style architecture. The chapel was designed by the RRCC in 1504 when Granada was meant to be the symbol of unification. Queen Isabella was a lover of the city, and she even gave her life for it. However, she died before the chapel’s construction was completed. The RRCC were buried in the Muslim Medina before the chapel’s completion.

Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
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Heyleena is a passionate travel writer who enjoys writing travel articles for people who seek to explore new places in a more conscious way. From travel guides to recommended vacation rentals, get...Read more

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