Royal sites in Spain

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

Abbey of Santa María la Real de Las Huelgas

The Abbey of Santa María la Real de Las Huelgas is a monastery of Cistercian nuns located approximately 1.5 km west of the city of Burgos. Historically, the monastery has been the site of many weddings of royal families, both foreign and Spanish, including that of Edward I of England to Eleanor of Castile in 1254, for example. In 1187, Pope Clement III issued a papal bull authorising the founding of a ...
Founded: 1187 | Location: Burgos, Spain

El Escorial

The Royal Site of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, commonly known as El Escorial, is a historical residence of the King of Spain about 45 kilometres northwest of Madrid. It is one of the Spanish royal sites and has functioned as a monastery, basilica, royal palace, pantheon, library, museum, university and hospital. El Escorial comprises two architectural complexes of great historical and cultural significance: the royal ...
Founded: 1563 | Location: San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Spain

Royal Convent of Santa Clara

The Santa Clara buildings were originally built by King Alfonso XI as his palace in 1344. His son Peter the Cruel had it embellished by Mudéjar artists, beautiful works at Santa Clara, though on a much smaller scale than they did in the Alcázar of Seville. The facade, a lovely small patio, a chapel and the baths remain of Peter the Cruel"s palace. Blanche de Bourbon was held here after her abandonment by Pe ...
Founded: 1344 | Location: Tordesillas, Spain

La Granja de San Ildefonso Palace

The Royal Palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso, known as La Granja, is an early 18th-century palace located in the hills near Segovia.  The site was purchased from the monks in 1719 by King Philip V, after his summer palace nearby at Valsaín burned down. Beginning in 1721, Philip began building a new palace and gardens modeled on Versailles, built by his grandfather, Louis XIV of France. Like Versailles it embrac ...
Founded: 1721 | Location: Segovia, Spain

Royal Palace of Madrid

The Royal Palace of Madrid (Palacio Real de Madrid) is the official residence of the Spanish Royal Family at the city of Madrid, but it is only used for state ceremonies. Several rooms in the palace are regularly open to the public except during state functions. The palace is located on the site of a 9th-century Alcázar (Muslim-era fortress), near the town of Magerit, constructed as an outpost by Muhammad I of C ...
Founded: 1738-1755 | Location: Madrid, Spain

Royal Palace of Riofrío

The Royal Palace of Riofrío is one of the residences of Spain"s royal family. Situated in the municipality of San Ildefonso, in the province of Segovia, central Spain, the building is set in a wooded deer-park. Queen Elisabeth Farnese was widowed in 1746, her husband King Philip V being succeeded by Ferdinand VI, her step-son. As such, to ensure that Elisabeth would remain away from the court, King Ferdin ...
Founded: 1752-1759 | Location: Segovia, Spain

Royal Palace of Aranjuez

Palacio Real de Aranjuez is a former Spanish royal residence. It was established around the time Philip II of Spain moved the capital from Toledo to Madrid. Aranjuez became one of four seasonal seats of government, occupied during the springtime (from about holy week). Thereafter, the court moved successively to Rascafría, El Escorial and wintered in Madrid. Aranjuez Cultural Landscape is an UNESCO World Heritag ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Aranjuez, Spain

Royal Palace of El Pardo

The Royal Palace of El Pardo is a historic building near Madrid, in the present-day district of Fuencarral-El Pardo. It is owned by the Spanish state and administered by the Patrimonio Nacional agency. The palace began as a royal hunting lodge. It became an alternative residence of the kings of Spain until the reign of King Alfonso XII of Spain, who died in the palace in 1885. King Henry III of Castile ordered ...
Founded: 1547-1558 | Location: Fuencarral-El Pardo, Spain

Royal Palace of La Almudaina

The Royal Palace of La Almudaina, Spanish Palacio Real de La Almudaina, is the Alcázar (fortified palace) of Palma, the capital city of the Island of Majorca, Spain. Built as an Arabian Fort, the crown claimed it as official royal residence in the early 14th century. Inside are many empty rooms, however, when King James II began restoration, his design plan included the encompassing of the small, romanesque Chap ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Palma, Spain

Royal Palace of Valladolid

The Royal Palace of Valladolid was the official residence of the Kings of Spain during the period in which the Royal Court had its seat in Valladolid between 1601 and 1606, and a temporary residence of the Spanish Monarchs from Charles I to Isabella II, as well as of Napoleon during the War of the Independence. Currently is the headquarters of the 4th General Sub-inspection of the Army. Despite the fact that ki ...
Founded: 1601 | Location: Valladolid, Spain

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Beersel Castle

The moated castle at Beersel is one of the few exceptionally well-preserved examples of medieval fortifications in Belgium. It remains pretty much as it must have appeared in the 15th century. Remarkably, it was never converted into a fortified mansion. A visitor is able to experience at first-hand how it must have felt to live in a heavily fortified castle in the Middle Ages.

The castle was built in around 1420 as a means of defence on the outer reaches of Brussels. The tall, dense walls and towers were intended to hold any besiegers at bay. The moat and the marshy ground along its eastern, southern and western edges made any attack a formidable proposition. For that reason, any attackers would have chosen its weaker northern defences where the castle adjoins higher lying ground. But the castle was only taken and destroyed on one occasion in 1489, by the inhabitants of Brussels who were in rebellion against Maximilian of Austria.

After being stormed and plundered by the rebels it was partially rebuilt. The pointed roofs and stepped gables are features which have survived this period. The reconstruction explains why two periods can be identified in the fabric of the edifice, particularly on the outside.

The red Brabant sandstone surrounds of the embrasures, now more or less all bricked up, are characteristic of the 15th century. The other embrasures, edged with white sandstone, date from the end of the 15th century. They were intended for setting up the artillery fire. The merlons too are in white sandstone. The year 1617 can be clearly seen in the foundation support on the first tower. This refers to restorations carried out at the time by the Arenberg family.

Nowadays, the castle is dominated by three massive towers. The means of defence follow the classic pattern: a wide, deep moat surrounding the castle, a drawbridge, merlons on the towers, embrasures in the walls and in the towers, at more or less regular intervals, and machiolations. Circular, projecting towers ensured that attacks from the side could be thwarted. If the enemy were to penetrate the outer wall, each tower could be defended from embrasures facing onto the inner courtyard.

The second and third towers are flanked by watchtowers from which shots could be fired directly below. Between the second and third tower are two openings in the walkway on the wall. It is not clear what these were used for. Were these holes used for the disposing of rubbish, or escape routes. The windows on the exterior are narrow and low. All light entering comes from the interior. The few larger windows on the exterior date from a later period. It is most probable that the third tower - the highest - was used as a watchtower.