Castles and fortifications in Spain

Soutomaior Castle

Built in the 12th century by Pedro Álvarez de Soutomaior it is one of the most important castles in Southern Galicia. Its origins can be traced back to the reign of Alfonso VII, when a military construction was built in a strategic location in the town of Soutomaior. On a hill at 119 metres above sea level at the bottom of the Ría de Vigo, the castle was near the coast but protected against the sea incursions of the Nor ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Soutomaior, Spain

Coyanza Castle

This castle held the Coyanza Council in 1050; the old Coyanza was populated and fortified by Fernando II of León in the second half of the 12th century. The current castle was built in the 15th century. It was constructed on the site of older castle that had been erected on the ruins of a fortification dating back to the Iron Age. The castle consists basically of one articulated front with projections, flanked by turret ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Valencia de Don Juan, Spain

Miranda del Castañar Castle‎

Miranda del Castañar Castle‎, or at least the tower of homage, was probably built by Pedro de Zúñiga. By means of a small enclosure that serves as a gate, the tower is attached to another D-shaped tower and other remains that might belong to a previous fortress. The round loopholes are the usual 15th-century artillery loopholes. Miranda was founded around 1215.The well preserved wall probably dates from that time. P ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Miranda del Castañar, Spain

Zuheros Castle

Zuheros Castle is a small fortress, nestled in rock, occupies a privileged position. Founded by the Arabs in the ninth century, the current appearance was probably built in the 11th or 12th century when the area was ruled by the Zirid dynasty. It now houses the remains of a Renaissance-style palace.
Founded: 11th century | Location: Zuheros, Spain

Monturque Castle

When Monturque Castle was exactly built is unknown. Archaeological findings suggests it was built during the reign of the Ummayad Caliphate (661–750 AD) on Roman remains. The Castle was conquered by Ferninand III in 1240, and for a long time thereafter its ownership passed intermittently between the Crown and Nobility. One early record of this is from 1273, when half of the Monturque tower was awarded by Martin Sanchez ...
Founded: 8th century AD | Location: Monturque, Spain

Turégano Castle

The Castle of Turégano was founded on the site of a pre-existing Arabian fortress. Its structure is integrated into the adjacent church of San Miguel, completed in the 15th and 16th centuries.
Founded: 15th century | Location: Turégano, Spain

Alcazaba of Guadix

Alcazaba of Guadix was built in the 11th century during the Moorish Nasrid reign. It was conquered by the Spanish Christian army in 1489. The Seminary, founded in 1595, one of the oldest in Spain. The Seminary is built around two courtyards. From its towers one can enjoy a fabulous view of the valley and Sierra nevada.
Founded: 11th century | Location: Guadix, Spain

Real Fuerte de la Concepción

The fortress of Real Fuerte de la Concepción (Royal Fortress of the Conception) is a star fortress built in the Vaubanesque style. In 1640, following the death of Philip II, the conflict known as the Portuguese Restoration War began. The Spanish King began to make plans to recover the throne of Portugal and part of these plans was the strengthening of fortifications along the border along with the construction of ...
Founded: 1663 | Location: Aldea del Obispo, Spain

Castillo de San Felipe

Castillo de San Felipe was built in 1771 during the reign of Carlos III of Spain for the defense of the littoral. It was disarmed by the French army during the Spanish Independence War. Halfway into the 19th century it was occupied by the special forces in charge of the surveillance of the littoral. During the 20th century was abandoned and repaired between 1990-1991.
Founded: 1771 | Location: Nijar, Spain

Vimianzo Castle

Vimianzo Castle construction began in the 13th century and was completed during the 14th and 15th centuries. It is in an excellent state of preservation. Its walls are surrounded by a moat over which a drawbridge is lowered. The building was constructed in a polygonal design with four towers and an arms courtyard. Its walls, almost two metres thick, withstood numerous attacks during the Irmandiñas (Brotherhoods) Wars. It ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Vimianzo, Spain

Cerro San Cristobal

From the Alcazaba, descend in a northward direction through the Barranco de la Hoya, a line of wall that reaches San Cristobal Hill was built during the time of King Jairán (1012-1028) in the eleventh century. Here are the remnants of the neighbourhood amurallamiento musalla, which descends from the hill via the main street Antonio Vico. On the hill, known in Muslim times as Monte Laham, there are seven towers, three s ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Almería, Spain

Zahara de los Atunes Castle

The Castle of Zahara de los Atunes and Palace of Jadraza is a medieval castle on Spain's coast. In 1294, King Sancho IV of Castile granted a licence to Don Alonso Pérez de Guzmán to build traps for tuna fishing in reward for his heroic defense of Tarifa. Guzman fisheries in Zahara de los Atunes and Conil de la Frontera were for centuries the most productive in Europe provoking the development of important auxiliary bui ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Zahara de los Atunes, Spain

Castle of Don Álvaro de Luna

The construction of Don Álvaro de Luna castle was commissioned by the High Constable Ruy López Dávalos between the end of the 14th century and the beginning of the 15th century.There is very little left in the interior of the castle. The fires originating from the different wars have left, over time, only the walls of the building. In other periods it was used as a prison and cemetery, and today it is the municipal aud ...
Founded: c. 1300 | Location: Arenas de San Pedro, Spain

Mansilla de las Mulas Walls

The walls of Mansilla de las Mulas, the greatest example of medieval fortification in the province of León date back to the 12th century, the period, in which Fernando II repopulated the town. Every forty metres there were watchtowers that connected the walls, now disappeared. Remains of the fortification include large fragments of the wall and several battlement towers.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Mansilla de las Mulas, Spain

Villafranca del Bierzo Castle

The Villafranca del Bierzo Castle was built in 1515 over the remains of a previous fortification. Its first owner was Don Pedro Alvarez de Toledo (second marques of Villafranca) and since 1850 by Don Joaquin Caro y Alvarez. More of a fortified-palance than a castle, it was ransacked in 1809 by the English and in 1815 and 1819 by the French during the Independence War. This building is located in a town of great import ...
Founded: 1515 | Location: Villafranca del Bierzo, Spain

Simancas Castle

The site of the Simancas castle was at one time a Moorish fortress. In the 15th century the House of Enríquez constructed a new fortification on top of the existing ruins, restored the Moorish walls, and added a chapel. The new castle was seized by the Spanish Crown during the reign of the Catholic Monarchs and turned into a prison. In 1540 the Archivo General de Simancas was established in the castle, the first official ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Simancas, Spain

Salvatierra de Miño Fortress

Salvaterra de Miño has always carried out an important military function because of its strategic location next to the Miño River. There is hardly anything left of the original 12th century walls that used to protect the castle. The fortress, however, built in the 17th century, still stands, and was refurbished in 2008. As well as many sentry boxes on the walls, other buildings were built such as the Baroque chapel (17 ...
Founded: 17th century | Location: Salvatierra de Miño, Spain

Chipiona Castle

Chipiona was re-conquested by King Fernando III who built the castle in 1295. Today the castle is a monastery which is open to visitors. It houses the 'Cadiz and the New World' museum.
Founded: 1295 | Location: Chipiona, Spain

Nogueirosa Castle

Built in a strategic position on a crag, Nogueirosa Castle (or Andrade Castle) is a small fortress but one with magnificent views. From the keep there are extensive views of the mouth of the Eume and virtually all of the Ría de Ares y Betanzos. It was built in the 13th century.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Pontedeume, Spain

Miranda de Ebro Castle

The castle of Miranda de Ebro is located on Picota hill and offers great views of the city and the mountains that surround it. The origins of the castle date from 1358, when Tello of Castille asked the bishopric of Calahorra for the land to construct a castle at the top of the hill of La Picota, a place that was at that time occupied by the church of Santa Maria. Nevertheless, the construction did not begin until 1449 ...
Founded: 1449 | Location: Miranda de Ebro, 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.