Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao

Examples of contemporary architecture in Green Spain


Curved shapes, quirky constructions, buildings as metaphor… In Spain you’ll encounter many examples of futuristic-looking modern architecture. Here are some you can see in northern Spain if you’re visiting the regions of Asturias, Cantabria, Galicia, and the Basque Country. This area is known as Green Spain for its lush scenery.

  • Roof of the atrium of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao

    Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

    The building’s 33,000 titanium sheets and its curved line shapes seem to defy logic and surprise visitors who get close to the Nervión riverbank. Architect Frank Gehry made the Guggenheim the most recognisable icon in the city of Bilbao and one of the most beautiful museums in the world.

  • Niemeyer Centre in Avilés

    The Niemeyer Centre in Avilés

    This is the only work in Spain by Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer. Its avant-garde spirit is made even clearer by contrast with the historic quarter of Áviles. The large white buildings and curved shapes draw the gaze and house an auditorium, a viewing tower and a spectacular dome.

  • Marques de Riscal wineries

    City of Wine Marqués de Riscal winery in Elciego (Álava)

    “An animal galloping over the countryside” was architect Frank Gehry’s inspiration for this project, now regarded as one of the great wine cathedrals of Spain. Everything about this building is surprising, from its curved roof and strange shapes to the wine colours of the titanium plaques, contrasting against the green vineyards.

  • Santiago de Compostela, City of Culture

    City of Culture of Galicia

    This project radically changed the summit of Mount Gaiás in Santiago de Compostela. The architect Peter Eisenmann brought to life a series of unique buildings that were inspired by the pilgrimage routes to the medieval city. Visitors can walk around the outside, sign up to a guided tour and attend one of the exhibitions or concerts that are organised.

  • Centro Botín, in Santander

    Centro Botín in Santander

    This is the “youngest” of the buildings on the list. It is an art centre on the Santander seafront, designed by Renzo Piano, and first opened in 2017. A spectacular location for a building, covered in 270,000 ceramic pieces. It appears to be suspended over the sea as if it were a pier. It plays host to various exhibitions and cultural events.

  • Bilbao Arena

    Bilbao Arena

    Sustainable, environmentally friendly, beautiful and practical. This sports pavilion, basketball stadium and conference centre is an example of modern architecture at its most responsible. It recycles rainwater, includes energy cogeneration, and is integrated into its surroundings with a design evoking the rocks of the former mines and the woods of the area.

  • Kursaal in Donostia-San Sebastián

    Kursaal Centre in Donostia-San Sebastián

    Two great cubes of translucent glass, like two enormous rocks washed up by the sea. That’s the first impression of this design by Rafael Moneo, winner of the Mies Van der Rohe Award for contemporary architecture, and admirably integrated with its natural setting. Its illuminated silhouette against the shoreline as night falls will give you one of your best photos of the city.

You can find more examples in our leaflet of contemporary architecture in Spain.

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