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.
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.References:
The city walls of Avila were built in the 11th century to protect the citizens from the Moors. They have been well maintained throughout the centuries and are now a major tourist attraction as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors can walk around about half of the length of the walls.
The layout of the city is an even quadrilateral with a perimeter of 2,516 m. Its walls, which consist in part of stones already used in earlier constructions, have an average thickness of 3 m. Access to the city is afforded by nine gates of different periods; twin 20 m high towers, linked by a semi-circular arch, flank the oldest ones, Puerta de San Vicente and Puerta del Alcázar.