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.
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.
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.
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.References:
Angelokastro is a Byzantine castle on the island of Corfu. It is located at the top of the highest peak of the island"s shoreline in the northwest coast near Palaiokastritsa and built on particularly precipitous and rocky terrain. It stands 305 m on a steep cliff above the sea and surveys the City of Corfu and the mountains of mainland Greece to the southeast and a wide area of Corfu toward the northeast and northwest.
Angelokastro is one of the most important fortified complexes of Corfu. It was an acropolis which surveyed the region all the way to the southern Adriatic and presented a formidable strategic vantage point to the occupant of the castle.
Angelokastro formed a defensive triangle with the castles of Gardiki and Kassiopi, which covered Corfu"s defences to the south, northwest and northeast.
The castle never fell, despite frequent sieges and attempts at conquering it through the centuries, and played a decisive role in defending the island against pirate incursions and during three sieges of Corfu by the Ottomans, significantly contributing to their defeat.
During invasions it helped shelter the local peasant population. The villagers also fought against the invaders playing an active role in the defence of the castle.
The exact period of the building of the castle is not known, but it has often been attributed to the reigns of Michael I Komnenos and his son Michael II Komnenos. The first documentary evidence for the fortress dates to 1272, when Giordano di San Felice took possession of it for Charles of Anjou, who had seized Corfu from Manfred, King of Sicily in 1267.
From 1387 to the end of the 16th century, Angelokastro was the official capital of Corfu and the seat of the Provveditore Generale del Levante, governor of the Ionian islands and commander of the Venetian fleet, which was stationed in Corfu.
The governor of the castle (the castellan) was normally appointed by the City council of Corfu and was chosen amongst the noblemen of the island.
Angelokastro is considered one of the most imposing architectural remains in the Ionian Islands.