Spain is another European country with a long and distinguished history. Spain, however, differs from some of these other countries in the region because of its Moorish heritage. Since Spain was under Moorish rule for many years, there are significant influences which are still visiible throughout the country.
Here is my list of Spain’s Seven Man-Made wonders. A photo album will follow.
1. Alhambra, Granada. This Moorish palace and fortress complex has some of the most intricate and exquisite architecture in the world. Although parts of the complex have been altered throughout its history. Particular favorites within the grounds are the Patio of the Lions and the Generalife Gardens.
2. La Mezquita, Cordoba. The original structure here was fashioned into a mosque in 784 AD. Its distinctive red and white candy-striped columns are recognizable around the world. The Minaret is visible throughout the city. Once the Moors were driven out of Spain, part of the interior of the mosque was destroyed to make way for a Catholic cathedral which still sits in the center of the mosque.
3. La Sagrada Familia (Church of the Holy Family), Barcelona. This most famous work by the Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi is still unfinished, although construction is expected to continue until 2026, the 100th anniversary of the artist’s death. The Basilica is recognized as one of the most unusual churches in the world.
4. El Escorial (The Royal Monastery of San Lorenzo El Real), about 30 miles northwest of Madrid. It was both a Royal residence and a Monastery (masses still take place here). It is also the final resting place for most of the Spanish kings since its construction in the late 16th century. Exquisite artwork and gifts from monarchs around the world adorn the rooms. The Library is particularly stunning.
5. Palacio Real (Royal Palace), Madrid. This elaborate mansion is the official residence of the King of Spain. Its walls are richly decorated with paintings by famous. The Throne Room and the Armory are particularly impressive.
6. El Alcazar, Segovia. One of the most beautiful and recognized castles in the world is located in the city of Segovia, about 60 miles northwest of Madrid. It has been a fortress, a prison, a Royal residence, and a Military academy over its history, which dates to the early 13th century. Its setting, on a ridge above the confluence of two rivers is particularly dramatic. The city also contains a Roman Aqueduct which is remarkably well-preserved.
7. La Giralda & Cathedral, Seville. Seville’s cathedral is the largest Catholic cathedral in the world (since St Peter’s in the Vatican is actually a basilica). It also claims to hold the remains of Christopher Columbus. Its bell tower, La Giralda, was once a minaret but was converted after the expulsion of the Moors. It is now recognized as a symbol of the city.
Other sites considered:
Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao
Roman Aqueduct, Segovia
Plaza Mayor, Madrid
City Walls, Avila
Valle de los Caidos (Valley of the Fallen), northwest of Madrid