Top 5 ranking of the most beautiful cities in Spain according to local architects

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Twelve renowned architects have expressed their opinion on architecture, urbanism and social legacy, as well as which ones of them host the best creations. Here is their verdict.

 

 

5. Bilbao

Museo Guggenheim min

It is impossible to mention the modern Bilbao without quoting the Guggenheim effect that many places in the world have tried to emulate, but generally unsuccessfully. "The urban regeneration that joined the museum has set an imprint in the history of urbanism and municipal management as an unprecedented milestone," says Ignacio Vleming, writer and cultural critic, an expert in Cultural Architecture.

 

He concludes that "its success was the result of, among other reasons, its geographic location and population density, condensed in its Metropolitan Area. Thus, the concept of city-brand came to life, which is unavoidably linked to entertainment architecture and the problem of gentrification."

 

4. Santiago de Compostela

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The experts prefer to disregard the cliches when setting value on this city that is the peregrination destination since high medieval times. Victoria Soto Caba criticises the polemic Cidade de Cultura that Peter Eisenmann designed as "a clear example of what should not be done, of megalomania and ineffectiveness in the management: it is a pity of investment that could have been directed to restorations and preventive conservations."

 

Hector Navarro also rememorates the work of Eisenman along with other examples of modern architecture like the SGAE Headquarters by Anton Garcia Abril or the pieces of Alvaro Siza during the 90s, like the Galego de Arte Contemporáneo. Manuel Blanco Lage appreciates how the city "preserves its traditional centre and it has built national and international inputs around it." Clara Moneo also likes the transition from past to present.

 

3. Sevilla

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Guadalquivir's capital outstands because of its impressive past legacy. Clara Moneo recalls that "besides its Arab and roman past, its splendour is recognised as the port to the Americas," something that provides a sense of cultural richness.

 

Mara Sánchez Llorens also remarks the Reales Alcázares church, conjunction of styles and ancient times whose architectural pieces Ignacio Vleming cannot help but notice.

 

The writer spotlights the Cathedral, the Cartuja Factory or the Royal Tabacco Factory. "Sevilla has kept its special character while their architects developed the city," concludes Manuel Blanco Lage.

 

2. Barcelona

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The Catalunyan modernism is conveniently quoted by experts. After all, the architectural interest goes way beyond the Sagrada Familia Cathedral. Hector Navarro believes "the constructions of Gaudi or Lluis Domenech i Montaner cannot be left behind, but there are also other modern structures like those projected by Enric Miralles, such as the Diagonal Mar park or Mare Nostrum Tower; by RCR, winner of the Pritzker prize and designer of the Sant Antoni-Joan Oliver library; and by international personalities, like the Japanese architect Toyo Ito for Fira Towers or the Suites Avenue building."

 

The architect and university professor Valerio Canals makes an impressive summary of Barcelona's virtues, highlighting that "it has incorporated naturally the novelty and design." Manuel Blanco Lago agrees, considering it is "one of our most iconic cities that has achieved the international projection thanks to its modernist architecture, which has received great architectonic performances during the last decades."

 

According to Almudena de Benito, "Every corner of this city speaks without words of architecture and design; and, from beyond the peregrinations, going through the Mies van der Rohe's pavilion -designed for the 1929's International Exposition in Montjuic- and to the Joan Miró Foundation by -Jose Lluis- Sert, Barcelona deserves to be seen from Collserola as a green lung where lies Foster's communication tower."

 

1. Madrid

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Even though the capital is not the best example of urbanistic harmony, the experts of the jury cannot help but highlight specific constructions in the city for being the country's capital and the home of some of the most prominent architectural designs.

 

The extension of Queen Sofia -carried out by Jean Nouvel- and the showcase of the M-30 expose "architecture of the 60s and 70s through those open blocks with innovative gardens," according to Andrés Jaque. The architect and expert in urbanistic, Founder and Director of the Office for Political Innovation, also refers to diamonds like the White Towers of Saenz de Oiza or the Postal Savings Bank.

 

Mara Sanchez Llorens is not afraid to highlight Plaza Mayor, but also the less recognised 20th century's architecture in Madrid: In Paseo del Prado, there are essential components like Bankinter or the BBVA tower and the vertical garden of the Caixaforum or the hundred-year-old train station.

 

The Royal Palace takes the first place for most of the interviewed. The architect and professor, Hector Navarro and, the architect, curator, designer and Director of the ETSAM, Manuel Blanco Lage, agree to highlight the last addition to the Palatial complex. This project, developed by Luis Moreno Mansilla and Emilio Tuñon, has been destined to host the Museum of Royal Collections.