Alcalá la Real Castle

Alcalá la Real, Spain

The castle of Alcalá la Real (or Fortaleza de La Mota) dates to the 13th-14th century, although some elements of the structure are older. La Mota was the last great defensive bastion before Granada as it is reached from Jaén and Córdoba. It’s conquest by Castile was very hard. In 1213, and for the first time, Alfonso VIII conquered the Almohades.

After the Christian conquest, at the beginning of the 13th century, the valuable fortress of La Mota fell once again into Muslim hands. It was not until 1341 that Alfonso XI forced the capitulation of the city through his conquest. After the conquest, Alfonso XI destroyed the Mezquita Mayor (Grand Mosque) and built, in the very same place, the first Iglesia Abacial with a Gothical style.

Its political and military importance increased during the final period of the Reconquest, in the second half of the 15th century, particularly during the 12 years in which the Catholic Kings waged war to conquer Granada. In this period, Alcalá la Real was declared “a very noble and very loyal town. Key, guardian and defender of the Kings of Castile.”

During the 18th century began the decline of the town of La Mota. A new urbanisation and repopulation program of los Llanos de Alcalá la Real started. Convents, churches and commercial areas were also built which led to an exodus of the population from the old medieval enclosure.

In 1812, Napoleonic troops burnt down the area and completely destroyed the place.

Some of the remains preserved include the abbatial church of Santa María la Mayor, a Gothic-Renaissance church (16th-17th centuries) that was abandoned, like the rest of the site, in the 18th century, when the inhabitants moved to the plain where the town is today.


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Founded: 13th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in Spain


4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Mike Hosker (3 months ago)
We spent 2.5 hours here well worth the time and money, about 5.00.
Ahmed Elnabarawy (4 months ago)
Very nice place worthy to visit while you go from Granada to Cordoba. In your way will find this beautiful castle, spend 1 hour explore it before you continue to cordoba
Stephan Geyer (4 months ago)
Impressive fortress on top of a hill. Seems like a hidden gem as there were almost no tourists on a weekday in November. The audio guide is really good and makes you feel the atmosphere of the past. Make sure to have comfortable shoes as there are many rocks and stairs to climb. Also for kids a good place as there are always new things to discover around every corner.
James W H (5 months ago)
Well what a surprise! This is a fortress, abbey and medieval town in remarkable condition. Each area is very well labelled in order to understand the history of this citadel on the frontier between Christian Castilla and Muslim Granada. Worth a drive to visit. Here's a tip, free entry after 3pm on Tuesdays.
Rishenda Tofts (10 months ago)
Absolutely amazing place. Well worth the visit and the entrance fee. We spent 2 hours there. Steeped in history and there are lots of information points around the rooms and grounds. One word of advice, if you are not fit go by car or taxi. Very steep climb up the streets.
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Château de Foix

The Château de Foix dominates the town of Foix. An important tourist site, it is known as a centre of the Cathars. Built on an older 7th-century fortification, the castle is known from 987. In 1002, it was mentioned in the will of Roger I, Count of Carcassonne, who bequeathed the fortress to his youngest child, Bernard. In effect, the family ruling over the region were installed here which allowed them to control access to the upper Ariège valley and to keep surveillance from this strategic point over the lower land, protected behind impregnable walls.

In 1034, the castle became capital of the County of Foix and played a decisive role in medieval military history. During the two following centuries, the castle was home to Counts with shining personalities who became the soul of the Occitan resistance during the crusade against the Albigensians. The county became a privileged refuge for persecuted Cathars.

The castle, often besieged (notably by Simon de Montfort in 1211 and 1212), resisted assault and was only taken once, in 1486, thanks to treachery during the war between two branches of the Foix family.

From the 14th century, the Counts of Foix spent less and less time in the uncomfortable castle, preferring the Governors' Palace. From 1479, the Counts of Foix became Kings of Navarre and the last of them, made Henri IV of France, annexed his Pyrrenean lands to France.

As seat of the Governor of the Foix region from the 15th century, the castle continued to ensure the defence of the area, notably during the Wars of Religion. Alone of all the castles in the region, it was exempted from the destruction orders of Richelieu (1632-1638).

Until the Revolution, the fortress remained a garrison. Its life was brightened with grand receptions for its governors, including the Count of Tréville, captain of musketeers under Louis XIII and Marshal Philippe Henri de Ségur, one of Louis XVI's ministers. The Round Tower, built in the 15th century, is the most recent, the two square towers having been built before the 11th century. They served as a political and civil prison for four centuries until 1862.

Since 1930, the castle has housed the collections of the Ariège départemental museum. Sections on prehistory, Gallo-Roman and mediaeval archaeology tell the history of Ariège from ancient times. Currently, the museum is rearranging exhibits to concentrate on the history of the castle site so as to recreate the life of Foix at the time of the Counts.