Bellver Castle

Palma, Spain

Bellver Castle is a Gothic style castle on a hill 3 km to the west of the center of Palma. It was built in the 14th century for King James II of Majorca, and is one of the few circular castles in Europe.

Origins

The castle's plan, a circular floor with round towers attached to it, seems to have been inspired by the upper complex of the Herodion, a 15 BCE hilltop palace in the West Bank, that was also circular and had a large principal tower and three minor towers as well. They are attached while the principal one is coupled to the complex by a high bridge over the surrounding moat.

The main part of the fortification was built by architect Pere Salvà, who also worked in the construction of the Royal Palace of La Almudaina, together with other master masons between 1300 and 1311 for King James II of Aragon and Majorca. Rock from the hill where the castle sits was used for the building, which has eventually led to the appearance of cracks. Once the castle had been built, and following the introduction of artillery, the battlements on the top balconies and the barbican disappeared, being soon followed by those in every tower; loopholes were built instead.

History

The castle originally served as a residence for the Kings of Mallorca whenever they were not staying in mainland Europe, and was subsequently seldom used as a residence for viceroys during the 17th century. As a fortification, it suffered and successfully resisted two sieges during the Middle Ages; the first of them in 1343, during Peter IV of Aragon's campaign to reincorporate the Majorcan territories to the Crown of Aragon, and then again in 1391 during an anti-semitic peasant revolt. The castle has only fallen once in its history into enemy hands, in 1521 after an assault during the Majorcan seconds Revolt of the Brotherhoods.

Being an enclosed site, since the end of the 14th century it was used as a prison. The castle served from then on as a political prison, used to lock up several important supporters of the subsequent Habsburg pretendants to the Spanish Throne during the 19th century, and later notable republican and Catalanist leaders during the 20th century.

Today

Bellver castle became a museum in 1932, being restored in 1976 to become the city's History museum. The main yard is the seat to many different public ceremonies, such as protocollary and cultural acts, and concerts. Due to its location and visibility from the sea or any other point of the city, it has become one the city's symbols.

The surrounding forest encloses the stables of the city's Mounted Peelers. There is also a chapel dedicated to Saint Alphonsis Rodriguez, built between 1879 and 1885.

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Details

Founded: 1300-1311
Category: Castles and fortifications in Spain

Rating

4.4/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Rafał Cho. (12 months ago)
Very nice place to see, with several small exhibitions and spectacular sightseeing! You can go up to the roof from where the panoramic view for a half of the island will take your breath away. Very recommendable and especially that the entrance is very cheap and even free some days.
Holly Veneman (2 years ago)
My all time favourite place in Palma to relax, take a long walk and see the views over Palma. There are three children's parks (one with a climbing castle, another with a zip line and the third is nice for very small kids). There is no signage so people often get lost, but they are supposed to add signs soon. Also, the mounted police have their HQ there so you can see the horses sometimes. The castle itself is lovely and I got married there at night many years ago. Don't miss climbing the 425 stairs and stopping at the small chaple on the way up to the castle.
Holly Veneman (2 years ago)
My all time favourite place in Palma to relax, take a long walk and see the views over Palma. There are three children's parks (one with a climbing castle, another with a zip line and the third is nice for very small kids). There is no signage so people often get lost, but they are supposed to add signs soon. Also, the mounted police have their HQ there so you can see the horses sometimes. The castle itself is lovely and I got married there at night many years ago. Don't miss climbing the 425 stairs and stopping at the small chaple on the way up to the castle.
Shifali Mudumba (2 years ago)
Magnificent views of Palma! Recommended particularly during sunset. A wonderful walk through what feels like a forest for a good 30 minutes add the castle. Can be a great 2 hr walk from Palma old town. A must do for someone with time in Palma!
Hrvoje Šandula (2 years ago)
Bit uphill but worth it, beautiful castle with nice view of the city!
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Lorca Castle

Castle of Lorca (Castillo de Lorca) is a fortress of medieval origin constructed between the 9th and 15th centuries. It consists of a series of defensive structures that, during the Middle Ages, made the town and the fortress an impregnable point in the southeast part of the Iberian Peninsula. Lorca Castle was a key strategic point of contention between Christians and Muslims during the Reconquista.

Archaeological excavations have revealed that the site of the castle has been inhabited since Neolithic times.

Muslim Era

It has not been determined exactly when a castle or fortress was first built on the hill. The first written documentation referring to a castle at Lorca is of Muslim origin, which in the 9th century, indicates that the city of Lurqa was an important town in the area ruled by Theudimer (Tudmir). During Muslim rule, Lorca Castle was an impregnable fortress and its interior was divided into two sections by the Espaldón Wall. In the western part, there was an area used to protect livestock and grain in times of danger. The eastern part had a neighbourhood called the barrio de Alcalá.

After Reconquista

Lorca was conquered by the Castilian Infante Don Alfonso, the future Alfonso X, in 1244, and the fortress became a key defensive point against the Kingdom of Granada. For 250 years, Lorca Castle was a watchpoint on the border between the Christian kingdom of Murcia and the Muslim state of Granada.

Alfonso X ordered the construction of the towers known as the Alfonsina and Espolón Towers, and strengthened and fixed the walls. Hardly a trace of the Muslim fortress remained due to this reconstruction. Muslim traces remain in the foundation stones and the wall known as the muro del Espaldón.

The Jewish Quarter was found within the alcazaba, the Moorish fortification, separated from the rest of the city by its walls. The physical separation had the purpose of protecting the Jewish people in the town from harm, but also had the result of keeping Christians and Jews separate, with the Christians inhabiting the lower part of town.

The remains of the Jewish Quarter extended over an area of 5,700 square m, and 12 homes and a synagogue have been found; the synagogue dates from the 14th century and is the only one found in the Murcia. The streets of the town had an irregular layout, adapted to the landscape, and is divided into four terraces. The synagogue was in the central location, and around it were the homes. The homes were of rectangular shape, with various compartmentalized rooms. The living quarters were elevated and a common feature was benches attached to the walls, kitchens, stand for earthenware jars, or cupboards.

Modern history

With the disappearance of the frontier after the conquest of Granada in 1492, Lorca Castle no longer became as important as before. With the expulsion of the Jews by order of Ferdinand and Isabella, Lorca Castle was also depopulated as a result. The castle was abandoned completely, and was almost a complete ruin by the 18th century. In the 19th century, the castle was refurbished due to the War of Spanish Independence. The walls and structures were repaired or modified and its medieval look changed. A battery of cannons was installed, for example, during this time. In 1931 Lorca Castle was declared a National Historic Monument.

Currently, a parador (luxury hotel) has been built within the castle. As a result, archaeological discoveries have been found, including the Jewish Quarter.