Basilicas and cathedrals in Spain are among the most emblematic sights in their respective cities. In addition to being places of worship, they have enormous architectural and cultural appeal, and many of them have even been declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
But which are the most popular in Spain? Travel booking platform Musement has carried out a major study to find out.
The leisure and cultural activities booking platform has analysed more than 200 cathedrals and basilicas throughout Spain to create a ranking* of the 15 most popular, based on the number of reviews each place received on Google.
No surprises for the most reviewed being the Sagrada Familia (Barcelona), with 201 973 reviews. This spectacular basilica, which has been under construction for more than 140 years, is an iconic symbol of Barcelona and is finally entering its last phase to complete its architects dream.
Inside you can admire the ‘forest’ of columns designed by Antoni Gaudí, who was inspired by the forms in nature. The stained-glass windows and the fantastic views of Barcelona from its towers are equally impressive. Once finished the Sagrada Familia will be the tallest church in the world.
Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, 64 198 reviews. Located in the Plaza del Obradoiro, the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is one of the most outstanding examples of Romanesque architecture in Spain. It’s also the final destination of the Camino de Santiago, one of the main pilgrimage routes in Europe. After a long restoration from 2008 to 2018, the cathedral has returned to its former splendour. The Portico of Glory by Master Mateo is one of the cathedral’s many highlights. You also don’t want to miss the Holy Door, which dates from the 16th century and only opens during Holy Years, and the Botafumeiro, the huge censer of the cathedral.
Cathedral of Barcelona, 58 297 reviews. Declared an Asset of Cultural Interest and a National Historic-Artistic Monument, the Barcelona Cathedral (also known as the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia) sits in the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona. The cathedral was completed in the 15th century and is an excellent example of Catalan Gothic architecture. In addition to the beautiful stained-glass windows, visitors can admire numerous altarpieces and Gothic paintings by prominent artists such as Gabriel Alemany or Bartolomé Bermejo. The cloister and the views from the terraces are also not to be missed.
Seville Cathedral, 42 062 reviews. Along with the Real Alcázar and the Archivo de Indias, the Seville Cathedral was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. With its five naves it’s the largest Gothic-style cathedral in the world. Its bell tower, the famous Giralda, has the classic structure of the Almohad minarets and piercing the skyline at 104m high it’s become a symbol for the city. With works by Murillo, Zurbarán and Goya, its art collection is considered one of the best in Spain.
Cathedral of Mallorca, 40 062 reviews. Located in the old town of Palma de Mallorca, this Mediterranean Gothic jewel is one of the tallest cathedrals in Europe, with a central nave that’s approximately 44m high. Visit on 2 February and 11 November if you want to see something really special. On these dates the sunlight streams through the large rose window and creates a gorgeous coloured reflection on the opposite façade.
Basilica of Monterrat, 39 964 reviews. The Monastery and Basilica of Montserrat are located in the spectacular setting of the Montserrat Natural Park, famous for its fantastic rock formations. Every year thousands of people come here to pay their respects to the Virgin of Montserrat, the current patron saint of Catalonia, better known as the ‘Moreneta’ for the dark colour of her face and hands. Visitors can also stop at the museum to admire works by Ramon Casas, Picasso and Dalí, among many other artists.
Cathedral-Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar (Zaragoza), 32 909 reviews. This basilica is one of two cathedrals present in Zaragoza and it’s said to be built around the column (the pillar) the Virgin leaned on when she appeared before the Apostle Santiago on the banks of the Ebro River. Highlights include the Main Altarpiece, choir stalls, and two large frescoes painted by Goya in the Coreto and Regina Martyrum domes. Visitors can also take the elevator to the viewpoint in the tower of San Francisco de Borja for 360-degree views of Zaragoza.
Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar (Barcelona), 32 099 reviews. Designed by the architect Berenguer de Montagut in the 14th century, the Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar was originally frequented by shipowners and merchants. Considered one of the best examples of Catalan Gothic architecture, its three naves and 33 chapels are located at almost the same level, which creates an enormous sense of space. The museum area, the main rose window, the stained-glass windows of the Last Judgment, Pentecost and the Last Supper, and the impressive keystones of the central nave are just some of the features that make this basilica a must-see in Barcelona.
León Cathedral, 28 087 reviews. The Cathedral of Santa María de Regla in León, also known as the ‘Pulchra leonina’, is in the French Gothic style. One of its most famous features is its enormous collection of stained-glass windows, built mainly between the 13th and 16th centuries. The windows cover an area of 1,765 sq m, which means the cathedral is beautifully illuminated during the day. The first National Monument declared in Spain, it’s an essential stop for pilgrims on the French Way.
Burgos Cathedral, 26 105 reviews. Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1984, the Burgos Cathedral began its construction in the 13th century in the French Gothic style and then underwent numerous modifications in the following centuries. The main façade was inspired by the cathedrals of Paris and Reims and is flanked by two towers crowned with spires. Inside the cathedral you’ll find numerous artistic treasures, such as the extraordinary altarpieces of the Chapel of the Constables, the Gothic-Renaissance lantern tower, and the Flemish triptychs in the Capitular Hall.
Toledo Cathedral, 25 454 reviews. Composed of five naves and supported by 88 columns and 72 vaults, the Primatial Cathedral of Saint Mary of Toledo is an impressive sight. Construction on it began in 1126. The Sacristy, created by Lucas Jordán, houses an impressive collection of art featuring renowned artists such as El Greco, Caravaggio, and Goya. The portraits of the first archbishops of Toledo, the golden and polychrome coffered ceiling of the Capitular Hall, as well as the masterpiece El Transparente by sculptor Narciso Tomé, are just a few of the treasures you’ll discover at this cathedral.
Granada Cathedral, 23 719 reviews. The Cathedral of Granada is one of the masterpieces of the Spanish Renaissance, although the main façade, designed by Alonso Cano, has a Gothic structure. The beautiful dome and stained glass windows of the Main Chapel are truly stunning, as are the altars in the main transept, where you can admire paintings by Pedro Atanasio Bocanegra and Juan de Sevilla. Attached to the cathedral is the Royal Chapel, which houses the tomb of the Catholic Monarchs.
Málaga Cathedral, 23 176 reviews. Like the Cathedral of Granada, the Cathedral of Málaga is another jewel of the Spanish Renaissance, although it also has Gothic and Baroque features from different periods of construction. In addition to admiring the choir stalls with sculptures by Pedro de Mena and the Cathedral Treasury, visitors can also visit the roofs of the cathedral. After climbing more than 200 steps, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views of the city from almost 50m high.
Valencia Cathedral, 20 526 reviews. While this cathedral has elements from different architectural periods, Gothic is the main style. It’s most famous for its Chapel of the Holy Chalice, which houses (as you might have guessed) the relic of the Holy Chalice, said to be the cup that Jesus used at the Last Supper. Other highlights include the Renaissance frescoes in the Main Chapel, as well as the bell tower known as Miguelete, which has become one of the most iconic symbols of Valencia.
Almudena Cathedral (Madrid), 20 128 reviews. With more than 20,000 reviews, the Almudena Cathedral closes the Musement ranking. It can be found in Madrid de los Austrias and its main façade is right in front of the Royal Palace. The exterior is in neoclassical in style, while the interior is neo-Gothic. The Chapter House and the Main Sacristy, decorated with precious mosaics, are the most impressive rooms. The crypt and the views from the dome are also not to be missed.
Methodology: To carry out the study, more than 200 basilicas and cathedrals in Spain were taken into consideration and the number of reviews received on Google for each place were analysed. The cathedrals and basilicas with the highest number of reviews were considered the most popular.