Monday, August 19, 2013

5 UNESCO must-see sites in Spain

Today, my guest blogger, Tiffany Olsen, will take us to Spain, to four of her five recommended sites I have only read about -- so far. But I do have memories of two weeks in Spain  -- where I yet remember Cordoba, home of the greatest collection of works by El Greco, an afternoon drinking sangria and riding in a horse-drawn carriage, and, my favorite, Granada, where I fell in love with the Moorish Alhambra and was cursed by gypsies for having an 'evil eye'.   

Perhaps one day, we'll join those pilgrims who follow the Camino Santiago de Compostela and I'll wander by the Courtyard of the Lions at the Alhambra once again.

5 UNESCO Must-See Sites in Spain
by Tiffany Olsen

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has worked for decades to identify, protect and preserve sites and cities from all over the globe that are deemed precious to the culture and heritage of everyone in the world. With close to a thousand sites making the list, it's impressive to note that Spain is near the very top with over 40 locations being declared valuable. The European country stands out even more once you learn that 13 of those sites have actually been declared as World Heritage cities. The embodiment of so much historical richness makes Spain the ideal travel destination for just about anyone. Whether you're interested in the Camino Santiago de Compostela, monuments or ancient architecture, each of these recognized cities are worth visiting at least once in a lifetime. Here are 5:

Santiago de Compostela
Colexiata do Sar, Santiago de Compostela 07
Santiago de Compostela (Creative Commons)
Santiago is widely viewed as the final destination of Camino Santiago de Compostela (which UNESCO has claimed a heritage site as well), but aside from the pilgrimage, the city has much to offer on its own. The centerpiece of Santiago de Compostela is the grand cathedral, which is rumored to house the remains of the Apostle James, but roaming around beyond this, tourists will discover numerous things to fall in love with.

Ibiza is overwhelmed with tourists every year who come to party and experience the beautiful environment, but many never even realize they've come to a UNESCO recognized city. Much more than a party scene, the island of Ibiza is the hometown to some of Spain's most traditional sites, which encompass the country's role in the military, economy and settlement.

Cordoba is home to the great Mosque-Cathedral, which is a magnificent sight to see for any tourist, but it also serves to showcase the past religious struggles that have been such a big part in shaping Spain's culture. With one of the largest old towns in all of Europe, Cordoba boasts some of the most alluring spots to take in (i.e. the Jewish quarter, Fernandine churches, sculptures, gardens, parks and bridges).

Catedral de Santa María la Real de la Almudena - 08
St Peter,

Catedral de Santa María la Real de la Almudena

(Creative Commons)
Salamanca has a golden tint to it from the yellow sandstone that most of its buildings are made of. Another significant university city, Salamanca welcomes students from all over the world and provides a superior academic experience that complements its recognition as an intellectual and cultural hub with its treasured cathedrals, palaces, public square and more.

The old town of Caceres has sustained its melting pot of Roman, Renaissance, Moorish and Gothic influences and cultures for many, many years, which is sure to have captured the attention of UNESCO. Since it has gone unchanged for centuries, the city's aesthetically pleasing architecture, including towers, churches and homes, still stands tall as proof of a heavily defended history and is easily accessed as a stop along the famous Camino Santiago de Compostela.

Claustro de la colegiata del Santo Sepulcro, Calatayud, España, 2012-08-24, DD 02 

Catedral de Santa María la Real de la Almudena  (Creative Commons)

The UNESCO committee has seen the great value in Camino Santiago de Compostela and these other amazing Spanish cities.

Hopefully one day you'll be able to observe the beauty of architecture influenced by cultures all over the world and the captivating appeal of many other sights that these cities hold.

For a full list of the UNESCO World Heritage Cities, please visit:

Tiffany Olson hails from Northern California and has a special passion for travel. She worked for 7 1/2 years at an international hostel in San Diego and over that time, came to fall in love with travel and all of the amazing benefits that it can have on a person. Spain is on the top of her list for places to visit next time she plans a trip abroad. License: Image author owned.

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