Castles and fortifications in Spain

Alcázar of Seville

The Alcázar of Seville is a royal palace, built for the Christian king Peter of Castile. It was built by Castilian Christians on the site of an Abbadid Muslim residential fortress destroyed after the Christian conquest of Seville. The palace, a pre-eminent example of Mudéjar architecture in the Iberian Peninsula, is renowned as one of the most beautiful. The upper levels of the Alcázar are still used by the royal famil ...
Founded: 10th century AD | Location: Seville, Spain

Alhambra

The Alhambra is a palace and fortress complex located in Granada. It was originally constructed as a small fortress in AD 889 on the remains of Roman fortifications, and then largely ignored until its ruins were renovated and rebuilt in the mid-13th century by the Nasrid emir Mohammed ben Al-Ahmar of the Emirate of Granada, who built its current palace and walls. It was converted into a royal palace in 1333 by Yusuf I, Su ...
Founded: 889 AD | Location: Granada, 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

Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos

The Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos ('Castle of the Christian Monarchs') served as one of the primary residences of Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon. It forms part of the Historic Center of Córdoba that was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1994. In early medieval times, the site was occupied by a Visigoth fortress. When the Visigoths fell to the Umayyad conquest of Hispania, the ...
Founded: 8th century AD | Location: Córdoba, 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

Torre del Oro

The Torre del Oro ('Tower of Gold') is a dodecagonal military watchtower erected by the Almohad Caliphate in order to control access to Seville via the Guadalquivir river. Constructed in the first third of the 13th century, the tower served as a prison during the Middle Ages. Its name comes from the golden shine it projected on the river, due to its building materials (a mixture of mortar, lime and presse ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Seville, 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

Calahorra Tower

The Calahorra tower (Torre de la Calahorra) is a fortified gate in the historic centre of Córdoba. The edifice is of Islamic origin. It was first erected by the Almohad Caliphate to protect the nearby Roman Bridge on the Guadalquivir. The tower, standing on the left bank of the river, originally consisted of an arched gate between two. A third tower was added to the existing ones, in the shape of two cylinder connec ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Córdoba, Spain

Roman Walls of Córdoba

The Roman Walls which once surrounded Córdoba, Spain, were built after the Romans captured the city in 206 BC, making it part of the Roman Republic. Built as fortifications soon after the Romans captured Córdoba, the walls stretched some 2,650 m, completely surrounding the city. They consisted of carefully cut stone with an outer wall of up to 3 m high and a 1.2 m inner wall flanking a gap 6 m wide filled with rubble. ...
Founded: 206 BCE | Location: Córdoba, 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

Silla del Moro

Silla del Moro is a small castle built in the 14th century and ruined in the 17th century. It was built to protect the water system for Generalife and Alhambra palaces and surrounding gardens.
Founded: 14th century | Location: Granada, Spain

Arcos de la Frontera Castle

Arcos de la Frontera Castle was first constructed in the 11th century by the Moors when Arcos was briefly a taifa (small kingdom) before being captured by the Christians in 1250. The Christians rebuilt the castle as part of their campaign to retain their hold on the town, which was in a strategically important position for maintaining the border between the Muslim and Christian kingdoms.
Founded: 11th century | Location: Arcos de la Frontera, 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

Castell d'Eivissa

Castle d"Eivissa, also known as Ibiza Castle, stands atop Puig de Vila. Its history goes back to the Middle Ages and the Moorish era. Currently, the partially restored complex is surrounded by thick walls, which are a reconstruction of the Renaissance fortifications. The two defensive elements of the old fortress have been best preserved to the present day. The first is the Baluarte de Sant Jaume bastion, where you ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Ibiza, Spain

Tarifa Castle

Tarifa Castle was built in 960 by the Abd-ar-Rahman III, Caliph of Córdoba. When Tarifa was taken over by the king of Castile, Sancho IV in 1292, the castle was handed over to Alonso Pérez de Guzmán for its defense. Pérez de Guzmán get the nickname of 'Good' (el Bueno) by refusing to hand over the castle in 1296 to the besieging forces of the Infante Don Juan, the rebellious brother of the king Sancho, and the Mar ...
Founded: 960 AD | Location: Tarifa, Spain

Alcazar of Jerez de la Frontera

The Alcazar of Jerez de la Frontera is a former Moorish alcázar, now housing a park. A first fortress was probably built in the 11th century, when Jerez was part of the small kingdom of the taifa of Arcos de la Frontera, on a site settled since prehistoric times in the south-eastern corner of the city. In the 12th century, a new structure was erected to be used as both residence and fortress by the Almohad rulers of ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Jerez de la Frontera, Spain

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Broch of Gurness

The Broch of Gurness is an Iron Age broch village. Settlement here began sometime between 500 and 200 BC. At the centre of the settlement is a stone tower or broch, which once probably reached a height of around 10 metres. Its interior is divided into sections by upright slabs. The tower features two skins of drystone walls, with stone-floored galleries in between. These are accessed by steps. Stone ledges suggest that there was once an upper storey with a timber floor. The roof would have been thatched, surrounded by a wall walk linked by stairs to the ground floor. The broch features two hearths and a subterranean stone cistern with steps leading down into it. It is thought to have some religious significance, relating to an Iron Age cult of the underground.

The remains of the central tower are up to 3.6 metres high, and the stone walls are up to 4.1 metres thick. The tower was likely inhabited by the principal family or clan of the area but also served as a last resort for the village in case of an attack.

The broch continued to be inhabited while it began to collapse and the original structures were altered. The cistern was filled in and the interior was repartitioned. The ruin visible today reflects this secondary phase of the broch's use.

The site is surrounded by three ditches cut out of the rock with stone ramparts, encircling an area of around 45 metres diameter. The remains of numerous small stone dwellings with small yards and sheds can be found between the inner ditch and the tower. These were built after the tower, but were a part of the settlement's initial conception. A 'main street' connects the outer entrance to the broch. The settlement is the best-preserved of all broch villages.

Pieces of a Roman amphora dating to before 60 AD were found here, lending weight to the record that a 'King of Orkney' submitted to Emperor Claudius at Colchester in 43 AD.

At some point after 100 AD the broch was abandoned and the ditches filled in. It is thought that settlement at the broch continued into the 5th century AD, the period known as Pictish times. By that time the broch was not used anymore and some of its stones were reused to build smaller dwellings on top of the earlier buildings. Until about the 8th century, the site was just a single farmstead.

In the 9th century, a Norse woman was buried at the site in a stone-lined grave with two bronze brooches and a sickle and knife made from iron. Other finds suggest that Norse men were buried here too.