The Castle of La Mota is a medieval fortress, located in the town of Medina del Campo. It is so named because of its location on an elevated hill, a mota (in Spanish), from where it dominates the town and surrounding land. The adjacent town came to be surrounded by an expanding series of walls in subsequent years, of which little remains.
Initial fortification of the village, repopulated after Moorish depredations, led to the creation of a fortress on the site, starting in 1080. The village soon grew alongside. In 1354, Henry of Trastamara is known to have taken the fortress by force. In 1390 King John I of Castile granted the town to his son, the infante Ferdinand of Antequera, future king of Aragon. After the latter's death in 1416, his son, John II of Aragon, in 1433 taxed local residents to help the construction at the Mota. During the following century, the castle and town changed hands between the rival kings of Castile and Aragon, with the castle and town being sometimes held by opposing sides. In 1439, for example, the prince of Aragon locked the town gates, thereby imprisoning the Castilian king within the castle walls. In 1441, the Castilian king was able to obtain the surrender of some 250 soldiers of Aragon within the castle.
After the First Battle of Olmedo in 1445, the castle came once and for all into hands of the Castilian monarchy. In 1460, King Henry IV of Castile built the central tower. In 1464, Henry gave the castle to the Archbishop of Toledo, Alonso Carrillo, who soon betrayed the king, and backed the rival claimant Afonso V of Portugal. After taking the castle by force, it fell by 1467 into the hands of supporters of King Afonso, while the village supported Henry.
Subsequently, the castle was disputed between the princess claimant, Isabella of Castile and her cousin of dubious paternity, the princess Juana la Beltraneja.
After a succession of owners, in 1475, the crown of Castile reclaimed the castle, and built an artillery bastion, upon whose entrance are the heraldic symbols of the Catholic Monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella.
The castle became a prominent prison, and variously housed Hernando Pizarro, Rodrigo Calderón, Duke Fernando de Calabria, and Cesare Borgia, among others. Of these men, the last is known for having escaped from the nearly 40 meter high tower by climbing down a rope.
The castle's main feature is the large outer barbican. The interior castle has a trapezoidal plan, with 4 towers and a square yard. It has a large square keep tower, and an inner curtain wall that was used for archers.
The castle was originally accessed through a drawbridge. It is made from local red brick, utlilizing stone only for some details.References:
Hochosterwitz Castle is considered to be one of Austria's most impressive medieval castles. The rock castle is one of the state's landmarks and a major tourist attraction.
The site was first mentioned in an 860 deed issued by King Louis the German of East Francia, donating several of his properties in the former Principality of Carantania to the Archdiocese of Salzburg. In the 11th century Archbishop Gebhard of Salzburg ceded the castle to the Dukes of Carinthia from the noble House of Sponheim in return for their support during the Investiture Controversy. The Sponheim dukes bestowed the fiefdom upon the family of Osterwitz, who held the hereditary office of the cup-bearer in 1209.
In the 15th century, the last Carinthian cup-bearer, Georg of Osterwitz was captured in a Turkish invasion and died in 1476 in prison without leaving descendants. So after four centuries, on 30 May 1478, the possession of the castle reverted to Emperor Frederick III of Habsburg.
Over the next 30 years, the castle was badly damaged by numerous Turkish campaigns. On 5 October 1509, Emperor Maximilian I handed the castle as a pledge to Matthäus Lang von Wellenburg, then Bishop of Gurk. Bishop Lang undertook a substantial renovation project for the damaged castle.
About 1541, German king Ferdinand I of Habsburg bestowed Hochosterwitz upon the Carinthian governor Christof Khevenhüller. In 1571, Baron George Khevenhüller acquired the citadel by purchase. He fortified to deal with the threat of Turkish invasions of the region, building an armory and 14 gates between 1570 and 1586. Such massive fortification is considered unique in citadel construction.
Since the 16th century, no major changes have been made to Hochosterwitz. It has also remained in the possession of the Khevenhüller family as requested by the original builder, George Khevenhüller. A marble plaque dating from 1576 in the castle yard documents this request.
A specific feature is the access way to the castle passing through a total of 14 gates, which are particularly prominent owing to the castle's situation in the landscape. Tourists are allowed to walk the 620-metre long pathway through the gates up to the castle; each gate has a diagram of the defense mechanism used to seal that particular gate. The castle rooms hold a collection of prehistoric artifacts, paintings, weapons, and armor, including one set of armor 2.4 metres tall, once worn by Burghauptmann Schenk.