New Castle of Manzanares el Real

Manzanares el Real, Spain

The construction of the New Castle of Manzanares el Real, also known as Castle of los Mendoza, began in 1475 on a Romanesque-Mudéjar hermitage and today is one of the best preserved castles of the Community of Madrid. It was raised on the river Manzanares, as a residential palace of the House of Mendoza, in the vicinity of an ancient fortress that was abandoned once the new castle was built.

Diego Hurtado de Mendoza, Admiral of Castile, is credited with building the first fortress, now known as the Old Castle of Manzanares el Real, although it is likely that this building had an earlier origin. In the last third of the 15th century, the House of Mendoza decided to build a new castle-palace, larger and more luxurious, in accordance with the remarkable economic and political influence achieved by this family.

The role of the castle as a palatial residence lasted only a century. With the death in 1566 of Íñigo López de Mendoza y Pimentel, 4th Duke of the Infantado, the castle ceased to be inhabited, as economic problems and disputes arose between the heirs of the House of Mendoza.

The castle now houses a museum of Spanish castles and hosts a collection of tapestries. It was declared a Monumento Histórico-Artístico in 1931. It is owned by the Duchy of the Infantado, but its management is the responsibility of the Community of Madrid.

Architecture

The castle, quadrangular, is constructed entirely of granite stone. It has four circular towers. Its vertices are decorated with balls in the Isabelline Gothic style. The main hexagonal tower is one of the highlights.

The building is topped by a terrace with machicolation and turrets. It includes a rectangular courtyard with porticos and two galleries supported by octagonal columns. The Gothic gallery on the first floor is considered the most beautiful in Spanish military architecture. On the southern chemin de ronde the gallery is flaming trace on parapets decorated with diamond shapes.

The whole castle is surrounded by a barbican, which includes loopholes and, carved in low relief, the cross of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, a title held by Pedro Gonzalez de Mendoza. Other defensive elements of the building includes its pockets.

The castle has six floors, plus a basement: ground floor, mezzanine first, main floor, mezzanine second, upper gallery and gallery of covers. The main gate is flanked by two towers with an arch between them.

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The original Cochem Castle, perched prominently on a hill above the Moselle River, served to collect tolls from passing ships. Modern research dates its origins to around 1100. Before its destruction by the French in 1689, the castle had a long and fascinating history. It changed hands numerous times and, like most castles, also changed its form over the centuries.

In 1151 King Konrad III ended a dispute over who should inherit Cochem Castle by laying siege to it and taking possession of it himself. That same year it became an official Imperial Castle (Reichsburg) subject to imperial authority. In 1282 it was Habsburg King Rudolf’s turn, when he conquered the Reichsburg Cochem and took it over. But just 12 years later, in 1294, the newest owner, King Adolf of Nassau pawned the castle, the town of Cochem and the surrounding region in order to finance his coronation. Adolf’s successor, Albrecht I, was unable to redeem the pledge and was forced to grant the castle to the archbishop in nearby Trier and the Electorate of Trier, which then administered the Reichsburg continuously, except for a brief interruption when Trier’s Archbishop Balduin of Luxembourg had to pawn the castle to a countess. But he got it back a year later.

The Electorate of Trier and its nobility became wealthy and powerful in large part due to the income from Cochem Castle and the rights to shipping tolls on the Moselle. Not until 1419 did the castle and its tolls come under the administration of civil bailiffs (Amtsmänner). While under the control of the bishops and electors in Trier from the 14th to the 16th century, the castle was expanded several times.

In 1688 the French invaded the Rhine and Moselle regions of the Palatinate, which included Cochem and its castle. French troops conquered the Reichsburg and then laid waste not only to the castle but also to Cochem and most of the other surrounding towns in a scorched-earth campaign. Between that time and the Congress of Vienna, the Palatinate and Cochem went back and forth between France and Prussia. In 1815 the western Palatinate and Cochem finally became part of Prussia once and for all.

Louis Jacques Ravené (1823-1879) did not live to see the completion of his renovated castle, but it was completed by his son Louis Auguste Ravené (1866-1944). Louis Auguste was only two years old when construction work at the old ruins above Cochem began in 1868, but most of the new castle took shape from 1874 to 1877, based on designs by Berlin architects. After the death of his father in 1879, Louis Auguste supervised the final stages of construction, mostly involving work on the castle’s interior. The castle was finally completed in 1890. Louis Auguste, like his father, a lover of art, filled the castle with an extensive art collection, most of which was lost during the Second World War.

In 1942, during the Nazi years, Ravené was forced to sell the family castle to the Prussian Ministry of Justice, which turned it into a law school run by the Nazi government. Following the end of the war, the castle became the property of the new state of Rheinland-Pfalz (Rhineland-Palatinate). In 1978 the city of Cochem bought the castle for 664,000 marks.