Spain, the beautiful architecturally rich country, has easily become one of my most favorite places to visit. It is certainly the country I’ve been to the most. In February, I took my fifth trip. I was there on behalf of Tile of Spain to attend the annual Cevisama (tile trade show) in Valencia with an added day excursion to Castellon en route to Barcelona for a few days of architectural tours. From there, we took the train to Madrid to spend a couple of days, including a day trip to Toledo before driving to Portugal for another few days. Highlighting Spain, are some of the great architecture sights we visited in Valencia, Castellon, Barcelona, Madrid, and Toledo.
Probably the most noted architecture in Valencia is the work of local architect Santiago Calatrava, who along with Félix Candela, designed the City of Arts and Sciences. Above is the Museu de les Ciencies Principe Felipe and to the left the L’Umbracle. The City of Arts and Sciences is situated at the end an old riverbed known as the river Turia, which was drained in 1957, and is also a park with a trail that curves around the city for walking and biking.
Reflected on water, above is the L’Hemisferic (an Imax theater, planetarium, and laserium). Behind is the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia - I was completely mesmerized by its sculptural curved roof structure. These buildings are listed as part of the 12 Treasures of Spain.
Venturing from the futuristic, is the Old City (Ciutat Vella) of Valencia, the historic city center that was once a walled city. The area is lively and filled with historic buildings including the Estacio Del Nord, above, a Valencian Art Nouveau railway station built in 1852.
Also in the Ciutat Vella, is an Art Deco influenced building known as the Rialto Teatre, still currently used as a theater.
North of Valencia, en route to Barcelona, we visited the small town of Vila Real in Castellon after a tile factory tour. It was fascinating to read this town hosts four of Spain’s 500 largest businesses, all of which trade in the ceramic tile business. (I did see the large tile manufacturer Porcelanosa on our drive - I’ve previously contributed articles for their site.)
In Vila-Real, province of Castellon, the Sancti Pashalis Basilica is listed among one of the main sights.
Beautiful Barcelona, a gem of architecture. As part of our planned Tile of Spain group, we got to experience a day long hosted architectural tour of the city. Including everything from gothic to art nouveau to contemporary and modern sites throughout the city.
This is Casa Vicens by Gaudí, his very first design. The private 130 year old home was opened in 2017 as a museum. It has an amazing tiled roof top terrace with a look out spot and intricate chimneys.
Another Gaudí, and probably one of his most famous, the Sagrada Familia. It was my first time seeing, somehow had missed on previous trips. Stunning, fascinating, mesmerizing, absolutely worth seeing.
Ah Madrid, my favorite, surprisingly. Perhaps it’s because I’ve spent the most time here, but it feels a bit like “home”. I tend to gravitate toward large cities, and Madrid offers a mix of a beautiful European city with the vibe of NYC energy in some neighborhoods along with modern city shopping areas, cool trendy barrios and historic areas. It’s a bustling city and I’ve always felt very comfortable in Madrid.
Housed in a beautiful building built in 1916, nearby to Plaza Mayor, is the Mercado De San Miguel. The “market” actually houses over thirty gourmet tapas eateries serving tapas, paella, ham, olives, baked goods and beer and wine are also available.
The famous Plaza Mayor with a detailed painted facade. The large square has some interesting history and statues on display, small shops and bars are on the perimeter.
Walking a neighborhood of Madrid just outside the Plaza Mayor.
Beautiful grounds and buildings seen walking around Madrid on a wintry day.
Retiro Park, which is near to Atocha Train Station and next to the Only You Hotels we stayed at, is a large park with expansive gardens and a lake where you can rent paddle boats.
The amazing building known as Atocha, Madrid’s main railway station, conveniently directly across from our hotel too.
Worthy of a day trip from Madrid, by train, is a visit to Toledo. Another historic walled city that is full of so much fascinating history.
It was so pretty on a crisp cold day in February. This view is upon entering from a steep walk up from the bottom.
The bridge over the river Tagus leading to the historic walled city of Toledo.
This river leads to Portugal and that was our next destination from here.
After two weeks I still wasn’t ready to leave Spain, I came home missing Spain, and I’m still wanting to go back to Spain! Hopefully a return visit soon!
[All photos are personal photos taken.]
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