The following cities have been declared to be World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. More than just a single monument, each of these cities are full of important landmarks that have been declared to be of international interest. Spanish cities that have been declared World Heritage Sites often make a big deal of the fact. Go to the city's Tourist Office for information on its important landmarks.
In each case it is specifically the old town which has been declared a World Heritage Site.
The most important sight in Ávila, an hour outside of Madrid, is the spectacular city wall, among the best preserved (and maintained) in Europe, perhaps the world. The old town center is also full of attractive churches and other buildings. These other sights are best seen from the wall itself, which can be walked along for a small fee.
Alcalá de Henares
Another city easily reached from Madrid, Alcalá de Henares is an important university city. The university itself is an interesting piece of architecture which inspired the University of San Diego, California. The famous Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes (writer of Don Quijote) was born in Alcalá de Henares.
An interesting old town with a mixture of Moorish and Christian architecture.
Stunning old town at odds with the bustling city to the north, with the great Mezquita, one of the oldest, biggest and most important mosques in Europe.
Half way between Madrid & Valencia, the hill-top city of Cuenca is most famous for its 'hanging houses' which perch on the side of the city.
Home to one of the oldest universities in Europe, two
cathedrals, a number of interesting churches and the grandest Plaza Mayor (main square) in all of Spain. Most of the city is built from local yellow sandstone which gives the city a unique color.
San Cristóbal de La Laguna
City on the island of Tenerife (in the Canary Islands) which, according to the UNESCO website, is "the first ideal 'city-territory' laid out according to philosophical principles".
The destination of people on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage (itself a UNESCO World Heritage Site) with one of the oldest and grandest cathedrals in Spain.
Segovia is home to two of Spain's most famous images - the fairytale castle-like Alcázar (said to have inspired Walk Disney's Sleeping Beauty castle) and the Roman aqueduct - still standing after all these years, despite no mortar used in its construction. Easily accessible from Madrid.
Just an hour from Madrid, Toledo is another famous walled city. It also has an important synagogue and old mosque.