From the Atlantic to the Mediterranean to everywhere in between, Musement takes a look at ten of the most beautiful cities in Spain.
Yes, Spain has plenty of charming villages, but the country also boasts some incredibly spectacular cities. In no particular order, here are ten of the most beautiful cities in Spain.
The Castilian city is best known for its aqueduct, a civil work built in Roman times that remains in an optimum state of conservation. Together with the old city of Segovia, the aqueduct was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1985. The old quarter consists of a charming network of pedestrian streets, and when you reach Plaza Mayor, you will find the other jewel of Segovia: its magnificent cathedral.
Just 43 miles from Madrid is an authentic city-museum, declared a World Heritage Site in 1986. Nicknamed the “City of the Three Cultures” because it was inhabited by Muslims, Christians, and Jews, Toledo’s legacy is a clear reflection of this cultural mix, which today can be appreciated by visiting its different neighborhoods. The Castilian city, surrounded by the Tagus River, was also the seat of the court of Charles V as well as the residence of El Greco in the 16th century.
Salamanca boasts the oldest university in Spain which also happens to be one of the oldest in Europe. For this reason, the city was received an international reputation as a cultural center and also served as a reference of the Castilian language. Nowadays, Salamanca is an open city with a lively university atmosphere, as students come from all over the country study there. The Casa de las Conchas, the Church of San Esteban and, of course, the Plaza Mayor stand out in the gorgeous old town.
Although there is no doubt that the city’s jewel is its cathedral-mosque, Cordoba conceals other treasures of its Andalusian legacy, such as the Azahara Medina on the city’s outskirts. The old town is characterized by beautiful whitewashed courtyards dating back from the Medieval era. As if this were not enough, the nature surrounding the Andalusian city, such as the Hornachuelos and Subbética mountain ranges, offers the possibility of enjoying wonderful landscapes just a stone’s throw away.
The music, gastronomy, and art of Seville all exude passion. Soak up its rich culture by mingling with the friendly locals, who we assure you are the best ambassadors of the Andalusian capital. Although it easy to get caught up in the nightlife which includes flamenco shows that you’ll remember for the rest of your life, don’t forget to take a day tour of Seville’s main attractions, such as the famous Giralda, the cathedral, the Plaza de España, and the Real Alcázare.
The majesty of Granada—in particular, the grand Alhambra–is world renown. The Moorish fortress, together with the city’s privileged location between two rivers at the foot of the Sierra Nevada make it a truly evocative destination, where the original mixture of Iberian and Arab cultures is the main attraction. Don’t miss the Generalife garden or the views of the Alhambra from the Albaicín.
The Spanish capital stands out for being the largest city in the country and, above all, for being an artistic center without equal. With the Prado Museum, the Thyssen-Bornemisza and the Reina Sofía, the so-called “Golden Triangle” houses a concentration of artwork like few others in the world. The visitor’s route must also include the Retiro Park, the Almudena Cathedral and the Plaza Mayor, as a minimum. Beyond its artistic wealth, Madrid is a welcoming, cheerful and an open city with a vibrant nightlife.
The combination of modernist architecture with Mediterranean life make Barcelona a destination to return to time and time again. Gaudí’s buildings, the Gothic Quarter, the Borne… just stroll aimlessly to soak up the essence of Barcelona. The strategic location also allows you to move easily to other points of great interest, such as the villages of the Costa Brava, the monastery of Montserrat, or the charming villages of the Catalan Pyrenees.
9. San Sebastian
San Sebastian has made a name for itself among the most beautiful Spanish cities, and not only thanks to the beautiful bay of La Concha. Donostia, less than 20 miles from the French border, is surrounded by bucolic landscapes. Its old town is known for Plaza de la Constitución, the Basilica of Santa María, the San Telmo Museum, and incredible gastronomy in which pintxos stand front and center.
10. Santiago de Compostela
The Galician capital is known all over the world for being the final destination of the Pilgrim’s Way to Santiago. Those who arrive here culminating their pilgrimage will find a city with a spectacular legacy, starting with the Plaza do Obradoiro, which houses the cathedral, the hostel of the Catholic Monarchs, the Pazo de Raxoi, the school of San Xerome and the Pazo de Xelmírez. UNESCO declared the city’s historic center a World Heritage site in 1985.