Are you planning a trip to Spain? Then add these Six UNESCO Heritage Sites Close to Madrid to your bucket list. The strategic positioning of city has allowed it to become a prominent city throughout history. Indeed, six UNESCO World Heritage sites have been named in or within close proximity of Madrid.

UNESCO elevates cultural or natural monuments to the status of World Heritage Site if they demonstrate “outstanding universal value”. As part of the World Heritage List for Humanity, they enjoy special protection. This status has been awarded to a little over 1,000 sites in 167 countries in the world. Here’s a look at some of the most stunning UNESCO Heritage Sites close to Madrid.

The Cultural Landscape of Aranjuez

Located in the southern part of Madrid, Aranjuez is one of the Royal Estates of the Crown of Spain since the 1560s. Until 1752, only royalty and nobility were allowed within the premises of Aranjuez. In 2001, UNESCO declared the Cultural Landscape of Aranjuez a World Heritage Site.

El Escorial Monastery

The El Escorial Monastery, also known as the Royal Site of San Lorenzo de El Escorial is a historical residence of the King of Spain, in the town of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, about 45 kilometres (28 miles) northwest of Madrid. It is one of the Spanish royal sites and has been used as a monastery, basilica, royal palace, pantheon, library, museum, university, school and hospital. UNESCO declared it as a World Heritage site in 1984.

University and Historic Precinct of Alcalá de Henares

Alcalá de Henares was founded by Cardinal Jiménez de Cisneros in the early 16th century. It was the very first planned university city. Civitas Dei, or the City of God, was modeled based on the Alcalá de Henares. Since then, it has served as a model for universities in Europe and abroad.

Historic City of Toledo

The city of Toledo reflects more than 2000 years of history, where relics of the existence of three major religions – Islam, Judaism, and Christianity – are clearly visible. From the Roman municipium to the capital of Visigothic, to the fortress of the Emirate of Cordoba, to an outpost of the Christian kingdoms fighting the Moors. In the 16th century it was also the temporary seat of supreme power under Charles V.

Old Town of Segovia and its Aqueduct

Segovia was conquered by the Romans in the 1st century and became a strategic military base. The Romans built an aqueduct c. A.D. 50, and has been remarkably maintained up to this day. The aqueduct has 167 single tier and two tier arches of approximately 28 meters in height and 728 meters in length. UNESCO declated Segovia and its aqueduct a World Heritage site in 1985.

Old Town of Ávila with its Extra-Muros Churches

UNESCO declared the Old Town of Ávila with its Extra-Muros Churches a World Heritage site in 1985. The town’s medieval walls and the Romanesque extra-muros churches of San Pedro, San Vicente, San Andrés and San Segundo are the buildings that are mentioned in the inscription as the main repositories.