With landscapes that are green like Asturias, volcanic like Lanzarote, turquoise like Formentera and grey like Madrid, Spain is one of the most visited countries in the world. Hence, it makes sense that many Spanish monuments make it to the rankings of the most visited monuments in the world. For example, this is the case of the Sagrada Familia, a basilica that keeps making it into the top lists of the most visited places year after year. This is our map of the most visited monuments in Spain, a journey through the most emblematic spots in the country.
The Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família tops the charts and conquers all the recommendation lists: the Sagrada Familia is, without a doubt, the most visited monument in Spain. According to the Ministry of Tourism, only in 2019 this temple welcomed more than 4.5 million visitors.
The Sagrada Familia is the most famous creation of Catalan architect Gaudí. Despite being unfinished, it stands out among the buildings of Barcelona and it has become a symbol of the city. This peculiarity —that is, its being unfinished— adds to the unique nature of the basilica. At the end of the day, could you imagine the Sagrada Familia without construction works?
Actually, the Passion Façade and the Nativity Façade are finished, whereas the Glory Façade is not. There are also some unfinished towers. Although one usually finds cranes surrounding the basilica, admiring the exterior of the church is still a great experience. When it comes to its interior, one can visit it and even take a lift to one of its towers, which is 172 metres high. That makes the Sagrada Familia the tallest church in the world.
The next place on the list of the most visited monuments in Spain belongs to the Alhambra. In 2019, before the pandemic struck the world, the Alhambra welcomed more than 2760000 visitors. This jewel in Granada is a monumental complex made of palaces, towers, walls and gardens where kings and sultans lived between the 13th and the 16th centuries. In fact, it was the capital of the kingdom during the Nasrid dynasty. Visiting its interior means to travel back in time, since everything is incredibly well preserved.
Some of the most remarkable places in the Alhambra are the Gardens of the Generalife and the Nasrid Palaces, like the Mexuar, the Palace of Comares, the Palace of the Lions and the Palace of Partal. However, one must bear in mind that this place has a limited capacity, and thus it is important to book the visit well in advance.
In 2019, the City of Arts and Sciences complex welcomed more than 2.6 million visitors. This architectural and cultural complex was designed by engineers Santiago Calatrava and Félix Candela in 1998, and it has become the main attraction in Valencia.
Each building opens up a new world. The Hemisfèric was the first one they founded, and probably the most emblematic piece of architecture, offering IMAX, 3D, and Fulldome screenings. The Science Museum provides a series of interactive activities where families can play and learn together.
Moreover, one can enjoy marine ecosystems in the Oceanogràfic, or performing arts in the Palau de les Arts, while CaixaForum displays its cultural palette in the building called Ágora. Last but not least, the gardens of the Umbracle provide a green touch to the futuristic complex.
Those who travel to the south of Spain should definitely visit the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba, which welcomed up to two million visitors in 2019. Size is only one of its highlights, since it covers 23000 square metres, which makes it the third largest mosque in the world, only after Mecca and the Blue Mosque. The Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba, an important tourist attraction in Spain, was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
The Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba we know today was built in 786 over an old Visigothic temple, but it has gone through several changes throughout history. Later on, in the 16th century, the mosque became a Christian cathedral. Apart from admiring its famous Gothic nave, it is great to visit the Doors of Al Hakam II, the Door of El Perdón, the Patio de los Naranjos (“Courtyard of the Orange Trees”), and the Christian basilica.
In 2019, it was stated that the Alcázar of Seville welcomed no less than 1875000 visitors. There is no doubt that this building is one of the most visited monuments in Spain. Like other elements on this list, we are talking about an architectural complex that was built in different time periods. This allows us to enjoy Islamic, Mudejar and Gothic art between its walls. Moreover, this palace is still used as such, since the Alcázar of Seville hosts the Spanish royal family whenever they visit Seville.
There are many things to see when we visit the Royal Alcázars of Seville, and it is just delightful to spend hours calmly walking through it. Some of the most remarkable spots there are Puerta del León, Puerta de la Justicia, Patio de Yeso, Patio de la Montería, Cuarto del Almirante, and Casa de Contratación. Other must-sees include the Mudejar palace, the Gothic palace, Mercury’s Pond, the gardens, and Patio de Banderas.
The capital of Spain could not be left out of this list of the most visited monuments in Spain, considering Madrid is one of the most visited cities in the country. In 2019, the Royal Palace of Madrid welcomed 1.5 million visitors.
The Royal Palace was rebuilt in 1734 after a fire completely destroyed it. It encompasses 135000 square metres hosting 3500 rooms, 40 of which can be visited. These dimensions make the palace the largest royal residence of Western Europe, although nobody has actually lived there since the times of Alfonso XIII of Spain. Some of the rooms that stand out the most are Salón de Columnas, Cámara de Carlos III, Comedor de Gala, the Royal Chapel, Sala Stradivarius, the Crown Room and the Throne Room.
All in all, Spain is full of fascinating monuments to visit. In fact, we could keep adding new members to the list, like the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, the Alcázar of Segovia or the Burgos Cathedral. At the end of the day, Spain is one of the most visited countries in the world, and it shows.
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