Castles and fortifications in Spain

Ribadavia Castle

Ribadavia Castle, sitting at what is the unofficial entry point to the old town, has relics dating back as far as the 9th century, but the main structure was erected during the 15th century at the behest of the then Count of Ribadavia. It was abandoned in the 17th century when the counts moved to the palace adjacent to main square of Ribadavia.
Founded: 15th century | Location: Ribadavia, Spain

Capdepera Castle

The Castle of Capdepera is one of the largest castles on the Majorca island. Its construction began in 310, but in the fourteenth century it was rebuilt on the remains of a Muslim village. The Castle of Capdepera is important to the island as it was from here that the surrender of Menorca, the island neighbouring Majorca in the Balearic archipelago, was accomplished. King James I of Aragon, having conquered Majorca ...
Founded: c. 1300 | Location: Capdepera, Spain

San Miguel Castle

Castillo de San Miguel is located in Almuñécar and is bounded by the remains of the original city walls. The castle sits on a small hill, which is difficult to access. The original fortifications date of 1st century BCE. During the Moorish occupation, the castle was enlarged to include towers and three gates. At the end of the reign of the Catholic King Ferdinand in the 16th century, more was added (the moat, the drawb ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Almuñécar, Spain

Castellar de la Frontera Castle

Castellar de la Frontera is a village within a castle surrounded by the walls of a well preserved Moorish-Christian fortress. It is located within the Parque Natural de Los Alcornocales next to a reservoir formed by the Guadarranque River. The history of the village goes back to prehistoric times and the Bronze Age, after which the place became a medieval fortress. The prehistoric presence is still evident in the m ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Castillo de Castellar, Spain

Olvera Castle

Olvera castle was built in the late 12th century as part of the defensive system of the Emirate of Granada. The castle was seized from the original Moorish builders and occupants and redesigned and expanded under King Alfonso XI in 1327. Situated at the highest point of the town, the castle has an irregularly-shaped elongated triangle that fits the form of the rock base.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Olvera, Spain

Monterreal Fortress

Monterreal Fortress is located on the Monte Boi peninsula, also know as Monterreal. This site has been known over the past 2000 years as the walled precinct. Pre-Christian civilisations such as the Celts, the Phoenicians and the Romans lived here in the past. During the present time, the place was occupied by many different people and it suffered a number of attacks and modifications. The village of Baiona was site here d ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Baiona, Spain

Roman Walls of Lugo

Roman Walls of Lugo are an exceptional architectural, archaeological and constructive legacy of Roman engineering, dating from the 3rd and 4th centuries AD. The Walls are built of internal and external stone facings of slate with some granite, with a core filling of a conglomerate of slate slabs and worked stone pieces from Roman buildings, interlocked with lime mortar. Their total length of 2117 m in the shape of an obl ...
Founded: 3rd century AD | Location: Lugo, Spain

Church of Saint Louis of France

The Society of Jesus arrived in Seville in 1554 and constructed a church, a professed house and a novitiate. At the beginning of the 17th century, Lucia de Medina donated land for a new, larger building and a new church with the conditions that she would be buried in the chapel and that the church be dedicated to her patron saint, Saint Louis (Louis IX of France, medieval king and first brother of King Ferdinand III of C ...
Founded: 1699 | Location: Seville, Spain

Aracena Castle

Aracena Castle was erected in the 13th century, during the Islamic period, and was itself built on the site of an ancient Moorish castle. The walled enclosure was partitioned inside, with the tower of homage, or castle keep, defending the barrier that divided its interior. The population of Aracena settled around this structure, giving rise to the current urban landscape. During the late Middle and Modern Ages, Aracena co ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Aracena, Spain

Sohail Castle

Sohail Castle was built in AD 956 by Abd-ar-Rahman III to strengthen the coastal defenses. Later, in the 12th century, the Almoravids raised a defensive enclosure with an irregular floor plan, adapted to the slopes of the terrain. In 1485 the Castillo de Sohail was occupied by the Christian armies battling against the Nasrid Kingdom of Granada. From that time the military complex underwent an inevitable process of arc ...
Founded: 956 AD | Location: Fuengirola, Spain

Torres de Oeste

Oeste Towers (Torres de Oeste) is located at the head of the Ría de Arousa. The towers remaining today are the ruins of Castellum Honesti. In the 9th century, King Alfonso III of Leon built the castle as a defense against Viking attacks. The two remaining towers are from this period, and have a pre-Roman style. Pre-Roman ceramics and bronze tools have been discovered at the site. Two centuries later, King Alfonso V ...
Founded: 9th century AD | Location: Catoira, Spain

Walls of León

The walls that can be seen today in León were built between the 3rd and 4th century by the Romans. The medieval wall that extends to the south is an addition built by King Alfonso VI at the end of the 14th century.
Founded: 200-300 AD | Location: León, Spain

Carmona Castle

The Moorish fortress or Alcazar of Carmona rises above the Puerta de Sevilla (Gate of Seville), forming an almost impregnable defensive complex. It underwent major alterations in the 14th and 15th centuries. Theestoration work carried out between 1973 and 1975 included the refurbishing of several sections as venues for staging cultural events. Puerta de Sevilla origin dates back to the 9th century BC. The Carthaginians c ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Carmona, Spain

Santa Cruz Castle

The Castle of Santa Cruz was built in the 16th century by General Diego Dasmariñas to improve the defensive system of the bay of A Coruña. For some time it was the stately home of writer Emilia Pardo Bazán and her husband Xosé Quiroga, who purchased it in an auction in the 19th century.
Founded: 16th century | Location: Oleiros, Spain

San Felipe Castle

San Felipe Castle is a defensive construction in a predominantly Neoclassical style. The first castle was built during the reign of Felipe II and it was redesigned between 1731-1775. It is one of the most representative examples of the major 'fortified batteries' of the 18th century. It was used to defend the Ferrol tidal inlet and for land offensives. The castle has a system of protruding walls, covering the fl ...
Founded: 1731-1775 | Location: Ferrol, Spain

Lanzada Castle Ruins

Lanzada Castle dates from the c. 960 AD and it was built to the grounds of Phoenician or Roman lighthouse. The castle was built to protect the area against Viking and Norman raids and later for Moorish pirates. It was conquered by Irmandiño revolts and destroyed in 1467. Today one hermit and and part of the keep remains.
Founded: c. 960 AD | Location: A Lanzada, Spain

Calatañazor Castle

According to the legends, Al-Mansur (legendary Moorish leader) was defeated near Calatañazor Castle in a bloody battle against Christian troops in 1002. The fortress originally had two quadrangular towers on the corners and a keep. Later on, circular towers were added to the southern wall and semi-circular ones next to the main entrance. The current  appearance dates mainly from the 14th century. The castle is part of ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Calatañazor, Spain

San Sebastián Fortress

San Sebastián is a fortress located in Cádiz, at the end of La Caleta beach on a small island separated from the main city. According to the classical tradition of the location of the fortress, there was a Temple of Kronos, a Titan of the Greek gods, the father of Zeus, Poseidon, Hades, Hestia, Demeter and Hera. In 1457, a chapel on the island was raised by a Venetian boat crew recovering from the plague. In 17 ...
Founded: 1706 | Location: Cádiz, Spain

Monastery of San Vicente do Pino

Above the plain of Monforte de Lemos rises a small hill which overlooks its entire expanse. This was the site chosen in the 10th century for building what would subsequently become the current monastery. It is also said that this was the location for the well-known Castrum Dactonium, of the Celtic Lemavos tribe, mentioned by the historians Ptolemy and Pliny the Elder. Construction of the current San Vicente del Pino mona ...
Founded: 10th century AD | Location: Monforte de Lemos, Spain

Zahara de la Sierra Castle

Zahara de la Sierra Castle is actually a six-hectare area on the rocky hill, known as the Villa Arabe or Villa Medieval; its crowning glory is the Homage Tower. The town was originally a Moorish outpost, overlooking the valley. Due to its position between Ronda and Seville, it was a perfect site for a castle to be built to serve as a fortress in case of attack. The path starts at the car park on the roof of Hotel de la V ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Zahara de la Sierra, Spain

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Derbent Fortress

Derbent is the southernmost city in Russia, occupying the narrow gateway between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains connecting the Eurasian steppes to the north and the Iranian Plateau to the south. Derbent claims to be the oldest city in Russia with historical documentation dating to the 8th century BCE. Due to its strategic location, over the course of history, the city changed ownership many times, particularly among the Persian, Arab, Mongol, Timurid, Shirvan and Iranian kingdoms.

Derbent has archaeological structures over 5,000 years old. As a result of this geographic peculiarity, the city developed between two walls, stretching from the mountains to the sea. These fortifications were continuously employed for a millennium and a half, longer than any other extant fortress in the world.

A traditionally and historically Iranian city, the first intensive settlement in the Derbent area dates from the 8th century BC. The site was intermittently controlled by the Persian monarchs, starting from the 6th century BC. Until the 4th century AD, it was part of Caucasian Albania which was a satrap of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. In the 5th century Derbent functioned as a border fortress and the seat of Sassanid Persians. Because of its strategic position on the northern branch of the Silk Route, the fortress was contested by the Khazars in the course of the Khazar-Arab Wars. In 654, Derbent was captured by the Arabs.

The Sassanid fortress does not exist any more, as the famous Derbent fortress as it stands today was built from the 12th century onward. Derbent became a strong military outpost and harbour of the Sassanid empire. During the 5th and 6th centuries, Derbent also became an important center for spreading the Christian faith in the Caucasus.

The site continued to be of great strategic importance until the 19th century. Today the fortifications consist of two parallel defence walls and Naryn-Kala Citadel. The walls are 3.6km long, stretching from the sea up to the mountains. They were built from stone and had 73 defence towers. 9 out of the 14 original gates remain.

In Naryn-Kala Citadel most of the old buildings, including a palace and a church, are now in ruins. It also holds baths and one of the oldest mosques in the former USSR.

In 2003, UNESCO included the old part of Derbent with traditional buildings in the World Heritage List.