In Spain we live crowded together in cities, concentrated in a small part of the territory and most of it in tall buildings. In this special report, elDiario.es invites you to discover how the urban landscape of Spanish cities, tourist areas and towns has developed. And in this piece you can explore it in detail in three dimensions.
The following map shows all the buildings built in Spain and registered in the Cadastre to date, with the exception of those located in Euskadi and Navarra. Each spot of color that you see on the map is a building that we have colored based on the number of floors above ground.
Use the search bar to find your city and click to see it in full screen.
The drawing of each city indicates each of the ways in which the urban development of cities has been understood. From the dense and high expanses of the big capitals, the terraced necklaces of suburban developments, the winding historical centers of medieval cities, the skyscraper areas of financial districts, the tourist housing developments in the Mediterranean and the sprawl of large metropolitan areas.
The images come from the Cadastre database, which includes all the buildings registered in the body at the municipal level in all of Spain, with the exception of Navarra and Euskadi, which have transfer powers. If you want to know how we have done it, see the details in the methodology.
How have we built Spanish cities? We show you ten examples of the types of urban landscapes developed throughout the entire territory.
Toledo, one of the oldest Spanish cities, is known as the city of the “three cultures” for having been populated for centuries by Muslims, Jews and Christians. Built on a hill and surrounded by a river, the center of the capital paints a postcard of chaotic and winding streets.
Ildefons Cerdà wanted to show that the high population density was unhealthy. Did not get it and, over time, other factors such as social class have been shown to play a role as well. With his design of the Eixample, influenced by hygienic currents to avoid diseases, he proposed a low-density urbanism that would regenerate the air. The open blocks that make up most of Barcelona ended up being one of the densest square kilometers in all of Europe.
Around the center of Murcia capital there are thousands of small green spots. They are the rural constructions built on agricultural plots that form the Murcian garden and make the capital one of the lowest and least dense cities in Spain.
Benidorm, the New York of the Mediterranean, is practically the only example of Spanish skyscraper architecture. Planned during the tourist boom in Spain, it was developed as an upward tourist infrastructure, like a pack of cigarettes placed vertically. It is a model that allows hundreds of thousands of tourists to be accommodated, taking up very little space and making better use of resources.
Boadilla del Monte, one of the richest municipalities in Spain, is one of the greatest examples of the urban sprawl landscape, inspired by the American suburb. Low-density giants are created out of one- to two-story single-family homes, increasing the cost of utilities.
Santander’s urban layout cannot be understood without the fire that devastated the city in 1941. The city was rebuilt and expanded in the form of widening blocks and open blocks. In the area closest to the sea, the neighborhood of El Sardinero was planned, with a low density and destined for well-to-do classes.
Palma (Balearic Islands) is a medieval city where it is still possible to see the layout of the old wall, almost in the shape of a star. The widening area grows around it, in line with other Spanish cities.
Thanks to the growth of the port of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, homes were developed on the Isthmus of Guanarteme, a narrow strip of sand that connects the south of the Isleta with the rest of the island of Gran Canaria. This growth ended up merging the fishing district of La Isleta (on the left) with the rest of the city and consolidating the main urban nucleus of the Canarian capital.
Empuriabrava is a peculiar tourist area of Girona planned in the 60s and inspired by the model of a luxury residential marina, which in turn imitates the city of Venice. It was successful in the German market.
Cádiz is a city trapped in space. Developed in favor of the influence of the port during the Middle Ages, the capital of Cadiz draws an urban landscape formed by the historic center of crowded streets and low houses and a high and dense extension built from the 60s. The limitation of space makes it in one of the densest and highest cities in Spain.
To compare the Spanish cities, we have made a ranking with the average height, the urban density (on the built surface) and the distribution of the dwellings by height of the buildings in each of the municipalities with more than 20,000 inhabitants. Find your city and compare with the rest of your province.