Strolling around the streets of many cities in Spain you'll notice that innovation and design are to be found in more and more of its buildings. Famous architects such as Frank Gehry, Santiago Calatrava, Richard Rogers, Norman Foster and Rafael Moneo have chosen Spain to build their latest works. Here we present a few of these outstanding examples of 21st-century avant-garde architecture.

Avant-garde architecture is striking and leaves its imprint on the mind's eye. This is the case of the Guggenheim Bilbao Museum, in Bilbao, the Reina Sofía Art Centre, in Madrid, and the City of Arts and Sciences, in Valencia, but Spain is also home to many more examples. Cities such as Barcelona, Bilbao, Madrid and Valencia are obvious ones. If you are planning to come and explore their streets, then make a note of these suggestions.

Madrid, enthusiasm for everything modern

'Madrid has unconditional enthusiasm for modern constructions.' These are the words of Richard Rogers, winner of the 2007 Pritzker Prize and designer of the Madrid Airport extension. This can be seen in buildings such as the extensions to the Reina Sofía National Art Museum, by Jean Nouvel, and the Prado Museum, by Rafael Moneo. They are both in Madrid's 'art triangle', where the CaixaForum Cultural Centre was built, with Spain's first vertical garden.

Other architectural novelties in Madrid are the towers of the Las Torres Business Area, four huge office buildings designed by prestigious architects, located on Paseo de la Castellana; the Canal Theatres, a major complex for the performing arts; and the Magic Box, a modern Olympic tennis centre.

Bilbao, an open-air architecture museum

Frank Gehry, Norman Foster and César Pelli are just some of the leading international architects to 'exhibit' their works in Bilbao. Special mention should be made of the Abandoibarra area, with avant-garde constructions which include the emblematic Guggenheim Bilbao Museum.

Bilbao has an unswerving commitment to design. Take a look, for example, at its underground system, whose station entrances have been designed by Norman Foster. Examples of avant-garde architecture can be seen all over the city, which is home to unique buildings such as the Health Department of the Basque Regional Government, a construction which manages to convey an impression of movement.

The Basque Country, is also home to many more examples of avant-garde architecture such as the Donostia–San Sebastián Conference Centre and the Kursaal Centre, both in San Sebastián; the Ysios Winery by Calatrava, and the Marqués de Riscal Winery designed by Frank Gehry, in Álava; as well as the Contemporary Basque Art Centre-Museum (Artium) in Vitoria.

Barcelona and its avant-garde buildings

District 22@Barcelona was born in 2000 as an initiative by the City Council to transform 200 hectares of industrial land in the Poblenou district into a hub of innovation featuring avant-garde architecture and modern spaces. The Torre Agbar tower can be seen from practically any point in Barcelona, and is an eye-catching cylindrical building which soars up from the 22@ district. This is a place which combines tradition with modernity in creations such as the new Audiovisual Campus and the Central Park, a garden designed by Jean Nouvel to produce a range of sensations through the play of light and shadow, and the perfume of the flowers.

The whole city is home to plenty of striking avant-garde architecture. Besides the famous and eternally-modern work of Gaudí, Barcelona will surprise you with many unusual buildings such as the Marenostrum Tower, which has a completely horizontal block, or the Golden Fish, designed by Frank Gehry and located in the Olympic Village.

Valencia, Santiago Calatrava country

The city's main emblem is the stunning City of Arts and Sciences, by Valencia architect Santiago Calatrava. Nevertheless, there are many other avant-garde buildings, such as the Reina Sofía Arts Centre and L'Assut de l'Or Bridge, both by Calatrava; the Conference Centre, designed by Norman Foster; and the Veles e Vents building, built for the America's Cup and finalist in the Mies Van der Rohe architecture awards, to name just a few.

New architectural ventures throughout Spain

Avant-garde architecture can be found all over Spain. For example, the Castile-León region is home to the winner of the 2007 Mies Van der Rohe Award, the Castile-León Museum of Contemporary Art in León, the Miguel Delibes Cultural Centre in Valladolid, the Museum of Human Evolution in Burgos, and the Museum of the Roman Town of La Olmeda, in the province of Palencia. Meanwhile, in the Region of Galicia, in A Coruña, you'll find the Exhibition and Conference Centre, located right on the seafront, and the unusual Caixa Galicia building; and Santiago de Compostela is the site of the City of Culture. In Aragon, in Alcañiz, you can see the Ciudad del Motor de Aragón sports complex; and Zaragoza still has two of the most spectacular pavilions from Expo Zaragoza 2008: the Pavilion Bridge and the Water Tower, as well as the Third Millennium Bridge. Oviedo, in Asturias, is home to the new City of Oviedo conference centre.

Highlights in Andalusia include the Medina Azahara Museum in Cordoba and the offices of Caja Granada in the same city. And in Seville, the Santa Justa railway station and the Public Library by Cruz and Ortiz are among the buildings which marked its urban transformation on the occasion of the 1992 Universal Exhibition.

In short, innovative projects and new architectural solutions that will surprise you with their originality and avant-garde style when next come to Spain. .

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