Medieval castles in Galicia

Ribadavia Castle

Ribadavia Castle, sitting at what is the unofficial entry point to the old town, has relics dating back as far as the 9th century, but the main structure was erected during the 15th century at the behest of the then Count of Ribadavia. It was abandoned in the 17th century when the counts moved to the palace adjacent to main square of Ribadavia.
Founded: 15th century | Location: Ribadavia, Spain

Monterreal Fortress

Monterreal Fortress is located on the Monte Boi peninsula, also know as Monterreal. This site has been known over the past 2000 years as the walled precinct. Pre-Christian civilisations such as the Celts, the Phoenicians and the Romans lived here in the past. During the present time, the place was occupied by many different people and it suffered a number of attacks and modifications. The village of Baiona was site here d ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Baiona, Spain

Torres de Oeste

Oeste Towers (Torres de Oeste) is located at the head of the Ría de Arousa. The towers remaining today are the ruins of Castellum Honesti. In the 9th century, King Alfonso III of Leon built the castle as a defense against Viking attacks. The two remaining towers are from this period, and have a pre-Roman style. Pre-Roman ceramics and bronze tools have been discovered at the site. Two centuries later, King Alfonso V ...
Founded: 9th century AD | Location: Catoira, Spain

Lanzada Castle Ruins

Lanzada Castle dates from the c. 960 AD and it was built to the grounds of Phoenician or Roman lighthouse. The castle was built to protect the area against Viking and Norman raids and later for Moorish pirates. It was conquered by Irmandiño revolts and destroyed in 1467. Today one hermit and and part of the keep remains.
Founded: c. 960 AD | Location: A Lanzada, Spain

Monastery of San Vicente do Pino

Above the plain of Monforte de Lemos rises a small hill which overlooks its entire expanse. This was the site chosen in the 10th century for building what would subsequently become the current monastery. It is also said that this was the location for the well-known Castrum Dactonium, of the Celtic Lemavos tribe, mentioned by the historians Ptolemy and Pliny the Elder. Construction of the current San Vicente del Pino mona ...
Founded: 10th century AD | Location: Monforte de Lemos, Spain

Castro Caldelas Castle

The typical Galician noble fortress in Castro Caldelas with medieval origins has been splendidly conserved and restored and today functions as a library, cultural centre and exhibition venue. The castle originally belonged to the House of the Counts of Lemos, and became part of the House of Alba in the 18th century. It was built in the 14th century as a fortress with a purely military function, and was renovated in the 1 ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Castro Caldelas, Spain

Monterrei Castle

Monterrei Castle is located a high part of the valley, near the town of Verín. It was built in the 12th century by Alfonso Henríquez. It was extremely important in the epoch of Peter the Cruel. In the 16th century it was used by Philip the Handsome for a meeting with Cardinal Cisneros. It was built from stone with evenly dressed ashlars. The most notable exterior features are the two towers: the Ladies Tower and the Kee ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Monterrei, Spain

Soutomaior Castle

Built in the 12th century by Pedro Álvarez de Soutomaior it is one of the most important castles in Southern Galicia. Its origins can be traced back to the reign of Alfonso VII, when a military construction was built in a strategic location in the town of Soutomaior. On a hill at 119 metres above sea level at the bottom of the Ría de Vigo, the castle was near the coast but protected against the sea incursions of the Nor ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Soutomaior, Spain

Vimianzo Castle

Vimianzo Castle construction began in the 13th century and was completed during the 14th and 15th centuries. It is in an excellent state of preservation. Its walls are surrounded by a moat over which a drawbridge is lowered. The building was constructed in a polygonal design with four towers and an arms courtyard. Its walls, almost two metres thick, withstood numerous attacks during the Irmandiñas (Brotherhoods) Wars. It ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Vimianzo, Spain

Nogueirosa Castle

Built in a strategic position on a crag, Nogueirosa Castle (or Andrade Castle) is a small fortress but one with magnificent views. From the keep there are extensive views of the mouth of the Eume and virtually all of the Ría de Ares y Betanzos. It was built in the 13th century.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Pontedeume, Spain

Sobroso Castle

Due to its strategic position, the Sobroso castle was known as 'the key of the Kingdom of Galicia'. The name of the Castle, and the village itself, comes from the Latin SUBEROSUM, in reference to the "sobreiras", Quercus suber or cork trees that once surrounded it. The oldest reference to Sobroso Castle dates back to 1096. The castle that stands today dates back to the 14th or 15th century constr ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: A Pena, Spain

Castle da Rocha Forte

Castle da Rocha Forte was built by Archbishop Juan Arias around 1240 and has since served as an archbishop's and cabildo's residence, witnessing much of the medieval history of Santiago. In the year 1255 appears the first documentary mention of the fortress in relation to the capitular constitutions of Juan Arias. The castle was situated in a strategic location by road from Padrón village to Santiago. Pilgrims followed t ...
Founded: c. 1240 | Location: Santiago de Compostela, Spain

Naraío Castle

Built on solid rock inside the spectacular protected area Xuvia-Castro, Naraío Castle dates from 14th century. Neverthless, it is said that the remains we can see nowadays are the result of the reconstruction of an ancient fortress. The precious castle was an unconquerable fortress. To get to the tower of homage we have to cross two doors where can still be seen the Andrade´s coat of arms. Around the tower were found se ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: San Saturnino, Spain

Torres de Altamira

Torres de Altamira is a ruined castle in Brión, connected to powerful Moscoco family. It was built in the 9th century AD and rebuilt in 1471. In the 17th century it was in bad condition and today mainly towers remain.
Founded: 9th century AD | Location: Brión, Spain

Maceda Castle

Originally built in the late 11th century, the Maceda Castle that we see today is a mixture of very different styles of construction. It comprises two concentric enclosures, the newer one dates from the 16th century.  
Founded: 11th century | Location: Maceda, Spain

Castrodouro Castle

Castelo do Castrodouro is a small castle which once belonged to Pardo de Cela"s family. It dates probably from the 14th century.   
Founded: 14th century | Location: Alfoz, Spain

Moeche Castle

Moeche Castle was built in the 14th century by the Andrades Family. It has an octogonal groundplan, and its walls are 10 m high and 3 m thick. Its gatekeep is 18 m tall and it is the only part of the castle protecting its walls from the outside. It was under siege and taken by the Irmandinos uprising. The Moeche Castle has been restored recently, but in order to visit the interior of the castle, you"ll have to requ ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Moeche, Spain

Carbedo Castle

The exact age of Carbedo Castle is unkown, but it was documented first time in 1181. The last restorations were made in 1558, but the castle was abandoned soon after that.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Folgoso de Caurel, Spain

Peroja Castle

The origins of Peroja Castle are uknown. It may be built as part of the defence line in 793 by the King of Asturia. The current ruins date probably from the 13th century.
Founded: 13th century | Location: A Peroxa, Spain

Doiras Castle

Castillo de Doiras is one of the best preserved castles in Galicia. It is dated to the 15th century and has 16m high keep and curtain walls.
Founded: 15th century | Location: Lugo, Spain

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Veste Coburg

The Veste Coburg is one of Germany's largest castles. The hill on which the fortress stands was inhabited from the Neolithic to the early Middle Ages according to the results of excavations. The first documentary mention of Coburg occurs in 1056, in a gift by Richeza of Lotharingia. Richeza gave her properties to Anno II, Archbishop of Cologne, to allow the creation of Saalfeld Abbey in 1071. In 1075, a chapel dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul is mentioned on the fortified Coberg. This document also refers to a Vogt named Gerhart, implying that the local possessions of the Saalfeld Benedictines were administered from the hill.

A document signed by Pope Honorius II in 1206 refers to a mons coburg, a hill settlement. In the 13th century, the hill overlooked the town of Trufalistat (Coburg's predecessor) and the important trade route from Nuremberg via Erfurt to Leipzig. A document dated from 1225 uses the term schloss (palace) for the first time. At the time, the town was controlled by the Dukes of Merania. They were followed in 1248 by the Counts of Henneberg who ruled Coburg until 1353, save for a period from 1292-1312, when the House of Ascania was in charge.

In 1353, Coburg fell to Friedrich, Markgraf von Meißen of the House of Wettin. His successor, Friedrich der Streitbare was awarded the status of Elector of Saxony in 1423. As a result of the Hussite Wars the fortifications of the Veste were expanded in 1430.

Early modern times through Thirty Years' War

In 1485, in the Partition of Leipzig, Veste Coburg fell to the Ernestine branch of the family. A year later, Elector Friedrich der Weise and Johann der Beständige took over the rule of Coburg. Johann used the Veste as a residence from 1499. In 1506/07, Lucas Cranach the Elder lived and worked in the Veste. From April to October 1530, during the Diet of Augsburg, Martin Luther sought protection at the Veste, as he was under an Imperial ban at the time. Whilst he stayed at the fortress, Luther continued with his work translating the Bible into German. In 1547, Johann Ernst moved the residence of the ducal family to a more convenient and fashionable location, Ehrenburg Palace in the town centre of Coburg. The Veste now only served as a fortification.

In the further splitting of the Ernestine line, Coburg became the seat of the Herzogtum von Sachsen-Coburg, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg. The first duke was Johann Casimir (1564-1633), who modernized the fortifications. In 1632, the fortress was unsuccessfully besieged by Imperial and Bavarian forces commanded by Albrecht von Wallenstein for seven days during the Thirty Years' War. Its defence was commanded by Georg Christoph von Taupadel. On 17 March 1635, after a renewed siege of five months' duration, the Veste was handed over to the Imperials under Guillaume de Lamboy.

17th through 19th centuries

From 1638-72, Coburg and the Veste were part of the Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg. In 1672, they passed to the Dukes of Saxe-Gotha and in 1735 it was joined to the Duchy of Saxe-Saalfeld. Following the introduction of Primogeniture by Duke Franz Josias (1697-1764), Coburg went by way of Ernst Friedrich (1724-1800) to Franz (1750-1806), noted art collector, and to Duke Ernst III (1784-1844), who remodeled the castle.

In 1826, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was created and Ernst now styled himself 'Ernst I'. Military use of the Veste had ceased by 1700 and outer fortifications had been demolished in 1803-38. From 1838-60, Ernst had the run-down fortress converted into a Gothic revival residence. In 1860, use of the Zeughaus as a prison (since 1782) was discontinued. Through a successful policy of political marriages, the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha established links with several of the major European dynasties, including that of the United Kingdom.

20th century

The dynasty ended with the reign of Herzog Carl Eduard (1884-1954), also known as Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a grandson of Queen Victoria, who until 1919 also was the 2nd Duke of Albany in the United Kingdom. Under his rule, many changes made to the Veste in the 19th century were reversed under architect Bodo Ebhardt, with the aim of restoring a more authentic medieval look. Along with the other ruling princes of Germany, Carl Eduard was deposed in the revolution of 1918-1919. After Carl Eduard abdicated in late 1918, the Veste came into possession of the state of Bavaria, but the former duke was allowed to live there until his death. The works of art collected by the family were gifted to the Coburger Landesstiftung, a foundation, which today runs the museum.

In 1945, the Veste was seriously damaged by artillery fire in the final days of World War II. After 1946, renovation works were undertaken by the new owner, the Bayerische Verwaltung der staatlichen Schlösser, Gärten und Seen.

Today

The Veste is open to the public and today houses museums, including a collection art objects and paintings that belonged to the ducal family of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a large collection of arms and armor, significant examples of early modern coaches and sleighs, and important collections of prints, drawings and coins.