The Roman aqueduct of Segovia, probably built c. A.D. 50, is remarkably well preserved. This impressive construction, with its two tiers of arches, forms part of the setting of the magnificent historic city of Segovia. Other important monuments include the Alcázar, begun around the 11th century, and the 16th-century Gothic cathedral.
Our Lady of Burgos was begun in the 13th century at the same time as the great cathedrals of the Ile-de-France and was completed in the 15th and 16th centuries. The entire history of Gothic art is summed up in its superb architecture and its unique collection of works of art, including paintings, choir stalls, reredos, tombs and stained-glass windows.
This ancient university town north-west of Madrid was first conquered by the Carthaginians in the 3rd century B.C. It then became a Roman settlement before being ruled by the Moors until the 11th century. The university, one of the oldest in Europe, reached its high point during Salamanca's golden age. The city's historic centre has important Romanesque, Gothic, Moorish, Renaissance and Baroque monuments. The Plaza Mayor, with its galleries and arcades, is particularly impressive.
In the 1st century A.D. the Roman Imperial authorities began to exploit the gold deposits of this region in north-west Spain, using a technique based on hydraulic power. After two centuries of working the deposits, the Romans withdrew, leaving a devastated landscape. Since there was no subsequent industrial activity, the dramatic traces of this remarkable ancient technology are visible everywhere as sheer faces in the mountainsides and the vast areas of tailings, now used for agriculture.
The caves of the Sierra de Atapuerca contain a rich fossil record of the earliest human beings in Europe, from nearly one million years ago and extending up to the Common Era. They represent an exceptional reserve of data, the scientific study of which provides priceless information about the appearance and the way of life of these remote human ancestors.
6. Prehistoric Rock Art Sites in the Côa Valley and Siega Verde
DSA-470, km 26,400, 37497, Salamanca, Spain
PEOPLE ARE SAYING:
The two Prehistoric Rock Art Sites in the Côa Valley (Portugal) and Siega Verde (Spain) are located on the banks of the rivers Agueda and Côa, tributaries of the river Douro, documenting continuous human occupation from the end of the Paleolithic Age. Hundreds of panels with thousands of animal figures (5,000 in Foz Côa and around 440 in Siega Verde) were carved over several millennia, representing the most remarkable open-air ensemble of Paleolithic art on the Iberian Peninsula. Côa Valley and Siega Verde provide the best illustration of the iconographic themes and organization of Paleolithic rock art, using the same modes of expression in caves and in the open air, thus contributing to a greater understanding of this artistic phenomenon. Together they form a unique site of the prehistoric era, rich in material evidence of Upper Paleolithic occupation.
7. Old Town of Ávila with its Extra-Muros Churches
Pl. Mercado Chico, 11, 05001 Ávila, Spain
PEOPLE ARE SAYING:
Founded in the 11th century to protect the Spanish territories from the Moors, this 'City of Saints and Stones', the birthplace of St Teresa and the burial place of the Grand Inquisitor Torquemada, has kept its medieval austerity. This purity of form can still be seen in the Gothic cathedral and the fortifications which, with their 82 semicircular towers and nine gates, are the most complete in Spain.