Four of Spain’s least-known architectural wonders
1. The little-known ancient city
Not far from the Islamic-Gothic stronghold of Seville, the lesser-known ancient Roman colony of Italica is a semi-ruin of aristocratic mansions and swirling mosaics around a 25,000-seat amphitheater. Believed to be the birthplace of Emperors Trajan and Hadrian, its modern profile was upped by appearing on a TV show Game of thrones.
2. The historic skyscraper
The Telefónica building was Madrid’s first skyscraper when it opened in 1929 and quickly became both a bombing target and an air raid shelter during the Spanish Civil War. Today, it regularly hosts art exhibitions behind a beautifully restored facade merging Spanish Baroque and New York art deco styles.
3. The isolated chapel
This seedy Romanesque chapel of Santa Margarida de Sacot derives its inordinate impetus from its other location in a volcanic crater in Catalonia’s Garrotxa region. Historians believe the medieval original was built for spiritual defense against the fire of molten hell, although it was destroyed by a 15th-century earthquake and replaced in 1865.
4. Hidden Palace of Gaudí
Barcelona does not have a monopoly on the genius of Antoni Gaudí. The unruly architect, whose works dot the Catalan capital, was also called to rural León to design the Episcopal Palace of Astorga: a vision of a castle of spiers and moats for the Bishop of Astorga. It is now a museum of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route, which passes nearby.
Read more stories and travel guides for Spain
Published in the June 2021 issue of National Geographic Traveler (UK)
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