Spain is one of the richest cultural countries in the world for the high level of importance of its historic and artistic patrimony. This statement is not only based on the patriotic feeling but also in relatively objective sources. After Italy and China, Spain is the state that holds the higher number of entries in the list of the UNESCO's Patrimony of Humanity, totalling 48.
The rich and complex history of Spaniard territories has left the country a luxurious monumental legacy, defined by all the civilisations that have lived together or have passed by throughout the centuries.
Most of these architectonic milestones focus on cities that are -or, at some point in history, have been- important economic, industrial and administrative capitals, but it also keeps its treasures in the rural side.
Once again, the conservation state of these buildings is somewhat heterogeneous and, in some cases, the will to keep them as if nothing had happened is more than doubtful. But, as Antonio Perla -Professor of Art History in UNED- points out: "There are delightful places that resulted from quite recent performances in which there have not been an attempt of supplantation, but rather it has been intervened conceptually in a very correct manner, with completely identifiable lines, using modern materials along with remnants from the past, retrieving its spaces."
An example would be the town Santa Maria de Mave, in Palencia, "a perfectly strategic point in which the roman-Palentian air surrounds it." Along with it, here you have some of the towns that have been highlighted by a jury of experts, formed by architects, professors and critics.
Alquézar in Huesca
Ignacio Vleming, critic and author of the architecture book "Fisura," teaches us some history: "This location in the county of Somontano de Barbastro, in the Guara sierra, is named after the old alcazar built in the 9th century to defend Al-Andalus from the Christian territory of Sobrarbe."
The collegiate church of Santa Maria la Mayor stands right on the ruins of this ancient fortress with its roman cloister, late-Gothic paintings and baroque organ. However, what makes this monumental complex unique is its impressive integration of landscapes of canyons that vultures overfly.
El Escorial in Comunidad de Madrid
It would not be wise to forget the town that holds one of the most recognised monuments in our historic patrimony, the Royal Monastery in San Lorenzo de El Escorial, a mannerist piece of Juan Bautista de Toledo and Juan de Herrera. But there is so much more in El Escorial. As Antonio Perla points out, when this location comes to the table "we automatically think of the great factory built under the reign of Felipe II, but people tend to ignore that, linked to the construction, there are a series of possessions and some of them can be seen thanks to the Royal Path of free circulation."
Ronda in Malaga
Rememorating epic times, Valerio Canals, partner of the studio CanalsMoneo, highlights the geographic enclave of this location: "It is hard to think of a more impressive and exceptional one. Everything else is an add-on to a city that holds a great historical legacy, from the Roman to the Arab inheritance of its old centre in the most illustrated city of the 18th century, split by the famous Tajo de Ronda that the new bridge sews heroically."
Cuellar in Segovia
Here, Ignacio Vleming provides some juicy gossip stories: "The Castle of Cuellar was, for centuries, the residence of the Albuquerque Dukes, among which Beltran de la Cueva outstands for being a possible lover of Enrique IV of Castilla. According to some gossip stories, he may also have been the father of the infant Doña Juana, called La Beltraneja. Over time, the building was transformed into a Renaissance palace and numerous Mudejar churches were built to form a beautiful complex."
Toro in Zamora
The collegiate church of Toro is a magnificent Roman monument from the 12th century. Antonio Perla highlights "its contemporary dome and majesty's gantries with retrieved polychromy, and the northern location, recently restored. It is also interesting to walk down the streets and visit the excellent municipal covered pool, designed by the Vier Arquitectos studio and built with rammed earth walls."
Morella in Castellon
Ignacio Vleming transports their audience to the county of Maestrazgo, between Castellon and Teruel: "There lies Morella, whose location on the top of a hill and its abundant historic and artistic patrimony makes it one of the most photogenic locations in Spain."
The Santa Maria church, holding a spiral staircase and gothic choir, and the San Francisco monastery, in which a curious mural painting of the 15th century's dance of death is located, are two of the treasures this country preserve.
Sepúlveda in Segovia
Antonio Perla takes the opportunity to criticise the false history and the effects of the mass tourism: "Sepulveda is a town that is constantly debating if they should let themselves go or not become medieval, but it has kept its dignity in front of the touristification process."
This town hosts four Roman churches, the Castle of Fernan Gonzalez presiding Plaza Mayor and a good number of main houses and palaces, along with the building of its former prison.