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Travel & Tourism - Unesco World Heritage Sites

The Alhambra a UNESCO World Hertitage site In Andalucia © Michelle Chaplow
The Alhambra - a UNESCO World Hertitage site In Andalucia.



A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place (either a natural feature, such as a forest, mountain, lake or desert; or a manmade item, such as a monument, building or city) that is listed by UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) as of special cultural, historical, architectural or physical significance, and outstanding universal value, which should be conserved for the common heritage of humanity. The programme was founded in 1972. Some sites are eligible for special funding.



Andalucia has seven World Heritage sites inscribed on the list - five cultural, one natural, and one both cultural and natural.

Most of the cultural sites are located in cities or towns: the three great Muslim centres of power, Granada, Seville and Cordoba; and Ubeda and Baeza.

These are, namely: Alhambra, Generalife and Albayzín (Granada); Cathedral, Alcázar and Archivo de Indias (Seville); the Historic City Centre of Cordoba (including the Mezquita); the Renaissance Monumental Ensembles of Úbeda and Baeza; 68 items of cave art in Almeria, Granada and Jaen provinces, which is included in Rock Art of the Mediterranean Basin on the Iberian Peninsula; and Madinat al-Zahra.

The natural World Heritage Site is Doñana National Park in Huelva province, while the most recently listed site (2016) is the combined cultural and natural site of the Antequera Dolmens in Malaga. Close to Andalucia, on the Rock of Gibraltar, is the Gorham's Cave Complex, added at the same time.

There are currently 911 UNESCO World Heritage sites, with Italy having the most (45). Spain has 46 sites in total: 40 cultural, three natural and two mixed sites. The Spanish for "World Heritage" is Patrimonio Mundial. The list is maintained by the International World Heritage Programme, administered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, composed of 21 state parties (countries) which are elected by their General Assembly for a four-year term.


Granada - the Alhambra, Generalife, and Albaicin. Moody and magnificent monuments to Moorish times to be fouind in this city. More >


Seville - the Cathedral, Alcazar and Archivo de Indias. Intriguing blends of Christian and Moorish architecture, with invaluable historic documents in the Archivo. More >


Cordoba - the Mezquita and Historic Centre. The superb, stripy Cathedral-Mosque, plus the beautiful old quarter with its pretty patios and Alcazar. More >

Ubeda and Baeza

Ubeda and Baeza in Jaen province. Two exquisite Renaissance towns located near to each other make visiting both a practical proposition. More >

Doñana National Park

Doñana National Park, home to unique wetlands which draw thousands of migrating birds, as well as the endangered lynx. More >

Rock Art

Rock art - Prehistoric cave paintings in Jaen, Granada and Almeria, including a graphic logo you're sure to recognise. More >

Antequera Dolmens Site

Three megalithic monuments: the Menga and Viera dolmens and the Tolos of El Romeral, and two natural monuments: the Peña de los Enamorados and El Torcal mountainous formations. More >

Gorham's cave complex

The steep limestone cliffs on the eastern side of the Rock of Gibraltar contain four caves with archaeological and paleontological deposits that provide evidence of Neanderthal occupation over a span of more than 125,000 years. More >

Madinat al-Zahra

Impressive Moorish city archaeological site located ton km to the west of Cordoba city. More >



As well as buildings and natural features, UNESCO now has a list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity (Patrimonio Inmaterial de la Humanidad), which encompasses cultural traditions, practices and crafts, specifically “oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals, festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe or the knowledge and skills to produce traditional crafts.” These are defined as being traditional, contemporary and living; inclusive; representative; and community-based.


This typically Andalucian art form, which consists of guitar, song and dance, is now on the list of Intangible World Heritage. It originated in gypsy families in Andalucian cities such as Seville, Jerez and Granada, and is now studied, practised and performed all around the world. More >

Mediterranean diet

An essential part of life in Andalucia, this encompasses ingredients (olive oil, cereals, fresh fruit and vegetables, moderate dairy and meat), as well as skills and techniques of growing and harvesting crops; biodiversity; and associated crafts, rituals and traditions. More >

Cordoba Patios Festival

A colourful festival in May, when private houses in Cordoba open up their patios to visitors. More >



A Tentative List is an inventory of those properties which each country intends to consider for nomination. Spain has 33 on this list and includes the following Andalucia sites.


These are distributed across 31 countries in the region.

The UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves covers internationally-designated protected areas, known as biosphere reserves, that are meant to demonstrate a balanced relationship between man and nature (e.g. encourage sustainable development).

In 2010 there were 564 biosphere reserves in 109 countries. In Andalucia there are eight namely.