Medieval castles in Basque Country

Castle of Charles V

The Castle of Charles V is located in the strategic area of Hondarribia, at its highest point. It still conserves the structure of a medieval fortress and its defensive appearance. It was built in the 10th century by King Sancho Abarca of Navarre, although it was subsequently reformed by Emperor Charles V. The building served as both a castle and a palace, both connected by an interior courtyard. The castle had a square f ...
Founded: 10th century AD | Location: Hondarribia, Spain

Tower of Varona

The Tower of Varona (Torre de los Varona) is a tower located in Villanañe, Valdegovia. The origin of this tower dates back to the end of the 14th or start of the 15th century. The surname Varona dates back to the 7th century and came into being with Doña María Ruiz Pérez. From then until the present day, the tower has been inhabited by her direct descendants. The whole building has been restored by the Provincial Cou ...
Founded: c. 1400 | Location: Valdegovía, Spain

Tower of Mendoza

The Tower of Mendoza is strategically located between the roads of Old Castile and the Ebro river. The Mendoza"s entered to the service of the kingdom of Castile during the reign of Alfonso XI (1312-1350). Álava is one of the Basque territories incorporated into the Castilian monarchy with jurisdictions. Before the Mendoza"s went to Castile, Álava was a battlefield, in which the lordly families resolved th ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain

Muñatones Castle

Muñatones Castle was the culmination of a long construction process lasting from the 14th to the 15th centuries, amid the ferocious factional wars that ravaged Enkarterri. It is without adoubt one of the finest examples of the region’s architectural heritage and has been designated a landmark. Mighty nobleman Don Lope García de Salazar was born in the castle, where he wrote the first history book on the Biscayan ...
Founded: 1339 | Location: Muskiz, Spain

Tower of Guevara

The Tower-palace of Guevara was built in the late 13th or early 14th century by local Guevara noble family. Today one of four original towers exists.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Barrundia, Spain

Castillo de Lanos

Castillo de Lanos was probably built in the 12th century. Little is known about its origins, but Sancho IV of Castile conquered it.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Ocio, Spain

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Cesis Castle

German crusaders known as the Livonian Brothers of the Sword began construction of the Cēsis castle (Wenden) near the hill fort in 1209. When the castle was enlarged and fortified, it served as the residence for the Order's Master from 1237 till 1561, with periodic interruptions. Its ruins are some of the most majestic castle ruins in the Baltic states. Once the most important castle of the Livonian Order, it was the official residence for the masters of the order.

In 1577, during the Livonian War, the garrison destroyed the castle to prevent it from falling into the control of Ivan the Terrible, who was decisively defeated in the Battle of Wenden (1578).

In 1598 it was incorporated into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Wenden Voivodship was created here. In 1620 Wenden was conquered by Sweden. It was rebuilt afterwards, but was destroyed again in 1703 during the Great Northern War by the Russian army and left in a ruined state. Already from the end of the 16th century, the premises of the Order's castle were adjusted to the requirements of the Cēsis Castle estate. When in 1777 the Cēsis Castle estate was obtained by Count Carl Sievers, he had his new residence house built on the site of the eastern block of the castle, joining its end wall with the fortification tower.

Since 1949, the Cēsis History Museum has been located in this New Castle of the Cēsis Castle estate. The front yard of the New Castle is enclosed by a granary and a stable-coach house, which now houses the Exhibition Hall of the Museum. Beside the granary there is the oldest brewery in Latvia, Cēsu alus darītava, which was built in 1878 during the later Count Sievers' time, but its origins date back to the period of the Livonian Order. Further on, the Cēsis Castle park is situated, which was laid out in 1812. The park has the romantic characteristic of that time, with its winding footpaths, exotic plants, and the waters of the pond reflecting the castle's ruins. Nowadays also one of the towers is open for tourists.