I’ve just learned that I could know within a matter of weeks if I’ll be returning to the land of bullfighting and flamenco this fall! As my anticipation builds, I’m thinking of the things I want to visit while I’m in Spain. As of now, here are my top five must-see attractions in Spain!
1. La Catedral de La Sagrada Familia – Barcelona (Cataluña)
Construction for the church of La Sagrada Familia (The Sacred Family) began March 19, 1882 and it is still under construction to this day! In 1883, architect Antoni Gaudí was commissioned to carry out the project. He continued working on this project until his death in 1926. La Sagrada Familia, located in the center of Barcelona, consists of four different facades. The Nativity Facade celebrates the birth of Jesus and is also referred to as the facade of Life, Joy or Christmas.The Passion Facade depicts the twelve stations of the cross emphasizing the sacrifice and death of Jesus. The Apse Facade, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, consists of pediments with the initials of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus accompanied by the alpha and the omega. This facade symbolizes the beginning and end of life. The Glory Facade is the entrance to the church and represents man within the order of creation. This facade depicts the origins of man, the problems of man, and man’s purpose.
The “Works of Antoni Gaudí” was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1984. When in Barcelona, make visiting La Sagrada Familia a priority!
2. El Tomb de Cristóbal Colón – Sevilla (Andalusia)
The tomb of Christopher Columbus is located inside La Catedral de Sevilla. The remains of the great explorer have been moved many times since his death in 1506 in Valladolid, Spain. After Columbus’ death, his remains were moved to Seville, and then to Colonial Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic) in 1542. When Spain lost control of the Dominican Republic in 1795, the remains were moved to Havana, Cuba. Finally 100 years later, the remains were once again brought back to Seville and remain there still today. However, there is still some controversy and mystery surrounding whether these are, in fact, the remains of Columbus. In 1877, a box was discovered in the Dominican Republic with the inscription “Don Colon”. This box is still at the Faro a Colon Lighthouse in the Dominican Republic. The Seville Cathedral was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987.
3. La Alhambra – Granada (Andalusia)
The Alhambra is a palace and military fortress located on top of the al-Sabika hill, overlooking the city of Granada. The Alhambra became a royal residence of the Moors in the 13th century after the arrival of Mohammed ben Al-Hamar, the first king of the Nasrid dynasty. Yusuf I (1333-1353) and Mohammed V (1353-1391) are responsible for the parts of the Alhambra that are most admired today. Such structures consist of The Patio of the Lions, the Justice Gate, the Baths, the Comares Rooms and the Hall of the Boat. After the Reconquest by the Catholic Monarchs in 1492, the Alhambra was ruled by Christians and The Palace of Charles V was added. The Alhambra was abandoned during the 18th century. The French ruled the Alhambra for a short time and blew up part of the fortress. The restoration and preservation of the Alhambra began in the 19th century and continues to this day. La Alhambra was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1984.
4. La Catedral de Santiago de Compostela – Santiago de Compostela (Galicia)
Santiago de Compostela is considered to be one of Christianity’s holy cities and was a major pilgrimage destination for Christians from the 11th to the 18th century. Exhibiting Romanesque art, the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is considered to be the tomb of St. James. Upon the discovery of St. James’ remains, a basilica was built in the region in 818 A.D. This tomb became a symbol of resistance against Islam in Galicia, as well as the rest of Spain. Construction of the cathedral began in the 11th century, ending in 1188 A.D., and the cathedral was consecrated in 1211 A.D. Many people from all around the world still visit the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral after completing the Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage beginning in in either France, Portugal or Spain and ending in Santiago de Compostela.
5. La Guernica – Reina Sofia (Madrid)
Guernica, the painting by Pablo Picasso, can be found at the Reina Sofia Museo Nacional Centro de Arte in Madrid. The painting was featured as the centerpiece for the Spanish Pavilion in the 1937 World’s Fair. Though he was in Paris, Picasso painted his masterpiece at a time of political turmoil in Spain. From 1936 to 1939, the Spanish Republic was under the attack of the fascist Nationalists led by General Francisco Franco. While Picasso “generally avoids politics – and disdains overtly political art” (PBS.org), political turmoil was his inspiration for Guernica. On April 27th, 1937, Franco’s forces attacked the citizens of Guernica, a Basque village in northern Spain. Once Picasso learned of the massacre, he began sketches for his mural Guernica. After the World’s Fair, the painting traveled Europe and North America, and was housed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York from the beginning of WWII until 1981. Picasso refused to allow the painting to be brought to Spain until the country could enjoy “public liberties and democratic institutions” (PBS.org). In October of 1981, after Picasso’s death (1973) and Franco’s death (1975), the Spanish Republic brought La Guernica to Spain.
Well, there you have it. My top 5 must-see attractions in Spain. Of course my list is biased. Anyone who knows me knows that La Sagrada Familia is number one on my bucket list (as of now). What are your opinions of this list? Is there something/someplace in this world that you long to visit?
“El mundo de hoy no tiene sentido, así que ¿por qué debería pintar cuadros que lo tuvieran?”
“The world today doesn’t make any sense, so why should I paint pictures that do?” – Pablo Picasso