Vélez-Málaga Castle

Vélez-Málaga, Spain

Velez-Malaga’s Alcazaba, or ‘Fortaleza’ as it’s more commonly known, was built in the 10th century. Originally, it was intended not to defend but to subdue the local population, who had traditionally caused a lot of problems for the Moorish rulers. Built on the tallest hill in the immediate area, it was the perfect site from a military point of view, affording long distance views of oncoming enemies and an easily defendable geographical location. 

Over the next 500 years, Velez’s fort remained largely the same. At the beginning of the 14th century, the Nasrid kingdom of Granada grew in prominence and solidified Moorish control over the Iberian Peninsula.

Reconquista

The function of the Fortaleza changed dramatically at this time as it became one of the most important strongholds in the Nasrid Kingdom. The outer walls of the Alcazaba sheltered and protected the local population and the buildings inside the inner walls provided a great level of fortification in the event of attacks on the area.

Christian King Fernando eventually conquered the fort of Velez-Malaga in 1487. Muslims and Jews were expelled from the area and fled to Northern Africa, or were forced to convert to Catholicism.

Later history

During the 16th century the competition between European nations was reflected in a shift in function for the Velez fort. Dutch, British, Spanish and Moorish pirates and privateers on the Mediterranean took advantage of the now poorly defended villages and settlements to raid for slaves.

Velez became one of a system of forts along the coast. From its position on the highest point of the area, the fort would provide advanced warning to residents of approaching raiders or oncoming enemy armies and then shelter residents until the danger had passed.

At the end of the 19th century, the need for forts had diminished so drastically that the hilltop on which the Fortaleza sits was assigned for use as a quarry. The buildings fell into disrepair and were closed to the public.

Today

The main keep and south-facing castle wall are the only parts of the original site that have been fully restored. You can also see remains of many buildings around the site. All of these buildings are from the last time that improvements were made to the Alcazaba, with the 18th-century occupants installing the latest in military equipment at the time.

Remains of a fortified stable building can be seen around the courtyard within the inner castle walls. The courtyard was built in line with best military practices of the time and was used to store weapons for local troops. The semicircular wall to the south, facing the sea, originally housed six battery guns that would have been a first defense against attackers coming from the ocean. Around all of the inner castle walls there was originally a moat, although traces of this are hard to find.

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Details

Founded: 10th century AD
Category: Castles and fortifications in Spain

More Information

mivelezmalaga.com

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4.3/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Danielle van Dam (6 months ago)
Very beautiful. The old town of Velez Malaga is worth a visit.
Mark Lockstone (11 months ago)
Been before (cycled last year ftom Nerja). Walked there this year from torre del mar with Mrs L. Dissapointed that the tower was all locked up - really wanted Mrs L to get the fantastic view.
Kristbjörg Erla Hreinsdóttir (2 years ago)
As you walk up the tower you can visit rooms with historic signs. The view from the top is fantastic. I just wish there was more water for the trees in the surroundings.
n henera (2 years ago)
The Fortaleza is built in the highest hill in the area. From the top, the coastal and the city view is amazing. Great to visit the area once you are in the Axarquia region.
Emily Shea (4 years ago)
Beautiful, quiet piece of medieval history that never seems to be crowded. You can park and meander down the streets of Old Town Velez-Malaga from this location--but it would be a steep walk. Amazing views from the fortress. Lovely gardens along it as well.
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