Everything You Need to Know About Spanish Architecture (2023)

Everything You Need to Know About Spanish Architecture (1)

March 22, 2021 by Sofía Godoy Hispanic Culture 4 comments

Impressive Spanish architecture has the power to leave you breathless. The intricate details, designs, and majestic structures make Spanish architecture world-renowned and a solid base of Spanish culture and history.

If you’ve had the opportunity to visit Spain or plan to do so in the future, I’m here to prepare you with everything you need to know about Spanish architecture! Join me on a fascinating journey back in time to explore the extraordinary buildings and styles of Spanish architecture.

Major Influences on Spanish Architecture

Cities in Spain possess a cultural richness that translates to diverse architectural styles. The history of Spain is broad and has led to multiple influences reflected in Spanish architecture.

Muslim invasions, the rise of Christian religion, the Renaissance, and other foreign influences have transformed Spanish architecture throughout history. Spain has managed to blend its traditional structures with modernity in cities including Barcelona, Bilbao, and Granada.

Spanish architecture reflects values and beliefs from earlier eras. For example, castles and Roman coliseums were meant to showcase political power. Architecture evolves along with the needs and trends of society.

Everything You Need to Know About Spanish Architecture (2)

Styles of Spanish Architecture

Spain is the second country in the world to have designated UNESCO World Heritage sites. Its countless buildings with historical significance prove Spain’s ability to preserve and value architecture.

Let’s take a look at the different architectural styles!

Pre-historic Spanish Architecture

Period: 3000 to 4000 BC

The first record of Spanish architecture are burial chambers that date back to 4000 BC. These structures were built by the first people who settled in the Iberian Peninsula and are known as dolmens. They resemble tables and are made out of stone. These first examples of Spanish architecture were made by Celts and Visigoths who migrated to Spain from the North. These sites were known to be places of pilgrimage and prayer.

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Everything You Need to Know About Spanish Architecture (3)

The Celts focused on building walled villages on the mountaintops, known as castros. Many of these Celt settlements can be found throughout the provinces of Galicia and Asturias. They’re considered a great source of information for archaeologists and researchers.

Roman Style Architecture

Period: 218 BC to 410 AD

The Roman conquest of Spain led to the Iberian Peninsula’s Romanization. This period of Spanish architecture transformed settlements and allowed the population to adopt the culture and way of life of the Roman empire.

Large cities like Tarragona and Cordoba allowed urbanization to develop and road systems linked useful buildings and centers of commerce.

Everything You Need to Know About Spanish Architecture (4)

Roman Spanish architecture is similar to buildings found in Italy and Greece, both places where the Roman empire thrived and blossomed. Bridges, aqueducts, amphitheaters, coliseums, and monuments are examples of the engineering expertise of architects from this period. To this day, Roman buildings like the Tower of Hercules of La Coruña are still used.

Pre-Romanesque Architecture

Period: 7th to 10th Century

Pre-Romanesque Spanish architecture refers to Christian-influenced buildings. This period is characterized by innovating in design and structural elements, such as arches and lattices, massive thick stone masonry, symmetrical constructions, large towers, Celtic inspired medallions, Visigothic columns, and imagery like knights and animals.

Everything You Need to Know About Spanish Architecture (5)

The majority of Pre-Romanesque Spanish architecture examples are found in the province of Asturias, especially in the city of Oviedo. The Ermita de Santa Cristina de Lena is a great example of Pre-Romanesque style architecture preserved in ideal conditions. The sanctuary was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1985.

Romanesque Architecture

Period: 10th to 12th Century

Romanesque Spanish architecture developed in Spain next. This period was characterized by basic architecture with symmetrical constructions, thick bulky walls, round arches, functional columns, large round towers, and sturdy piers in the interior.

Everything You Need to Know About Spanish Architecture (6)

Romanesque monasteries served religious purposes, and the majority of these structures were designed by monks. The decorative elements of Roman architecture ceased to be important, and architects turned their attention to making buildings functional.

Mudejar Style Architecture

Period: 12th to 16th Century

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Mudejar style originated from the collision between Islam and Christianity, by Moors who stayed in Spain and didn’t convert to Christianism. The style has influences from Syria and Persia. Elements that stand out are horseshoe arches with columns; intricate geometry; octagonal towers; glazed tile mosaics; and stucco, wood, and brick work.

Everything You Need to Know About Spanish Architecture (7)

Synagogues and mosques are examples of this architectural style. Even after the Moors left Spain, their contributions to architecture still prevail in modern constructions. The province of Andalusia is home to Mudejar and Mozarabic architecture, including UNESCO World Heritage sites, La Alhambra and the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba.

Gothic Architecture

Period: 12th to 14th century

The Gothic style followed Mudejar architecture and fused European and Romanesque techniques. Its common elements are pointed arches, stained glass windows, gargoyles, thin walls, vaulted ceilings, and clusters of thin columns.

Gothic Spanish architecture is found throughout much of Spain. The style thrived during the 13th century, when it came to be known as High Gothic. It represented progress and innovation for Spain.

Everything You Need to Know About Spanish Architecture (8)

Gothic architecture was adopted by the Catholic Church during the Middle Ages, and several churches from this period give a sense of weightlessness. Nevertheless, Gothic churches are monumental buildings and with extraordinary engineering.

Cistercian Architecture

Period: 12th century

Cistersian Spanish architecture is the style that originated between the transition from Romanesque to Gothic. It’s often found in rural monasteries. It uses simple design and little embellishment, combining elements of Romanesque and Gothic Spanish architecture.

Everything You Need to Know About Spanish Architecture (9)

This architectural style was brought to Spain by rebellious monks of the Benedictine order of Cluny, who didn’t care for a lavish lifestyle of luxury. They believed it distracted believers from the church’s goal.

Renaissance Style Architecture

Period: 14th to 16th century

At the beginning of the Renaissance period, Gothic buildings were adapted to meet the standards of the new Renaissance style. The style began to spread among local architects and carried Italian influence, often mixed with Gothic tradition and local idiosyncrasy.

This mixture gave birth to a new style called Plateresco (Plateresque), which had ornate facades and intricately detailed silver work.

Everything You Need to Know About Spanish Architecture (10)
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Common elements of Renaissance Spanish architecture are highly decorated facades, classical Roman design, symmetrical decoration, and Christian motifs like statues. Late in this era, the Gothic style finally started to fade and the finest examples of Renaissance architecture like el Palacio de Carlos V in La Alhambra, began to flourish.

Baroque Architecture

Period: 16th to 18th century

Like Renaissance style architecture, the Baroque style came from Italian influences. It borrowed elements from the French Rococo style and carried particular elements that differentiated it from other styles. The Baroque Spanish architecture focuses on embellished facades, extreme florid detailing, and elaborate sculptural ornaments with lavish use of stone, brick, and metal.

Everything You Need to Know About Spanish Architecture (11)

Baroque style continued to evolve. A family by the name Churriguera didn’t care for the classic Baroque style and transformed it into an intricate, exaggerated, fancy style of decoration known as the Churrigueresque style. This variation of Baroque is possible to admire throughout the city of Salamanca, where Churrigueresque architecture blossomed to the fullest.

Neoclassical Architecture

Period: 18th to 20th century

Neoclassical style architecture is technical and intellectual. It was initially promoted by the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando in Madrid. Like other Spanish architecture styles, Neoclassical style arrived from Italy as the modern go-to design style. It focuses on emphasizing symmetry and simplicity. The design elements are functional, efficient, and influenced by Roman architecture.

Everything You Need to Know About Spanish Architecture (12)

If you get a chance to travel Spain, you’ll find Neoclassical architecture in museums and modern sites like el Museo del Prado in Madrid.

Eclecticism and Modernism

Period: 19th to 20th century

These are my personal favorite and are a combination of elements of the previous Spanish architecture styles. Along with the arrival of the industrial revolution, new materials like glass and iron began appearing in architecture and led to new revival versions of older traditional styles.

A new movement called Eclecticism allowed Spanish architects to choose their style based on the purpose of their design. Architects like Antonio Palacios, combined Neo-Gothic, Neo-Romanesque, and Neo-Egyptian architecture. This influence is visible in his most notorious creation, the Palacio de Comunicaciones of Madrid.

Everything You Need to Know About Spanish Architecture (13)

While Eclecticism was unfolding, a new style called Modernismo began to grow in Catalonia. Architect Antoní Gaudí incorporated minimalism, industrial, and organic elements and focused on embellishing Barcelona and other Catalan sites with majestic buildings.

His most famous creation is the Basilica of La Sagrada Familia, which to this day remains a work in progress. Today, Spain continues to embrace the Modernism of Gaudí. New architects have developed designs that continue to push boundaries and fuse Spanish architecture styles.

Discover Spanish Architecture!

I’ve only shown you a glimpse of the variety of gems and treasures Spanish architecture has to discover.

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I hope this blog post inspired you to view Spanish architecture with different eyes. Not only do these multiple styles continue to inspire architects around the world, but they’re of great value to humanity and their preservation is essential for history and culture.

Have you visited any of these sites? What is your favorite style? Leave a comment below and let’s talk about Spanish architecture!

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Sofía Godoy

Freelance Writer at Homeschool Spanish Academy

Native speaker of English and Spanish, I’m a sustainable travel and social impact entrepreneur who loves going to new places and meeting people from different cultures and backgrounds. I love spending time with my family and being outdoors with my dogs. Writing, communicating, and creating are my passions. I strongly believe there are more creative ways to solve the issues our world is facing and I like doing my part in any way I can.

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FAQs

How would you describe Spanish architecture? ›

Spanish colonial architecture features design elements like terra-cotta clay tile roofs, white stucco walls, soft arches, and carved wooden doors.

What is unique about Spanish architecture? ›

Spanish Architecture is influenced by the Romans and the Moors, you'll find elegant features, along with Baroque and Renaissance details on many of the Spanish historical buildings and famous monuments. Many people even choose to immortalize these famous monuments through bold and colorful tattoos.

What are the elements of Spanish architecture? ›

Its common elements are pointed arches, stained glass windows, gargoyles, thin walls, vaulted ceilings, and clusters of thin columns. Gothic Spanish architecture is found throughout much of Spain.

What kind of architecture does Spain have? ›

Spanish Romanesque also shows the influence of Spanish pre-Romanesque styles, mainly Asturian and Mozarabic, but there is also a strong Moorish influence, especially the vaults of Córdoba's Mosque, and the multifoil arches. In the 13th century, some churches alternated in style between Romanesque and Gothic.

What are Spanish style houses called? ›

What do you call these houses? Spanish-inspired homes built in the first decades of the 20th century are usually described as Spanish Colonial or Spanish Revival, suggesting that they borrow ideas from early American settlers from Spain. However, Spanish style homes might also be called Hispanic or Mediterranean.

Who created Spanish architecture? ›

Architecture of Spain. Antoni Gaudí was the most famous Spanish architect as well as one of the most unusual architects of the early 20th century. Through an eclectic approach, he created a unique style reminiscent of the Mudéjar, an architectural style blending Muslim and Christian design.

What are 3 distinct features to a Spanish style home? ›

So, What is a Spanish-Style Home? Spanish-style homes are identifiable by their uniformity, minimal embellishments, and smooth stucco, adobe, or stone exteriors. You may also recognize them by their tile and stone roofs, often featuring barrel-shaped tiles in warm earth tones.

Where is Spanish architecture most commonly used? ›

Spanish Colonial-style homes are a classic architectural style found throughout Florida, California, and Southwestern states, like Arizona and New Mexico.

What are 3 interesting facts about Spanish? ›

Interesting Spanish Language Facts
  • Spanish is a Romance language derived from Vulgar Latin. ...
  • Spanish is spoken by 559 million people around the world. ...
  • Spanish uses inverted exclamation and question marks. ...
  • Like most languages, Spanish has its own very unique words which can't be translated in other languages.

What are the 3 important elements of architecture? ›

Writing near the end of the first century B.C.E., Roman architect Vitruvius Pollio identified three elements necessary for a well-designed building: firmitas, utilitas, and venustas.

What are the 5 senses in architecture? ›

In recent decades, though, architects and designers have increasingly started to consider the other senses, namely sound, touch (including proprioception, kinesthesis, and the vestibular sense), smell, and on rare occasions, even taste in their work.

What are the 4 phases of architecture? ›

Understanding the four phases of architecture
  • Conceptual.
  • Logical.
  • Structural.
  • Concrete.
23 Sept 2020

What city in Spain has the best architecture? ›

Barcelona is of course world-famous for its architecture, most notably the works of Antoni Gaudí, such as the peacock-colored Casa Batlló, the undulating La Pedrera and the awe-inspiring Sagrada Família.

What period is Spanish architecture? ›

Spanish Colonial homes were first built in the parts of America settled by Spaniards—namely Florida, California, and throughout the Southwest—from the 1600s to the mid-1800s.

When was Spanish architecture most popular? ›

Embraced principally in California and Florida, the Spanish Colonial Revival movement enjoyed its greatest popularity between 1915 and 1931. In Mexico, the Spanish Colonial Revival in architecture was tied to the nationalist movement in arts encouraged by the post-Mexican Revolution government.

What do you call Spanish architecture? ›

Also known as Mediterranean revival, this style shows strong Latin influences and fosters a connection to nature.

What are Spanish house walls made of? ›

Spanish Colonial houses are built on top of an adobe brick or stone foundation, with thick adobe or stucco walls which absorb and trap heat from the atmosphere, and are painted white to help deflect heat from the sun's rays.

Why are Spanish houses white? ›

To protect the houses from the sun during summer. White houses are cooler during the hot summer than houses with other colors. This bit of wisdom comes from the Moors. The white color reflects the sunlight and does not absorb it, keeping the house cool.

What color are Spanish style homes? ›

Overall, most Spanish style homes have a common theme—they're rustic, yet sophisticated. You can see this in the traditional color palette of terracotta shades of orange, red, deep brown. It's a style that people love for its warm, cozy feeling that truly makes everyone feel at home.

What is a Spanish villa called? ›

Often called a 'vivienda unifamiliar' or a 'chalet' in Spanish, villas are detached and often come equipped with all the modern conveniences and luxuries you'd want such as air-con, swimming pools, garages and more.

How did the Spanish Arch get its name? ›

Constructed by Wylliam Martin, the 34th mayor of Galway, it was first known as Ceann an Bhalla ('the head of the wall') but later became known as the Spanish Arch. This misnomer is thought to be a reference to the former merchant trade with Spain and Spanish galleons, which often docked here.

What are six 6 types of houses in Spanish? ›

Terms in this set (6)
  • House. Casa.
  • Mansion. Mansíon.
  • Semi-Detached House. Casa Adosada.
  • Beach House. Casa de playa.
  • Mobile Home. Casa Rodante.
  • Cottage. Casita De Campo.

What is the most famous architecture in Spain? ›

La Sagrada Familia by Antoni Gaudí is one of the most iconic buildings in Spain that represents Barcelona, a city with some of the most unique architecture in the world, as the Casa Batló.

What is a big Spanish house called? ›

An hacienda (UK: /ˌhæsiˈɛndə/ or US: /ˌhɑːsiˈɛndə/; Spanish: [aˈθjenda] or [aˈsjenda]) is an estate (or finca), similar to a Roman latifundium, in Spain and the former Spanish Empire.

What is modern Spanish style? ›

A rising star in the design world, modern Spanish style is an updated twist on classic Spanish flair. Bringing together the best of old and new, this timeless-yet-chic style is all about clean lines, neutral color palettes, layered textures and natural materials.

What is Spanish best known for? ›

Spain is famous for its easy-going culture, delicious food and stunning scenery. Major cities such as Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia all offer unique traditions, languages and must-see sites! Vibrant festivals such as La Fallas and La Tomatina draw huge crowds of both locals and tourists.

Why is Spanish so unique? ›

It has different accents and dialects, immense and unique vocabulary, and represents the Spanish and Latin American cultures. It is a unique and special language.

What 3 languages influenced Spanish? ›

Spanish is a Romance language which developed from Vulgar Latin in central areas of the Iberian peninsula and has absorbed many loanwords from other Romance languages like French, Occitan, Catalan, Portuguese, and Italian.

What are the 7 principles of architecture? ›

Seven principles encompass an interesting design.
  • Balance.
  • Rhythm.
  • Emphasis.
  • Proportion and scale.
  • Movement.
  • Contrast.
  • Unity.

What are the 3 rules of architecture? ›

Firmitas (Firmness, Durability) – It should stand up robustly and remain in good condition. Utilitas (Commodity, Utility) – It should be useful and function well for the people using it. Venustas (Delight, Beauty) – It should delight people and raise their spirits.

What are the 7 design phases in architecture? ›

The architectural design process is made up of seven phases: pre-design, schematic design, design development, construction documents, building permits, bidding and negotiation and construction administration. These phases put realistic project deliverables and deadlines in place.

Why do architects need their ears? ›

Sound expert Julian Treasure asks architects to consider designing for our ears, citing that the quality of the acoustics of a space affect us physiologically, socially, psychologically and behaviorally.

What are the basic knowledge of architecture? ›

Architects need knowledge in the following areas: Design: Making and using plans, blueprints, drawings, and models. Building and Construction: The tools and methods used to construct buildings, roads, and other structures. Public Safety and Security: How to protect people and property.

What are the 3 types of architectural models? ›

There are three main types of architectural models: conceptual, presentation, working design. Let's talk a little bit about each of these. First of all, there are these conceptual design models. In the initial stage of design ideas, it is often useful and even recommended to see the shape, from the beginning.

What do you call a person who does architecture? ›

Definition of architect

1 : a person who designs buildings and advises in their construction. 2 : a person who designs and guides a plan or undertaking the architect of American foreign policy.

Which country is number 1 in architecture? ›

World's Top 10 Universities for Architecture
InstituteCountryQS World Rankings 2022
Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyUnited States of America1
Harvard UniversityUnited States of America3
ETH Zurich – Swiss Federal Institute of TechnologySwitzerland6
University of CambridgeUnited Kingdom7
6 more rows

Is Spain a good country to study architecture? ›

Spain is the best place for architecture and art students.

Catalan and Spanish art is famous in this city and also seen throughout. Spain is also among the top countries preferably for the study of architecture.

What is the oldest building in Spain? ›

The Casa de las Campanas (translated as House of the Bells) is one of the three oldest buildings in the city of Pontevedra in Spain, and perhaps the oldest civil building.
...
Casa de las Campanas
Coordinates42°25′56.2″N 8°38′46.3″W
Construction started15th century
Completed16th century
OwnerPontevedra City Council
11 more rows

How are Spanish houses built? ›

Spanish homes were built out of adobe, known as mudbrick. With wooden exposed beam roof supports that often extend to create an outside veranda. Floorboards, tiles, or cement for flooring, thick stucco-clad exterior, red-tiled roofs, inner courtyard, and arches. With tiles or painted lime walls.

What countries influenced Spanish architecture? ›

With twenty-nine sites, Mexico has more sites on the UNESCO World Heritage list than any other country in the Americas, many of them boasting some of the richest Spanish Colonial architecture. Some of the most famous cities in Mexico built in the Colonial style are Puebla, Zacatecas, Querétaro, Guanajuato, and Morelia.

Who was the best architect in Spain? ›

There are many famous Spanish architects, but one of the most well-known is Antoni Gaudí. Gaudí was a Catalan architect who designed some of the most iconic buildings in Barcelona, including the Sagrada Familia and Park Güell.

› wiki › Spanish_architecture ›


Spanish architecture

https://en.wikipedia.org › wiki › Spanish_architecture
https://en.wikipedia.org › wiki › Spanish_architecture
Spanish architecture refers to architecture in any area of what is now Spain, and by Spanish architects worldwide. The term includes buildings which were constr...

Spanish Architecture

https://www.hgtv.com › Design › Decorating › Design 101
https://www.hgtv.com › Design › Decorating › Design 101
Mission revival is inspired by the ornate and stately style of churches built by Colonial Spanish missionaries. Learn more about this architectural style on HGT...
From the Romans to the Moors, and from Baroque to Renaissance, architecture in Spain differs a lot from city to city. But even cities have a wide range of influ...

What are two characteristics of Spanish architecture? ›

Some other common characteristics include arched doors, entryways, and windows, as well as heavy wooden doors with carving and metal work. The Spanish-style home may also include an interior courtyard, perhaps surrounded by arcades or including water features, niches, wrought ironwork, or colorful tile accents.

What are the characteristics of architectural design during Spanish period? ›

Spanish Revival architecture tends to feature low-pitched, red-tile roofs, stucco walls, rounded arches, and an asymmetrical façade. It also generally embraces rich decorative details in both the exterior and interior.

How do you describe architecture style? ›

An architectural style is characterized by the features that make a building or other structure notable and historically identifiable. A style may include such elements as form, method of construction, building materials, and regional character.

How would you describe Venice architecture? ›

Unsurprisingly, therefore, Venetian architecture became largely Gothic architecture, with its asymmetricality and emphasis on light. After the Renaissance hit, with its focus on rationalism and balance, architects started to incorporate some of its hallmarks (like rounded, rather than pointed, arches).

What do you call Spanish architecture? ›

Also known as Mediterranean revival, this style shows strong Latin influences and fosters a connection to nature.

Where is Spanish architecture most commonly used? ›

Spanish Colonial-style homes are a classic architectural style found throughout Florida, California, and Southwestern states, like Arizona and New Mexico.

What period is Spanish architecture? ›

Spanish Colonial homes were first built in the parts of America settled by Spaniards—namely Florida, California, and throughout the Southwest—from the 1600s to the mid-1800s.

What materials are used in Spanish style homes? ›

Spanish homes were built out of adobe, known as mudbrick. With wooden exposed beam roof supports that often extend to create an outside veranda. Floorboards, tiles, or cement for flooring, thick stucco-clad exterior, red-tiled roofs, inner courtyard, and arches. With tiles or painted lime walls.

What is the most popular architecture in Spain? ›

  1. Basílica de la Sagrada Familia. 165,487. ...
  2. The Alhambra. 42,964. ...
  3. Mezquita Cathedral de Cordoba. 28,771. ...
  4. Cathedral De Santiago de Compostela. 10,695. ...
  5. Cathedral de Santa Maria. 2,276. ...
  6. Central Market of Valencia. 23,596. ...
  7. Laboral Ciudad de la Cultura. 1,396. ...
  8. Palacio de la Aljaferia. 4,274.

What influenced Spanish colonial architecture? ›

The architectural styles of Spanish Colonial missions were influenced by those popular in Spain and Europe at that time –Gothic, Baroque, Plateresque, Mudéjar, Churrigueresque, Neoclassicism –but their application in the Americas cannot be fit easily into any specific stylistic category.

What are the 5 senses in architecture? ›

In recent decades, though, architects and designers have increasingly started to consider the other senses, namely sound, touch (including proprioception, kinesthesis, and the vestibular sense), smell, and on rare occasions, even taste in their work.

What are the 3 main types of architecture? ›

  • Environmental Design.
  • Interior Architecture.
  • Landscape Architecture.

What are the 5 elements of architecture? ›

'The Five Points of a New Architecture' (1927)
  • Pilotis. Replacement of ground floor supporting walls by a grid of reinforced concrete columns that bear the structural load is the basis of the new aesthetic.
  • The free design of the ground plan. ...
  • The free design of the façade. ...
  • Horizontal windows. ...
  • Roof garden.

What is the full meaning of architecture? ›

architecture, the art and technique of designing and building, as distinguished from the skills associated with construction.

Why is Venice built on wood? ›

As Venice increased its importance, it needed more space. So they had to build where there was no land, directly on the water.

What type of wood is Venice built on? ›

They began by digging canals and lining them by driving closely spaced wooden stakes – many of them made from water-resistant alder wood – through the sand and mud to rest on the harder clay beneath.

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