Castles and fortifications in Spain

Arco de Santa María

Arco de Santa María is one of the 12 medieval gates of Burgos had during the middle ages. It was rebuilt by Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor during the 16th century after the local rulers of the city supported him during the Revolt of the Comuneros. On the facade of the arch appear people of importance to the city of Burgos and Castile, such as Diego Rodríguez Porcelos, the founder of the city, Jueces de Castilla La ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Burgos, Spain

Alcazaba

La Alcazaba is Malaga"s most important landmark, and overlooks the city from a hilltop inland. It is one of two Moorish fortresses in the city, the other being the Castillo de Gibralfaro. The Alcazaba is the best-preserved Moorish fortress palace in Spain. Constructed on the ruins of a Roman fortification during the reign of Abd-al-Rahman I, the first Emir of Cordoba, in around 756-780 AD, the Alcazaba"s origin ...
Founded: 756-780 AD | Location: Málaga, Spain

Walls and Alcazar of Segovia

Rising out on a rocky crag above the confluence of two rivers near the Guadarrama mountains, the Alcázar of Segovia is one of the most distinctive castle-palaces in Spain by virtue of its shape – like the bow of a ship. The Alcázar was originally built as a fortress but has served as a royal palace, a state prison, a Royal Artillery College and a military academy since then. It is currently used as a museum and a mili ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Segovia, Spain

Medieval Walls of Avila

The city walls of Avila were built in the 11th century to protect the citizens from the Moors. They have been well maintained throughout the centuries and are now a major tourist attraction as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors can walk around about half of the length of the walls. The layout of the city is an even quadrilateral with a perimeter of 2,516 m. Its walls, which consist in part of stones already u ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Ávila, Spain

Puerta de Bisagra

The Puerta de Bisagra s an ancient city gate in Toledo. The structure was constructed in the 10th century, in the time of the Moorish Taifa of Toledo in Islamic Al-Andalus. It is also called 'Bisagra Antigua' to distinguish it from the Puerta de Bisagra Nueva which was built in 1559. The gate was the main entrance to the city and dates from the Moorish period.
Founded: 10th century | Location: Toledo, Spain

Puerta de Bisagra Nueva

The Puerta de Bisagra Nueva ('The New Bisagra Gate') is the best known city gate of Toledo. The gate is of Moorish origin, but the main part was built in 1559 by Alonso de Covarrubias. It carries the coat of arms of the emperor Charles V. It superseded the Puerta Bisagra Antigua as the main entrance to the city.
Founded: 1559 | Location: Toledo, Spain

Gibralfaro Castle

The magnificent Castillo de Gibralfaro sits on a high hill overlooking Málaga city and, and dates back to the 10th century. Gibralfaro has been the site of fortifications since the Phoenician foundation of Málaga city, circa 770 BC. The location was fortified by Calif Abd-al-Rahman III in 929 AD. While, At the beginning of the 14th century, Yusuf I of the Kingdom of Granada expanded the fortifications within the Phoenic ...
Founded: 929 AD | Location: Málaga, Spain

Alcázar of Toledo

The Alcázar of Toledo was originally a Roman palace from the 3rd century, but it was restored under Charles I (Holy Roman Emperor Charles V) and his son Philip II of Spain in the 1540s. In 1521, Hernán Cortés was received by Charles I at the Alcázar, following Cortes" conquest of the Aztecs. The façades are Renaissance in style, and it has towers and crenellated defences according to a preliminary des ...
Founded: 1540s | Location: Toledo, Spain

Puerta del Cambrón

The Puerta del Cambrón is a city gate located in the west sector of Toledo. It was last reconstructed in 1576. Of Renaissance style, has two pairs of towers and two arches, being built of stone and brick. Hernán González and Diego de Velasco, as well as Juan Bautista Monegro would sculpt a figure of Leocadia in the gate.
Founded: 1576 | Location: Toledo, Spain

Bellver Castle

Bellver Castle is a Gothic style castle on a hill 3 km to the west of the center of Palma. It was built in the 14th century for King James II of Majorca, and is one of the few circular castles in Europe. Origins The castle"s plan, a circular floor with round towers attached to it, seems to have been inspired by the upper complex of the Herodion, a 15 BCE hilltop palace in the West Bank, that was also circ ...
Founded: 1300-1311 | Location: Palma, Spain

Astorga Roman Walls

The Roman walls of Astorga were built at the end of the 3rd century AD or beginning of the next century. The reasons that caused its construction are related to a period of instability experienced in the last years of the Roman Empire, especially originated by the incursions of the barbarian towns from the center of Europe. The walls has a length of 2,2 km. At the end of the thirteenth century, repairs were documented by ...
Founded: 3rd century AD | Location: Astorga, Spain

Ponferrada Castle

In 1178, Ferdinand II of León donated the Ponferrada city to the Templar order for protecting the pilgrims on the Way of St. James who passed through El Bierzo in their road to Santiago de Compostela. Their castle was originally a hill-fort and later a Roman citadel. Templar knights took possession of the fortress and reinforced and extended it to use it as an inhabitable palace. However, the Templars were only a ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Ponferrada, Spain

Puebla de Sanabria Castle

Puebla de Sanabria Castle was built in the 15th century as a castle-palace by the fourth Count of Benavente, Don Rodrigo Alonso Pimentel, a member of the powerful Castilian nobility and the owner of many castles. The castle has a barrier with large towers and barrel vaulted rooms and a peculiar yard at the entrance. The structure has a regular, square ground floor. The multi-storey Tower of Homage, commonly known as &qu ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Puebla de Sanabria, Spain

Zamora Castle

Zamora Castle features Pre-Roman foundations and a Romanesque general structure. It was built between the 10th and 12th centuries. According to the chronicles it was ordered to be built by Alfonso II of Asturias, although it would probably be done by Ferdinand I of León (in reign 1056–1065). The castle stands northwest of the Cathedral, with magnificent views of the town and the river from the keep.  
Founded: 11th century | Location: Zamora, Spain

New Castle of Manzanares el Real

The construction of the New Castle of Manzanares el Real, also known as Castle of los Mendoza, began in 1475 on a Romanesque-Mudéjar hermitage and today is one of the best preserved castles of the Community of Madrid. It was raised on the river Manzanares, as a residential palace of the House of Mendoza, in the vicinity of an ancient fortress that was abandoned once the new castle was built. Diego Hurtado de Mendoza, ...
Founded: 1475 | Location: Manzanares el Real, Spain

Frias Castle

Frias castle origins date back to the 9th century, when Alfonso VIII repopulated the valley to reinforce the border between Castile and Navarre. The historic quarter preserves its medieval atmosphere, and urban layout. On the tallest, most rugged end of a hill, the castle of the Duke of Frías stands, with its beautiful and well-kept mullioned windows, and 13th-century Romanesque capitals. In the city centre we must poin ...
Founded: 9th century AD | Location: Frías, Spain

Alcazaba of Almería

In 955, Almería gained the title of medina ('city') by the Caliph of Cordoba, Abd ar-Rahman III: construction of the defensive citadel, located in the upper sector of the city, began in this period. The alcazaba, provided not only with walls and towers but also with squares, houses and a mosque, was to be also the seat of the local government, commanding the city and the sea nearby. The complex was enlarg ...
Founded: c. 955 AD | Location: Almería, Spain

San Servando Castle

Evidence exists of an ancient monastery on the site of San Servando castle, possibly founded in the 7th century. In 1080, Cardinal Richard of St. Victor, a monk of the ancient Abbey of St. Victor in Marseille, was sent as the legate of Pope Gregory VII to the Council of Burgos held that year. One of his mandates was to ensure the adoption of the Roman Rite, replacing the ancient Mozarabic Rite used by the Chr ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Toledo, Spain

Alcazaba de Antequera

The Alcazaba of Antequera was erected in the 14th century to counter the Christian advance from the north, over Roman ruins. The fortress is rectangular in shape, with two towers. Its keep (Torre del homenaje, 15th century) is considered amongst the largest of Moorish al-Andalus, with the exception of the Comares Tower of the Alhambra. It is surmounted by a Catholic bell tower/chapel (Templete del Papabellotas) added ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Antequera, Spain

City walls of Toledo

Toledo was walled by Romans, and a lot of its stones were reused later in built walls, as the original perimeter was subsequently tripled. The Visigothic King Wamba renewed the Roman fortifications, sculpting in its gates an inscriptions. The inscriptions were destroyed by the Muslims, and restored in 1575 by the Corregidor Juan Gutiérrez Tello. The Arabs widened the city and the walls. After the Reconquista, the ...
Founded: 0-100 AD | Location: Toledo, Spain

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Hochosterwitz Castle

Hochosterwitz Castle is considered to be one of Austria's most impressive medieval castles. The rock castle is one of the state's landmarks and a major tourist attraction.

The site was first mentioned in an 860 deed issued by King Louis the German of East Francia, donating several of his properties in the former Principality of Carantania to the Archdiocese of Salzburg. In the 11th century Archbishop Gebhard of Salzburg ceded the castle to the Dukes of Carinthia from the noble House of Sponheim in return for their support during the Investiture Controversy. The Sponheim dukes bestowed the fiefdom upon the family of Osterwitz, who held the hereditary office of the cup-bearer in 1209.

In the 15th century, the last Carinthian cup-bearer, Georg of Osterwitz was captured in a Turkish invasion and died in 1476 in prison without leaving descendants. So after four centuries, on 30 May 1478, the possession of the castle reverted to Emperor Frederick III of Habsburg.

Over the next 30 years, the castle was badly damaged by numerous Turkish campaigns. On 5 October 1509, Emperor Maximilian I handed the castle as a pledge to Matthäus Lang von Wellenburg, then Bishop of Gurk. Bishop Lang undertook a substantial renovation project for the damaged castle.

About 1541, German king Ferdinand I of Habsburg bestowed Hochosterwitz upon the Carinthian governor Christof Khevenhüller. In 1571, Baron George Khevenhüller acquired the citadel by purchase. He fortified to deal with the threat of Turkish invasions of the region, building an armory and 14 gates between 1570 and 1586. Such massive fortification is considered unique in citadel construction.

Since the 16th century, no major changes have been made to Hochosterwitz. It has also remained in the possession of the Khevenhüller family as requested by the original builder, George Khevenhüller. A marble plaque dating from 1576 in the castle yard documents this request.

A specific feature is the access way to the castle passing through a total of 14 gates, which are particularly prominent owing to the castle's situation in the landscape. Tourists are allowed to walk the 620-metre long pathway through the gates up to the castle; each gate has a diagram of the defense mechanism used to seal that particular gate. The castle rooms hold a collection of prehistoric artifacts, paintings, weapons, and armor, including one set of armor 2.4 metres tall, once worn by Burghauptmann Schenk.