Medieval castles in Andalusia

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

El Moral Castle

El Moral Castle is located in the heart of the historic town centre of Lucena. It was originally built by the Moorish califate of Al-Andalus in the 9th century on the site of Roman and Visigoth remains. Later the castle was the headquarters of the 'donceles', a military body and group of elite nobles serving King Ferdinand the Catholic. The Keep was where King Boabdil was held prisoner after being captured in th ...
Founded: 9th century AD | Location: Lucena, Spain

Luna Castle

Luna castle dates from the 13th century and was built under control of 'Guzmán the Good' upon a fortified convent of ribat or Muslim origin, in the 11th century. It is rectangular with five crenelated towers, and its interior is structured around a central courtyard. Property of the Dukes of Arcos, the Ponce de León used the castle as a residence and there is evidence that the Catholic Monarchs visited th ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Rota, Spain

San Marcos Castle

San Marcos Castle is a 12th-century fortress, commissioned by Alfonso X 'The Wise' upon the remains of a Moorish mosque on the banks of Guadalete River. Despite being so old (800 years), the castle is preserved in perfect conditions of use. Cultural events, conferences, lunches or dinners can be held both inside or outside in the garden, for up to 300 people. The inside of the old mosque is an ideal place for ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: El Puerto de Santa María, Spain

Archidona Castle

The Castle of Archidona was built by the Arabs in the 9th century and rebuilt by Alhamar, the first Nasrid king, in the 13th century. In 1462 Archidona was conquered by the Conde de Osuna, beginning to expand outside the walls to occupy the area it currently has. After the Christian conquest, the new population center and its most prominent urban representation in the Plaza Ochavada, the 18th century curious octagonal sha ...
Founded: 9th century AD | Location: Archidona, Spain

Iznájar Castle

Castillo de Iznájar is an 8th-century castle perched on the high ridge. It has a triangular design, truncated on the northeast side, with its longest side facing south, and a large central space. It is surrounded by a stretch of wall with flanking towers at the southeast and southwest corners. The east side is closed by a rectangular building, which is attached to the west with a pentagonal tower at the bow, and another ...
Founded: 8th century AD | Location: Iznájar, Spain

Alcázar del Rey Don Pedro

This Alcazar or Moorish fortress is situated to the west of the walled town on the highest point of Carmona. Peter I had it restored in the 13th century, and it became one of his favourite palaces. The Catholic Monarchs erected the circular tower and embellished the royal quarters. It was seriously affected by the 1755 earthquake and, since then, it has been progressively falling into ruin. The ruins of this Alcazar sur ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Carmona, Spain

Santiago Castle

Castle of Santiago was built in the second half of the 15th century by the 2nd Duke of Medina Sidonia. It was not designed for military or surveillance purposes. Therefore, it can be considered as a demonstration of power of the Duchy. Throughout its history, it has functioned as a ducal fortress and barracks. After almost a century of neglect and suffering serious damage from a fire, it was completely remodelled.
Founded: 15th century | Location: Sanlúcar de Barrameda, 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Externsteine Stones

The Externsteine (Extern stones) is a distinctive sandstone rock formation located in the Teutoburg Forest, near the town of Horn-Bad Meinberg. The formation is a tor consisting of several tall, narrow columns of rock which rise abruptly from the surrounding wooded hills. Archaeological excavations have yielded some Upper Paleolithic stone tools dating to about 10,700 BC from 9,600 BC.

In a popular tradition going back to an idea proposed to Hermann Hamelmann in 1564, the Externsteine are identified as a sacred site of the pagan Saxons, and the location of the Irminsul (sacral pillar-like object in German paganism) idol reportedly destroyed by Charlemagne; there is however no archaeological evidence that would confirm the site's use during the relevant period.

The stones were used as the site of a hermitage in the Middle Ages, and by at least the high medieval period were the site of a Christian chapel. The Externsteine relief is a medieval depiction of the Descent from the Cross. It remains controversial whether the site was already used for Christian worship in the 8th to early 10th centuries.

The Externsteine gained prominence when Völkisch and nationalistic scholars took an interest in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This interest peaked under the Nazi regime, when the Externsteine became a focus of nazi propaganda. Today, they remain a popular tourist destination and also continue to attract Neo-Pagans and Neo-Nazis.