Castles and fortifications in Spain

Ardales Castle

Castillo de la Peña was originally a prehistorical settlement, an Iberian fortified village and, very probably, the location of a Roman temple. The current fortification is located here because Omar ben Harfsun conquered the Peña, where originally a representative of the Cordoba state was settled (al-Tayubi) in the year 883 AD. Omar, the leader of the Mozarabic riot in the mountain ranges of Malaga, fortified the Sajra ...
Founded: 9th century AD | Location: Ardales, Spain

Bonilla de la Sierra Castle

Bonilla de la Sierra castle has three wall sections and three turrets of different styles and origins. The main par of the castle was formed by the Tower of Homage, of the 14th century, it has matacanes and round arches, and under the tower is the main yard and the rooms. The castle contains 14th-century paintings. It was the resting place of the prelates of the Ávila bishopric, and held important episcopal synods, as t ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Bonilla de la Sierra, Spain

Ledesma Castle

Ledesma still has most of the granite wall which historically has surrounded the town. A large part of what is still standing was built in times of Fernando II of Leon, in the 12th century, but in the 15th century several parts of it were rebuilt with well-carved masonry. Many stone mason marks can be seen among these stones. Out of the eight doors it once had, the only one that is still preserved is  the one called ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Ledesma, Spain

Orce Castle

Alcazaba de las Siete Torres ('the castle of seven towers') was built at the beginning of the 11th century, coinciding with the dismemberment of the Caliphate of Córdoba.
Founded: 11th century | Location: Orce, Spain

Olmillos Castle

The construction of the Olmillos Castle began in 1446. It has been traditionally known as the castle of the Cartagena, according the original owners. At the beginning of the 19th century, immediately after the French invasion, the guerrillas Santos Padilla and Melchor Cossío lit fire to the castle. Today it is a hotel.
Founded: 1446 | Location: Olmillos de Sasamón, Spain

Villalonso Castle

Villalonso Castle is one of the best conserved castles in the province of Zamora. The castle is a typical and notable example of 15th-century architecture; its construction may be attributed to Juan de Ulloa and his wife María de Sarmiento, whose coats of arms can be seen above the entrance gate. It played an important role during the siege of the queen Isabel the Catholic on Toro during her war against Juan "La B ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Villalonso, Spain

Berlanga de Duero Castle

Berlanga de Duero Castle, which is now in ruins, dates back to the 15th century though it was built over a 10th-century Muslim fortress of which there are no remnants. It originally belonged to the Tovar family who ordered the construction of the village’s collegiate. This castle played an important role, along with the defensive wall, in defending the villages along the Douro riverbanks during the Muslim Conquest. Of t ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Berlanga de Duero, Spain

Medinaceli Castle

Medinaceli Castle was built in the 9th century and rebuilt in the 15th century. There aren’t many remains left of this castle which was of great importance during the Middle Ages. According to legends, inside the castle, which is now completely restored, there was an Arabic citadel where Al-Mansur was buried after being defeated and killed in the Battle of Calatañazor in 1002, although, there aren’t any remains of th ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Medinaceli, Spain

Trigueros Castle

The history of Trigueros Castle isn"t very well known. It is not built on a strategic position because, although located on a small hill in the village, it is dominated by other higher hills. So, the castle was probably more a fortified residence than a military strength. Also the name of the village church, an older building on a higher hill; Santa Maria del Castillo, seems to indicate that the most suitable place o ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Trigueros del Valle, Spain

Castillo de las Escobetas

The fishing village of Garrucha suffered at the hands of Berber pirates until the year 1766 when barracks were built at Escobetas, a provisional military building. In 1769, the castle was completed at a cost of 181,000 reais. The fort was designed by the architect Francisco Ruiz Garrido. After its construction, Garrucha began to grow. It is of masonry construction in three section. The central portion is rectangular with ...
Founded: 1766 | Location: Garrucha, Spain

Villanueva de Cañedo Castle

The castle of Villanueva del Cañedo (also known as the castle of Buen Amor) was built on the remains of a previous castle of the 11th century, and of which the basement is still preserved. In 1477 the castle became property of Alonso Ulloa de Fonseca Quijada, Bishop of Ávila. Fonseca reconstructed the castle turning it into a Renaissance palace. Between 1958 and 1960 the castle was restored by its current owner ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Topas, Spain

Castillejo de Robledo Castle

Castillejo de Robledo castle and its lands were property of the Order of Malta until it was suppressed by Pope Clement V in 1311. After that the estate passed to the Knights Hospitaller and then to the residents of the town. In the town there was an old Moorish fortification where the current castle was built in the 12th century. The remains of the original wall are visible and are characterized by a greater thickn ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Castillejo de Robledo, Spain

Castle of Los Zúñiga

Castle of Los Zúñiga was built in the 15th century by D. Pedro de Zuñiga. Its objective was to defend the passage of Barca del Río Piedras. Its structure is rectangular in shape and consists of a wall circuit with seven square towers at the corners and on the front and side canvases. The most important towers are the bell tower and the homage tower. In addition to these towers, there was a second outer low wall, alre ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Cartaya, Spain

Puente del Congosto Castle

The origins of Puente del Congosto Castle dates from the 12th and 13th centuries. It was built for defensive reasons, to control the route which connected Ciudad Rodrigo with Avila. In 1393, Enrique III granted the manor of the Puente del Congosto to Gil Gonzalez Davila, which rebuilt the castle, which would be Posada Real. The Duke of Alba bought the castle to the Emperor Carlos in 1539, adding to the rectangular tower ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Puente del Congosto, Spain

Cornatel Castle

The history of Cornatel castle dates back to the 9th century, although it was built on the site of ancient Roman remains. In 1211 Alfonso IX of León donated to the area to Knight Templars who rebuilt the castle. Subsequently it was owned by the Duke of Lemos. The castle is accessed by bordering the western section between the walls and the impressive cliff at the foot of the castle. Inside, exhibitions are held periodi ...
Founded: 9th century AD | Location: Priaranza del Bierzo, Spain

Macenas Tower

Macenas castle or watchtower is an 18th century military structure built to keep watch the coast. In 1849 it was occupied by the carabineros and after the war arrived the Civil Guard and was built an access to the castle. It was restored in the 1990’s. On its southern side there is a dirt track which leads to the La Torre del Perulico, or Torre del Peñon tower, built during the Nasrid period (13th-15th centuries). T ...
Founded: 18th century | Location: Aqura de Emedio, Spain

San Felices de los Gallegos Castle

San Felices de los Gallegos Castle has an historical purpose as the frontier stronghold between Portugal and Castile. The enclosure with medieval origins is protected by the castle and the walls which were built in successive periods. The wall, built of stone blocks with adjoining square towers, dates from the 13th century and encircles a spacious bailey. The keep dates from the 15th century, and a third fortified enclos ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: San Felices de los Gallegos, Spain

Águila Castle

The archaeological remains found near the Águila Castle seem to confirm the presence of a pre-islamic population, maybe from the Roman Age. Apparently in 914 the inhabitants of the fort looked like emirales troops burned the city of Algeciras ships that supported the revolt on Ibn Umar Hafsun, in any case the construction of the castle had to be early to be this hard hit area by Berber rebellions and Mozarabic. The c ...
Founded: 10th century AD | Location: Gaucín, Spain

Loja Castle

The Islamic heritage of Loja is still evident in the quarter of the Alcazaba, a Moorish fortress of which most of the walls and towers remain. It was built in the 9th century AD to the site of possible Roman remains.
Founded: 9th century AD | Location: Loja, Spain

Melgarejo Castle

Melgarejo Castle was built probably in the 14th century. Part of it collapsed in 2018 and the castle ruins were closed.
Founded: 14th century | Location: Arcos de la Frontera, 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.