Andalusia in southern Spain has a rich and varied history, which has left behind a fascinating array of palaces, castles, cathedrals and other buildings. Additionally, it has some beautiful untouched landscapes. Many of these sites have been recognised by UNESCO for their cultural and natural significance. On our World Heritage Journey, we have visited all six of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Andalusia. Come and explore the sites…
Alhambra, Generalife and Albayzín, Granada – World Heritage Site
The Alhambra and Generalife Palaces in Granada are the most visited monument in all of Spain. It’s easy to understand why when you stand inside of these magnificent buildings. Originally built by the Moors during their time spent in the city, they are rich in decoration. Plus they feature stunning gardens. Try and book a ticket in advance, so you don’t have to line up early to make sure you don’t miss out.
Cathedral, Alcázar and Archivo de Indias in Seville – World Heritage Site
Seville is one of the most gorgeous cities in Andalusia. At its heart is a square bordered by the Alcázar Palace, the Cathedral and the Archivo de Indias, all UNESCO listed. The architecture is fascinating for the combination of Moorish elements and later additions by the Christian kings. For instance the Cathedral, the third largest in the world, has a bell tower that originally belonged to the mosque on the site. Don’t miss this city and its UNESCO sites!
Historic Centre of Cordoba – World Heritage Site
Originally the UNESCO listing for the historic centre of Cordoba just included its Great Mosque. A huge and uniquely decorated mosque, after the city was conquered by the Christians it was converted into a cathedral. A cathedral nave was erected in its centre, but it largely still feels like a mosque. Its surrounding streets are narrow and twisting, and offer up glimpses into palaces and historic residential houses still in use today.
Renaissance Monumental Ensembles of Úbeda and Baeza
Fast forward a few hundred years through architectural history until the Renaissance period. The small cities of Úbeda and Baeza in northwestern Andalusia benefited from extensive patronage that resulted in the construction of many Renaissance-style palaces and churches. Most of their old towns hasn’t changed much since. A stay in either of them is like stepping into the Renaissance past.
Antequera Dolmens Site
The Dolmens of Antequera stand out for being far older than any of the other cultural UNESCO sites in Andalusia, about 5000 years old in fact. Three tombs built during the Neolithic and Bronze Age, they are significant for their size and their unique alignment. Two of the sites line up with the La Peña de los Enamorados and El Torcal mountainous formations. The latter is a must-visit in the area, for its hikes around incredible limestone formations.
Doñana National Park
Doñana National Park is located adjacent to the estuary of the Guadalquivir River, on the Atlantic Coast. This conservation area with restricted access is one of the most important bird wintering sites in Europe. The protected landscapes range from marshland to shifting sand dunes to scrubland.
Medina Azahara – World Heritage Site
Last but not least is Medina Azahara, the ruins of an enormous palace and city built by the Umayyad Caliphate in the 10th century. It’s located on the western outskirts of Cordoba, and was only rediscovered in 1911 which is just astonishing! There’s quite a lot to see on site, with palace ruins, gardens, houses, and much more besides. Medina Azahara was only added to the World Heritage List in 2019 and we haven’t had a chance to re-visit just yet, but we’re really looking forward to it!
We hope you enjoyed reading about the World Heritage Sites of Andalusia as much as we enjoyed visiting them. While you’re here, check out the World Heritage Sites of Mainland Portugal. Or the 7 Best UNESCO World Heritage Gardens. And of course, be sure to Subscribe to our YouTube channel, and click the notification bell so you never miss another video!