The castle of Montealegre, built in the 12th century, was mentioned for the first time in 1173, when Rodrígo Gutiérrez was appointed lord of Montealegre; together with the castles of Ampudia, Belmonte, Torremormojón, Medina de Rioseco, Mucientes and Trigueros, it formed the defence line of the southern border of the Kingdom of León. The castle was revamped in 1297 by Alfonso Tello Pérez de Meneses, appointed lord of Montealegre by King Alfonso VIII.
In the 13th century, the domain was transferred to the Order of Saint James, which granted a charter to the village in 1219. Further owners of Montealegre were the Albuquerque (14th century), who defended the castle against King of Castile Peter the Cruel in 1354, and the Manuel (15th-17th centuries). The Manuel family maintained in the town one of the most significant Jewish communities in the province. In 1626, Montealegre became a Marquisate, granted by King Philip IV to Martín de Rojas y Guzmán.
The present castle, with its austere and strong appearance, has a slightly trapezial groundplan, with four strong towers at its corners. Three of them are rectangular and the fourth is pentagonal and served as the keep. In the middle of its curtain walls it is fitted with slender circular towers. The height of its walls range from 18 to 24 meters with a thickness of 4 meters. With its functional and horizontal impression it represents an adoption of a Mediterranean-Arab castle, a style known in Europe from the 13th century.References:
Craigmillar is one of Scotland’s most perfectly preserved castles. It began as a simple tower-house residence. Gradually, over time, it developed into a complex of structures and spaces, as subsequent owners attempted to improve its comfort and amenity. As a result, there are many nooks and crannies to explore.
The surrounding gardens and parkland were also important. The present-day Craigmillar Castle Park has fascinating reminders of the castle’s days as a rural retreat on the edge of Scotland’s capital city.
At the core lies the original, late-14th-century tower house, among the first of this form of castle built in Scotland. It stands 17m high to the battlements, has walls almost 3m thick, and holds a warren of rooms, including a fine great hall on the first floor.
‘Queen Mary’s Room’, also on the first floor, is where Mary is said to have slept when staying at Craigmillar. However, it is more likely she occupied a multi-roomed apartment elsewhere in the courtyard, probably in the east range.
Sir Simon Preston was a loyal supporter of Queen Mary, whom she appointed as Provost of Edinburgh. In this capacity, he was her host for her first night as a prisoner, at his townhouse in the High Street, on 15 June 1567. She was taken to Lochleven Castle the following day.
The west range was rebuilt after 1660 as a family residence for the Gilmour family.
The 15th-century courtyard wall is well preserved, complete with gunholes shaped like inverted keyholes. Ancillary buildings lie within it, including a private family chapel.