Northern Spain – World Heritage Sites

Segovia Spain

Our drive across the high plain of Castilla y León and our final city of Burgos made me stop and think about the objective of visiting as many UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Spain as possible.

On this trip we had only made one new one – the city of Oviedo, although if we are to be pedantic, Burgos would count as new because on the last visit I simply drove straight through on the way home from the Algarve in Portugal.

I thought again about the forty-four UNESCO  Sites  (Second highest to Italy at forty-seven) and this made me stop and think about the comparison with the list that I reviewed recently of the “Twelve Treasures of the Kingdom of Spain” which was a contest/poll that was conducted by the Spanish Television Company Antena 3 and the radio broadcaster Cope.

I have set out the full list of World Heritage Sites below including links to the twenty-two that I have visited.  The sites are spread across the entire Iberian Peninsula but of the Autonomous Communities, Catalonia, at a crossroads of European culture, and Castilla y Leon, the largest by area, have the most with six sites each.

Aragon, Asturias, Basque Country, La Rioja and Murcia have only one each but of all seventeen regions Navarre in the north of the country is the only one that doesn’t have any at all.  As well as the indignity of having no World Heritage sites poor old Navarre doesn’t have a coastline, no international airport or a direct link to the Spanish high speed rail infrastructure.

Maybe the city of Pamplona needs to start working on a bid to UNESCO for the next round of qualifying.  They will have some catching up to do though because before an applicant can be admitted to the full  membership list they have first to get through a tentative list.  There are twenty-five Spanish sites on the tentative list and Pamplona isn’t one of them.  The list includes some rather obscure places (in my opinion) but I have been to three of them – The Silver Route, Las Palmas on the island of Gran Canaria and Trujillo in Extremadura.

Pamplona Bull Run

The full list is:

Alhambra, Generalife and Albayzín, Granada (1984)
Aranjuez Cultural Landscape (2001)
Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida (1993)
Archaeological Ensemble of Tárraco (2000)
Archaeological Site of Atapuerca (2000)
Burgos Cathedral (1984)
Cantabrian Cave of Altamira
Catalan Romanesque Churches of the Vall de Boí (2000)
Cathedral, Alcázar and Archivo de Indias, Seville (1987)
Cultural Landscape of the Serra de Tramuntana (2011)
Doñana National Park (1994)
El Escorial Monastery and Site of the Escurial, (1984)
Garajonay National Park (1986)
Heritage of Mercury. Almadén and Idrija (2012)
Historic Centre of Cordoba (1984)
Historic City of Toledo (1986)
Historic Walled Town of Cuenca (1996)
Ibiza, Biodiversity and Culture (1999)
La Lonja de la Seda de Valencia (1996)
Las Médulas (1997)
Monuments of Oviedo and Kingdom of the Asturias (1985)
Mudejar Architecture of Aragon (1986)
Old City of Salamanca (1988)
Old Town of Ávila with its Extra-Muros Churches (1985)
Old Town of Cáceres (1986)
Old Town of Segovia and its Aqueduct (1985)
Palau de la Música Catalana and Hospital de Sant Pau, Barcelona (1997)
Palmeral of Elche (2000)
Poblet Monastery (1991)
Prehistoric Rock Art Sites in the Côa Valley and Siega Verde (1998)
Pyrénées – Mont Perdu (1997)
Renaissance Monumental Ensembles of Úbeda and Baeza (2003)
Rock Art of the Mediterranean Basin on the Iberian Peninsula (1998)
Roman Walls of Lugo (2000)
Route of Santiago de Compostela (1993)
Royal Monastery of Santa María de Guadalupe (1993)
San Cristóbal de La Laguna (1999)
San Millán Yuso and Suso Monasteries (1997)
Santiago de Compostela (Old Town) (1985)
Teide National Park (2007)
Tower of Hercules (2009)
University and Historic Precinct of Alcalá de Henares (1998)
Vizcaya Bridge (2006)
Works of Antoni Gaudí (1984)

Like UNESCO, the “Twelve Treasures of the Kingdom of Spain” didn’t include any entries from Navarre but had the most (three) from Andalusia.  Interestingly it only included four World Heritage Sites in its list, Cordoba, Seville, Altamira Caves and Santiago de Compostela.

In response to the official list of winners I produced my own alternative list, six of which shared a place on the UNESCO list, Salamanca, Avila, Cuenca, Aranjuez, El Escorial and the works of Antoni Gaudi but also like UNESCO and the Spanish TV viewers I didn’t include anywhere in Navarre.

Can I interest anyone else in compiling a list?


4 responses to “Northern Spain – World Heritage Sites

  1. Love the running of the bulls statues. Pamplona?


  2. Jack Erickson

    Wonderful and resourceful site, Andrew. You’ll be my guide when we visit Spain . . . we’re still visiting fascinating places in central Europe but need to expand to the Iberian peninsula. Your site will be our guidebook!


  3. Spent a week living in apartment in central Pamplona in Sept 2000.
    Every day I walked the bull run looking for crannies that might hide my considerable bulk if I returned the following July.
    And then my dear Larissa brought me down to earth by basically saying that not only was I past it when it came to running with BULLS … I could not even run a ladder in a pretty lady’s stocking any more!



  4. Perhaps I should make a list of all the Unesco World Heritage sites and aim to see them all in my lifetime. Of you list for those that are in Spain, I have only been to Toledo, Sevilla, Salamanca, Escorial Monastery, the Aqueducts and town in Segovia, and we’ve been all over Barcelona and its surroundings, including Gaudi’s beautiful art. It looks like I have only scraped the surface!


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