Andalusia in southern Spain has a rich and varied history, which has left behind a fascinating array of palaces, castles, cathedrals and other buildings. Many of them have in turn been recognised by UNESCO for their cultural significance. On my recent travels through the region, I visited all five of the UNESCO Cultural World Heritage Sites in Andalusia.
My husband, Joel, has just launched his own Youtube channel, joelontheroad’s UNESCO World Heritage Journey. He is attempting to visit all the World Heritage Sites around the world and film his journey (with me along for the ride!) Come and watch his videos captured at these five magnificent and varied sites.
Alhambra, Generalife and Albayzín, Granada
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
Seville was the first city we visited in Andalusia, and probably my favourite. 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
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 Antequerra stand out for being far older than any of the other cultural UNESCO sites, 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.