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Santillana del Mar

There are hundreds of medieval towns in Spain. They are cities where time seems to stand still and which, when we visit them, transport us to their aristocratic or heroic past when they were mansions border limits or major economic centers.

Strolling through its narrow cobbled streets, seeing its ancestral homes and visiting its beautiful monuments make us feel like characters from the Middle Ages. And the best thing is that you can find them at all provinces of Spain from Barcelona until Caceres and of Cantabria until Malaga. For all this, we offer you a tour of the most beautiful medieval towns in Spain.

Santillana del Mar, a classic among Spain’s medieval towns

View of Santillana del Mar

Santillana del Mar, perhaps the most typical medieval town in Spain

We begin our route in what is perhaps the best known medieval town in our country. If any of us were asked about a medieval town in Spain, many of us would answer Santillana del Mar.

Because, in addition, it is a beautiful villa in the heart of Cantabria. Not in vain, he holds the category of artistic historical ensemble and is part of the network The most beautiful cities in Spain. In fact, we could tell you that this city is not lost. Almost all of its buildings have something interesting.

But there are several you need to see. This is the case of the spectacular Collegiate Church of Santa Juliana, built in the 12th century according to the Roman canons, although rebuilt in the 16th century. Do not miss to visit its cloister, with its forty-two capitals. It is also essential that you see the imposing sand palace jewel of the early Renaissance with Plateresque motifs.

It is not the only traditional house you can see in Santillana. We also advise you to visit the palaces of Viveda, Mijares or Valdivieso, as well as the building of the city ​​hall, Baroque style. In short, as we said, all the buildings of this Cantabrian city are of interest. Given the impossibility of telling you about all of them, we would advise you to also see the houses of Quevedo and Cossío, the Villa, the Archduchess or the towers of don Beltrán de la Cueva, del Merino and don Borja. All this without forgetting the Altamira Museum with the replica of its famous caves.

Besalú, an impressive Romanesque heritage


View of Besalu


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We are now going to the region of La Garrocha, in the province of Girona, to tell you about Besalú, another impressive medieval town in Spain. Already the same access to the villa, with its bridge from the 11th century, it is spectacular. It is one hundred and five meters long and has nevertheless been restored several times. Its three towers stand out. Two are next to the wall and a third, hexagonal and thirty meters high, in the middle.


Besalú is also artistic historical ensemble. And he has an interest Jewish neighborhood narrow streets where you can still see the remains of the old synagogue and the miqveh, place where the ritual baths took place. For his part, the Monastery of Sant Pere It was built in the 10th century, although only the temple remains today. And, in the same square, you have the Cornellà house and the old Sant Julia Hospital with a facade of the XII.

The St. Vincent’s Church It is a Romanesque gem from the 10th century and outside the walls you can see the remains of the castle and the Church of San Martín. But we also want to advise you on something that probably won’t appear in many common tourist guides. Since you are in Besalú, come Castellfullit de la Roca a beautiful medieval city even smaller and which seems to be clinging to a vertiginous cliff.

Aínsa, in the Pyrenees of Huesca


Mayor Square of Ainsa

Another of the most beautiful medieval towns in Spain is Aínsa, located in the Sobrarbe region of the province of Huesca. To its historical charm, it adds a privileged nature, since part of its municipal territory is included in the beautiful Natural Park of the Sierra and Canyons of Guara.

So medieval can Aínsa be considered that legend places its foundation in the year 724 thanks to the miracle of the fiery cross. According to her, thanks to the appearance of this supernatural element, the Christian troops of Garci Ximénez were able to defeat the Muslims. Already in the XVII century was built a temple with a cross inside to remember this story that you can still see today.


But the great symbol of Aínsa is its Castle, built around the 11th century. This was the true origin of the city, as from there the walls were extended to protect those who settled in its surroundings. Since 1931 it has been a Historic Artistic Monument.

We also advise you to see in the city of Huesca the church of Santa Maria, built between the 11th and 12th centuries following the Romanesque canons. The portal with four archivolts and the single nave covered with a half-barrel vault stand out for their simplicity, but above all the tower, with unique dimensions in Aragonese Romanesque art.

Do not forget to pass, also, by its beautiful main square, open and with its arcades, nor to see the Arnal and Bielsa houses, both from the 16th century. But above all, stroll through its cobbled streets as if you were in the Middle Ages.

Frías, a Medieval Town in Burgos


View of Frías, medieval jewel of the province of Burgos

With less than three hundred inhabitants, you will be surprised to learn that this town in the province of Burgos holds the title of town granted by the king John II of Castile in 1435. This will give you an idea of ​​the importance it had in the Middle Ages.

One of its great symbols is the spectacular romanesque bridge of the 13th century which, with its almost one hundred and fifty meters long, is among the longest in Spain. Later reforms added Gothic elements such as some of its arches, which are pointed. Later also is the central tower that adorns it.

But, perhaps, the main attraction of Frías is its medieval houses. Some of them, like those in Cuenca, seem to hang from a hill on the road that joins the St. Vincent’s Church and the Velasco castle. The latter crowns, precisely, the hill of La Muela and is already inscribed in the 9th century, although its current invoice dates from the 12th century. Its location and size give it an undeniable defensive character for the region.

As for the aforementioned church of San Vicente Mártir and San Sebastián, it retains only a few elements of its primitive Romanesque form. It suffered various accidents that forced many of its parts to be rebuilt. Likewise, its old cover was transported to the Cloisters Museum in New York.


You should also see other religious monuments in Frías such as the convents of San Francisco and Santa María de Vadillo, as well as the Gothic Church of San Vítores. And, concerning the civilians, we advise you to visit the barracks and palace of the Salazars. All this without forgetting the Jewish quarter, which was located in the current streets of Convención and Virgen de la Candonga.

Albarracín, another of the most beautiful medieval towns in Spain


View of Albarracin

We return to the autonomous community of Aragon specifically to the province of Teruel, to tell you about Albarracín, whose foundation is estimated around the 11th century, when a group of Muslims settled there. For this, he built an imposing alcazar which is currently a Historic Artistic Monument.

However, the whole city bears the title of historical monument complex. To the Muslim era also belongs the walker’s tower, which was part of the defensive walls of the city. Symmetrical to this is the tower of Doña Blanca, which is located at one end of the park.

And, next to the castle, you have the cathedral of the savior, built in the 16th century on the remains of an old 12th century Romanesque temple. It combines Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque styles. Moreover, inside you can see an interesting collection of Flemish tapestries.

Next to the cathedral is the Episcopal Palace, with an interesting baroque facade, and, in the so-called Portal de Molina, the Julianeta house, a typical popular construction. Finally, the city ​​hall It is from the 16th century.

Montefrío, medieval Andalusian


Montefrío, one of the most beautiful medieval towns in Spain

Located in the province of Grenade Montefrío had enormous importance in the Middle Ages from Al-Andalus. Indeed, his castle housed the court of the Nasrid King Ismail III. This fortification is located on an imposing hill where the village church built in the 16th century by Diego de Siloe.

But that’s not the only thing you can see in Montefrío. Besides strolling through its streets and seeing its white houses, you should visit the impressive landscape of Cerro de los Gitanos, where there are several archaeological sites and even a Roman town and bridge. And in the Barranco de los Molinos you will see waterfalls and, precisely, mills from the Latin era.

Likewise, you must visit Montefrío, which has also been declared artistic historical ensemble, the churches of San Sebastián and San Antonio, the first Renaissance and the second Baroque. On the other hand, that of the Incarnation is neoclassical. For his part, the House of Trades and the Saint John of God Hospital they are from the 16th century and the Hôtel de Ville is an 18th century mansion.

In conclusion, we have shown you some of the most impressive medieval towns of Spain. However, inevitably, we left a lot in the pipeline. To name a few, we will quote you Alquezar in Huesca, peratallada in Girona, Round in Malaga or Olite in Navarre. Do not hesitate to visit them, you will not regret it.

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