Spain Highlights

The Royal Palace in Madrid (Palacio Real in Spanish) is the administrator residence of the King of Spain, Juan Carlos, though he doesn't live here himself. Though there has been royal residence of some kind on this spot for one thousand years, the present building dates back to the eighteenth century. The Royal Palace houses a huge collection of classical Spanish art from such luminaries as Goya and Velazquez - if you've done Madrid's other great museums such as the Prado and the Thyssen, this should be the next on your list if it's classic art you're after.

Europe has many outstanding art museums, but Madrid's El Prado Museum has to be rated as one of the very best. Originally built to be a science museum at the end of the 17th century. The Prado Museum is renowned as being the largest art gallery in the world. It also exhibits sculptures, drawings, coins and other works of arts, but it is certainly its large collection of paintings which has given it fame worldwide. It houses more than 8,600 paintings, of which they exhibit less than 2,000 because of lack of space available. Many museums throughout the world have less artistic riches in their halls than the Prado Museum has in storage. The Prado Museum maintains the art collection of Fernando VII and other royals.
The present day art gallery comes from the royal collections of the old Trinidad Museum, as well as acquisitions, donations and bequests.

El Escorial, royal fortress 43 km (27 mi) northwest of Madrid, found in the 16th century by Philip II of Spain. It incorporates a cathedralesque church, a monastery, a school, and a famous library, and reflects the deeply pious outlook of its founder. The vast complex, said to contain 160 km (100 mi) of corridors, was constructed between 1563 and 1584.
This palace structure was started after the Reconquista, the reconquering of Spain performed by the Christian kings, started. This adds to its aura. While the illiterate Christians were advancing, Spain reached its highest cultural level ever, but under the Muslim rulers. The slender structure of Alhambra, the breathtaking details, the celebration of life, the mixture of nature in men's design, all underline what disaster the return of Christianity in Spain was to be for centuries to approach.

Founded in 1203, the Sinagoga de Santa Maria La Blanca is nearly two centuries older
The synagogue was designed and decorated by Mudejar architects  and the Islamic influence is readily apparent. The white interior features graceful horseshoe arches, ornamental horizontal moldings, and a forest of pillars supporting capitals of enchanting filigree workmanship. Stormed in the early 15th century by a Christian mob led by St. Vincent Ferrer and converted into a church, the synagogue was later used as a carpenter's workshop, a store, a barracks, and a refuge for reformed prostitutes.

The most significant alteration was the construction of a Renaissance cathedral nave in the middle of the structure. It was constructed by permission of Carlos V, king of united Spain. Its reversion to a Christian church  may have helped to preserve it when the Spanish Inquisition was most active. The Cathedral of Seville, formally Catedral de Santa María de la Sede was begun in 1402, with construction continuing into the 16th century. It is the largest of all Roman Catholic cathedrals and also the largest Medieval Gothic holy building, in terms of both area and volume. It is 76 by 115 meters, and was built to cover the land before occupied by the Almohad Mosque. Its central nave rises to an awesome 42 metres and even the side chapels seem tall enough to contain an ordinary church. Its main altarpiece is considered the largest in the Christian world.