17 Famous Buildings in Spain

Nadia Nadia

Written by Nadia

Spain
famous buildings in Spain

Spain is no stranger to beautiful architecture. The country is brimming with both ancient and modern landmark buildings that deserve to be explored for their history and culture. 

With so many to choose from, it took a lot of work to limit this list!

However, I have found the best architecture in Spain to suit a variety of interests you might have.

Five standout buildings in Spain


  • Casa Batlló, Barcelona: A perfect example of the unique Spanish architecture style of Antoni Gaudí, the country’s most famous architect.
  • Alhambra, Granada: One of the world’s most ambitious monuments of Arab architecture.
  • Estación de Atocha, Madrid: A railway station living a double life as a greenhouse. A huge tropical botanic garden lies inside.
  • Mosque of Córdoba, Andalusia: A massive mosque with high ceilings, columns, and archways.
  • Sagrada Familia: Barcelona’s landmark, yet unfinished temple by Antoni Gaudí.

The 17 Most Famous Buildings in Spain

1. The Royal Palace of Madrid

The Royal Palace of Madrid, Spain

Palacio Real de Madrid may not have been a residence for Spanish royalty. However, it is still a major historical site in Spain.

Known for being the largest palace in Europe, the massive estate covers nearly one-and-a-half million square feet and holds almost 3,500 rooms! If the mere size is not enough to entice you to visit, there is still plenty more about the palace to explore.

The spectacular Spanish architecture of the palace boasts features such as the famous main staircase by Francesco Sabatini and the hall of columns where important state ceremonies occur.

You will not be able to take pictures in many parts of the palace, but having a tour is well worth the trip. 

2. Alcázar of Segovia 

Alcázar of Segovia, Spain
Photo by Diego Allen on Unsplash

Located in Segovia, this historic World Heritage Site was built in the 12th century by Christian monarchs. The site is also known as Segovia Castle.

The medieval castle was constructed on a rocky perch at the western end of the old town and overlooks the countryside in all directions.

The castle has served many purposes over the years, including a fortress, a palace housing twenty-two monarchs, a military academy, a prison, and a Royal Artillery College.

One of the unique features of the castle is the aqueduct, built by the Romans to transport water to the city from the Acebedo River. 

Travelers are attracted to the castle’s age and unique shape, which resembles the bow of a ship. It showcases some intricate architecture, especially for the period during which it was built. No mortar or cement was used, but the castle still holds up solidly to this day.

You can book tickets to explore the castle, with an additional cost to go to the top of the tower and an audio guide.

3. The Temple of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Barcelona

The Temple of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Barcelona

Templo del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús in Barcelona sits on the summit of Mount Tibidabo, the highest peak in the Collserola mountain range. While not the most beautiful of Barcelona’s churches, its view alone is worth the visit.

The church’s construction started in 1902 and lasted for nearly 60 years. The Spanish architect Enric Sagnier designed the building, and his son took over the job after he passed. A bronze statue of Jesus tops the Roman Catholic church.

Tip You can take elevators to the top to enjoy the views. 

Read also: 7 things to do in Barcelona for the first time

4. Estación de Atocha, Madrid

Estación de Atocha, Madrid

Atocha Railway Station is a famous historical landmark in Madrid. It is not only the largest and earliest railway station but also the country’s central hub, connecting many cities.

First designed in 1851, the station had a complete redesign after a fire destroyed the station in the 1890s.

What is unique about the Atocha Station is the surprise visitors will get when they walk through the doors: The station is built like a greenhouse with steel and glass!

It is home to lush tropical gardens covering nearly 45,000 square feet and housing 400 different species of plants. You can explore these gardens for free, from early in the morning to late at night.

5. The Picasso Museum, Málaga

Museo Picasso Málaga is a museum dedicated exclusively to the works of Picasso. It is an example of the more modern architecture in Spain.

Located in Málaga, Pablo Picasso’s birthplace, the museum has become an integral part of the city – even though it has only been around since 2003. The museum is home to 285 works of art, all from Picasso.

Tip Get an audio guide to follow as you work your way through the eleven rooms of the museum.

6. The Great Mosque of Córdoba (Mezquita-Catedral)

Located in Andalucia, the Great Mosque of Córdoba is one of Spain’s most famous sites.

The monument represents Islamic architecture flawlessly. The ancient structure was turned into a church way back in 1236. You can explore this fantastic building during the day or at night or reserve a tour to learn about its fascinating history.

You can also enjoy the town view from the top of the Bell Tower after climbing its 200 steps.

7. Royal Alcázar of Seville

The Royal Palace of Alcazar in Seville is a partially preserved 14th-century group of buildings. The palace is unique not only for its beauty (decorated with excellent mosaics, plaster, and wood) but also for the history of its origin.

The Christian monarch, Pedro the Cruel of Castile, ordered to build for himself a residence in a Moorish style. The construction was carried out by Muslim workers brought specifically from Granada.

They were true masters of their craft who participated in creating the architectural and park ensemble of the Alhambra in Granada. The mysterious red Alhambra became the architectural prototype of the Alcazar of Seville.

8. Casa Milà, Barcelona

Popularly called La Pedrera (“The Stone Quarry), this building is a popular tourist site in Barcelona and a perfect example of modern architecture in Spain.

This is one of the many buildings in Barcelona designed by Antoni Gaudi, Spain’s most famous architect. Its unique architecture is known for its undulating stone facade and wrought iron balconies.

It is an innovative building, built in the early 1900s, with a self-supporting stone facade, underground garage, and rooftop terrace.

Actually, you can enjoy three areas of the building. The attic is a museum where you can learn about the architect Antoni Gaudí. The rooftop is where you can view the chimneys – sculptures of warriors rising from the desert dunes. Finally, there is an apartment you can peruse that makes you feel as if you have gone back in time.

9. The Alhambra, Granada

Alhambra, Granada, Spain
Photo by Jorge Fernández Salas on Unsplash

The Alhambra, Granada is one of the world’s most ambitious monuments of Arab architecture. In fact, it is a whole architectural and park complex located on the hills of the eastern part of Granada.

The city was the last Muslim stronghold in Spain, so the Alhambra can be considered the last architectural monument the Spanish people inherited from the Arabs.

The Alhambra is distinct from other residences of medieval Arab rulers. The ensemble includes three magnificent Moorish palaces and a fourth, built later by Christian monarchs.

The complex has charming gardens, parks, sculptures and fountains.

Like most Arab palaces, the Alhambra does not have a pronounced facade; the emphasis is on interior decoration. Everything is splendid – the castle’s walls are covered with lace embroidery, and the lancet windows are decorated with garlands. The vaults of the halls retain traces of formerly colorful decorative stalactites painted in red, azure, and gold.

10. Güell Palace, Barcelona

Güell Palace, Barcelona, Spain

Palau Güell is the first building that Antoni Gaudí designed in Barcelona. It is a fantastic mansion built for Eusebi Güell, a count and wealthy entrepreneur.

More minimalistic than Gaudí’s other designs, the estate feels like a medieval castle. One of the key features of the castle is the colorful details put in place by Gaudí.

You can view the mansion from the outside or take a tour to explore the bedrooms, roof, stables, offices, and central hall.

11. Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

Another of Antoni Gaudí’s masterpieces, this church started construction in 1883 but was not completed after Gaudí’s death.

This historic Spanish landmark is still unfinished but is estimated to be completed by 2026.

However, you still need to check out this example of the best architecture in Spain. Since 2010, visitors have been able to explore the finished sections of the church, including the door of El Nacimiento, the chapel of San José, and the crypt.

12. Palau de la Música Catalana, Barcelona

Palau de la Música Catalana, Barcelona

Palau de la Música Catalana is an absolute must-see for lovers of classical music and traditional Spanish architecture.

This historic music hall features a Catalan modernista style and was built between 1905 and 1908 for a choral society called Orfeó Català.

It was designed by the architect Lluís Domènech i Montane, who created a space that would be wonderfully lit during daytime hours.

The concert hall can seat an audience of over 2,000, and visitors can purchase tickets to a live event to get the full experience of the hall.

Otherwise, you can explore the hall with a guided tour if you are more interested in modern Spanish architecture rather than music.

13. Casa Batlló, Barcelona

Thought to be one of Gaudí’s best pieces of work, Casa Batlló was designed as a house right in the center of Barcelona.

This truly remarkable piece of Spanish architecture is locally referred to as Casa dels Ossos, or the House of Bones, due to its eerie organic structure that resembles a skeleton.

With irregular round windows, few straight lines, and the exterior covered in colorful broken pieces of ceramics, stumbling upon this building is sure to take your breath away.

You can explore the rooms inside, including the roof, with an audio-guided tour.

14. Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid

This 20th-century art museum is located in Madrid’s golden art triangle, near the city’s center. 

Featuring contemporary art works mostly from Spanish artists, visiting Museo Reina Sofía is the perfect way to immerse yourself in modern Spanish culture. Exhibitions will change from time to time, so there is always something new to see. 

However, plenty of permanent exhibits feature paintings, sculptures, and other forms of art from artists, including Picasso and José Gutiérrez Solana.

15. The Temple of Debod, Madrid

The Temple of Debod, Madrid
Photo by Esteban Palacios Blanco

Have you chosen to visit Spain to see Egyptian history? I doubt it. Still, you can find an ancient Egyptian temple in Madrid.

The Temple of Debod is an Egyptian temple initially built in Sudan (Upper Nubia) and then transported to Spain for restoration. It has now been rebuilt at the center of La Montaña Park.

For visitors, it is an oasis amongst the busy streets of Madrid where they can enjoy the sun and explore the temple’s history. Inside is a small museum, a hall, and several chapels.

Tip It is known for being the best location in Madrid to watch the sunset!

16. Camp Nou, Barcelona

 Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain

Built in 1957, this stadium is home to the FC Barcelona football club – one of the best football teams in the world. It is the biggest stadium in Europe and the fourth biggest in the world, seating nearly 100,000 people.

The stadium hosted many significant events, including the Olympics, the World Cup, and the European Cup Finals.

When visiting, book a guided tour to see the entire stadium, including the tunnel to the pitch and the changing rooms.

17. Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, Madrid

Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, Madrid

Football is the top sport in Spain, so it is no wonder some of the most famous buildings in the country are stadiums!

The Santiago Bernabéu Stadium is the second biggest stadium next to Spotify Camp Nou, with seating for over 80,000 sports lovers, and is an excellent showcase of the famous architecture in Madrid.

Seeing a game at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium is a fantastic way to experience Spanish culture.

Frequently Asked Questions

What part of Spain should I visit on a short trip?

Barcelona is the best choice if you want to learn about traditional and modern Spanish architecture at its finest, visit museums, and immerse yourself in culture. Madrid, Toledo, Sevilla, Girona, Valencia, and Granada are also solid choices.

Can I visit Spain if I only speak English?

You can get by speaking English if you stick to big cities and tourist destinations. Most younger people will speak English, but you may encounter language barriers if you visit small towns (“pueblos”).

When is the Best Time to Visit Spain?

The weather in Spain is decent year-round, and most travelers will visit in the Spring or Fall. I would not recommend visiting southern Spain in July as it gets pretty uncomfortable due to the heat.

What is the best way to get around Spain?

Trains are a great way to travel between Spanish cities. Ubers are also available, and many tourists like to get behind the wheel themselves. Just keep in mind that Americans will need an international driver’s license!

Final Thoughts

in alhambra
Take warm clothes to Alhambra if you travel in Fall

If you like architecture, Spain offers the world’s most impressive buildings and monuments.

The architectural vestiges of the Moorish era are concentrated in the south and east of modern Spain. A brilliant ensemble of Arab structures has been “collected” in Andalusia.

The imperial architecture of Madrid is represented by buildings in the Baroque, Neoclassical, Neo-Mudejar, and Art Nouveau styles.

Bold, sassy, colorful, memorable, harmonious, diverse, and unique are just a few adjectives that describe Barcelona’s architecture. Barcelona successfully combines the old and the new so that the beauty of this city takes your breath away.

Overall, you cannot go wrong with seeing any large Spanish city (well, maybe except Benidorm), and it is always an “architectural” win. Let me know in the comments, which city you liked the most and why!

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