Castles and fortifications in Spain

Walls of Seville

The Walls of Seville are a series of defensive walls surrounding the Old Town. They were built in times of Julius Caesar, approximately between the years 68 and 65 BC, when he was quaestor of the city. This new fortification was aimed at replacing the old Carthaginian stockade of logs and mud. The walls were expanded and refined during the rule of his son Augustus due to the growth of the city. The city has been surround ...
Founded: 68-65 BCE | Location: Seville, 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

Castro Fortress

The Fortaleza del Castro is a hilltop fortress in Vigo built in 1665 during the Portuguese Restoration War in order to protect the city from the continuous raids by the British Royal Navy, allies of Portugal. Built on the hill of the same name, the defensive system of the city consisted of the fortresses of Castro and San Sebastián and the now disappeared city wall. The city wall had an irregular shape due to the orogra ...
Founded: 1665 | Location: Vigo, 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

Torre Tavira

Cádiz is known worldwide for its watchtowers. They are witness to the trade and prosperity which the city experienced in the 18th century. At this time, the Tavira Tower the official watchtower of Cádiz due to the fact that it is situated in the centre of town, and was also the highest point in the town at 45 meters above the sea level. Don Antonio Tavira was the first watchman of the tower and used his telescope to se ...
Founded: 18th century | Location: Cádiz, 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

Santa Catalina Fortress

Santa Catalina Fortress was built on a rocky outcrop that reaches out to sea. La Caleta beach is on one side, protecting it to the northwest. Built in the 17th century, it has an Italian-style star-shaped floor-plan, and served as a military prison.
Founded: 17th century | Location: Cádiz, 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

San Antón Castle

One of the A Coruña"s most interesting monuments, San Anton castle (Castillo de San Antón) in A Coruña was constructed during the 16th and 17th centuries. A fortress built on a small island in the bay to defend the city against attacks coming from the sea, it effectively defended the entrance to the city against the English assault led by Francis Drake in 1589. There are some lovely collections of Celtic jewellery ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: A Coruña, Spain

Puertas de Tierra

Puertas de Tierra is a bastion-monument built around remnants of the old defensive wall at the entrance to the city of Cadiz. Built by academic architect Torcuato Cayón in the 18th century, the cover is carved in marble and was intended more as a religious altarpiece than as a military fortification. It is one of the most significant monuments of the city and on its walls flies the purple flag of its canton. The adjust ...
Founded: 18th century | Location: Cádiz, Spain

A Coruña City Walls

The walls surrounding ancient A Coruña were built in the 13th century by the order of king Alfonso IX. They were damaged by English and Portugalian armies in 1730, 1386 and again in 1589. Today some parts remain, mainly around Jardín de San Carlos (Gardens of San Carlos).
Founded: 13th century | Location: A Coruña, 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

Burgos Castle

The Castle of Burgos is located on the hill of San Miguel to 75 m above the city of Burgos. According to excavations the castle attributes to the Visigoths, and its oldest parts, to the Romans. It is believed that the fortress was already built back in 865 when Muslims amounted to the Castilian plateau led by Al-Mondzir obliterating. Twenty years later the Asturian monarch Alfonso III gives order to Count Diego R ...
Founded: c. 865 AD | Location: Burgos, Spain

Almodóvar del Río Castle

The town of Almodovar del Rio played an extremely important role in the Middle Ages owing to its strategic location on a hill around 252 metres high next to the Guadalquivir river, which at that time was navigable for small vessels. The traces of multiple cultures, amongst which are Islam and Christianity, can be evidenced in the architectural style of this unique building. In the year 756, this fortress became the estate ...
Founded: 8th century AD | Location: Almodóvar del Río, Spain

Salobreña Castle

Castillo de Salobreña dates from the 10th century. The current structure which was built during the Nasrid dynasty. Trapezoidal in shape, it has four towers. It has 3 enclosures: the disposition of the interior comes from the old Nasrid palace; the other two, with a defensive function, are a Castilian extension of the end of the 15th century. Refreshing internal gardens surround the architectonic volumes. From its towers ...
Founded: 10th century AD | Location: Salobreña, Spain

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Hagios Demetrios

The Church of Saint Demetrius, or Hagios Demetrios, is the main sanctuary dedicated to Saint Demetrius, the patron saint of Thessaloniki. It is part of the site Palaeochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki on the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO since 1988.

The first church on the spot was constructed in the early 4th century AD, replacing a Roman bath. A century later, a prefect named Leontios replaced the small oratory with a larger, three-aisled basilica. Repeatedly gutted by fires, the church eventually was reconstructed as a five-aisled basilica in 629–634. This was the surviving form of the church much as it is today. The most important shrine in the city, it was probably larger than the local cathedral. The historic location of the latter is now unknown.

The church had an unusual shrine called the ciborium, a hexagonal, roofed structure at one side of the nave. It was made of or covered with silver. The structure had doors and inside was a couch or bed. Unusually, it did not hold any physical relics of the saint. The ciborium seems to have been a symbolic tomb. It was rebuilt at least once.

The basilica is famous for six extant mosaic panels, dated to the period between the latest reconstruction and the inauguration of the Byzantine Iconoclasm in 730. These mosaics depict St. Demetrius with officials responsible for the restoration of the church (called the founders, ktetors) and with children. An inscription below one of the images glorifies heaven for saving the people of Thessalonica from a pagan Slavic raid in 615.

Thessaloniki became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1430. About 60 years later, during the reign of Bayezid II, the church was converted into a mosque, known as the Kasımiye Camii after the local Ottoman mayor, Cezeri Kasım Pasha. The symbolic tomb however was kept open for Christian veneration. Other magnificent mosaics, recorded as covering the church interior, were lost either during the four centuries when it functioned as a mosque (1493–1912) or in the Great Thessaloniki Fire of 1917 that destroyed much of the city. It also destroyed the roof and upper walls of the church. Black-and-white photographs and good watercolour versions give an idea of the early Byzantine craftsmanship lost during the fire.

Following the Great Fire of 1917, it took decades to restore the church. Tombstones from the city"s Jewish cemetery - destroyed by the Greek and Nazi German authorities - were used as building materials in these restoration efforts in the 1940s. Archeological excavations conducted in the 1930s and 1940s revealed interesting artifacts that may be seen in a museum situated inside the church"s crypt. The excavations also uncovered the ruins of a Roman bath, where St. Demetrius was said to have been held prisoner and executed. A Roman well was also discovered. Scholars believe this is where soldiers dropped the body of St. Demetrius after his execution. After restoration, the church was reconsecrated in 1949.