Have you ever wondered, what is Spain famous for? Well, so have we! Spain is famous for quite a bit, actually. This brief guide will touch on three things that makes Spain a place you certainly want to know about. At HolidayNomad.com, we like to provide you with information about all the many options for great vacation destinations and Spain is no exception. Please read on to discover some pretty awesome things about the country of Spain.
1. Spain is UNESCO’s Third Largest Heritage Country
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recognizes places of “outstanding universal value” as World Heritage sites. They are often places of historical importance that are either wonders of the natural world or stand as a testament to the architectural genius of humans. UNESCO offers technical support for the protection and conservation of these heritage sites and in doing so, recognizes them to be of importance to the entire world not just their country of origin.
Because Spain is uniquely placed between the continents of Europe and Africa, it has been shaped by a wide range of different artistic and cultural influences. Such influences are not only visible in many of its traditions, but can also be seen manifested physically in its many culturally and historically important sites. These cultural sites are what make Spain famous, and in the year 209, it received nearly 84 million tourists from around the world.
In fact, in terms of the number of sites which have “outstanding universal value”, Spain is UNESCO’s third largest heritage country. The interesting thing to note is that Spain is third only to Italy and China, both of which have just 7 more heritage sites. Spain is home to exactly 48 different heritage destinations out of which 15 are cities, 27 are cultural sites, 4 are natural sites, and the remaining 2 are considered “mixed sites”. The addition of all these places in Spain to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list is an acknowledgement of the widely recognized and appreciated Spanish culture, the popularity of which only continues to grow.
The cities or villages in Spain which are part of UNESCO’s World Heritage list include Cordoba, Granada, Santiago de Compostela, Segovia, Alcala de Henares, Toledo, Avila, Caceres, Ubeda, Salamanca, Cuenca, Baeza, San Cristobal de La Laguna, Tarragona, Lugo, and Ferrol. Although you might not have enough time to visit every single heritage site in Spain on a short tour, you should surely strive to visit at least few of the most important ones. To help you identify the places that you must not miss out on when visiting Spain, we have compiled a list of top 5 UNESCO’s World Heritage sites in Spain that you must not forget to visit.
Historic City of Cordoba
Cordoba is a greatly storied city, and requires no introduction. But for the purposes of this informational piece of article, we will be touching upon what makes this historic city a true UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The reason behind the great cultural significance of Cordoba is the influence of religion that it had been subjected to in the 8th century. This was the time of Moorish conquest which resulted in creation of some of the best Islamic architectural pieces. The great Mosque of Cordoba, which is a specimen of excellent artistic capabilities, is the primary reason why the city of Cordoba is part of UNESCO’s Heritage Sites list. But apart from that, the city of Cordoba was home to nearly 300 mosques and countless palaces.
Besides the splendid Islamic architecture the artistry of which could not be replicated till this day, the historic city of Cordoba also saw influences of Christianity. The prime example in this regards is the era of Ferdinand III the Saint which turned the Great Mosque into a cathedral and gave shape to structures of defense such as the Toree Fotaleza de la Calahorra.
Whether or not you are into Islamic art and architecture, the historic city of Cordoba is worth a visit as it will broaden your horizons about the extremely rich artistic culture that a religion is capable of. Just from an architectural standpoint, Cordoba is one of the most unique cities in the World and truly a city of global importance.
Works of Antoni Gaudi in Barcelona
The works of Antoni Gaudi makes up one expansive heritage site in Barcelona, the heart of Spain. Something that is not to be missed at all costs, works of Antoni Gaudi were some of the most defining architectural pieces of the 19th and 20th centuries.
The works of Antoni Gaudi in Barcelona consist of seven buildings altogether. They are located either in the city of Barcelona or in the outskirts of the city. These buildings include Parque Guell, Palacio Guell, Casa Mila, Casa Vicens, Casa Batllo, his work on the Nativity faced and Crypt of La Sagrada as well as the Crypt in Colonia Guell.
While visiting his works, you will feel transported to last 19th century as the work of Antoni Gaudi is astonishingly reflective of the character of that particular period. It draws inspiration from both conventional Catalan patriotism and the scientific and technological progress that defined that era. Added to all of this, you will find the deeply personal and intimate style of the artist himself who is regarded as one of the best Modernista architects.
The works of Antoni Gaudi are considered to have foreshadowed and influences the artistic techniques that shaped contemporary construction of the 20th century. Along the amalgamation of different artistic styles and values that it possesses, it’s because of this great influence that his works had on future artistic architectural structures that these seven buildings by Antoni Gaudi are considered as important UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Since all tourists who visit Spain, visit Barcelona regardless, you should keep an eye out for these fascinating artistic creations as they will give you an insight about what Spain used to be in the early 20th century.
Caliphate City of Medina Azahara
The Caliphate City of Medina Azahara was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites in the year 2018. Primarily an archaeological site, it was only discovered in the early 20th century CE and is presumed to be dating as far back as mid-10th century CE when it was first built a the political center of the Caliphate of Cordoba. Built by the Umayyad dynasty that ruled in the west, the Caliphate City of Medina Azahara is a sophisticated urban archaeological site which features specimen of many complicated buildings, ornaments, and objects used in daily life during the rule of the Umayyad Dynasty.
You must visit this place if you often wonder about the era of Muslim rule of the region. This Caliphate City is considered to be an important resource which provides unprecedented insight into the culture of the Islamic civilization of Al-Andalus.
Teide National Park
Located on Tenerife of Canary Islands, Teide National Park is frequented by visitors chasing the bright sun and brighter beaches as that is what the island of Tenerife is famous for. However, it’s not because of beaches that this national park was selected by UNESCO as one of the natural sites in Spain of universal importance. The reason behind the fame of Teide National Park is its incredible stratovolcano called the Teide-Pico Viejo which is also the highest peak anywhere in Spain.
Although this park or volcano is not beautiful in the traditional sense of the world, Teide-Pico Viejo is quite worthy of praise because of its geographical uniqueness. There are constantly new textures and tones created by the changing atmospheric conditions which add to the rugged beauty of the place. The clouds in the background of this third-tallest volcano of the world are almost as fascinating as this geological feature itself, and are often photographed by tourists who find themselves in awe of nature’s wonders.
If you are easily excited by natural beauty, then you must visit Teide National Park because it offers a diverse and unique set of geological features in a rather small area, making it all the more accessible and attractive.
Pyrenees – Mount Perdu
As one of the only three “mixed” heritage sites recognized by UNESCO in Spain, Pyrenees – Mount Perdu holds the medal of both natural and cultural significance. Located right between France and Spain, it boasts archetypal geological features including but not limited to deep canyons and wide cirque walls.
Mount Perdu itself rises to a magnificent height of 3,348 meters, and features a wide variety of beautiful geographical structures. These include lush green meadows, dense forests, caves, and lakes. There is so much that Mount Perdu has to offer not only in terms of these geographical features but also in terms of the flora and fauna that inhabit its slopes, that it is considered one of the most significant conserved Alpine areas in Europe. This pretty much explains why this place is considered an important natural site.
As far as its position as a cultural site is concerned, Mount Perdu is important because of a rare yet active transhumance system built around its villages. The villages of this cultural site are home to seven different communities which practice this rarely found transhumance system in Europe. Furthermore, the valleys that can be seen in the area today also stand as a testament to a historic transhumance system dating back to the Middle Ages which shaped the very landscape of the site itself.
If you are someone who is fascinated by the natural beauty of the world but also feel yourself gravitating towards nomadic way of living and its relation to the natural world, you must not miss out on Pyrenees – Mount Perdu.
Having reviewed just the top 5 UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Spain, you must now have some idea of why Spanish culture and history is so relevant to the world today. These heritage and natural sites have something unique to offer and something powerful to say about the past of the world, and this is for this reason that tourists flock to Spain each year. The 48 heritage sites that Spain is home to hold “universal value” and they are one of the many things that Spain is famous for.
2. Spain is a Diverse and Invigorating Place for Religious Tourism
Although we have covered quite a bit of what makes Spain so culturally important and famous, there is still a lot that needs to be said about Spain and its religious tourism. It’s part of the reason why Spain is so famous and why such a large number of tourists visit this country each year. From mosques to cathedrals to pilgrimages to festivals, Spain is hotspot for religious tourism as there is just so much to see and so much to do around this country.
Just to put things about the growing market of religious tourism into perspective, about 10% of all trips made by citizens of Spain have been motivated by some sort of religious fervor. This religious motivation is what leads nearly 17 million tourists to numerous pilgrimage spots around the country.
Spain is famous for religious tourism because of how heavily influenced it has been by different religions. Be it the western Umayyad Dynasty which left behind the splendid city of Medinca Azahara or the Great Mosque in the historic city of Cordoba, or the influence of Catholicism which can be seen in historic cities Toldeo and Cuenca, Spain is full to the brim with numerous buildings of religious importance.
According to some records, there are nearly 12,300 shrines and chapels in Spain today. The popular ones amongst them are those found in the historic cities of Toldeo, Santiago de Compostela and Burgos. Thanks to the outstanding architecture in the form of cathedral, all of these cities are also recognized by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites.
Apart from just buildings and sites visited by religious tourists, Spain also celebrates many religious festivals which are attractive for the people around the world. From Elche Mystery to Easter week, the religious celebrations in Spain are quite unique and engaging. A lot of these events have also been awarded the title of festivals of “International Tourist Interest” which only goes to show how popular they are amongst the many tourists who visit this country.
Therefore, Spain is also famous for being a diverse and uniquely invigorating place for teligious tourism.
3. Spain has More Than 8,000 Kilometers of Beaches
If the name of the country inspires images of long stretches of beaches and bright sunlight glistening every possible surface, then we must say that your imagination is quite realistic. Spain is famous for having a really long coastline which makes it an extremely attractive summer destination for those seeking a bright spot under the sun.
The fun fact here is that if you join together all the beaches of Spain, you will have for yourself a whopping 8,000 kilometers of pure, unadulterated sunlight and ocean. This is exactly what makes Spain so famous as a country where you should head to for some hearty time under the sun. So if you are planning to visit Spain as your summer vacation destination, then make sure you pack plenty of sunscreen to use.
The numerous beaches of the country are found along the coastline of mainland Spain as well as around Balearic Island and the Canary Islands. If the sun and beaches are your top two reasons for visiting Spain, then the perfect beach destinations for you include the island of Tenerife, the village of Majorca, the island of Ibiza, and the coastal city of Valencia. All of these cities have pristine beaches and beach resorts which will enable you to have the time of your life under the sun. Some of them even offer the breathtaking view of mountains and hills and combine all the natural beauty with vibrant nightlife. This means that you have all the benefits of a refreshing beach town as well as all the pleasures of an active city life.
Given the amazing views that the beaches and corresponding geological features of the country offer to its visitors, it’s no wonder that Spain is famous for its 8,000 kilometers of beautiful beach stretch.
In conclusion, Spain is one of the most outstanding countries in Europe. Its unique position between the two continents gives it many cultural influences while its geographical location allows it to retain a wide array of beautiful geological features. The rich history of the place and the complex influences that all the different conquests left behind make it home to a large number of sites which hold universal value. All of these things, when come together, give shape to a wonderful country the world has come to know as Spain. It’s bustling with life and joy, and has so much to offer that it’s difficult to summarize all the good things that Spain is famous for.