Ten of Spain's most amazing modern architectural wonders

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Ten of Spain's most amazing modern architectural wonders
This hotel attached to a Rioja winery is one of Spain's architectural gems. Photo: Pere Sebastian/ Flickr

Spain has its fair share of iconic buildings designed by some of the world's most prestigious architects. To celebrate World Architecture Day, we take a look at ten of the best.


The Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao

The scaly titanium building designed by Canadian-American architect Frak Gehry is credited with transforming the once-run down industrial northern port city of Bilbao in the Basque Country into a tourist destination.

the Guggenheim in Bilbao, the basque country, Spain
Photo: Diego Zingano/Flickr



City of Arts and Sciences, Valencia

This cultural complex in Valencia features a science museum, IMAX cinema and an open-air aquarium, among many other attractions. It is the largest collection of Calatrava's work in the world, and also among his most controversial. Its original budget was €300million but the project was expanded and it ended up costing nearly three times as much, becoming a symbol of the overspend on public infrastructure projects that sent the nation into a spiral of debt.

The City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia
Photo: Vil.Sandi/Flickr



Terminal Four, Adolfo Suarez- Madrid Barajas Airport

Designed by British architect Richard Rogers and Partners, the building with a roof formed by undulating curves won the 2006 Sterling Prize. 

Terminal 4 at Barajas Airport in Madrid
Photo: Jean-Pierre Dalbéra/Flickr


Bridge Pavilion, Zaragoza

The pavilion was designed for the 2008 Zaragoza Expo, by Zaha Hadid, the Iraqi-born British architect who in 2004 became the first woman to win the coveted Pritzker Architecture Prize. The pavillion serves as a pedestrian bridge across the river Ebro in the Aragon capital.

pabellon puente zaragoza spain
Photo: Juan Luis/Flickr



Hotel Marques de Riscal, Elciego, La Rioja

This stunning structure is also designed by Frank Gehry and combines sandstone cubes topped with sweeping metal ribbons of gold and pink titanium rising out of the vineyards. It is located at the winery of Vinos Herederos del Marques de Riscal, one of the oldest wineries in Spain’s La Rioja region.

Marqués de Riscal La Rioja Wineyard, designed by Frank O. Gehry.
Photo: Wojtek Gurak/ Flickr


Metropol Parasol, Seville

German architect J. Mayer H's playful Metropol Parasol regenerated the Plaza de la Encarnación, a run-down square in the centre of Seville. Opened in 2011, its waffle like canopy stretches over 5,000 square metres and is the largest wooden structure in the world. In Seville, the structure is often referred to as Las Setas (The Mushrooms).

Metropol Parasol seville spain
Photo: Hernán Piñera/ Flickr



Concert Hall, Tenerife

Situated between the Marine Park and the edge of the port, in the Canary Island capital Santa Cruz de Tenerife, the auditorium designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava is built entirely of concrete and has a sweeping arch as a roof, representing a gigantic crashing wave.

the auditorium in santa cruz de tenerife
Photo:Jose Mesa/ Flickr





Torre Agbar, Barcelona

The 38-story skyscraper designed by French architect Jean Nouvel to house the headquarters of Barcelona’s water company was inaugurated in 2005 and has become one of Barcelona’s most notable landmarks.  It's multi-coloured facade of reflective aluminum panels, behind glass louvers, means it transforms depending on the light.

torre agbar barcelona
Photo: Michael Jansen/Flickr



Oscar Niemeyer International Cultural Centre, Avilés

Completed in 2011, the complex in Avilés, in Spain’s northern Asturias region is comprised of five structures designed by Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, including an auditorium, exhibition dome and viewing tower perched atop a corkscrew staircase.

Centro Cultural Internacional Oscar Niemeyer

The Oscar Niemeyer International Cultural Centre in Avilés. Photo: Nacho/Flickr





Prado extension, Madrid 

Well, we are jumping the gun on this one as it is even not constructed yet but, but British architect Norman Foster has been selected to renovate a 17th century building to house an extension of Madrid’s Prado museum.

In a joint project with Spain’s Carlos Rubio, Foster will refurbish the Hall of Realms, not far from the main museum in the centre of the Spanish capital. The project is estimated to cost around €40m. Construction work on the extension started in 2018 and is expected to be completed by the end of 2022.

A sketch of the winning design for the Prado extension. Photo: Museo del Prado




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