- the alternative guide to Spain
Spain - a land of castles and
Alcazar in Segovia
For anyone planning a trip that
takes in a visit to some fabulous mediaeval or Renaissance
castles, Spain is the country to go to.
Centuries of conflict between Christians and Muslims in
have given the country a very rich heritage of litterally thousands of
castles and fortresses, some huge, some big, some small, some fine and
intact, many in ruins.
the southern parts of Spain abound with "Arab" fortresses, the northern
half is home to large numbers of "Christian" castles, built during the
time of the Reconquest, often by building onto existing defensive
positions built by the Moors - who were great military architects.
Castles were such a common feature in early mediaeval Spain,
that they became the defining characteristic of the central part of the
country which became known as Castile – Castilla in Spanish
– the land of castles.
Spain is the kind of country where,
driving along a rural byway, one suddenly finds oneself face to face
with an impressive mediaeval keep, or massive fortress perched atop a
rock in the middle of nowhere.... and not even mentioned in any general
guidebook. In rural locations such sites may well be deserted, and the
visitor is free to wander round the ruins which may or may not have
information boards. After the
reunification of Spain, defensive castles no loger served much purpose.
Many fell into ruin, many more were deliberately demolished or
part-demolished, to discourage local power bases or insurgency against
Peñafiel - Castile y Leon
Then from the Renaissance onwards, Spanish
kings, princes, bishops and other grandees built or rebuilt their own
castles, now serving as stately residences rather than fortresses, with
baroque exuberence or neoclassical refinement – and sometimes
The choice below lists just a tiny
fraction of all the castles in Spain: it does not include the finest
Moorish castles, - Granada's Alhambra, the Alcazar at Malaga - and
others that are included in the list of best Moorish monuments
of the most impressive and significant castles in Spain: an ecelectic
de Segovia (Castilla y Leon)
: The most visited castle in
Spain after the Alhambra. A fairytale castle built on the impregnable
base of a Moorish fortress
(Medina del Campo, Castilla y
One of the best preserved Mediaeval fortresses in Europe - but largely
the tourist trail. A massive stone and brick fortress dominating the
plains of Castile.
of La Mota at Medina del Campo.
of Peñafiel (Castilla y Leon) Large
mediaeval hilltop fortress, 210 metres from end to end, with double
line of ramparts. One of the best preserved castles in Castile - but
off the tourist trail, between Valladolid and Aranda de Duero.
of Jadraque (near Guadalajara, Castilla
Magnificent mediaeval fortress, based on a previous
Moorish fort, spectacularly sited on a hilltop
of Trujillo (Extremadura)
(Photo top of page) - A Moorish defensive castle taken over by the
Christians after the reconquest of Extremadura. Impressive views from
the ramparts, over the roofs of the small town and the plains beyond.
of Lorca (Murcia)
The Castle of Lorca is one of the largest mediaeval
Spain, located at a key point along the Mediterranean coast. Many
tourists see it without stopping to visit, since the A7 motorway enters
a tunnel almost right under the castle.
castle at Peñiscola
(Community of Valencia).
A beautiful Templar castle, on a rock beside the sea, and overlooking
the old town of Peniscola. This castle is one of the most beautiful
spots on Spain's Mediterranean coast, and has a museum of the Knights
palace at Aranjuez (Madrid area)
. The Spanish equivalent of France's Versailles, a
Royal palace, a stately home but never a fortress, with fine gardens,
located in the valley of the Tagus to the south of Madrid. This 16th -
18th century ensemble contains magnificent royal apartments, in the
baroque style, with fine collections of paintings and furniture.
of Manzanares el Real (Madrid area) .
Lying at the foot of the Sierra Guadarrama between Madrid and Segovia,
and dating from 1475, the castle of the Mendozas is one of the best
preserved fortified castles in Spain. A fine gothic castle with
barbicans and very interesting stonework
de Almodóvar del Río. (Andalucia) Arguably
the finest castle in Andalucia, if you exclude the Alhambra in Granada
(which is more than just a castle). Located a few km. west of Cordoba,
on a hill overlooking the Rio Guadalquivir. There was a fort
Roman times. The castle that stands today is of Moorish origin, and was
renovated extensively by its owner in the early twentieth century.
Guided and self-guided tours, with audio visual displays..
just scratches the surface; Spain has so many castles, that some are
only listed on detailed maps, or strictly local guidebooks and
brochures. Travellers wandering off the beaten track through Spain may
well chance upon a fine old fortress, partly or largely in ruins, but
freely accessible on foot to those who like to muse on their own round
Wikipedia : incomplete but extensive list of castles in
castle of Moorish origin in Trujillo, Extremadura
The castle of Velez blanco, Andalucia. The marble patio from this
castle has been removed, and is now in the Metropolitan Museum of New
places to stay
Text and photos
© About-Spain.net except photo
of Peñafiel, by Marnal.
Photos of the Alcazar in Segovia by P.Maeyaert, and of Velez Blanco by
Felipe Ortega, licenced Creative commons.