If you have a passion for cultural travel and don´t mind switching shoes with the famous Spaniards in history – save this list of interesting house museums for your next trip, you won´t regret it.
Cultural Travel in Spain
Aside from my passion for fairytale locations, dreamy castles, and otherworldly landscapes in Spain – there´s been a new addition to my favorite national landmarks over the last few years. Somehow I have developed a huge interest in house museums, which have once been homes for famous Spaniards in history.
Why I love house museums
There´s something truly unique about visiting these personal spaces.
I feel like it goes hand in hand with my passion for the undiscovered places in Spain and learning more about authentic Spanish habits. Visiting a house museum feels like getting a sneak peek into someone´s real life, away from fame, glory, and public appearances. It´s like digging into someone’s oldest layer of personal memory, where you discover hidden details behind the biggest names in Spanish history. House museums are full of curious details showing us the cultural habits, beliefs, and traditions of their owners.
While there are quite a few famous Spanish people appearing in the international media every day (like Antonio Banderas, Rafael Nadal, Julio Iglesias, Pau Gasol, Penelope Cruz, Pedro Almodovar, and others), there´s a particular cultural value in getting a chance to visit a house museum of someone whole lived centuries ago.
The person is long gone, but the house still keeps the essence. What we see inside might feel different from any fact we might see or read in books&museums. Society, makes people wear masks constantly, but the house remains an authentic reflection of who we are. Therefore, each house museum is our best bet to pay a visit to someone from another epoch.
So, let me share with you a few famous Spaniards in history and my impressions of their house museums.
Famous Spaniards in History & Their House Museums
Miguel de Cervantes
Let´s begin with the most famous Spaniard in history – Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616), the author of the worldwide-famous Spanish novel Don Quixote.
The book needs no introduction – it´s one of the world’s best-selling reads of all time (500 million copies), as well as an emblematic prototype of a modern novel. In case this tale of a Spanish knight driven mad, as well as the story of his incredible adventures simply didn´t get under your skin before – now is about the time you should reconsider adding Don Quixote to your list of wanderlust books.
Don Quixote was originally published in Spanish in two parts (1605, 1615) and was consequently translated into more than 50 languages, being the second most translated book ever (after the Bible).
The author Miguel de Cervantes was born in the Spanish town of Alcala de Henares, which can be visited on a day trip from Madrid. In this small town, you´ll find the house museum of the globally famous Don Quixote writer. The entrance to Cervantes Birthplace Museum is free. Inside you´ll find the first editions of the book nestled between the traditional Spanish interiors of the XVIth century.
In case you´ve missed it – there´s a whole book-themed road trip through the Spanish region of Castile-La Mancha. It´s one of the coolest Spanish road trips to learn more about Cervantes, Don Quixote and to feel the essence of the Spanish nation.
The Borgia (or Borja in Spanish) family were absolutely some of the most famous Spaniards in history.
While their international fame arose after establishing roots in Italy and becoming crucial in the Vatican´s political life (between the 1400s and 1500s), the Borgia family was actually descending from Valencia. So, there´s a large number of sights in the region of the Valencian community connected to them. All of these could be unique Valencia day trip ideas.
So, history relates Borgia with numerous crimes and murders, all because of their grasp of power. At the same time, the House of Borgia gave the world two popes of Rome (Alfons de Borja, who ruled as Pope Callixtus III during 1455–1458, and Rodrigo Lanzol Borgia, as Pope Alexander VI, during 1492–1503).
The Ducal Palace of Gandia was the residence of the Borgia family since 1485 and the birthplace of Saint Francis Borgia (a great-grandson of Pope Alexander VI). The Palace is situated in the heart of Gandia with its origins going back to the 14th century. The interiors make us time-travel back to the years of prosperity for the Borgia family.
Vasco Nunez de Balboa
During my recent trip across Extremadura, I accidentally discovered that the region was once home to many Spanish explorers of the New World – Hernan Cortes, Francisco Pizarro, and Vasco Nunez de Balboa. Traveling is always the best teacher filling up our school learning gaps. Can´t believe years ago I only knew of Columbus-related sites and the city of Cadiz, from where he sailed toward The New World.
So, in the small town of Jerez de los Caballeros, the fans of places off the beaten track can discover the house museum of Vasco Nunez de Balboa (1475 – 1519) – a Spanish explorer, governor, and conquistador.
Vasco Nunez de Balboa was governor of the provinces of Panama and Coiba, and the first European to found a settlement on the mainland of the Americas. His home takes us back to the era of discoveries and traditional interiors. While the exposition was full of interesting informative panels and curious objects, I´ve literally fallen in love with the lace dress and the closet in the picture below.
Lope de Vega
Lope de Vega is another big name on the list of the famous Spaniards in history.
Felix Lope de Vega y Carpio (1562-1635) was a Spanish playwright, poet, and novelist – one of the key figures of Baroque literature. His cultural input to World Literature includes around 3000 sonnets, 3 novels, 4 novellas, 9 poems, and around 500 plays. The authors like Cervantes himself and Goethe talked highly of Lope de Vega´s works.
Lope de Vega House Museum, where the author lived for a quarter of a century, can be visited in the Spanish capital of Madrid. Of all the famous Spaniards in history, I am particularly obsessed with writers and painters. Their house museums are always the most intriguing ones to visit, as they once served as the creative hubs where eternal art pieces were born. these walls.
So, the same can be said about Lope de Vega House Museum. It was here where he wrote his most acclaimed works.
No trip to Catalonia could go around the persona of Salvador Dali (1904 – 1989), an extravagant Spanish surrealist artist. He´s still one of the biggest names for all art lovers around the world.
In his hometown of Figueres, Costa Brava you´ll find the famous Dali Theatre Museum. Although, the house of the painter Casa-Museu Salvador Dali is located in Port LLigat, near Cadaques, one of the most beautiful Spanish small towns.
It´s hard to believe that Salvador Dali has chosen a quiet fisherman´s hut and on its basis was creating the home of his dreams for 40 years. This house was his ideal place to work and invent.
Note, that in order to visit Dali´s House Museum you´ll need to book in advance, as everything related to Dali is quite touristic.
There won´t be a single traveler without Gaudi’s sights on the bucket list. So, the Spanish architect and designer Antonio Gaudi might be your favorite of the most famous Spaniards in history.
All of his artworks wave become top Spanish landmarks and Barcelona´s international visiting card. While Gaudi has given the world one of the most iconic Spanish Cathedrals – La Sagrada Familia, his actual house in Barcelona was way more modest. Gaudi´s house is located in Park Guell and even has a virtual tour.
While Gaudi was born in the Catalan town of Reus, back in 1906 he moved to this house in Barcelona with his father and niece. The iconic architect kept living there alone even after their death.
Joaquin Sorolla (1863-1923) was one of the most famous Spanish painters of all time. Personally, I love his works.
While Sorolla was originally born in Valencia, and his most emblematic works often rolled around the Mediterranean coast from childhood, the house museum of Sorolla is located in Madrid.
This place preserves the home decor and workshop of the painter. Also, it is one of the most complete and best-preserved artist houses in Europe, where even the garden was designed by Sorolla himself.
While the name Jose Benllure might not be the first one coming to our mind when thinking of the famous Spaniards in history, his house museum is, probably, my favorite on this list.
Jose Benllure was one of the most important Valencian painters of the 19th century.
His house museum feels very authentic and shows an extensive collection of artworks by the painter and his son Jose Benllure Ortiz. This place is one of my favorite lesser-known things to do in Valencia.
More famous Spanish people in history & their house museums
The list of famous Spaniards in history and their house museums does not end here. You can check more names and places below:
- Federico García Lorca, a Spanish poet, playwright, and theatre director (the house museum can be found in Granada and Fuente Vaqueros)
- Jose Zorilla, a Spanish poet and dramatist (the house museum is in Valladolid)
- Manuel de Falla, an Andalusian composer, and pianist ( the house museum is set in Granada)
- Miguel de Unamuno, a Spanish novelist, poet, playwright, philosopher, and rector at the University of Salamanca (the house museum can be found in Salamanca)
- Miguel Hernández, a Spanish poet and playwright ( the house museum is in Orihuela)
- Vicente Blasco Ibáñez, a Spanish journalist, and bestselling novelist ( with a house museum in Valencia)