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Archaeological Site of Atapuerca (UNESCO/NHK)

Archaeological Site of Atapuerca (UNESCO/NHK)

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The caves of the Sierra de Atapuerca, Spain contain a rich fossil record of the earliest human beings in Europe, from nearly one million years ago and extending up to the Common Era. They represent an exceptional reserve of data, the scientific study of which provides priceless information about the appearance and the way of life of these remote human ancestors.

Source: UNESCO TV / © NHK Nippon Hoso Kyokai
URL: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/989/

Atapuerca, Province of Burgos

Atapuerca (Spanish pronunciation: [ataˈpweɾka] ) is a municipality and town located in the province of Burgos, Castile and León, Spain. It encompasses the Archaeological Site of Atapuerca and is famous for its prehistoric archaeological sites. [2] The municipality of Atapuerca is made up of two villages: Atapuerca (seat or capital) and Olmos de Atapuerca.

The small town plays host to an annual cross country running event—the Cross de Atapuerca—which attracts over 2000 runners each year. [3]

Atapuerca is also on The French Way (Spanish: Camino Francés) on the Camino de Santiago.

For a while the Spanish Army had an armour (tank) training facility nearby.

This section provides access to all the contents in a personalised way, according to your own particular interests and socio-demographic profile.

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Community Reviews

I visited this WHS in May 2016. Any foreignor who visits this WHS won't visit by chance. You have to make an effort to understand which site is a general museum on archaeology (CAREX), which site is a visitor centre on Atapuerca but contains none of the remains which give this site its OUV (CAYAC - from where all tours to the yacimientos depart), whether or not you want to physically visit the core zone of this WHS to experience a real archaeological excavation site and an interesting lecture in Spanish together with some information boards in English, or whether to visit the Museo de la Evolución Humana in Burgos to see the most important finds from the yacimientos of Atapuerca. I decided to do all of the above since I actually slept in Atapuerca while doing the Camino Frances and I spent 3 nights in Burgos, so I had enough time. Before arriving by walk in Atapuerca, I noticed that there was a 3km walking trail just before entering the town, opposite the unofficial UNESCO WHS pointing to the CAREX museum. I didn't mind a 3km detour especially since I'm also fond of birdwatching so I walked all the way to the Mirador above the Yacimientos de Atapuerca. This is not advertised anywhere, probably to earn more money through the organised tours as well as reducing the amount of people walking along the narrow one lane bumpy road leading to the yacimientos, which is also used by the coaches transporting people from the CAYAC visitor centre to the Yacimientos. This way you could actually visit the core zone and see the excavation sites (and scaffolding!) of Atapuerca from a distance. Recently however, not only the scaffolding is covered by a temporary roof but the whole railway cutting, meaning that most probably you'll always see the excavation sites in the shade. Unless you bring along a pair of binoculars, in my opinion from here you won't be able to appreciate the minor details and geology which are explained well on the information boards placed below but at least it's free, it's quicker and you'll skip the tour in Spanish. You can also visit by car and park next to the security guard but I wouldn't suggest it because of the road conditions. I wasn't at all satisfied with this quick visit so I called CAYAC by phone and booked myself a tour to the Yacimientos departing from the Museo de la Evolucion Humana in Burgos. This included transport, the tour to the Yacimientos and entrance to the CAREX museum in Atapuerca for 10 euros. You can also opt to visit the museum in Burgos + the tour to the Yacimientos only. Everything is closed on Mondays so keep it in mind. I also paid 4 euros to visit the excellent museum in Burgos and since I was the first visitor at 10am, I could easily take photos (usually there are people on guard to avoid this for commercial reasons) of the remains from Atapuerca which are truly of OUV for their archaeological importance. The most important remains are the bones of the Homo heidelbergensis (picture) which were found in the Bones pit in Atapuerca. There is one whole floor dedicated to Atapuerca and the top floor has an interesting permanent exhibition with very realistic 3D figures which show how our ancestors looked like as well as replicas of the most important hominid finds discovered worldwide. Moreover there was a very interesting exhibition on the most important prehistoric art found worldwide (most are UNESCO WHS). At around 11:30 a bus transported us to the CAYAC where several others joined our group (the minimum number per visit is set to 20 people the majority of the visitors were Spaniards). The young qualified guides are university students/laureates who studied archaeology in depth and some have also participated in the archaeological excavations in Atapuerca. Even though my Spanish is limited I could follow the gist what was being said and why Atapuerca's geology is so important. It's a real pity that tours in English aren't organised but at least there are information boards in English next to the 3 mains sites of the yacimientos. The only odd thing about the tour is that after the visit in the yacimientos, you are left in Ibeas de Juarros where there's nothing to do except have lunch from one of the two restaurants in town. Luckily I made friends with other visitors and we had lunch together but it would make much more sense to have the possibility to go back to Burgos or straight to the CAREX museum. After lunch, our next stop was the CAREX museum which is quite interesting (although mostly geared to entertain children and school outings) to have a general overview but it has nothing to do with the WHS or its OUV. After being transported back to the museum in Burgos, I spent a couple of hours wandering around the museum as the ticket is valid for the whole day. All in all, I'm glad I visited every single site/museum to have a holistic picture of Atapuerca as a WHS but if you're pressed for time, go for the Yacimientos + the museum in Burgos.

Prehistoric Cave Art of Spain & France

NOTE: A waiting list for this tour is now open. To be added to the list and notified if space becomes available for this departure, please contact us at 800-748-6262 or email [email protected]

Investigate southwestern Europe’s most extraordinary prehistoric caves, including Lascaux IV, a new, exact reproduction of one of the most remarkable prehistoric sites ever discovered Altamira II, a precise replica of the original that is often called the “Sistine Chapel of Prehistoric Art” Atapuerca, the most significant early human site in western Europe Las Monedas Cave and Cueva del Castillo, where 455 animal likenesses were painted and engraved some 22,000-14,000 years ago, but other motifs such as hand stencils and red dots have been dated to more than 40,000 years ago, meaning that they may well have been made by Neanderthals Cougnac, which features paintings of extinct megaloceros and mammoth Pech Merle, known for its “negative handprints” and others.

Travel with world-renowned archaeological author Paul Bahn, a gifted and popular lecturer who regularly leads tours to study the prehistory of Spain and France, including this program. Dr. Bahn will enhance your understanding of the sites with lectures and informal discussions.

Tour archaeological and ethnographic museums with superb exhibits of prehistoric artifacts, including the Museum of Human Evolution in Burgos, Altamira Museum, Museum of Les Eyzies, and the Museé d’Aquitaine plus the modern art collections of Bilbao’s Guggenheim Museum.

Explore charming villages and cities, including Santillana del Mar and San Sebastian.

Enjoy excellent accommodations in fine hotels and charming inns, as well as fine wine and cuisine.

$7,995 per person double occupancy
$8,745 per person double occupancy
$1,165 single supplement (limited availability)

Single room supplement will be charged when requested or required. With fewer than 10 participants, a small group surcharge may be added.

Altamira Bison © publicdomain

Giant Deer from Lascaux. ©HTO

Lascaux replica painting. © Jack Versloot

Bison at Altamira. © Thomas Quine

Font-de-Gaume, cave entrance, France © Jane Waldbaum


Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Depart home for Spain
Thursday, September 23

Arrive Bilbao |Santillana del Mar walking tour | Welcome dinner
Friday, September 24

Altamira II | Altamira Museum | Las Monedas Caves & Cueva del Castillo | Santillana del Mar
Saturday, September 25

Covalanas Cave | Bilbao: Guggenheim Museum
Sunday, September 26

Atapuerca | Burgos: Cathedral, Museum of Human Evolution | Bilbao
Monday, September 27

San Sebastian | Bordeaux, France: walking tour
Tuesday, September 28

Bordeaux: Musée d’Aquitaine | Pair-non-Pair | Les Eyzies-de-Tayac
Wednesday, September 29

Museum of Les Eyzies | Cap Blanc | Font-de-Gaume | Les Eyzies
Thursday, September 30

Cougnac | Sarlat | Rouffignac | Abri Pataud | Les Eyzies
Friday, October 1

Lascaux IV | Le Thot | Lascaux II | Les Eyzies
Saturday, October 2

Pech Merle | Vers | Toulouse: walking tour​​​​​​​
Sunday, October 3

Niaux | Toulouse: Farewell dinner
Monday, October 4

View Detailed Itinerary

(B)=Breakfast, (L)=Lunch, (D)=Dinner

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Depart home for Spain

Arrive Bilbao | Santillana del Mar walking tour | Welcome dinner
Arriving in Bilbao, Spain (BIO) in the morning or early afternoon, take a group transfer (time TBD) to the charming medieval town of Santillana del Mar. One of Europe’s most perfectly preserved medieval villages, Santillana del Mar retains a romantic ambiance. After checking in at our hotel, take a walking tour of the village, noting its roots from the early Middle Ages when the first dwellings arose in the shadow of the Romanesque monastery of Santa Juliana. Gather for a welcome dinner at our hotel this evening. Overnight at the 4-star Parador de Santillana Gil Blas for two nights. (D)

Altamira II | Altamira Museum | Las Monedas Caves & Cueva del Castillo | Santillana del Mar
Today is devoted to visiting caves that are celebrated for their ancient rock art. This morning we visit Altamira II, an exact replica of Altamira (the “Sistine Chapel of Prehistoric Art”), decorated with vivid depictions of bison and other animals dating back 15,000 years, a testament to the artists’ skill in using rock formations to accentuate perspective. We also visit the Altamira Museum, with its highly informative exhibits on Cantabrian prehistory and cave art. This afternoon, we depart for the lush Pas Valley, home to the village of Puente Viesgo, the “Prehistoric Capital of Cantabria.” We explore Las Monedas Caves and the Cueva del Castillo, where 455 images of hinds, horses, bison, deer, goats, aurochs, and mammoth dating back 22,000-14,000 years cavort on the walls, while other motifs such as hand stencils and red dots have been dated to more than 40,000 years ago, meaning that they may well have been made by Neanderthals. We return to Santillana del Mar for dinner on our own. (B,L)

Covalanas Cave | Bilbao: Guggenheim Museum
On our return to Bilbao, we drive through the dramatic Carranza Gorges to visit the small Covalanas Cave, where some of the prehistoric drawings are rendered in a little-used technique known as “the inkpad,” in which lines are created from dots of red pigment. This afternoon is devoted to Bilbao’s spectacular Guggenheim Museum, Frank O. Gehry’s architectural masterpiece. This breathtaking modern structure consists of 19 galleries clustered around a central atrium that soars skyward for 165 feet, beautifully illuminated by natural light. The titanium roof is a unique, twisting, curving, metallic sculpture that integrates the city’s industrial waterfront with the nearby historic and business districts. Overnight at the 5-star Gran Hotel Domine for two nights. (B,D)

Atapuerca | Burgos: Cathedral, Museum of Human Evolution | Bilbao
After breakfast this morning, we visit the caves of Atapuerca, a UNESCO World Heritage site, which have provided the earliest and most abundant evidence of humankind in Europe. Continue on to Burgos, where we will have time for lunch and a brief visit to Burgos Cathedral before we explore the impressive Museum of Human Evolution. This evening is at leisure in Bilbao. (B,L)

San Sebastian | Bordeaux, France: walking tour
We depart Spain for France this morning, stopping along the way in the charming city of San Sebastian for some free time. After a leisurely independent lunch, we will continue to Bordeaux, well-known for its wine industry, which attributes its “Golden Age” to the 18 th century when far-sighted city fathers redesigned its urban center to make it the classical masterpiece we know today. Its old district is one of the largest protected architectural neighborhoods in all of France, which we will explore on a walking tour. Overnight at the 4-star Hotel Burdigala. (B)

Bordeaux: Musée d’Aquitaine | Pair-non-Pair | Les Eyzies-de-Tayac
This morning we visit the Musée d’Aquitaine, a museum of history and archaeology exhibiting prehistoric to present-day artifacts of the Aquitaine region, including the Ice Age bas-relief of the Venus of Laussel, one of the earliest and most famous images of women in prehistory. After free time for lunch in Bordeaux, we will visit the prehistoric cave of Pair-non-Pair, known for its animal engravings and fossilized animal bones, and then continue on to Les Eyzies. Overnight at the 4-star Hôtel le Centenaire for four nights. (B,D)

Cap Blanc | Museum of Les Eyzies | Font-de-Gaume | Les Eyzies
The Périgord Region in the southwest of France is Europe’s most important prehistoric region. Its terrain, crisscrossed by gentle rivers flowing amidst extraordinary limestone formations, offered numerous shelters and caves for our early ancestors. Through expressive cave paintings, tools, and excavated remains, witness evidence of human existence and cultural evolution. Begin by exploring the shelter of Cap Blanc, which features a sculpted frieze of life-size horses, followed by a visit to the Museum of Les Eyzies, exhibiting artifacts from several millennia of prehistory. After lunch at leisure in Les Eyzies, visit the cave of Font-de-Gaume, featuring some 230 paintings and engravings, and then return to Les Eyzies for an evening at leisure. (B)

Cougnac | Sarlat | Rouffignac | Abri Pataud | Les Eyzies
Begin the day with a drive to the prehistoric cave of Cougnac, known for its paintings of extinct megaloceros and mammoth. After lunch on your own in Sarlat, we drive along country roads to the prehistoric cave of Rouffignac. Explore its galleries onboard a train, admiring the numerous engravings of mammoth, rhinoceros, horse, bison, and mountain goat represented on its walls. On our way back to Les Eyzies, we stop at the site of Abri Pataud, where extensive digging in the early 1960s revealed astonishing details of the life of the Cro-Magnons. (B,D)

Le Thot | Lascaux IV | Lascaux II | Les Eyzies
Our day starts with Le Thot, a museum and animal park of living species similar to those that occupied this region during the Upper Paleolithic, such as reindeer, European bison, aurochs, Przewalski horses, ibex, and red and fallow deer. We continue on to Lascaux IV, the newest replica of one of Europe’s most significant prehistoric sites, famous for the profusion of high-quality and multi-colored animal paintings on its walls. It is the most complete replica to date, representing nearly all of the original cave’s paintings, and includes an interactive exhibit. End the day with a visit to Lascaux II, an earlier exact replica of the famous cave, where we will have more time to study the many figures in some detail. Return to Les Eyzies for an evening at leisure. (B)

Pech Merle | Vers | Toulouse: walking tour
Depart Les Eyzies after breakfast and visit the cave of Pech Merle, particularly known for prehistoric paintings of mammoth and horse, as well as “negative hand prints.” After lunch in the town of Vers we continue on to Toulouse, for a walking tour and then the balance of the day at leisure. Overnight at the 5-star Hotel Crowne Plaza for two nights. (B,L)

Niaux | Toulouse: Farewell dinner
Visit the outstanding cave of Niaux, perched high above the river and comprising a vast network of galleries that stretch over a mile. The exquisite paintings within represent bison, horse, and ibex. We enjoy a light lunch nearby. Gather this evening for our farewell dinner. (B,L,D)

Fly home
Transfer this morning to Toulouse Blagnac airport (TLS) for flights home. (B)


Arsuaga, J. L., Martınez, I., Gracia, A., & Lorenzo, C. (1997). The Sima de los Huesos crania (Sierra de Atapuerca, Spain). A comparative study . Journal of Human Evolution, 33(2-3), 219-281

De Castro, J. B., Arsuaga, J. L., Carbonell, E., Rosas, A., Martınez, I., & Mosquera, M. (1997). A hominid from the Lower Pleistocene of Atapuerca, Spain: possible ancestor to Neandertals and modern humans . Science, 276(5317), 1392-1395

Ferna, Y., Dı, J. C., Ca, I., & Rosell, J. (1999). Human cannibalism in the Early Pleistocene of Europe (Gran Dolina, Sierra de Atapuerca, Burgos, Spain) . Journal of Human Evolution, 37(3-4), 591-622

Pares, J. M., & Perez-Gonzalez, A. (1995). Paleomagnetic age for hominid fossils at Atapuerca archaeological site, Spain . Science, 269(5225), 830-832

Confirmed: The Hominins Found at Atapuerca are the Earliest Genetic Evidence of Neanderthals to Date

After decades of study and many assumptions, the analysis of nuclear DNA has finally confirmed the evolutionary lineage of the inhabitants of the Sierra de Atapuerca in Spain.

For some time, scientists and researchers of the site in Atapuerca have known that the 28 individuals who lived near the Sima de los Huesos “Pit of Bones” around 430,000 years ago were similar to modern humans in stature, though wider and more robust. In addition, their work has shown that the beings preferred to use their right hands, size differences between females and males were similar to today, and that they were probably able to talk like modern humans. Despite having all that information, clarification was still needed on one important issue: to which hominid species did they belong?

Until now, as Agencia SINC indicates, these origins were a mystery. On the one hand, the characteristics of the recovered skeletal remains were better related to Neanderthals. On the other, the analysis of mitochondrial DNA (DNA transmitted by the maternal line) of a femur sequenced in December 2013, associated the hominins with the extinct Denisovans - distant relatives of Neanderthals who lived in Siberia. That DNA analysis did not correspond with European Neanderthals.

Skull number 5 of the Sima de los Huesos of Atapuerca, as it was discovered in the excavations of 1992. The jaw of this skull appeared, almost intact, years later, very near the site of the initial discovery. (José-Manuel Benito Álvarez/ CC-BY-SA 2.5 )

That first result surprised the Atapuerca research team. But mitochondrial DNA only provides information from the matrilineal line, and therefore it is partial information. Since then, they have worked tirelessly to sequence nuclear DNA from remains found in the cave, as it is inherited by both sides: maternal and paternal.

This was a task that can only be described as daunting - due to the age of the DNA in question, deterioration, and the fact that it was fragmented into very short segments. However, the painstaking effort of many years has earned a long-awaited reward thanks to the improvement in both the isolation of genome samples and sequencing technologies available at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig (Germany). Thus, German, Canadian and Spanish researchers have finally managed to sequence nuclear DNA from a second femur and incisor.

The findings, published in Nature, confirm that the hominids from the Sima de los Huesos were actually primitive Neanderthals. "We have waited many years until paleogenetic techniques advanced enough for this little miracle to occur. We excavated with the utmost care and very slowly to avoid contaminating the remains with our own DNA,” says Juan Luis Arsuaga , scientific director of the Museum of Human Evolution in Burgos and co-author of the study.

Juan Luis Arsuaga, a member of the Research Team of Pleistocene sites in the Sierra de Atapuerca and scientific director of the Museum of Human Evolution in Burgos, Spain, with his team during excavations in the Sima de los Huesos. ( Javier Trueba-Madrid Scientific Films/Agencia SINC )

Specifically, the results of the analysis on the remains of the Pit of the Bones indicate that the separation between Neanderthals and Denisovans is older than 430,000 years ago. Moreover, according to Matthias Meyer , an author of the study and a researcher in the Department of Evolutionary Genetics, “ The separation of the line leading to Homo sapiens from the others -the lines of the 'archaic' humans (Sima de los Huesos, Denisovan, Neanderthals) - could have occurred between 550,000 and 800,000 years ago.”

With that time interval for separation between modern humans and Neanderthals, the remains of the Homo antecessor found at the site of Gran Dolina, also in the Sierra de Atapuerca, whose age is dated between 800,000 and a million years, could be the best candidate to fill the key position of our last ancestor, according to the experts.

Featured Image: Reproduction of Homo neanderthalensis. Museum of Human Evolution (MEH), Burgos, Spain. Source: Nachosan/ CC BY-SA 3.0

Guided Visit to Atapuerca and the Museum of Human Evolution

Atapuerca is a small municipality on the northern slope of Sierra de Burgos, famous for its prehistoric archaeological sites.

Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2000, the archaeological sites of the Sierra de Atapuerca are the only ones in Europe where it is possible to follow the evolution of the first human beings to inhabit the continent, from approximately one million years ago to very recent periods.

The human fossils recovered here represent 85% of all the world’s fossils from the period known as the Middle Pleistocene. Amateur scientists and history buffs, rejoice! Today you will have the opportunity to explore the excavation sites and the world’s largest human evolution museum in the company of experts in the field, and you may feel free to pick their brains. You will also be treated to lunch at a local spot, where you may discuss the fascinating facts you’ve just learned about the history of our kind.

“We returned yesterday from Spain and had a great time. The arrangements all worked out very well and your staff was very helpful, knowledgeable, responsive and professional… Thanks to you and your colleagues for helping to make our trip so enjoyable.”


UNESCO lists sites under ten criteria each entry must meet at least one of the criteria. Criteria i through vi are cultural, whereas vii through x are natural. [6]

Name Image Location Community UNESCO data Period Description
Cave of Altamira and Paleolithic Cave Art of Northern Spain Cantabria, Asturias, Basque Country 310 1985, 2008 (extended) i, iii Upper Paleolithic The Cave of Altamira contains examples of cave painting from the Upper Paleolithic period, ranging from 35,000 to 11,000 BC. The original listing contained seventeen decorated caves. The caves are well-preserved because of their deep isolation from the external climate. [7]
Old Town of Segovia and its Aqueduct Segovia Castile and León 311 1985 i, iii, iv 1st to 16th centuries The Roman aqueduct was constructed in the 1st century, the medieval Alcázar palace in the 11th century, and the cathedral in the 16th. [8]
Monuments of Oviedo and the Kingdom of the Asturias Oviedo Asturias 312 1985, 1998 (extended) i, ii, iv 9th century The Kingdom of Asturias remained the only Christian region of Spain in the 9th century. It developed its own style of Pre-Romanesque art and architecture that is displayed in various churches and other monuments. The original entry titled "Churches of the Kingdom of the Asturias" and was extended to include other monuments such as La Foncalada. [9]
Historic Centre of Córdoba Córdoba Andalusia 313 1984, 1994 (extended) i, ii, iii, iv 7th to 13th centuries The original listing was the Great Mosque of Córdoba, a 7th-century Catholic Church converted to a mosque in the 8th century restored to a Roman Catholic cathedral in the 13th century by Ferdinand III. During the high period of the Moorish rule of the region, Córdoba had over 300 mosques and architecture that compared to that of Constantinople, Damascus, and Baghdad. [10]
Alhambra, Generalife and Albayzín Granada Andalusia 314 1984, 1994 (extended) i, iii, iv 14th century The three sites are remnants of the Moorish influence in southern Spain. The fortress Alhambra and the palace Generalife were built by the rulers of the Emirate of Granada. The Albayzín district contains examples of the Moorish vernacular architecture and was added to the listing in 1994. [11]
Burgos Cathedral Burgos Castile and León 316 1984 ii, iv, vi 13th to 16th centuries The Gothic-style cathedral was constructed between the 13th and 16th centuries. It is the burial place of Spanish national hero, El Cid. [12]
Monastery and Site of the Escorial San Lorenzo de El Escorial Madrid 318 1984 i, ii, vi 16th century El Escorial is one of several Spanish royal sites due to its history as a residence of the royal family. The palace was designed by King Philip II and architect Juan Bautista de Toledo to serve as a monument to Spain's central role in the Christian world. [13]
Works of Antoni Gaudí Barcelona Catalonia 320 1984, 2005 (extended) i, ii, iv 19th and 20th centuries The architecture of Antoni Gaudí is part of the Modernist style, but his designs are described as highly unique. The original listing featured Park Güell, Palau Güell, and Casa Milà the 2005 extension added Casa Vicens, the crypt and nativity façade of Sagrada Família, Casa Batlló, and the crypt at Colònia Güell. [14]
Santiago de Compostela (Old Town) Santiago de Compostela Galicia 347 1985 i, ii, vi 10th and 11th centuries The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is the reputed burial-place of the apostle James, and is the terminus of the Way of St. James, a pilgrimage across northern Spain. The town was destroyed by Muslims in the 10th century and rebuilt during the following century. [15]
Old Town of Ávila with its Extra-Muros Churches Ávila Castile and León 348 1985, 2007 (modified) iii, iv 11th century The defensive wall surrounding the original town was constructed in the 11th century. It features 82 semicircular towers and 9 gates, and is one of the most complete examples of town walls in Spain. [16]
Mudéjar Architecture of Aragon Provinces of Teruel and Zaragoza Aragon 378 1986, 2001 (extended) iv 12th to 17th centuries The original listing contained four churches in Teruel in the Mudéjar style, a blending of traditional Islamic and contemporary European styles. In 2001, the listing was expanded to include an additional six monuments. [17]
Historic City of Toledo Toledo Castile-La Mancha 379 1986 i, ii, iii, iv 8th to 16th centuries Toledo was founded by the Romans, served as the capital of the Visigothic Kingdom, was important in Muslim Spain and during the Reconquista, and briefly served as the capital of Spain. The city combines Christian, Muslim, and Jewish influences. [18]
Garajonay National Park La Gomera Canary Islands 380 1986 vii, ix N/A The park is 70% covered by laurisilva or laurel forest, vegetation from the Paleogene period that disappeared from mainland Europe due to climate change, but had covered much of the southern continent. [19]
Old City of Salamanca Salamanca Castile and León 381 1988 i, ii, iv 13th to 16th centuries Salamanca is important as a university city, as the University of Salamanca, founded in 1218, is the oldest in Spain and among the oldest in Europe. The city was first conquered by the Carthaginians in the 3rd century, and later ruled by the Romans and Moors. The city centre represents Romanesque, Gothic, Moorish, Renaissance, and Baroque architecture. [20] [21]
Cathedral, Alcázar and Archivo de Indias in Seville Seville Andalusia 383 1987 i, ii, iii, iv 13th to 16th centuries The Alcázar was built during the Almohad dynasty that ruled southern Spain until the Reconquista. The cathedral dates to the 15th century and holds the tombs of Ferdinand III and Christopher Columbus. The Archivo (Archive) houses documents relating to the colonization of the Americas. [22]
Old Town of Cáceres Cáceres Extremadura 384 1986 iii, iv 3rd to 15th centuries The old town combines Roman, Islamic, Northern Gothic, and Italian Renaissance architectural influences, including more than 30 Islamic towers. [23] [24]
Ibiza, Biodiversity and Culture Ibiza Balearic Islands 417 1999 ii, iii, iv, ix, x N/A The coast of Ibiza is home to posidonia oceanica, a seagrass only found in the Mediterranean that supports a diverse coastal and marine ecosystem. The island also contains numerous Phoenician ruins, and the fortified and walled older portions of the city date to the 16th century. [25]
Poblet Monastery Vimbodí Catalonia 518 1991 i, iv 12th and 13th centuries The monastery was founded by the Cistercians in 1151 and is one of the largest in Spain. It is associated with various royal families in medieval Spain, particularly the kings of the Crown of Aragon, a composite monarchy of the dynastic union of the Kingdom of Aragon and the County of Barcelona. It is the burial place of Ramon Berenguer IV Compte de Barcelona, Alfons II d'Aragó, Pere II d'Aragó, Jaume I d'Aragó, Pere III d'Aragó, Alfons III d'Aragó, Jaume II d'Aragó, Alfons IV d'Aragó, Pere IV d'Aragó, Joan I d'Aragó and Martí I d'Aragó. [26] [27]
Renaissance Monumental Ensembles of Úbeda and Baeza Province of Jaén Andalusia 522 2003 ii, iv 16th century Renovations of the two towns in the 16th century were done under the emerging Renaissance style and are among the first examples of the style in Spain. [28]
Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida Mérida Extremadura 664 1993 iii, iv 1st to 5th centuries Mérida was founded in 25 BC by the Romans as Emerita Augusta and was the capital of the Lusitania province. Remains from the Roman era include a bridge, aqueduct, amphitheatre, theatre, circus, and forum. [29]
Royal Monastery of Santa María de Guadalupe Guadalupe Extremadura 665 1993 iv, vi 13th to 16th centuries The monastery is home of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a shrine to Mary found in the 13th century after being buried from Muslim invaders in 714. The Virgin of Guadalupe and the monastery served as important symbols during the Reconquista, culminating in 1492, the same year as Columbus' discovery of America. The Guadalupe Virgin became an important symbol during the evangelization of America. [30] [31]
Route of Santiago de Compostela Aragon, Castile and León, Galicia, Navarre, and La Rioja 669 1993 ii, iv, vi N/A The Route, or the Way of St. James, is a pilgrimage from the French-Spanish border to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, where the apostle James is believed to be buried. [32]
Doñana National Park Provinces of Huelva and Seville Andalusia 685 1994, 2005 (extended) vii, ix, x N/A The park consists of the delta region where the Guadalquivir River reaches the Atlantic Ocean. It is home to a diverse variety of biotopes, such as lagoons, marshlands, dunes, and maquis. The park is one of the largest heronries in the Mediterranean region and holds more than 500,000 water fowl during the winter period. [33]
Pirineos – Monte Perdido* Province of Huesca Aragon (shared with France) 773 1997, 1999 (extended) iii, iv, v, vii, viii N/A The site contains the Pyrenees mountain chain along the French-Spanish border. The Spanish portion contains two of the largest canyons in Europe, while the French side contains three large cirque walls. [34]
Historic Walled Town of Cuenca Cuenca Castile-La Mancha 781 1996 ii, v 12th to 18th centuries The Moors built the fortified city in the early 8th century, and it was captured by the Christians in the 12th century. The cathedral is the first Gothic example in Spain. The town is also famous for its casas colgadas, houses that hang over the edge of a cliff. [35] [36]
La Lonja de la Seda de Valencia Valencia Valencian Community 782 1996 i, iv 15th and 16th centuries La Lonja (or Llotja in Valencian language) de la Seda means Silk Exchange in English, and the group of Gothic buildings demonstrate the wealth of Valencia as an important Mediterranean and European mercantile city in the period. [37] [38]
Las Médulas Ponferrada Castile and León 803 1997 i, ii, iii, iv 1st to 3rd centuries The Romans established a gold mine and worked the site for two centuries. They used an early form of hydraulic mining and cut aqueducts in the rock cliffs to provide water for the operations. The Romans left in the early 3rd century, leaving sheer cliff faces and mining infrastructure that is intact today. [39] [40]
Palau de la Música Catalana and Hospital de Sant Pau, Barcelona Barcelona Catalonia 804 1997 i, ii, iv 20th century Both buildings were constructed in the early 20th century and designed by Lluís Domènech i Montaner in the modernist Art Nouveau movement that was very popular in Barcelona in that period. The two buildings are Montaner's most famous works. [41]
San Millán Yuso and Suso Monasteries San Millán de la Cogolla La Rioja 805 1997 ii, iv, vi 6th to 16th centuries The original Suso monastery was founded in the mid-6th century, and is the location where the Glosas Emilianenses were written. The codixes are considered the first written examples of the Spanish and Basque languages, and the monastery is considered the birthplace of written and spoken Spanish. The newer Yuso monastery was built in the 16th century. [42]
Prehistoric Rock-Art Sites in the Côa Valley and Siega Verde* Castile and León (shared with Portugal) 866 1998, 2010 (extended) i, iii Paleolithic The original 1998 listing contained examples of Upper Paleolithic rock art in the Côa Valley of Portugal. In 2010 it was extended to include 645 engravings in the archaeological zone of Siega Verde in Spain. The two sites represent the most well-preserved collection of open-air Palaolithic art in the Iberian peninsula. [43]
Rock Art of the Mediterranean Basin on the Iberian Peninsula Andalusia, Aragon, Castile-La Mancha, Catalonia, Murcia, and Valencia 874 1998 iii Prehistoric The site includes over 750 examples of rock art from the late prehistoric period, which feature images ranging from geometric shapes to scenes of men hunting animals. [44] [45]
Archaeological Ensemble of Tárraco Tarragona Catalonia 875 2000 ii, iii 1st to 4th centuries The prominent Roman city of Tárraco at the site of modern-day Tarragona served as the capital of the provinces of Hispania Citerior and later Hispania Tarraconensis. The amphitheatre was constructed in the 2nd century. Most remains are only fragments or preserved under more modern buildings. [46] [47]
University and Historic Precinct of Alcalá de Henares Alcalá de Henares Madrid 876 1998 ii, iv, vi 16th century Cardinal Cisneros founded the University of Alcalá in 1499 and is the first example of the planned university city, serving as a model to other European universities and Spanish missionaries in America. The city is the birthplace of Miguel de Cervantes, known for his contributions to the Spanish language and Western literature. [48] [49]
San Cristóbal de La Laguna San Cristóbal de La Laguna Canary Islands 929 1999 ii, iv 16th to 18th centuries The city has an original and unplanned Upper Town, and "city-territory" Lower Town. It was Spain's first non-fortified colonial town and served as a model for development in America. Many religious-function buildings and other public and private buildings date to the 16th century. [50] [51]
Palmeral of Elche Elche Valencian Community 930 2000 ii, v N/A The grove of date palm trees was formally laid out with irrigation systems under the Moors in the 10th century. The palmeral is a rare example of Arab agricultural practices in Europe. [52]
Roman Walls of Lugo Lugo Galicia 987 2000 iv 3rd century The walls built to protect the Roman town of Lucus in the 3rd century remain entirely intact and are the best remaining example in Western Europe. [53]
Catalan Romanesque Churches of the Vall de Boí Vall de Boí Catalonia 988 2000 ii, iv 11th to 14th centuries The small valley at the edge of the Pyrenees contains churches in Romanesque style decorated with Romanesque murals, statues, and altars. The churches are unique for their tall, square bell towers. [54] [55]
Archaeological Site of Atapuerca Atapuerca Castile and León 989 2000 iii, v Prehistoric The caves in the Atapuerca Mountains contain fossil remains of the earliest human beings discovered in Europe dating from nearly one million years ago. The Sima de los Huesos or "Pit of Bones" contains the world's largest collection of hominid fossils. [56] [57]
Aranjuez Cultural Landscape Aranjuez Madrid 1044 2001 ii, iv 15th to 19th centuries The landscape around the Royal Palace of Aranjuez was developed by the Spanish royal family over a course of three centuries and contains innovative horticultural and design ideas. The area was the exclusive property of the royal family until the 19th century when the modern civilian city developed. [58] [59]
Vizcaya Bridge Portugalete Basque Country 1217 2006 i, ii 19th century The bridge was designed by Alberto Palacio to cross the Nervion without disrupting maritime traffic to the Port of Bilbao. It was built in 1893 and is the world's first transporter bridge. [60] [61]
Teide National Park Tenerife Canary Islands 1258 2007 vii, viii N/A The park contains Mount Teide, a volcano and the highest elevation in Spain. [62]
Tower of Hercules A Coruña Galicia 1312 2009 iii 1st century The Romans built this 55 metres (180 ft) lighthouse on a 57 metres (187 ft) rock to mark the entrance to the A Coruña harbor. It is the only fully preserved and functioning Roman lighthouse. [63]
Cultural Landscape of the Serra de Tramuntana Majorca Balearic Islands 1371 2011 ii, iv, v N/A The cultural landscape of Serra de Tramuntana on the north western coast of Majorca has been transformed by a millennia of agriculture involving water management devices such as agricultural terraces, interconnected water works -including water mills - and dry stone constructions and farms. This landscape revolves around farming units of feudal origins. [64]
Heritage of Mercury. Almadén and Idrija* Almadén Castile-La Mancha (shared with Slovenia) 1313 2012 ii, iv 16 and 17th century Almaden is an ancient (from Roman times to present day) mercury mining town with buildings relating to its mining history, including Retamar Castle, religious buildings, mining university and traditional dwellings. [65]
Antequera Dolmens Site Antequera Andalusia 1501 2016 i, iii, iv Neolithic and Chalcolithic Located at the heart of Andalusia in southern Spain, the site comprises three megalithic monuments: the Menga and Viera dolmens and the Tholos of El Romeral, and two natural monuments: La Peña de los Enamorados and El Torcal mountainous formations, which are landmarks within the property. Built during the Neolithic and Bronze Age out of large stone blocks, these monuments form chambers with lintelled roofs or false cupolas. These three tombs, buried beneath their original earth tumuli, are one of the most remarkable architectural works of European prehistory and one of the most important examples of European Megalithism. [66]
Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe* Castile and León, Navarre, Castile-La Mancha, and Community of Madrid (shared with 11 other countries in Europe) 1133 2017 ix N/A Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians are used to study the spread of the beech tree (Fagus sylvatica) in the Northern Hemisphere across a variety of environments and the environment in the forest. The addition of the Ancient Beech Forests of Germany in 2011 included five forests totaling 4,391 hectares (10,850 acres) that are added to the 29,278 hectares (72,350 acres) of Slovakian and Ukrainian beech forests inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2007. The site was further expanded in 2017 to include forests in 9 additional European countries. [67]
Caliphate City of Medina Azahara Córdoba Andalusia 1560 2018 iii, iv N/A The Caliphate city of Medina Azahara is an archaeological site of a city built in the mid-10th century CE by the Umayyad dynasty as the seat of the Caliphate of Cordoba. After prospering for several years, it was laid to waste during the civil war that put an end to the Caliphate in 1009-10. [68]
Risco Caído and the sacred mountains of Gran Canaria Cultural Landscape Gran Canaria island 1578 2019

Sites by autonomous community Edit

Exclusive sites refer to sites locating in a single community. Shared sites refer to sites with entries in multiple communities, including Pirineos – Monte Perdido, which Aragon shares with France, Prehistoric Rock-Art Sites in the Côa Valley and Siega Verde, which Castile and León shares with Portugal and Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests which Navarre, Castile and León, Community of Madrid and Castile-La Mancha shares with other countries of Europe.

Community Exclusive sites Shared sites
Andalusia 7 1
Castile and León 6 3
Catalonia 5 1
Canary Islands 4
Galicia 3 1
Madrid 3 1
Extremadura 3
Castile-La Mancha 2 3
Valencian Community 2 1
Balearic Islands 2
Aragon 1 3
Asturias 1 2
Basque Country 1 1
La Rioja 1 1
Cantabria 2
Navarre 2
Murcia 1

In addition to sites inscribed on the World Heritage List, member states can maintain a list of tentative sites that they may consider for nomination. Nominations for the World Heritage List are only accepted if the site was previously listed on the tentative list. [70] As of 2016, Spain recorded 32 sites on its tentative list. At 2018, the sites, along with the year they were included on the tentative list are: [71] [2]

Alcalá de Henares: A Bibliophile’s Playground

Alcalá de Henares is quite literally the world’s first college town, planned around a university and its students. With its long history of scholarship, it’s no surprise that this quaint town is known for its literary and cultural contributions to Spain.

Alcalá de Henares is the birthplace of Miguel de Cervantes, Spain’s most distinguished writer and author of Don Quixote. Cervantes himself may be long gone, but his lasting legacy makes this town a bibliophile’s playground.

Visitors can begin their Cervantina experience aboard the Cervantes Train, which departs from Madrid. During the journey enjoy stunning views of the countryside and live performances of Don Quixote’s most iconic scenes. Once in Alcalá de Henares, costumed tour guides lead guests down cobblestoned streets and manicured plazas, making stops at the childhood home of Cervantes and University of Alcalá.

Watch the video: TOP 5 - Nejzáhadnějších archeologických nálezů (August 2022).