Medieval castles in Castile and León

Montuenga Castle

Montuenga Castle in Soria, Spain forms part of the defensive line of the Jalón River set in a natural passage between the plateau and strategic basin of the Ebro. The area was subject to disputes, notable during the Castilian Civil War. The castle is perched on a high hill, steep and long, from which it dominates the town of Montuenga de Soria. The remains of the building, two polygonal towers at each end, are jo ...
Founded: Middle ages | Location: Montuenga de Soria, Spain

Osma Castle

The Castle of Osma is a medieval castle which seems to have been built in the 10th century. It was built in stone, although Count Gonzalo Tello used some Roman structures and materials which belonged to a small Christian fortress. The castle is divided into three walled enclosures which can be easily distinguished. Nowadays you can see the ruins of this fortress which adapts perfectly to the rocky hill between the Ucero ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Burgo de Osma, Spain

Rello Castle

The fortified town of Rello still maintains the original defensive walls and castle that were used as protection against civilisations that came from the south following the Douro River. It is the best-preserved walled enclosure in the province. You can go inside through either one of the two gates located on the sides of the castle. The castle is protected by a fortified enclosure with circular and quadrangular towers t ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Rello, 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

Serón de Nágima Castle

The Raya or frontier between the kingdoms of Castile and Aragón was fortified with a system of castles and walled-cities that were useful during the several conflicts that took place in the late Middle Ages. The Serón de Nágima castle defended the communication road between the axis of the Jalón river valley, which flows into the Ebro, and Duero valley. Its uniqueness stems from the fact that it is one of the few for ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Serón de Nágima, Spain

Soria Castle Ruins

The city of Soria formed in a valley near the castle that defended the Douro Riverbanks on the border between the Crowns of Aragon and Castile. The city was destroyed towards the end of the 12th century when Sancho of Navarre attacked it, therefore a great defensive wall was built to prevent further destruction. The wall defended a surface of 100 hectares that went from the Douro River up to the pastureland known as “La ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Soria, 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

Vozmediano Castle

The 14th-century Vozmediano Castle is located atop great hills on the border with Aragon. Throughout the structure you can see various construction styles from different periods; Roman surrounding walls, a Muslim watchtower and medieval walls with battlement hexes. The castle is currently in ruins although it was made up of a double walled enclosure, the outer walls being strengthened on the most vulnerable corner by a g ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Vozmediano, 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

Cabrejas del Pinar Castle

The walled medieval town of Cabrejas del Pinar was the leader of its Community of Burgs and Land and there are some traces left of the walled enclosure and fortress that protected the locals. The castle was built in stone on top of a high rock possibly between the 13th and 14th century. Some of the walls, doors and the keep are still visible which helps understand how the fortress’ layout once was. The quadrangular kee ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Cabrejas del Pinar, Spain

Curiel de Duero Castle

Castle of Curiel de Duero was built in the 7th-11th century to the site of older fort, even from Roman times. At the beginning of the 21st century the castle lied in ruins. In 2003, a hotel company began an intensive restoration process that ended in 2006 , serving since then as  a hotel with 24 rooms.
Founded: 7th century AD | Location: Curiel de Duero, Spain

Encinas de Esgueva Castle

Encinas Castle is dated back to the 14th century. The castle consists of a small and square enclosure, with two square towers in two of its corners. One of these served as the keep. In the other two corners the crenelated walls are raised to the same height as the two towers thus giving the false impression that the castle had four towers. There is a small stone ditch at the feet of the walls, which is provided with a low ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Encinas de Esgueva, Spain

Fuensaldaña Castle

Fuensaldaña Castle construction started in the 13th century, but it is not until the 15th century that the structure acquires today"s configuration. It was built by the Vivero family. The family became linked to the region"s history when the future Catholic Monarchs got married in their castle. Inside, the building was shaped as a "U" around the cortyard, which today has been made into the parliament ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Fuensaldaña, Spain

Íscar Castle

The first written mention of Íscar was in the year 939 AD in Muslim chronicles. The remaining Christians reconquered Iscar in 1086 AD. Build on the ruins of its ancient fortress, Iscar’s Castle stands majestic looking over the village. The oldest preserved parts of this fortress (probably dating back to the 13th century) are remains of the curtain wall and the inside structure of the tower. To provide a defence against ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Íscar, Spain

Castle of La Mota

The Castle of La Mota is a medieval fortress, located in the town of Medina del Campo. It is so named because of its location on an elevated hill, a mota (in Spanish), from where it dominates the town and surrounding land. The adjacent town came to be surrounded by an expanding series of walls in subsequent years, of which little remains. History Initial fortification of the village, repopulated after Moorish depreda ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Medina del Campo, Spain

Montealegre de Campos Castle

The castle of Montealegre, built in the 12th century, was mentioned for the first time in 1173, when Rodrígo Gutiérrez was appointed lord of Montealegre; together with the castles of Ampudia, Belmonte, Torremormojón, Medina de Rioseco, Mucientes and Trigueros, it formed the defence line of the southern border of the Kingdom of León. The castle was revamped in 1297 by Alfonso Tello Pérez de Meneses, appointed lord o ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Montealegre de Campos, Spain

Peñafiel Castle

Construction works for Peñafiel Castle commenced in the 10th century, although the contemporary structure underwent major interventions during the 14th and 15th centuries. This medieval fortress was declared a National Monument in 1917 and currently stands as a veritable emblem of wine tourism in Ribera del Duero. Peñafiel and its castle were key defensive locations along river Duero, both for Christians and Muslims ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Peñafiel, Spain

Portillo Castle

The Castillo de Portillo is a well-preserved medieval castle in Portillo; the earliest elements of its present construction date to the fifteenth century. The site has been fortified since the tenth century, when it is documented in connection with Moorish forays into the region, under Abd al-Rahman III. In the fourteenth century, and until the early fifteenth, it was in the possession of the family of Sandoval; in 1392 ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Portillo, Spain

Simancas Castle

The site of the Simancas castle was at one time a Moorish fortress. In the 15th century the House of Enríquez constructed a new fortification on top of the existing ruins, restored the Moorish walls, and added a chapel. The new castle was seized by the Spanish Crown during the reign of the Catholic Monarchs and turned into a prison. In 1540 the Archivo General de Simancas was established in the castle, the first official ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Simancas, 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

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Bergenhus Fortress

Bergenhus fortress is one of the oldest and best preserved castles in Norway. It contains buildings dating as far back as the 1240s, as well as later constructions built as recently as World War II. The extent of the enclosed area of today dates from the early 19th century. In medieval times, the area of the present-day Bergenhus Fortress was known as Holmen (The islet), and contained the royal residence in Bergen, as well as a cathedral and several churches, the bishop's residence, and a Dominican monastery. Excavations have revealed foundations of buildings believed to date back to before 1100, which might have been erected by King Olav Kyrre. In the 13th century, until 1299, Bergen was the capital of Norway and Holmen was thus the main seat of Norway's rulers. It was first enclosed by stone walls in the 1240s.

Of the medieval buildings, a medieval hall and a defensive tower remain. The royal hall, today known as Haakon's Hall, built around 1260, is the largest medieval secular building in Norway. The defensive tower, known in the Middle Ages as the keep by the sea, was built around 1270 by King Magnus VI Lagabøte, and contained a royal apartment on the top floor. In the 1560s it was incorporated by the commander of the castle, Erik Rosenkrantz, into a larger structure, which is today known as the Rosenkrantz Tower.

In the Middle Ages, several churches, including the Christ Church, Bergen's cathedral, were situated on the premises. These however were torn down in the period 1526 to 1531, as the area of Holmen was converted into a purely military fortification under Danish rule. From around this time, the name Bergenhus came into use. Building work on the Christ Church probably started around 1100. It contained the shrine of saint Sunniva, the patron saint of Bergen and western Norway. In the 12th and 13th centuries it was the site of several royal coronations and weddings. It was also the burial site of at least six kings, as well as other members of the royal family. The site of its altar is today marked by a memorial stone.

In the 19th century, the fortress lost its function as a defensive fortification, but it was retained by the military as an administrative base. After restoration in the 1890s, and again after destruction sustained during World War II, Bergenhus is today again used as a feast hall for public events. During World War II, the German navy used several of its buildings for their headquarters, and they also constructed a large concrete bunker within the fortress walls. The buildings, including the Haakon's Hall, were severely damaged when a Dutch ship in the service of the German navy, carrying approximately 120 tons of dynamite, exploded on 20 April 1944 in the harbour just outside the fortress walls, but the buildings were later restored.

Bergenhus is currently under the command of the Royal Norwegian Navy, which has about 150 military personnel stationed there. The fortifications Sverresborg fortress and Fredriksberg fortress also lie in the centre of Bergen. Haakon's Hall and the Rosenkrantz Tower are open for visits by the public. Koengen, the central part of Bergenhus Fortress is also known as a concert venue.