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Exploring Spanish Historic Sites – From 40,000 BCE to the Middle Ages

Spain has a long and diverse history. So, are you ready to journey through the country's storied past through its sites?

For those interested in prehistory, perhaps the first historic sites to visit in Spain would be the caves of El Castillo and Altamira in Cantabria, and those in Nerja, near Málaga. Some of the paintings and relics at these sites are believed to date back tens of thousands of years.

If you're looking for settlements from ancient civilisations, Phoenician, Greek and Roman sites are all available. You can follow in the eighth-century BCE footsteps of the Phoenicians in Cádiz, considered by some to be the oldest city in Western Europe. Similarly, Greek culture can be found in Ampurias, on the Mediterranean coast, where one can visit a Greco-Roman settlement and enjoy the spectacular views over the sea.

Purely Roman architecture, on the other hand, also abounds. Roman ruins can still be seen today in many cities throughout Spain, including Mérida in Badajoz, Tarragona in Catalonia, Cartagena in Murcia, and Seville.

After the ancient and classical civilisations came the Visigoths, the Middle Ages, and the power of the Church and aristocracy. Toledo became the Visigoth capital, although besides the artefacts and replicas housed inside the Museum of the Visigoth Councils, barely any remnants remain from that period. By contrast, a myriad of towns and cities still retain the architecture of medieval times, such as Morella in Valencia, Cáceres (a World Heritage city), Frías in Burgos, Peratallada in Girona, Alquézar in Aragon, and many more.

Muslim civilisations have also left their mark on buildings, streets, parks and gardens in cities across the country. Notable examples include Córdoba, with its Great Mosque-Cathedral; Seville, whose Giralda Belltower and Alcázar Royal Palace both have distinct Moorish features; Granada, where the extraordinary Alhambra Palace was the last Nasrid stronghold in Spain; and even Soria, where several buildings betray Moorish influences.

Greco-Roman settlement
Greco-Roman settlement

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