Discover 5 Spanish cities that will make you fall in love with architecture

Last updated 15th March 2018

1/5 Barcelona

Catalonia’s capital, Barcelona, is an absolute must for lovers of architecture. The city’s famous mixture of architectural styles, such as Gothic alongside modern, attracts families from all over the world every year. The various buildings, including Roman remains, stunning medieval quarters and beautiful examples of 20th century Modernism, reflect the entire 2000-year history of the capital, making this Mediterranean northeastern city of Spain a haven for families with a penchant for history. Revel in the many unique and unconventional structures Barcelona has to offer, such as The Sagrada Familia, Casa Batlló or Casa Mila (“La Pedrera”), designed by the world-famous architect Antoni Gaudí.

You should also take a moment to appreciate at the imposing Gothic church of Santa Maria del Mar, and visit Park Güell, one of Gaudí’s major masterpieces, popular with children of all ages. The colourful park is an undiscovered fairytale world originally inspired by the traditional 19th century “English garden” but with the addition of multi-coloured mosaic tilted banks, stairs and statues, giving the park an unforgettable shine.

Other architectural marvels not to be missed are: the Catedral Basilica Metropolitana de Barcelona; the gothic quarter (Barri Gòtic); the Gran Teatre del Liceu; the breathtaking Monestir de Pedralbes; and the Casa Amatller.

2/5 Seville

Let the impressive architecture of Seville take your heart by storm. This southern Andalusian city is one of the most beautiful and romantic cities in the country and particularly popular for a family city break with its charming tiny alleys, white-washed buildings, cobbled streets with overhanging wrought-iron balconies, and quaint orange and lemon coloured houses.

Start your architectural tour in the Jewish Quarter of Barrio de Santa Cruz before walking along the Guadalquivir River, the fifth longest river in Spain. Next, cross the bridge to the ancient gypsy quarter of Triana, famous for its ceramic and tile workshops. Seville’s cultural history has influenced its architecture with Islamic Moorish and Arabic styles so don’t miss out on both La Giralda, a Gothic cathedral with an Islamic minaret, and the Moorish palace of Real Alcázar.

Spend a day at the Metropol Parasol, a modern 2012 award-winning wooden structure, housing markets, bars, shops and even an archaeological museum, keeping the whole family happy.

3/5 Granada

Another stunning Andalusian city full of architectural masterpieces. Thinking of Granada, the popular Alhambra – an ornate castle and fortress of Islamic-Moorish design that towers over the city – immediately comes to mind. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is so huge that it’s visible from almost every corner of the city, a constant reminder of Granada’s glorious past. Take a stroll with your kids inside and around the magnificent castle and admire the beautiful carvings and Arabic calligraphies.

Don’t forget to explore the surrounding hills filled with even more unique architectural structures. Here you can discover another legacy of the Moors: the cute Moorish neighborhood in Albaicín and its whitewashed houses on the mountain slopes. Get lost in the gypsy quarter of Sacromonte, where you and your kids will fall in love with unique cave houses carved on the sides of rocks.

Be sure to visit another historic relic during your stay: the traditional Moorish Dar al-Horra Palace in the old Arab quarter, which was the residence of a former Moorish king. The gardens, courtyards and breathtaking views of the Alhambra from the rooftop terrace are simply stunning. 

4/5 Salamanca

Salamanca is one of the most attractive cities in Spain, where many architectural wonders from different eras are located. The university in the heart of the old town, which has been awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a typical example of Spanish Plateresque, an architectural style of the Spanish Renaissance. The elaborately engraved façade of the university is a real eye-catcher for the whole family.

Take part in the legendary “frog hunt”. Legend has it, that the one who finds the mysterious frog carved in the façade, will have a fulfilled and happy life. Another architectural beauty is the Plaza Mayor, built in the 18th century in elegant Spanish Baroque style. Keep a keen eye out for the golden arches and the royal medallions.

Whilst you’re there, don’t miss the Old Cathedral built during the Romantic period; the Renaissance palace of Monterrey, and the Museum la Casa Lis from the Art Nouveau.

5/5 Cordoba

A classic Andalusian city that fuses different styles to create a truly unique aesthetic. What sets the city apart is the mix of whitewashed houses with quaint balconies, and their welcoming courtyards – every-popular with children – alongside the Moorish style of the Mudejar. This interesting mix is most recognizable in La Mezquita, a World Heritage site which fuses a mosque and a cathedral in one. This majestic beauty blends the Christian-inspired Renaissance and Baroque architecture with Moorish-Islamic inspired styles.

Another family-loved masterpiece is the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos Castle. This lush relic, with its wonderful Moorish-embossed gardens and plenty of orange trees along the Arabian pools, is a real eye-catcher. When you’re there, make sure you take in the magnificent view with your kids from the main tower. To top it all off, Córdoba offers a colourful old Jewish quarter and a 2000-year-old and well-preserved bridge, called “El puente romano de Córdoba”, which shouldn’t be missed.