Medieval castles in Castile and León

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

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

Caracena Castle

Caracena Castle was first time mentioned in 1136. The primitive castle stood until the 15th century until it was demolished during the local conflict. In 1491, Alfonso Carrillo de Acuña, nephew of the archbishop of Toledo, obtained the lordship of Caracena and proceeded to rebuild the castle.
Founded: 1491 | Location: Caracena, Spain

Ucero Castle

The place dominated by the Ucero castle has been inhabited since prehistoric times. The castle is built on the site of an ancient Celtiberian castro. The site was first time mentioned in 1157 when Alfonso VII located the village of Sotos the Suso between Uxama and Ucero and there are documents that indicate that the castle already existed in the 13th century. It is estimated that the important hermit of San Juan de ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Ucero, 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

Rojas Castle

The castle of the Rojas is located on the top of a hill near the town of Poza de la Sal. At the end of the 9th century Count Diego Rodríguez Porcelos repopulated Poza building the castle for the defense of the new territory. Like other castles of this time it may have been a simple keep surrounded by some walls. In the 14th century Rodriguez de Rojas family rebuilt the current castle. It was occupied in 1808 by Fre ...
Founded: 9th century AD | Location: Poza de la Sal, Spain

Tiedra Castle

Located on a hill, almost on the border of the province of Zamora, and within viewing distance of Villalonso Castle, the primitive Tiedra Castle is already mentioned in the 11th century. The present castle seems to date from the end of the 13th century and is in a bad state of conservation. It consists of a polygonal enclosure, with a perimeter of 115 meters, equipped with two circular towers. Near one of these there ar ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Tiedra, Spain

Castrotorafe Castle

The ruins of the ancient town of Castrotorafe, popularly known as Zamora la Vieja, are in San Cebrian de Castro, emplacement already located in the 12th century. It was a medieval defensive site which appeared on the banks of Esla River. It keeps the walls built with slate masonry and mortar, and has 4.709 square meters, including the castle, the hermitage and the walls. The best preserved is the castle, of two enclosur ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: San Cebrian de Castro, Spain

Monleón Castle

Located at the western end of the Monleón village, next to a steep area that dominates the confluence of the Carnicero stream with the Alagón river, Monleón Castle was raised in the 13th century as part of the defensive walls that surround the village. Its groundplan is an irregular trapeze, with the keep in the middle. The north and east wall of the enclosure are built later than the others, to obtain a fortified per ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Monleón, Spain

Castle of Alba de Aliste

Castle of Alba de Aliste is located on the margins of the river Aliste. Today it lies in ruins. In the 12th century it belonged to the Knights Templar. Don Álvaro de Luna owned it in the 15th century. It became the capital of the county of Alba y Aliste under Enrique IV. It was built on the remains of an old Vetton fort in the 12th century and renovated in the 15th century, retaining only some walls and a tower, althoug ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Losacino, 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

San Esteban de Gormaz Castle

The castle of San Esteban de Gormaz is one of the key castles that changed ruler once and again during the 10th and 11th century when it finally came under Christian domain. During the reign of King García I, king of Leon, it was reinforced giving place to a repopulation of the town. From there, soldiers would control transit through the Douro River and they would guard the bridge that passed over this river. Nowadays, w ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: San Esteban de Gormaz, Spain

Monzón de Campos Castle

Monzón de Campos Castle was built in the 14th century by the Rojas family on the remains of an earlier castle which was contemporary one. The keep, made of high quality ashlar masonry, has no openings besides a couple of small arrow slits which gives it a severe appearance. The oldest part is the elevated entrance of the present tower of homage.The coat of arms on the pointed arch of the main gate belongs to the Rojas f ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Monzón de Campos, Spain

Monteagudo de las Vicarías Castle

Monteagudo de las Vicarías Castle was located in the centre of the town within the defensive walls that completely surrounded it and that can still be seen throughout the town. It was built between the 15th and 16th century by the Hurtado de Mendoza family, and it has towers and buttresses on the corners, a great indoor courtyard and an octagonal shaped keep. Recent restorations have been carried out on the battlement he ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Monteagudo de las Vicarías, Spain

Almenar Castle

Almenar castle was built in the 15th century over the remains of an older castle that can still be seen today. It originally belonged to the Bravo de Laguna and Saravias y Ríos families, and till this day you can still see their coat of arms on the castle’s walls. It has a double-wall enclosure: in the interior one you can find the Keep and the weapon courtyard, and in the exterior one, you can see the defensive walls ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Almenar de Soria, Spain

Santa Gadea del Cid Castle

The small and picturesque town of Santa Gadea del Cid grew around its castle built in the 11th century and reformed in the 15th century by Pedro López de los Manrique.
Founded: 11th century | Location: Santa Gadea del Cid, Spain

Fuentidueña Castle

Located in the extreme north of the province of Segovia, Fuentidueña village rises above a narrow valley formed by the Duratón River, a unique geographical location that explains the importance of the town during the Middle Ages. The Villa was walled on its north, south and west sides with a clearly defensive function. On the other hand, there is an impressive rock cut that makes defense very easy. Intramural access is ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Fuentidueña, Spain

Magaña Castle

The castle of Magaña is considered to be one of the most important castles from the 15th century in the province of Soria. This castle is in better condition than what we are used to seeing in the area and the best way to contemplate its majestic silhouette is from the road on the way towards Fuentes de Magaña or from the highest parts of the town. You will be able to see all the plants that have reclaimed its walls con ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Magaña, Spain

Yanguas Castle

To the west of the Yanguas town, on the edge of the cliff, is a limestone castle that controlled the access to the Ebro valley. It is not certain when it was first built and it is possible that it was built when Yanguas received its own town charter. However, the architectonical style suggests that it was built in the 14th century. Recent restoration works have given the castle back the dignity it deserves to be a herita ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Yanguas, 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

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Porta Nigra

The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.