The Atalaya Castle is a castle built in the 18th century in what is now the Canteras County Council, within the Spanish municipality of Cartagena.

The strategic position of the Atalaya mountain was known since the late Middle Ages, when the Council placed there a lookout post to warn of possible pirate attacks or allies of the Nasrid Kingdom of Granada. The watchtower proved its usefulness in 1561, when 1800 Ottoman soldiers landed in La Algameca on May 4 with the intention of pouncing on Cartagena by surprise. The convenient notice served to present to them Luis Fajardo de la Cueva, Marquis de los Vélez, who commanded Murcian knights andCartagena levies defeated the invaders near the Rambla de Benipila.

The first serious attempts to build a fort atop the mountain came in 1706, during the War of the Spanish Succession. By then, the city was occupied by the English in the name of Archduke Carlos of Austria, and they needed to secure the position they had acquired in the hostile kingdom of Murcia. With this objective in mind, two forts were erected at two strategic points, which would give rise to the building that we are dealing with and to the castle of San Julián, which will come to defend the mouth of the port.

The definitive construction of the Atalaya castle was projected in 1766 by the military engineer Pedro Martín-Paredes Cermeño, in the context of the process of improvement of military structures in Cartagena in the reign of Carlos III, and that was motivated by the appointment in 1726 of the city as capital of the Mediterranean Maritime Department. The works were completed in 1777 on the mount of the Watchtower following the precise instructions of the Count of Aranda, who wanted to annul the possibility that enemy landings would be repeated in La Algameca and at the same time protect the Military Arsenalnext to the castle of Galeras, built in the same period.

From now on, the castle will suffer the vicissitudes of the military history of the city, gaining prominence during the centralist siege of Cartagena during the cantonal rebellion, a stage in which its name changed to 'Castle of Death'. On the night of January 9, 1874, while the besieging army subjected the square to an intense bombardment, elements of the cantonalist garrison secretly interviewed the enemy, surrendering it next to the fortification. The attempts of the leader Antonete Gálvez to retake it will be rejected, and will end up precipitating the capitulation of Cartagena.

When the Spanish civil war broke out, the city was in the hands of the Republican side and the castle was used by the Military Information Service to house a Czech in which prisoners such as the agent of the Information and Propaganda Service of the Navy were interrogated with violence José Ladiñán López, the merchant Mamerto Melgarejo Cánovas or the doctor José Romero Font in search of signs of activities in favor of the rebels. The end of the war did not mean the immediate end of their prison duties, since between April and November 1939 their facilities hosted part of theConcentration complex that the Francoist repression made operate in Cartagena.

Later, the Ministry of the Army transferred it to the Ministry of Finance in the 1960s, to finally pass its possession to the Cartagena City Council, without any use or care being given to it, which is why its current state it is of prolonged deterioration. In order to prevent the castle from being left to its own devices, initiatives from associations such as Adepa and Aforca have emerged, as well as individuals from the nearby neighborhood of La Concepción, That at the moment they have not gotten an institutional response yet with the declaration of Asset of Cultural Interest in 1997. In this sense, in June 2014 the castle was included in the Red List of heritage in danger of the Hispania Nostra association.


The castle rises to an altitude of 242 meters above sea ​​level and was built following the parameters of the eclectic neoclassicism of the Frenchified Spanish School. Its plan is constituted as an isosceles trapezoid, with five bastions for each of its vertices plus another one added in the southern part, and surrounded by a moat with its corresponding fenced-in counter- scaffold except in the sector facing the city.

The entrance to the fortress is in the central bastion of the southern part. Once through the door, you enter a vestibule, which through a missing drawbridge led to the esplanade on the first floor. It is on this level where the vaulted rooms where the garrison lived, the battlements that protected the artillerymen from enemy fire and a cistern. Finally, an equally lost spiral staircase led to the roof.



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Founded: 1706
Category: Castles and fortifications in Spain

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User Reviews

Emma Bradley (2 years ago)
Views spectacular. So disappointing that you can't go in. Just walk around the castle.
Marcin Nowak (2 years ago)
Great Castillo ? The way to the top of the mountain is easy accessable but a challenge to the legs ? You can walk around and also get inside through the wooden doors (I not sure if it's allowed) in order to view the chambers. The View on Cartagena and the harbour, as the see also, is beautiful. Visit in this location is a must during stay in Cartagena ?
Eddy Vejlager (2 years ago)
You have a unique view from this castle
About Cartagena (2 years ago)
Great workout as there is a steep climb. Great views over Cartagena and the surrounding area
Rob Bezzina (3 years ago)
Pretty cool place.
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