This article was written by Sophie Strid.
While travelling in Spain, you don’t have to limit yourself to Madrid or Barcelona to see historic royal buildings. The northern part of the country is just as intriguing when it comes to architecture and regions like Cantabria, and the Basque Country are home to a number of breathtaking buildings, each with an interesting history related to royal women. Here are three must-see royal palaces for your next history trip to Spain.
- Palacio de Miramar, San Sebastián, Basque Country
Ever since Queen Isabella II began spending her summers in San Sebastián in the late 19th century, the Spanish royal family has had strong ties to the Basque city. In 1893, Queen Maria Christina ordered the construction of Palacio de Miramar. Given a charming English Cottage style, the palace served as a summer residence for the Queen until her death in 1929, and her presence in the city helped establish San Sebastián as the tourist mecca of the north. Located on the shore of the Cantabrian Sea, Palacio de Miramar offers impeccable views of the city and is a must-see when travelling through the region.
- Palacio de La Magdalena, Santander, Cantabria
Just like Palacio de Miramar had been essential to the development of the tourism of San Sebastián, Palacio de La Magdalena played a key role in the establishment of the capital of Cantabria. Its eclectic style is reminiscent of English and French neoclassical buildings and shows fine Baroque influences. Situated on a peninsula overlooking the Cantabrian Sea, the royal palace was built between 1909 and 1911 and served as a summer residence for the Spanish royal family. King Alonso XIII and Queen Victoria Eugenie had expressed their wish to build a summer idyll in the city after numerous visits and thought of the Magdalena peninsula as “a wonder”.1 Local politicians agreed to the construction as they saw an opportunity to promote Santander through the presence of the Royals, who stayed in the city until 1930.
- Palacio de La Aljafería, Zaragoza
The birthplace of Elizabeth of Aragon is undoubtedly one of the most impressive royal buildings in Spain. Built in the second half of the 11th century as a leisure retreat, Palacio de La Aljafería is a stunning example of Islamic architecture and filled with royal history. For centuries, it served as residence to a number of Christian Kings of the Kingdom of Aragon and was declared a national monument in 1931.2 Characteristic features like Moorish style arches, majestic towers, and lush courtyards create a magical atmosphere and a visit to the palace guarantees an enriching experience for any history-loving traveller.