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 16th century and converted into a palatial residence.Its floor plan is in the shape of an irregular polygon, as it adapts to the hill on which it stands. It comprises several parts or buildings, of which the rectangular keep and the clock tower are the oldest. Other surviving elements include the bailey, sections of the defensive wall, three square towers, the administrator's house, the palace (containing the library, a museum about the castle and other rooms), the interior sentry walk and the outer moat.
The location of the castle, on top of a mountain, also provides some panoramic views of the valleys below and it is easy to appreciate how impenetrable this town must have seemed to past aggressors.
You enter the castle (free of charge) through the main gateway and once inside you have unlimited access to all areas including the battlements.References:
Château de Falaise is best known as a castle, where William the Conqueror, the son of Duke Robert of Normandy, was born in about 1028. William went on to conquer England and become king and possession of the castle descended through his heirs until the 13th century when it was captured by King Philip II of France. Possession of the castle changed hands several times during the Hundred Years' War. The castle was deserted during the 17th century. Since 1840 it has been protected as a monument historique.
The castle (12th–13th century), which overlooks the town from a high crag, was formerly the seat of the Dukes of Normandy. The construction was started on the site of an earlier castle in 1123 by Henry I of England, with the 'large keep' (grand donjon). Later was added the 'small keep' (petit donjon). The tower built in the first quarter of the 12th century contained a hall, chapel, and a room for the lord, but no small rooms for a complicated household arrangement; in this way, it was similar to towers at Corfe, Norwich, and Portchester, all in England. In 1202 Arthur I, Duke of Brittany was King John of England's nephew, was imprisoned in Falaise castle's keep. According to contemporaneous chronicler Ralph of Coggeshall, John ordered two of his servants to mutilate the duke. Hugh de Burgh was in charge of guarding Arthur and refused to let him be mutilated, but to demoralise Arthur's supporters was to announce his death. The circumstances of Arthur's death are unclear, though he probably died in 1203.
In about 1207, after having conquered Normandy, Philip II Augustus ordered the building of a new cylindrical keep. It was later named the Talbot Tower (Tour Talbot) after the English commander responsible for its repair during the Hundred Years' War. It is a tall round tower, similar design to the towers built at Gisors and the medieval Louvre.Possession of the castle changed hands several times during the Hundred Years' War. The castle was deserted during the 17th century. Since 1840, Château de Falaise has been recognised as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture.
A programme of restoration was carried out between 1870 and 1874. The castle suffered due to bombardment during the Second World War in the battle for the Falaise pocket in 1944, but the three keeps were unscathed.