More UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Spain

At the recent 44th session of the World Heritage Committee in Fuzhou (China) it was announced that the Retiro Park and Paseo del Prado in Madrid would be been added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List. These are the first sites on the list which are located in the Spanish capital.

Spain began to participate with UNESCO back in 1982 and originally five sites were selected for inclusion:

  • the Mezquita in Cordoba
  • the Alhambra in Granada
  • Burgos Cathedral
  • Park Güell, Palau Güell and Casa Milà in Barcelona
  • El Escorial outside Madrid

Today Spain is the third most represented country on the list of World Heritage Sites with 49. Only Italy (57) and China (56) have more UNESCO sites. Spain’s sites in order of when they were added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites are as follows:

  • 1984 Historic Centre of Cordoba – Andalucia
  • 1984 Alhambra, Generalife and Albayzin, Granada – Andalucia
  • 1984 Burgos Cathedral – Castilla y Leon
  • 1984 Monastery and Site of El Escorial, Madrid – Madrid
  • 1984 Parque Güell, Palacio Güell & Casa Mila in Barcelona – Catalonia
  • 1985 Altamira Cave – Cantabria
  • 1985 Old Town of Segovia and its Aqueduct – Castilla y Leon
  • 1985 Monuments of Oviedo & the Kingdom of Asturias – Asturias
  • 1985 Santiago de Compostela (Old Town) – Galicia
  • 1985 Old Town of Avila, with its Extra-Muros churches – Castilla y Leon
  • 1986 Garajonay National Park – Canary Islands
  • 1986 Mudejar Architecture of Aragon – Aragon
  • 1986 Historic City of Toledo – Castilla La Mancha
  • 1986 Old Town of Caceres – Extremadura
  • 1987 Cathedral, Alcazar & Archivo de Indias in Seville – Andalucia
  • 1988 Old City of Salamanca – Castilla y Leon
  • 1991 Poblet Monastery – Catalonia
  • 1993 Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida – Extremadura
  • 1993 Royal Monastery of Santa Maria de Guadalupe – Extremadura
  • 1993 Route of Santiago de Compostela – Galicia
  • 1994 Doñana National Park – Andalucia
  • 1996 Historic Walled Town of Cuenca – Castilla La Mancha
  • 1996 La Lonja de la Seda de Valencia – Valencia
  • 1997 Las Médulas – Castilla y Leon
  • 1997 Palau de la Música Catalana & Hospital de Sant Pau – Catalonia
  • 1997 San Millán Yuso and Suso Monasteries – La Rioja
  • 1997 Monte Perdido – Pyrenees – Aragon
  • 1998 University & Historic Alcalá de Henares – Madrid
  • 1998 Rock-Art of the Mediterranean Basin – Various Comunidades
  • 1999 Ibiza, Biodiversity and Culture – Balearic Islands
  • 1999 San Cristóbal de La Laguna – Canary Islands
  • 2000 Archaeological Ensemble of Tárraco – Catalonia
  • 2000 Palmeral of Elche – Valencia
  • 2000 Roman Walls of Lugo – Galicia
  • 2000 Catalan Romanesque Churches of the Vall de Boí – Catalonia
  • 2000 Archaeological Site of Atapuerca – Castilla y Leon
  • 2001 Aranjuez Cultural Landscape – Madrid
  • 2003 Renaissance Monuments of Ubeda & Baeza – Andalucia
  • 2004 Vizcaya Bridge – Basque Country
  • 2007 Teide National Park – Canary Islands
  • 2009 Tower of Hercules – Galicia
  • 2010 Prehistoric Rock-Art Sites in the Côa Valley and Siega Verde – Castilla y Leon
  • 2011 Cultural Landscape of the Serra de Tramuntana – Balearic Islands
  • 2012 Heritage of Mercury: Almadén and Idrija – Castilla La Mancha
  • 2015 Routes of Santiago de Compostela: Camino Francés and Routes of Northern Spain
  • 2016 Antequera Dolmens Site – Andalucia
  • 2018 Caliphate City of Medina Azahara – Andalucia
  • 2019 Risco Caído and the Sacred Mountains of Gran Canaria – Canary Islands
  • 2021 Paseo del Prado and Buen Retiro – Madrid

Not surprisingly many of these sites have cropped up in recent blog posts and newsletters as we’ve taken a look at some of Spain’s top tourist attractions and some of the country’s most impressive cathedrals.

My Spain “Bucket List”

Looking through the list I see 11 of the sites that I haven’t visited which are the following:

  • Garajonay National Park
  • Poblet Monastery
  • Las Médulas
  • San Millán Yuso and Suso Monasteries
  • Rock-Art of the Mediterranean Basin
  • San Cristóbal de La Laguna
  • Archaeological Ensemble of Tárraco
  • Palmeral of Elche
  • Catalan Romanesque Churches of the Vall de Boí
  • Archaeological Site of Atapuerca
  • Heritage of Mercury: Almadén and Idrija

Hopefully, I’ll be able to tick off a few over the next year. Any thoughts on other sites that ought to be added to this list by UNESCO?

20 thoughts on “More UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Spain”

  1. The town of Ronda — home of the bullfighting museum, the beautiful city high in the mountains and architecture, the walls the bridges. It is a secluded treasure.

  2. I was surprised not to see Santa Maria de Monserrat Monastery in Catalonia on the UNESCO World Heritage list. I have visited many UNESCO sites around the world and it should definitely be on this list.

    • Hi Bonnie

      I’d have to agree & suspect that we’ll see Montserrat included one day.



  3. Hi Gerry: The first one I was thinking about was El Puente Nuevo de Ronda and El Monasterio de Montserrat. and I was not the only one! How can we vote?

    Greetings from Holland


  4. Hi Gerry

    As always, an interesting article. Just to clarify a few things. Even though the “La Lonja de la Seda de Valencia” is in the the centre of Valencia, it is part of the Comunidad of Valenciana, and NOT Valencia. Likewise with the “Palmeral De Elche” – in the province of Alicante and the Comunidad de Valenciana, and NOT Valencia.

    Finally, are you sure you have all the Spanish Heritage sites (UNESCO) listed here?

    The city of Elche, is renowned for having 2 UNESCO nominated World heritage sites, one for its Palmeral (Palm Groves – an oasis of over 200,000 Palm Trees) AND a second for its annual Mystery Play, (El Misteri d’Elx en Valenciana dialect), the Mystery Play of Elche, the only play in the world that is acted in its entirety within a temple, in this case the Basilica de Santa María, every year between 11th and 15th of August, and recognised by UNESCO in 2001.

    • Hi Mike

      As a native English speaker I choose to use the name “Valencia” or “Valencia Region” to describe “La Comunidad Valenciana”. At times I’ve referred to the “Valencia Community” which seems very false. The same issue arises with “Madrid” as I don’t like to translate “Comunidad de Madrid” to “Madrid Community” so I tend to use “Madrid Region”. The top of the column says “Comunidad” so I doubt very much whether anyone will be confused.

      As for missing sites, there are 42 on this list and 44 in total. The missing two are not in Elche they are as follows:

      • 2007 – Mount Teide National Park
      • 2010 – Prehistoric Rock-Art Sites in the Côa Valley and Siega Verde (shared with Portugal)

      They have now been added to the blog post.

      The UNESCO website simply refers to Palmeral de Elche (2000). The Mystery Play is recognised by UNESCO as a “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” rather than a World Heritage Site.



  5. Ronda of Malaga province is my choice. Besides the site of the second oldest bull ring, the houses and bridges with unique arches and mountainous scenes depict interesting tourist attractions. A great site.

  6. I think Albarracín (Aragón) should be included for its other time and other worldliness.The sense of isolation, history, it´s hiking and cave art are all worthy of UNESCO STATUS.

    I went to Montserrat in 1999 and if they had not mutilated it as by the time I returned in 2006, I would say it was worth it. While still impressive and sublimely beautiful, they have overbuilt for the sake of mammon and destroyed a beautiful natural and architectural ensemble. Still, Montserrat is worth every second.

  7. Sierra de Aracena National Park. A area of outstanding natural beauty, ‘olde’ Spain at its very best with regional cuisine, traditions and culture. Now made easier to explore with added, designated walks and trails.

  8. Hi Gerry: I would vote for Ronda, Sagrada Familia in Barcelona and Casco Viejo in Bilbao.
    Saludos! Guillermo.

  9. Living in Murcia we have visited four of your list….have just returned from a great 4 days around Priego de Cordoba…..a lovely town full of culture and heritage which nobody seems to know about….and the tapas are superb…..perhaps not World Heritage material but great nevertheless.

Comments are closed.