Castles and fortifications in Spain

Ampudia Castle

First built in the 13th century, but thoroughly altered in the 15th century, Ampudia Castle has a square plan with a gothic central courtyard and 4 towers on each corner. Half of the castle complex is surrounded by a barbican defended by cylindrical towers. It belonged to different owners such as Juan Alfonso de Alburquerque, Sancho de Rojas and Pedro Garcia Herrera (Marsical of Castille) among others. In 1521 it was a ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Ampudia, Spain

Chinchón Castle

Chinchón Castle was preceded by an earlier castle built at the end of the 15th century which was destroyed by commoners in 1521 after a long siege. Chinchón Castle was built on the ruins of this earlier castle in the late 16th century by the third Earl of Chinchón, Don Diego Fernandez de Cabrera. Chinchón Castle was built as a Renaissance castle with broad rectangular windows as aspects of a palatial building. Its th ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Chinchón, Spain

Marquis de los Vélez Castle

Marquis de los Vélez Castle lies in the center of the town of Cuevas del Almanzora. The first fortification at this site was probably an Arab defensive watchtower, dating back to the late 13th or early 14th century. The castle was built in the first half of the 16th century by Don Pedro Fajardo y Chacón, 1st Marquess of Los Vélez. Shortly before he also built Vélez-Blanco Castle, in which he resided, and around the ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Cuevas del Almanzora, Spain

Vélez-Blanco Castle

According to an inscription in the courtyard, the Vélez-Blanco Castle was built between 1506 and 1515 after Fajardo received the lordship of the town from Ferdinand II and Isabella, took up residence there and was given the title of Marqués (1507) by Ferdinand, who was then regent. The heraldry of the principal areas of the castle, including the coat of arms of his second wife, Mencía de la Cueva, belongs to this perio ...
Founded: 1506 | Location: Vélez-Blanco, Spain

Béjar Castle

The Ducal Palace of Béjar was built after 1203 by Alfonso VIII. Although these already very reduced in the XIXth century, they still conserve some square and round towers and part of their perimeter bordering the oblong hill on which the old part is based. Béjar was a royal place, but with Enrique III, in 1396, it passed to the lordship of Diego López de Zúñiga or Estúñiga, whose successors will hold the title of ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Béjar, Spain

Íllora Castle

In the center of the village Íllora, at the top of a rock, there are the ruins of the old castle, although there are hardly any remains of the walls. This castle dates from the Caliphate period (9th-10th centuries) and is structured in three areas: the villa, the citadel and the suburb. Associated to that castle, there are a series of optical towers, among which the Tower of Brácana stands out.
Founded: 9th century AD | Location: Íllora, Spain

Castillo de los Duques de Alba

Castle of the Dukes of Alba was founded in the 12th century when King Ferdinand II of León ordered to build a simple watchtower. In the 13th century, King Sancho IV of Castile converted the primitive tower into a castle. It was devastated by the battles of the time of King Henry IV of Castile but later rebuilt and converted it into a private palace. In its interior you can visit several rooms, such as the on ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Alba de Tormes, Spain

Sobroso Castle

Due to its strategic position, the Sobroso castle was known as 'the key of the Kingdom of Galicia'. The name of the Castle, and the village itself, comes from the Latin SUBEROSUM, in reference to the "sobreiras", Quercus suber or cork trees that once surrounded it. The oldest reference to Sobroso Castle dates back to 1096. The castle that stands today dates back to the 14th or 15th century constr ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: A Pena, Spain

Gormaz Castle

Gormaz was the largest fortress in Europe after its expansion in 956 AD. It is without a doubt the greatest example of military architecture, not only in Soria but in the entire Spanish territory. The original castle was built shortly after 756 AD by emir Abd ar-Rahman I of Córdoba, as part of a state ('dawla') policy to control rich landowners and peasants, as well as to try to govern and protect the Centra ...
Founded: c. 756 AD | Location: Soria, Spain

Baena Castle

The first documents of Baena Castle date at the beginning of the 9th century (890), during the reign of Emir Ahdullah, whose Governor in Regio since 889 had been Omar Ben Hafsum who rebelled and took Baena in 891. In 1228, the governor of Fernando III in Baeza attacked the castle, belonging then to Seville. Subsequently the castle was attacked by Mohamed, the king of Granada, 1297. In July 1320 a peace treaty was signed ...
Founded: 9th century AD | Location: Baena, Spain

Sant Antoni Castle

The Sant Antoni Castle is located in the Spanish village of Fornells, in the municipality of Es Mercadal. It was built in the 17th century in the local harbour and due to this building, the town was born. Only some ruins are left from the structure, as it was dismantled by the Spanish after the British domination, just like St. Philip"s Castle. Not far from there, there is the Fornells Tower, a defensive tower ...
Founded: 17th century | Location: Es Mercadal, Spain

Jimena de la Frontera Castle

Jimena de la Frontera castle was originally built by the Grenadian Moors of the Umayyad Caliphate ruling over the area of Hispania Baetica (modern Andalusia) in the 8th Century. It served as one of many castles guarding both the approach to the fortifications around Gibraltar and the Bay of Algeciras where the strategic and important Moorish stronghold and fortress of Algeciras was located. The fortress was likely built ...
Founded: 8th century AD | Location: Jimena de la Frontera, Spain

Aguilar de Campoo Castle

The walls and the castle of the Manrique family in Aguilar de Campoo were built in the 15th century on a previous structure.The castle was erected on top of a Celt-Iberian vernacular structure and became an important fortress in the 12th century.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Aguilar de Campoo, Spain

Cabra Castle

The Castle of Cabra was raised, within the walled enclosure  in the North West of the present town, on a spot high enough to overlook the whole town. It is said that it had a central square surrounded by a strong wall with eighteen towers where eight or ten thousand men could march. At present, most of what remains, it is enclosed within the constructions of the present School of the Escolapias. Among the constructions ...
Founded: 9th century AD | Location: Cabra, Spain

Adrada Castle

Adrada Castle is built with granite masonry combined with brick, obeying the wish of don Álvaro de Luna. It was built in the 14th century on a Gothic church, and in the 16th century the keep tower was arisen and built a great cube for the gunner. After that, the castle was transformed into arcaded Renaissance palace, according to the Spanish use.
Founded: 14th century | Location: La Adrada, Spain

Arévalo Castle

Arévalo castle was built in the 14th century and reformed during the 15th and 16th centuries. It has a pentagonal ground plan and a large Tower of Homage. Inside there is a Cereal Museum. King Pedro I, the Cruel, locked his wife Blanca de Borbón in the castle. Juan II and Enrique IV possessed it, the latter handed it to don Álvaro de Zúñiga; between 1476 and 1480, Zúñiga and the Catholic Monarchs negotiated a comp ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Arévalo, Spain

Grajal de Campos Castle

Begun in the 16th century by Hernando de Vega over remains of a 10th century castle, the Grajal de Campos Castle was finished by his son Juan de Vega y Acuna, count of Grajal. Designed to withstand the use of artillery the castle has sloped walls and its overall height is lower than those of earlier castles, making it difficult and hard to target by cannon fire. The Grajal de Campos Castle has a square plan with f ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Grajal de Campos, Spain

Alaro Castle

Alaro castle is perched on top a rocky mountain above the town in the west of Mallorca. A popular walk from the town (or further up the hill if you prefer to drive) takes you to a ruined castle and hilltop chapel offering spectacular views of the Tramuntana mountains and over towards Palma and all the way to the sea. A castle has stood on this site since Moorish times; it was so impregnable that the Arab commander was ab ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Alaró, Spain

Rebolledo de la Torre Castle

Rebolledo de la Torre castle is located on a hill, very close to the Romanesque church. It consists of a tower and a fence. It has an irregular polygonal floor plan. The castle dates from the 14th century.
Founded: 14th century | Location: Rebolledo de la Torre, Spain

Aguzaderas Castle

The Castle of Las Aguzaderas is located just outside the town of El Coronil. This curious castle, which appears to have been built by the Moors, was probably erected to defend a spring which was the water source for the fountain of Las Aguzaderas. This area was an intense war zone between the Moors and the Christians during hundreds of years and that made water a precious resource. There is evidence that this castle was ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: El Coronil, 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.