Medieval castles in Aosta Valley

Chenal Castle

Chenal Castle was built probably in the 13th century and had a rectangular floor plan. It belonged to the lords of Montjovet and only later became property of the Challant family, following the marriage between Ebalo the Great and Alexie of Chenal: in this way the two houses could control the passages along the road between Chenal and the Montjovet castle. The castle is nowdays in ruins.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Montjovet, Italy

Champorcher Tower

As the Bard Fortress, Champorcher Castle also belonged to the powerful Lords of Bard, until the fratricidal war between William and Hugo in 1212. Little is known of this early building: we know that it was burned down by order of Hugo of Bard, which might suggest that it was constructed mostly of wood, like many buildings in the late Middle Ages. It was probably reconstructed in the same century, and definitely before 127 ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Champorcher, Italy

Saint Germain Castle

Saint Germain castle in Montjovet played an important part in the history of Val d’Aosta. Few traces remain of its original structure and its construction date is not known for certain. At the end of the 13th century, the Savoy became the owners, replacing the Montjovet family. As already happened in Bard, in this case too, the pretext was provided by the abuse of power that Feidino Montjovet acted on villagers and wa ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Montjovet, Italy

La Tour de Villa Castle

Originally, La Tour de Villa castle was comprised almost entirely of the central tower. The restoration works did not re-build the western part and the northern part, leaving instead a beautiful court yard with views over the plain. Today, the complex is made up of two well-distinct parts: one part is the 12th century tower and the other inhabited part is a semi-circular structure which dates back to the 15th century. T ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Gressan, Italy

Arnad Upper Castle

The upper castle of Arnad is mentioned first time in a papal letter in 1207, but there is no information about its origins or first owners. It was probably built by Saverio di Arnad in the late 12th or early 13th century. The next owners, Vallaise family, lived in the castle throughout the 14th century. Due to the inadequacy of the structure and the lost military function, the castle was abandoned in the 15th century. T ...
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Arnad, Italy

Nus Castle

The Nus castle stands above the same name village on a rocky projection, which dominates the entrance to the valley of Saint-Barthélemy. According to available documentation, the building can be traced at least as far back as the end of the 13th century, although the quadrangular turret, which collapsed at the start of the 20th century, and which stood in the eastern sector of the castle, can be compared to the towers e ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Nus, Italy

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Lorca Castle

Castle of Lorca (Castillo de Lorca) is a fortress of medieval origin constructed between the 9th and 15th centuries. It consists of a series of defensive structures that, during the Middle Ages, made the town and the fortress an impregnable point in the southeast part of the Iberian Peninsula. Lorca Castle was a key strategic point of contention between Christians and Muslims during the Reconquista.

Archaeological excavations have revealed that the site of the castle has been inhabited since Neolithic times.

Muslim Era

It has not been determined exactly when a castle or fortress was first built on the hill. The first written documentation referring to a castle at Lorca is of Muslim origin, which in the 9th century, indicates that the city of Lurqa was an important town in the area ruled by Theudimer (Tudmir). During Muslim rule, Lorca Castle was an impregnable fortress and its interior was divided into two sections by the Espaldón Wall. In the western part, there was an area used to protect livestock and grain in times of danger. The eastern part had a neighbourhood called the barrio de Alcalá.

After Reconquista

Lorca was conquered by the Castilian Infante Don Alfonso, the future Alfonso X, in 1244, and the fortress became a key defensive point against the Kingdom of Granada. For 250 years, Lorca Castle was a watchpoint on the border between the Christian kingdom of Murcia and the Muslim state of Granada.

Alfonso X ordered the construction of the towers known as the Alfonsina and Espolón Towers, and strengthened and fixed the walls. Hardly a trace of the Muslim fortress remained due to this reconstruction. Muslim traces remain in the foundation stones and the wall known as the muro del Espaldón.

The Jewish Quarter was found within the alcazaba, the Moorish fortification, separated from the rest of the city by its walls. The physical separation had the purpose of protecting the Jewish people in the town from harm, but also had the result of keeping Christians and Jews separate, with the Christians inhabiting the lower part of town.

The remains of the Jewish Quarter extended over an area of 5,700 square m, and 12 homes and a synagogue have been found; the synagogue dates from the 14th century and is the only one found in the Murcia. The streets of the town had an irregular layout, adapted to the landscape, and is divided into four terraces. The synagogue was in the central location, and around it were the homes. The homes were of rectangular shape, with various compartmentalized rooms. The living quarters were elevated and a common feature was benches attached to the walls, kitchens, stand for earthenware jars, or cupboards.

Modern history

With the disappearance of the frontier after the conquest of Granada in 1492, Lorca Castle no longer became as important as before. With the expulsion of the Jews by order of Ferdinand and Isabella, Lorca Castle was also depopulated as a result. The castle was abandoned completely, and was almost a complete ruin by the 18th century. In the 19th century, the castle was refurbished due to the War of Spanish Independence. The walls and structures were repaired or modified and its medieval look changed. A battery of cannons was installed, for example, during this time. In 1931 Lorca Castle was declared a National Historic Monument.

Currently, a parador (luxury hotel) has been built within the castle. As a result, archaeological discoveries have been found, including the Jewish Quarter.