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World Heritage Cities

World Heritage Cities are now found on all the continents, except Australia and Antarctica. They range from the ancient, such as China’s Ping Yao and England’s Bath, to the medieval, such as Kyoto Japan, Bagerhat, Bangladesh and Timbuktu, Mali, to the fairly modern (within the past 500 years), such as Quebec City, Canada.

Some countries, like Brazil, with six, and Italy, with 11, have a large number of World Heritage Cities or city centers – testaments to the great tides of history and art that have passed through some lands.

But perhaps the greatest collection of World Heritage Cities, possibly in grandeur and certainly in concept, is the “Spanish Collection of World Heritage Cities” which includes Avila, Caceres, Cordoba, Cuenca, Salamanca, Santiago de Compostela, Segovia and Toledo. The “collection” is the creation of the Association of World Heritage cities of spain, a group that began meeting in 1993 to undertake a united, cohesive marketing effort that would encourage travelers to treat the then six cities as an ensemble (Cordoba joined the group in 1994; Cuenca in 1998).

Spain city, which is about 25% larger than California, is conveniently box-shaped, so the distances between any of its cities do not make for an exhausting or time-consuming journey. As the map here shows, six of the cities are arranged in a rough triangle and are no more than one day’s leisurely drive from one to another.

The two further cities, Santiago de Compostela and Córdoba, in and of themselves are so important historically that their relative remoteness should make no difference to the earnest traveler. Santiago was one of Christendom’s three greatest pilgrimage sites during the Middle Ages, while Córdoba, Spain’s greatest center of Moorish culture, boasted Europe’s preeminent university in the early Middle Ages.


Taken as an ensemble, the cities are as magnificent an introduction to Spain’s complex history as any discerning traveler could hope for.

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