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Castles of Spain

Updated on July 27, 2012

Spanish Castles and their history...

A castle which boasts of numerous underground passages; a palace built by the Banu Hud dynasty; and one of the largest medieval castles in Spain; these stories and more can be found on this page showcasing some of the glorious Castles of Spain. I hope you enjoy learning about the interesting and turbulent history of these landmarks. The castles covered on this page are: Almovodar Castle, La Mota-Medina del Campo, Aljaferia Palace, Mendoza-Manzaneres el Real, Castle of Santa Barbara, Palacio Real de Olite, and Butron Castle.

If you want to know more check out Castles of Spain: II, and the Castles of Spain: III, and finally Castles of Spain: IV. Enjoy!

Images provided under a Creative Commons License.

Almodovar Castle

Almodovar Castle
Almodovar Castle

Located east of Cordova in Andalucia, Spain, sitting atop a large hill called the Cerro de la Floresta. Almodóvar Castle was originally built around 760 by the Moors. In 1240, Saint Fernando III took the castle after a long drawn out siege, and improvements were made by his Christian successors.

Almodóvar Castle was used as a prison by several of its rulers, including Pedro I and Enrique II of Castille. Almodóvar Castle was in a great position for defense and protection of its resident kings, and defenses were added throughout its history. In the 15th century, use as a stronghold became less necessary with the region becoming largely Christian, and the majestic castle was left to decay.

In 1902, a 36 year restoration project was undertaken by the Count of Torralva, Rafael Desmaisieres. Because of his vision, Almodóvar Castle is one of the best preserved castles in Spain.

A visit to the castle will delight the patron with displays of castle life in ancient Spain. One can also tour the mysterious underground dungeons and passages.

The large photo of Almodóvar Castle above courtesy of Phillip C Smaller hyperlinked photos courtesy of Salvatorecoco and Lourdes Cardenal.

Almodovar Castle

La Mota Castle, Medina del Campo

La Mota Castle, Medina del Campo
La Mota Castle, Medina del Campo

Located in Valladolid, Spain, building on La Mota, Medina del Campo Castle began sometime in the 13th century as a residence for Alfonso VIII. The 14th and 15th centuries saw further additions and improvements under the rule of Henry IV. Queen Isabella oversaw even more additions and improvements during her reign. La Mota has also been used as a place to house prisoners during its long history.

Sometime after the 15th century, La Mota, Medina del Campo was abandoned and began to decay. Its use as a fortress was no longer necessary and there were no efforts to maintain the castle. After the Spanish Civil War began in 1936, this red brick castle was restored and was one of the first buildings in the area to be declared a Heritage Site.

Mota, meaning the same as motte in English, refers to the building of a castle upon a hill or mound, and this is where La Mota gets its name. There are quite a few castles in Spain that are known as La Mota, so the castle name is usually followed by its location, hence, this one is La Mota, Medina del Campo.

There is a story that Christopher Columbus visited Queen Isabella at La Mota to plead for money to help pay for his ocean voyage, but the story cannot be confirmed, and no documentation of such an event has been found.

Large photo of La Mota Medina del Campo above courtesy of Martius Smaller hyperlinked photo courtesy of Pelayo2.

Aljafería Palace

Aljafería Palace
Aljafería Palace

Located in Zaragosa, Aragon, Spain, Aljafería Palace was built in the 11th century as a residence for the Banu Hud dynasty. The oldest part of the palace however, is the Troubadour Tower, which dates as far back as the 9th century. This beautiful Spanish Islamic architectural palace is also the home of the regional parliament of Aragon.

In 1118, the city of Zaragosa fell to Alfonso I of Aragon, and Aljafería Palace was in the hands of the Christian kings, who used the palace as their official residence. In 1492, Aljafería Palace was renovated for the Catholic kings.

Aljafería palace was renovated again in 1593, which turned the beautiful palace into a military base, and for many years after, Aljafería Palace continued to lose much of it's luster. The Siege of Zaragosa during the Peninsula War did not help matters at all, and the beautiful palace suffered from war and neglect.

Towards the end of the 20th century, Aljafería Palace was restored to its former glory, and is a gem in the city of Zaragosa.

One interesting fact about the Troubadour Tower is that the only entrance to the tower is a door that is built so high up on the tower, that one needed a ladder to reach it.

Hyperlinked photos courtesy of Escarlati and Ecelan

Aljafería Palace

The first 35 seconds of this video is rather annoying to me, but hang in there, it is a really good video with lots of information. The video is in English, but the narrator has a thick accent, so some people may have a little trouble understanding it. Personally, I rather like it.

Mendoza Castle, Manzanares el Real

Mendoza Castle, Manzanares el Real
Mendoza Castle, Manzanares el Real

Located north of Madrid in Manzanares el Real, Spain, the current Mendoza Castle of Manzanares el Real was built near the original castle, a Romanic- Mudéjar building, in 1475, incorporating some of the older Mudéjar building materials. This castle is also known simply as the Castle of Manzanares el Real. The castle is a mix of different architectural styles, from the early Mudéjar, to Gothic and renaissance additions.

In 1383, King Juan I gave Pedro González de Mendoza the lands upon which the castle is built. The older building was erected by his son, Diego Hurtado de Mendoza, and the newer castle was built primarily by the first two Duques(Dukes) del Infantado, in the 15th century, who were also members of the powerful and noble Mendoza family. A brother of the first Duque del Infantado, Pedro Gonzalez de Mendoza, was a Cardinal of Spain and advisor to Fernando and Isabel.

Built first as a defensive building, the Mendoza Castle of Manzanares el Real became the residence of the Mendoza family, but this was short lived. When the fourth Duque del Infantado died, his successors fought back and forth over the castle which resulted in the Castle of Mendoza falling into a grave state of disrepair. The castle was eventually abandoned.

In 1974, the Regional Council of Madrid began restoration efforts on the Mendoza Castle of Manzanares el Real. The castle was brought back to its former glory, although many of the furnishings and other interior decorative elements were added during the restoration.

The castle is now a very popular attraction and holds various events as well as tours.

Large photo of Mendoza Castle above courtesy of Cruccone Smaller hyperlinked photos courtesy of Pavlemadrid commons and Eleagnus.

Santa Barbara Castle

Santa Barbara Castle
Santa Barbara Castle

Located in Alicante, Spain, Santa Bárbara Castle sits high over the city on Benacantil Mountain. Santa Bárbara dates to the 9th century, and was built by the Moors who controlled the Iberian Peninsula in this time period.

The Castle of Santa Bárbara is one of the largest medieval castles in Spain, and rivals the largest fortresses in Europe. Its strategic position was frequently fought over, and on December 4, 1248, the castle fell to Infante Alfonso of Castilla (later King Alfonso X the Wise), and named the castle after the Saint who was honored on that day, Santa Bárbara.

The Castle of Santa Bárbara was soon fought over again, and was overtaken by the forces of James II of Aragon in 1296. These two battles in close succession left the castle in a sad state of repair, and reconstruction began. The Castle of Santa Bárbara saw further improvements under the rule of Peter IV of Aragon, Charles I of Spain, and the extremely powerful Philip II of Spain.

In 1691, the Castle of Santa Bárbara was damaged again when it was attacked by the French, and during the War of Spanish Succession, the castle was once again under attack. As if that weren't enough, the Caslte of Santa Bárbara was attacked in 1873 by the frigate Numancia during the Glorious Revolution.

After the revolution, the castle was abandoned until 1963 when the castle was opened to the public.

Hyperlinked photos courtesy of Karolsl, Superchilum, and LittelFox.

Palacio Real de Olite

Palacio Real de Olite
Palacio Real de Olite

Located in Olite, Spain, building began on the Palacio Real de Olite in the 13th century and was originally a castle for the Kings of Navarre (originally Pamplona).

The palace was first built as a military fortress, but soon became the royal residence of kings, and is more commonly called a palace instead of a castle, but it is still sometimes referred to as the Castle of Olite. The Palacio Real de Olite is of Gothic design, and was built slowly over the years. The greatest contribution to the palace was made during the reign of King Charles III, who added many of the decorative elements, as well as high walls, a moat, towers, and the palace gardens.

In 1516, Navarre was defeated by Ferdinand the Catholic, and the Palacio Real de Olite began to suffer from neglect. In the Peninsula War, the troops of Napoleon Bonaparte holed themselves up in the palace when General Francisco Espoz y Mina, a known strategist, set the Palacio Real de Olite on fire to frighten and dishearten the French troops.

The Palacio Real de Olite is well worth a visit, and the medieval royal chapel next door is also a must see.

Large photo of Palacio Real de Olite above courtesy of Alex Kilem Smaller hyperlinked photos courtesy of José Luis Filpo Cabana, Josep Renalias and Eaeaea.

Butron Castle

Butron Castle
Butron Castle

Located in Gatika, Spain, it is believed Butrón Castle was built sometime in the 13th century, although some sources site the 11th century as being the time construction began on the original castle. While Butrón Castle was added to over the ages, the castle seen today is due largely to a massive reconstruction effort in 1878 by Francisco de Cubas .

Butrón Castle was the family seat of the Butrón dynasty, and the Lords of Butrón controlled much of the Bay of Biscay. The area around the bay was fought over by two warring clans, and Butrón Castle was usually in the thick of it. In the 16th century, the fighting subsided, and need for a defensive castle was no longer needed. The beautiful medieval castle was abandoned and left to decay.

Butrón Castle has now been renovated, and was at one time opened to the public. While the castle itself has been closed to visitors, the castle grounds with its beautiful landscape and trees, which were carefully planted and is now a reserve for a variety of flora and fauna.

Hyperlinked photos courtesy of LVHP 2000 and Asturias Verde under a creative commons license"

Want to learn more?

Discoveries Spain - Castles, Cathedrals & Roman Ruins
Discoveries Spain - Castles, Cathedrals & Roman Ruins

The history of the Iberian Peninsula comes alive through the legends & stone architecture of Spain's most treasured buildings & monuments. Visit these spectacular icons of the past dating to Roman, Moor, and Christian influences. Also visit the region where the ancient spice Saffron was developed by the Moors. These diverse cultures designed cathedrals and castles that contain some of Europe's finest art collections and historical architecture.

 

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    • profile image

      julieannbrady 8 years ago

      Perhaps we will get to see a castle when we travel to Spain the end of this month for a much needed vacation -- I'll let you know! ;)

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 8 years ago from Southampton, UK

      Very nice lens, I love your castles lenses. 5*****

    • kerbev profile image

      kab 8 years ago from Upstate, NY

      The Giant Squid Greeters are kicking off a fun team challenge. You are hereby formally invited to join my team: Kab's Fab Squid Squad. I think you'd be a great addition to the Squid Squad.

    • religions7 profile image

      religions7 8 years ago

      Great lens - you've been blessed by a squidoo angel :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Castles have always held a fascination with me. I would love to tour one someday, ...or even stay in one. That would be so great. I should add that to my bucket list! Pretty!

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 7 years ago

      You've been blessed by a Squid Angel, and this lens was included in Another Day of One Hundred Squid Angel Blessings.

    • profile image

      Greyer 7 years ago

      I love visiting castles and reading about them and their history. You have amazing lenses keep up the good work

    • jolou profile image

      jolou 7 years ago

      You have done a wonderful job with your lens I love all the beautiful photos.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Love all these castles. Visited most of Spain but I just love to go back and spend more time.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      we are ancestors of Manuel Butron of the Butron castle and would like to visit and wonder if there is any way to get a tour?

    • dc64 lm profile image
      Author

      dc64 lm 6 years ago

      @anonymous: Butron Castle is a Spanish Historical Heritage monument. You can email INBISA, the corporation that is in charge of the castle. Just Google INBISA Butron Castle, and you can find their website and go from there.

    • profile image

      justanormalguy 6 years ago

      Love the photos, Spain has a lot of history to offer winter sun destinations

    • jlshernandez profile image

      jlshernandez 6 years ago

      I love Spain, its history, people, castles and sangria. It was one of my most memorble trips.

    • soloibiza profile image

      soloibiza 5 years ago

      There is a castle in Ibiza recognized by Unesco

    • profile image

      boutiqueshops 5 years ago

      Absolutely breathtaking! Wonderful job on this page; I'd love to see them all. Blessed by an angel!

    • spartakct profile image

      spartakct 5 years ago

      The castles are wonderful! Nice lens!

    • DonD LM profile image

      DonD LM 5 years ago

      These are beautiful castles to visit with one of these days I think. People will be amazed when they will see this in real. You have a great lense

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 5 years ago

      I love the history facts and the great pictures.

    • profile image

      miro80 5 years ago

      I haven`t Known the Castle of Butron. Thank you, for the information!

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image

      Tolovaj Publishing House 5 years ago from Ljubljana

      Beautiful presentation. I can almost feel the richness of history behind the castles' walls. Thanks!

    • alfonsogomea profile image

      alfonsogomea 5 years ago

      very nice ¡¡ i live in spain and i almost didn't know none of them . good work ¡

    • profile image

      acregmed 4 years ago

      Beautiful lens!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      THANKS DAD FOR THE TRIP HOME TO SPAIN!

    • Margaret Muir profile image

      Margaret Muir 4 years ago from Tasmania, Australia

      I recently visited the Santa Barbara castle and noted the flags/standards of Ferdinand and Isabella. Can you tell me more about them.

    • mihaelaschwartz1 profile image

      mihaelaschwartz1 4 years ago

      Great list! I love visiting castles.

    • norlawrence profile image

      Norma Lawrence 10 months ago from California

      Great article. Loved all the good information. You really put a lot of work in this article and it shows. Thanks

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