Medieval castles in Castile and León

Walls and Alcazar of Segovia

The first defences for the walled town of Segovia were probably built in the Roman era. The current walls and Alcazar (fortress) are medieval. The Alcazar has since been used as a palace and a prison, but is now open to tourists. The walls fell into decline but more recently attempts have been made to preserve them and you can still walk along some parts of the walls. Together with the historic old town of Segovia, the wa ...
Founded: Middle Ages | Location: Segovia, Spain

Burgos Castle

The Castle of Burgos is located on the hill of San Miguel to 75 m above the city of Burgos. According to excavations the castle attributes to the Visigoths, and its oldest parts, to the Romans. It is believed that the fortress was already built back in 865 when Muslims amounted to the Castilian plateau led by Al-Mondzir obliterating. Twenty years later the Asturian monarch Alfonso III gives order to Count Diego R ...
Founded: c. 865 AD | Location: Burgos, Spain

Medieval Walls of Avila

The city walls of Avila were built in the 11th century to protect the citizens from the Moors. They have been well maintained throughout the centuries and are now a major tourist attraction as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors can walk around about half of the length of the walls. The layout of the city is an even quadrilateral with a perimeter of 2,516 m. Its walls, which consist in part of stones already u ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Ávila, Spain

Sarmiento Castle

15th century castle in Sarmiento belonged to the important Sarmiento family. Its last owner was the House of Alba. Acquired by the Provincial Council of Palencia, we can visit the tower, its rooms and its ramparts. It hosts an exhibition entitled PlastiHistoria, showing various scenes made in clay on the history of Palencia. Its keep has a height of 22 meters and the thickness of its walls is the largest of the Spanish ca ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Fuentes de Valdepero, Spain

Zamora Castle

Zamora Castle features Pre-Roman foundations and a Romanesque general structure. It was built between the 10th and 12th centuries. According to the chronicles it was ordered to be built by Alfonso II of Asturias, although it would probably be done by Ferdinand I of León (in reign 1056–1065). The castle stands northwest of the Cathedral, with magnificent views of the town and the river from the keep.  
Founded: 11th century | Location: Zamora, Spain

Ponferrada Castle

In 1178, Ferdinand II of León donated the Ponferrada city to the Templar order for protecting the pilgrims on the Way of St. James who passed through El Bierzo in their road to Santiago de Compostela. Their castle was originally a hill-fort and later a Roman citadel. Templar knights took possession of the fortress and reinforced and extended it to use it as an inhabitable palace. However, the Templars were only a ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Ponferrada, 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

Castle of Don Álvaro de Luna

The construction of Don Álvaro de Luna castle was commissioned by the High Constable Ruy López Dávalos between the end of the 14th century and the beginning of the 15th century.There is very little left in the interior of the castle. The fires originating from the different wars have left, over time, only the walls of the building. In other periods it was used as a prison and cemetery, and today it is the municipal aud ...
Founded: c. 1300 | Location: Arenas de San Pedro, 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

Valdecorneja Castle

The village of El Barco de Avila is situated in the foothills of the Sierra de Gredos mountain range. After the conquest of Toledo and the retreat of the Muslim lines to the south bank of the river Tajo, King Alfonso VI donated this valley to his daughter and ordered his son-in-law Ramon de Borgoña to erect a fortification and to repopulate the surrounding area. There is few documented data of the construction of the pr ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: El Barco de Ávila, 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

Aunqueospese Castle

The construction of the Aunqueospese Castle was started in 1490 by Pedro Dávila, lord of Villafranca and captain of the Duke of Alba. The castle was completed in 1504 by Esteban Dávila.
Founded: 1490 | Location: Mironcillo, Spain

Mombeltran Castle

There may have been earlier castles at this site, but the Mombeltran castle we see today was built by Don Beltrán de la Cueva, the first Duke of Alburquerque. He placed his coat of arms and those of his successive spouses above the entrance gate. This makes us believe that the construction of the castle took place between 1462 and 1474. The castle was donated to Don Beltrán by King Enrique IV, in 1461. Because there&quo ...
Founded: 1462-1474 | Location: Mombeltrán, Spain

Narros de Saldueña Castle

Narros de Saldueña Castle dates from the 15th century. During the Peninsular War (1807–1814) it was occupied by the French army. The conservation took place in 1960s.
Founded: 15th century | Location: Narros de Saldueña, Spain

Castronuevo Castle

Castronuevo was built before 1481 and remodeled in 1489. It has three circular and two rectangular towers.
Founded: 15th century | Location: Rivilla de Barajas, Spain

Villaviciosa Castle

The Castle of Villaviciosa was built in two different stages. In the 15th century, Nuño González del Águila y Guzmán ordered to build a castle to control the passage from the Amblés Valley to the Sierra de la Paramera. In the 16th century, the execution of the Torre de las Damas was carried out. Currently, Villaviciosa Castle is a hotel.
Founded: 15th century | Location: Villaviciosa, 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

Castrojeriz Castle

Castrojeriz village is considered one of the landmarks of historic interest in the Camino de Santiago. Its rich history may take up consideration as castro Visigoth, or perhaps, also, Roman fort, (they say was founded by Julius Caesar) in whose castle was developed important battles between Christians and Moors. The first mention of this castle dates from the 9th century during the skirmishes with the Muslim forces. Ther ...
Founded: 9th century AD | Location: Castrojeriz, Spain

Coruña del Conde Castle

Coruña del Conde village contains the ruins of an ancient castle, later converted for use by Castilian counts, which sits atop a hill that looks over the town. The castle has its origins in the 10th century, when García I de León decided to repopulate the Douro valley.
Founded: 10th century | Location: Coruña del Conde, Spain

Frias Castle

Frias castle origins date back to the 9th century, when Alfonso VIII repopulated the valley to reinforce the border between Castile and Navarre. The historic quarter preserves its medieval atmosphere, and urban layout. On the tallest, most rugged end of a hill, the castle of the Duke of Frías stands, with its beautiful and well-kept mullioned windows, and 13th-century Romanesque capitals. In the city centre we must poin ...
Founded: 9th century AD | Location: Frías, Spain

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Barnenez Cairn

The Cairn of Barnenez is the largest Megalithic mausoleum in Europe. It dates from the early Neolithic Age is considered one of the earliest megalithic monuments in Europe. It is also remarkable for the presence of megalithic art. Radiocarbon dates indicate that the first phase of the monument was erected between 4850 and 4250 BC, and the second phase between 4450 and 4000 BC. Pottery found in and around the monument indicates that it underwent a period of reuse in the Bronze Age, in the 3rd millennium BC.

The cairn was first mapped in 1807, in the context of the Napoleonic cadaster. Its first scientific recognition took place in the context of an academic congress in Morlaix in 1850, when it was classified as a tumulus. Privately owned until the 1950s, the cairn was used as a quarry for paving stones. This activity, which threatened to destroy the monument, was only halted after the discovery of several of its chambers in the 1950s. The local community then took control of the site. The cairn was restored between 1954 and 1968. At the same time, vegetation was removed from the mound and systematic excavation took place in and around the monument.

Today, the Barnenez cairn is 72 m long, up to 25 m wide and over 8 m high. It is built of 13,000 to 14,000 tons of stone. It contains 11 chambers entered by separate passages. The mound has steep facades and a stepped profile. Several internal walls either represent earlier facades or served the stability of the structure. The cairn consists of relatively small blocks of stone, with only the chambers being truly megalithic in character. The monument overlooks the Bay of Morlaix, probably a fertile coastal plain at the time of its erection.

Engraved symbols occur in several of the chambers and passages. They depict bows, axes, wave symbols or snakes and a repeated U-shaped sign. One of the carved slabs is in secondary use was originally part of a different structure, an interesting parallel to the situation in several other such monuments, including Gavrinis. The symbols on the engraved blocks resemble those found in other megalithic monuments in Brittany; in broader terms they belong to the cultural phenomenon described as megalithic art. One of the recurring symbols is sometimes interpreted as an anthropomorphic depiction (the so-called \'Dolmen Goddess\').

An exhibition in the modern entrance building explains the results of scientific excavation and displays some objects from the site.