World Heritage in Spain

World Heritage in Spain


The World Heritage Convention is the first document that joins the cultural and natural legal protection at an international level. In the beginning, the Convention recognized only two typologies of sites: cultural and natural. Later on, the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention added a third concept: mixed heritage, which merged cultural and natural values. Years later, new heritage categories were included, such as cultural landscapes, heritage canals, heritage routes...

Today, Spain is the third country in number of properties inscribed on the World Heritage List and covers almost all the types recognized by the Operational Guidelines. The different typologies are:

CULTURAL HERITAGE: shall be considered as cultural heritage:

- Monuments: architectural works, works of monumental sculpture and painting, elements or structures of an archaeological nature, inscriptions, cave dwellings and combinations of features, which are of Outstanding Universal Value from the point of view of history, art or science.

- Groups of buildings: groups of separate or connected buildings which, because of their architecture, their homogeneity or their place in the landscape, are of Outstanding Universal Value from the point of view of history, art or science.

- Sites: works of man or the combined works of nature and of man, and areas including archaeological sites which are of Outstanding Universal Value from the historical, aesthetic, ethnological or anthropological points of view.

Following the Operational Guidelines we can found information on specific types of cultural properties:

- Historic Towns and Town Centres: they are those towns that have developed and will continue to develop under the influence of socio economic and cultural change. They may not be inhabited and to be archaeological testimonies of the past. There is the cultural properties type most represented at the Spanish's World Heritage.

- Heritage route: A heritage route is composed of tangible elements of which the cultural significance comes from exchanges and a multi-dimensional dialogue across countries or regions, and that illustrate the interaction of movement, along the route, in space and time.

- Cultural landscapes: Cultural landscapes are cultural properties and represent the combined works of nature and of man. They are illustrative of the evolution of human society and settlement over time, under the influence of the physical constraints and/or opportunities presented by their natural environment and of successive social, economic and cultural forces, both external and internal.

Cultural properties are most numerous in the list of world heritage in Spain with a total of 39, the 88% of the whole list.

Cultural World Heritage sites in Spain are:

o Alhambra, Generalife and Albayzín, Granada
o Burgos Cathedral
o Historic Centre of Cordoba
o Monastery and Site of the Escurial, Madrid
o Works of Antoni Gaudí
o Cave of Altamira and Paleolithic Cave Art of Northern Spain
o Monuments of Oviedo and the Kingdom of the Asturias
o Old Town of Ávila with its Extra-Muros Churches
o Old Town of Segovia and its Aqueduct
o Santiago de Compostela (Old Town)
o Historic City of Toledo
o Mudejar Architecture of Aragon
o Old Town of Cáceres
o Cathedral, Alcázar and Archivo de Indias in Seville
o Old City of Salamanca
o Poblet Monastery
o Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida
o Route of Santiago de Compostela
o Royal Monastery of Santa María de Guadalupe
o Historic Walled Town of Cuenca
o La Lonja de la Seda de Valencia
o Las Médulas
o Palau de la Música Catalana and Hospital de Sant Pau, Barcelona
o San Millán Yuso and Suso Monasteries
o Rock Art of the Mediterranean Basin on the Iberian Peninsula
o University and Historic Precinct of Alcalá de Henares
o San Cristóbal de La Laguna
o Archaeological Ensemble of Tárraco
o Archaeological Site of Atapuerca
o Catalan Romanesque Churches of the Vall de Boí
o Palmeral of Elche
o Roman Walls of Lugo
o Aranjuez Cultural Landscape
o Renaissance Monumental Ensembles of Úbeda and Baeza
o Vizcaya Bridge
o Tower of Hercules
o Prehistoric Rock Art Sites in the Côa Valley and Siega Verde
o Cultural Landscape of the Serra de Tramontana
o Heritage of Mercury: Almadén and Idrija

NATURAL HERITAGE: shall be considered as natural heritage the natural features, geological and physiographical formations and natural sites or precisely delineated natural areas of Outstanding Universal Value from the point of view of science, conservation or natural beauty. There are three National Parks inscribed in the World Heritage List in Spain.

o Doñana National Park
o Teide National Park
o Garajonay National Park

MIXED CULTURAL AND NATURAL HERITAGE: shall be considered as mixed cultural and natural heritage if they satisfy a part or the whole of the definitions of both cultural and natural heritage. In Spain there are:

o Pyrénées - Mont Perdu
o Ibiza, Biodiversity and Culture



The Spanish intangible properties included by UNESCO in the lists of Intangible Cultural Heritage are as follows:

- El misterio de Elche (2008).
- La Patum de Berga (2008).
- Centro de cultura tradicional Museo Escolar de Pusol (2009).
- Tribunales de regantes del Mediterráneo español: el Consejo de Hombres Buenos de la Huerta de Murcia y el Tribunal de las Aguas de la Huerta de Valencia (2009).
- El Silbo Gomero, lenguaje silbado de la isla de La Gomera (Islas Canarias) (2009).
- El flamenco (2010).
- Los "castells" (2010).
- El canto de la Sibila de Mallorca (2010).
- La fiesta de «la Mare de Déu de la Salut» de Algemesí (2011).
- Revitalización del saber tradicional de la cal artesanal en Morón de la Frontera (Sevilla, Andalucía) (2011).
- La fiesta de los patios de Córdoba (2012).
- Metodología para realizar inventarios del patrimonio cultural inmaterial en reservas de biosfera - La experiencia del Montseny (2013).
- La dieta mediterránea (2013).
- La fiesta de las Fallas de Valencia (2016).
- La cetrería, un patrimonio humano vivo (2016).