Spanish Architecture
By: Eric Lesovsky

Brief History of Architecture

Spain is a country with a rich history of culture that has been reflected in buildings throughout the country. One can find buildings with Arab styles like that of The Palace of Alhambra (La Alhambra), to modern styles which are represented by the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia Spain. Behind many of these amazing buildings are great Spanish architects such as Antoni Gaudi (1852-1926) who designed the beautiful Sagrada Familia. Overall, Spanish architecture represents the true history and culture of Spain.

Basilica de la Sagrada Familia

The Sagrada Familia may be one of the most well know buildings in Spain if not one of the most well known in the world because of its
Nativity Façade Construction
intricate and elaborate architecture. The Basilica de la Sagrada Familia was initially designed and built by architect Francisco De Paula del Villar y Lozano in 1882; the Basilica was to be of a neo-Gothic style. (1) Not long after construction had started, disagreements with promoters began, leading to the resignation of De Paula and the handing over of the project to Antoni Gaudi.

Once Gaudi received the project he completed construction of the crypt in 1889 and then began work on the apse. (1) While working on this section he received a large donation from an anonymous donor; because of this donation Gaudi then decided to throw out the old project and begin on a new one that was far more elaborate. The more elaborate Sagrada Familia construction began in 1892. (1) Approximately two decades later in 1914Antodi Gaudi dedicated the rest of his life to working on the church. In 1911 Gaudi added a new façade called the “Passion façade” which he felt could be finished. He was quoted saying,

"There is no reason to regret that I cannot finish the church. I will grow old but others will come after me.” (1)
La Sagrada Familia

This belief that the church could continue to be built after his death has stayed true. Work on the Sagrada Familia is still continuing on to this day. In 2008 vaults were still in construction and in 2010 the interior was completed. (1)

La Alhambra

The Alhambra is a palace/fortress that is located in Granada which is in the southern Andalusian region of Spain. The fortress portion of the Alhambra has been known to exist since the 9th century when a man named Sawwar ben Hamdun had to seek refuge in the Alcazaba which was located in the complex of the Alhambra. The palace of the Alhambra was also constructed in the 9th century, but no royalty lived in it until the 13th century with the arrival of Mohammed ben Al-Hamar who was the first king of the Nasrid Dynasty. (2)
La Alhambra

The constructors of the Alhambra were from the Nasrid dynasty which was of Arab descent. They named the complex “La Alhambra” because of the reddish walls. (3) The architects of the buildings wanted to cover every single space of the wall with decoration because they believed that there was no such thing as too many decorative elements. (3)
Intricate Walls of La Alhambra


One of the more amazing buildings in Spain is the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. (4) The museum was designed by famous architect Frank
Guggenheim in Bilbao
Gehry and was to feature many contemporary elements such as limestone, glass and titanium. (5) Gehry was chosen for the project because of his “unorthodox materials and inventive forms, and his sensitivity to the urban environment.” (5) Construction on the project began in 1993 and was completed in 1997. The museum contains art from the mid-twentieth century to the present day. There are works from famous Spanish artists such as Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali.

The City of Arts and Sciences

The City of Arts and Sciences is a complex in Valencia, Spain that houses five amazing buildings: El Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía,
The City of Arts and Sciences
L'Hemisfèric, L'Umbracle, El Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe, L'Oceanogràfic. (6) The complex was designed by Valencian Architect Santiago Calatrava and began construction in July 1996. The last component of the city was El Palau, the opera house, which was completed in October 2005. (6)

El Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía is a building that is an opera house that is solely used for the performing arts.

L'Hemisfèric is a large IMAX Cinema and Planetarium

L'Umbracle is “a vantage point of over 17,500 square meters with an exhibition zone from which all the buildings, lakes, walkways, and landscaped areas of the City of Arts and Sciences can be contemplated. Its vegetation is characteristic of the Mediterranean, of the Region of Valencia, and of tropical countries, and changes according to the season of the year.” (7)

El Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe is an interactive science museum.

L'Oceanogràfic is “the largest aquarium in Europe and contains representatives of the world’s main
marine ecosystems. Each building is identified with the following aquatic environments: the Mediterranean, Wetlands, Temperate and Tropical Seas, Oceans, the Antarctic, the Arctic, Islands, and the Red Sea, as well as the Dolphinarium with 24 million liters of water and a depth of 10.5 meters.” (7)