Medieval castles in Navarre

Royal Palace of Olite

The Palace of the Kings of Navarre of Olite was one of the seats of the Court of the Kingdom of Navarre, since the reign of Charles III 'the Noble' until its conquest by Castile (1512). The fortification is both castle and palace, although it was built more like a courtier building to fulfill a military function. On an ancient Roman fortification was built during the reign of Sancho VII of Navarre (13th century ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Olite, Spain

Zalatambor Castle

The first documents of Zalatambor Castle date back to 1024. This fort became known since the 13th century as the castle of Zalatambor, coinciding with the first fortifications made in the main rock. In addition to the successive extensions and reforms of Zalatambor, the defense of the city was reinforced with the construction of a new castle, Belmecher, in 1276, and a tower as a defensive watchtower that, following the m ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Estella, Spain

Xavier Castle

The Castle of Xavier (Castillo de Javier) is located on a hill in the town of Javier. Built in the 10th century, this castle was the birthplace and childhood home of Saint Francis Xavier, son of the Lords of Xavier, hence his surname. The town of Javier belonged to the Kingdom of Navarre which was always its own kingdom, never belonging to France. The castle consists of three buildings with different antiquity. The Tower ...
Founded: 10th century AD | Location: Javier, Spain

Cerco de Artajona

The walls of Artajona is 11th century fortified walled complex. It originally had fourteen crenellated towers, of which nine remain. The complex has also fortified church of San Saturnino, which was part of the complex’s defense system together with robust walls, buttresses, the watchtower, the parapet walk and dungeon. The church was Gothic edifice from the 13th century.
Founded: 11th century | Location: Artajona, Spain

Marcilla Castle

The Castillo Palacio de Marcilla is a Gothic-style castle built in the 15th century by Mosén Pierres de Peralta. At first it had a defensive character but when the Marquisate of Falces was instituted it became the residential palace of the Marquises. The gateway to the castle, which houses the drawbridge under which the moat runs, is next to what is considered to be the Homage Tower, one of the four towers that make up t ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Marcilla, Spain

Tiebas Castle

Theobald I ordered the construction of the Tiebas castle around 1250 and since then it has suffered throughout history. It survived numerous attacks quite well until an attack by Castile in 1378 ended with it on fire. With it, burned a good part of the Navarre Archive, and this has deprived us of a lot of information about our history. Luckily, in 1512, it managed not be demolished under Cardinal Cisneros. Then it witne ...
Founded: c. 1250 | Location: Tiebas, Spain

Cortes Castle

Cortes Castle originates from the Muslim reign, but first document dates from 1128 after the town was conquered by Christian army. The medieval building was restored as a residential palace in the mid-16th century and again in the 19th century.        
Founded: 12th century | Location: Cortes, Spain

San Esteban de Deyo Castle

San Esteban de Deyo, also called the Castillo de Monjardín, is a ruined castle on a hill overlooking Villamayor de Monjardín in Navarre. The castle lies at an elevation of 890 metres. The castle has a Roman foundation, but was repeatedly rebuilt over the centuries. It was one of the last fortresses of the Banu Qasi, the local Muslim dynasty, before it was taken by King Sancho I of Navarre in 914. According to ...
Founded: 9th century AD | Location: Villamayor de Monjardín, Spain

Irulegui Castle

Irulegui castle is located on the Sierra de Aranguren in the municipality of Laquidáin. During the Iron Age it there was a castro de los Vascones. This pre-Roman fort was destroyed around 76 BC. as a consequence of the rebellion. Although there are legends that suggest the existence of the castle (or, at least, of a defensive structure in this place) during the Almanzor raids in the 11th century, the first reliable do ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Laquidáin, Spain

Garaño Castle

Garaño castle is one of the oldest in Navarre. It may be the Sajrat Qais, mentioned in the Arab chronicles in the 8th-10th centuries. Coins from the 11th century are found from the ruins. There were a small town, which disappeared in the 14th century. The castle was dismantled in 1512, today some ruins remain.
Founded: 8th century AD | Location: Saldise, Spain

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Broch of Gurness

The Broch of Gurness is an Iron Age broch village. Settlement here began sometime between 500 and 200 BC. At the centre of the settlement is a stone tower or broch, which once probably reached a height of around 10 metres. Its interior is divided into sections by upright slabs. The tower features two skins of drystone walls, with stone-floored galleries in between. These are accessed by steps. Stone ledges suggest that there was once an upper storey with a timber floor. The roof would have been thatched, surrounded by a wall walk linked by stairs to the ground floor. The broch features two hearths and a subterranean stone cistern with steps leading down into it. It is thought to have some religious significance, relating to an Iron Age cult of the underground.

The remains of the central tower are up to 3.6 metres high, and the stone walls are up to 4.1 metres thick. The tower was likely inhabited by the principal family or clan of the area but also served as a last resort for the village in case of an attack.

The broch continued to be inhabited while it began to collapse and the original structures were altered. The cistern was filled in and the interior was repartitioned. The ruin visible today reflects this secondary phase of the broch's use.

The site is surrounded by three ditches cut out of the rock with stone ramparts, encircling an area of around 45 metres diameter. The remains of numerous small stone dwellings with small yards and sheds can be found between the inner ditch and the tower. These were built after the tower, but were a part of the settlement's initial conception. A 'main street' connects the outer entrance to the broch. The settlement is the best-preserved of all broch villages.

Pieces of a Roman amphora dating to before 60 AD were found here, lending weight to the record that a 'King of Orkney' submitted to Emperor Claudius at Colchester in 43 AD.

At some point after 100 AD the broch was abandoned and the ditches filled in. It is thought that settlement at the broch continued into the 5th century AD, the period known as Pictish times. By that time the broch was not used anymore and some of its stones were reused to build smaller dwellings on top of the earlier buildings. Until about the 8th century, the site was just a single farmstead.

In the 9th century, a Norse woman was buried at the site in a stone-lined grave with two bronze brooches and a sickle and knife made from iron. Other finds suggest that Norse men were buried here too.