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Spain is for (Architecture) Lovers

Spain is for (Architecture) Lovers

I’m not sure I could enumerate all the reasons I love Spain. While it would be inaccurate to say that Spain is my favorite country in the world, or even my favorite country in Europe, life is incredibly enjoyable there. Sun, sand, sangria—what more do you need?

Today, I’m going to dig into one particular element of Spain that’s intrigued me over the years: The wide variety of amazing buildings and structures in the country. I’m not an architect—I don’t really know anything about architecture, except for what I like.

And I’ll tell you: I absolutely love the places I’m about to list on this Spain architecture itinerary. So whether you’re an amateur or an aficionado, I have a feeling you’re going to be impressed.

Need help planning your trip to Spain? Hire me as your Travel Coach!

Why Spain is Paradise for Architecture Lovers

From the most beautiful buildings in Spain to the most quotidian ones, the Spanish have a way with building things. I’ll never forget how one time, when I was in Zaragoza (which I’ll be mentioning later in this post), I finished up at the cathedral and was craving a cocktail. The nearest bar happened to be a Gothic Revival masterpiece—the stained glass work was better than the drink sloshing around in my glass!

As you might have seen in the most beautiful casinos worldwide (the famous one in Monte Carlo is probably the closest one to Spain), the interiors of buildings are just as important to your impression of them as the exterior. As a result, I’ve tried to provide a mix not only of places that stun when you see them from outside. In some cases, in fact, I’ve spotlighted ones that look ordinary and underwhelming, at least until you walk inside them. 

My Favorite Buildings in Spain

Sagrada Familia, Barcelona


The first time I visited Antoni Gaudi’s surrealistic masterpiece, the Sagrada Familia, 2026 seemed like the distant future. Now, it’s less than two years away—and I can’t wait to see the finishing touches put on this Barcelona landmark. If you’ve never been but love architecture, I highly encourage you to add it to your list.

Bilbao-Abando Railway Station, Bilbao


When it comes to Spain best buildings in the Basque Country, Bilbao’s Guggenheim Museum usually takes top billing. However, I love the astonishing stained glass windows of Bilbao-Abando Railway Station, which is admittedly not much to look at from the outside. Thankfully, you arrive inside—and it is quite a feeling of arrival.

Las Setas, Seville


With a name that literally translates to “The Mushrooms,” this somewhat polarizing structure in Seville (which, fair warning, just so happens to be my favorite city in Spain) might make you feel like you’re on some. In a good way, however—there’s no place else like Las Setas in the world. I recommend going up on top of it, if you have time.

The Alhambra, Granada


As far as beautiful buildings in Spain besides the Sagrada Familia are concerned, the medieval Alcazar fortress in Granada is probably on the top of this list. Built by the Moors during their conquest of Spain, this 13th-century castle may remind you of Morocco, if you’ve ever been.

Our Lady of the Pillar Basilica, Zaragoza


I started this list with a church—and I’m going to end it with one. Objectively speaking, Our Lady of the Pillar Cathedral in Zaragoza couldn’t be more different than its more famous cousin down the high-speed train line in Barcelona. Indeed, the four towers that surround its domed center almost evoke a mosque!

Is the Sagrada Familia Overrated?

I’ve listed the Sagrada Familia first, so it would be silly for me to claim that it’s overrated. The building itself is breathtaking, particularly as I’ve had the privilege of seeing it in various states of completion over two decades, taking part in the unique history of the cathedral. What’s overrated, if we’re being technical, is the experience of visiting the Sagrada Familia. It feels like going to Disneyland, except without Mickey Mouse or fun rides.

This is part of why my Spain trip for architecture lovers goes far above and beyond the Sagrada Familia—and, in fact, churches and even traditional buildings in general. While I can’t promise you that all these attractions are off the beaten path—that simply wouldn’t be true—none of them are quite as cliché as Gaudi’s most famous work (even if they’re also not as iconic).

Other FAQ About the Most Beautiful Buildings in Spain

What is the most iconic building in Spain?

Globally speaking, Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia cathedral is without a doubt the most iconic building in Spain. However, I would encourage you not to focus your entire trip on this edifice, even if you only plan to stay in Barcelona. There’s just so much more to see, architecturally and otherwise.

What city in Spain has the best architecture?

Personally, I find Seville to be a highlight of Spain (and not just from an architectural perspective, though that’s a topic for another post). In terms of architecture, however, if you don’t like the avant-garde Las Setas, then the city’s many cathedrals and the grand Plaza de España may be more your speed. 

What is the coolest building in Spain?

Honestly, I’d say that Sevilla’s Plaza de España has to be near the top of the list, if only because of how grand and without comparison it is. However, there is no shortage of amazing buildings in Spain, from famous ones like the Sagrada Familia and Granada’s Alhambra, to some of the less traditional ones I’ve listed here.

The Bottom Line

My Spain architecture itinerary is perfect, whether you’re a licensed professional or an enthusiast (I fall into the latter category). The good news? If you only visit these five places during your trip to Spain, it’ll be unforgettable almost by default. The better news? You’ll encounter so much other Spanish goodness simply by connecting the dots I’ve given you, from food and drink, to sun and surf, to examples of architecture and design that, although they didn’t make this list, are still extremely worthy of your time. Need personalized help putting your Spanish sojourn together? Consider hiring me as your Travel Coach!


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