Aracena Castle

Aracena, Spain

Aracena Castle was erected in the 13th century, during the Islamic period, and was itself built on the site of an ancient Moorish castle. The walled enclosure was partitioned inside, with the tower of homage, or castle keep, defending the barrier that divided its interior. The population of Aracena settled around this structure, giving rise to the current urban landscape. During the late Middle and Modern Ages, Aracena continued growing from the Cerro del Castillo (castle hill) into the valley, first as unattached land dependent on Seville and later, in the seventeenth century, as a feudal estate under the jurisdiction of the Count-Duke of Olivares. Still later, it was under the Count of Altamira, who carried the title of Prince of Aracena.

The fortress consists of the alcazaba, or citadel, with its watch tower, cistern and walls; these are flanked by other towers, as well as a fence line that, in its interior, once accommodated medieval living quarters.

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Aracena, Spain
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Details

Founded: 13th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in Spain

More Information

www.andalucia.org

Rating

4/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Tords Datorservice (2 years ago)
Good audio guide. Strukture is under renovation so it will be better in the future
Pegah (3 years ago)
The castle looks abandoned and we couldn't go in (locked doors). But the view is breathtaking from the spot and it takes a short (and pleasant) walk to make a full circle around the castle. I was fortunate to have a historian friend with me explaining the castle's past but in general there is no guide. If you can, look its history up online before visiting. It gives a whole different vibe visiting it. Pay attention to the combination of Arabic and Christian architecture in the church right next to the castle. Details are all that makes this place special to visi :)
Vitor Moreira (3 years ago)
The tour was good and if you buy the combined ticket, its worth it. Did you know that the Portuguese built the castle?
Oscar Bornico (3 years ago)
Well organized visit. The guide knows very well that fortification. Not expensive if you buy the combine tlcket with the Cabe.
Lachlan Burns (4 years ago)
Beautiful old castle on the hill overlooking Arecena. Why they have repaired the walls back to square is beyond me. It now looks very bland and has lost a lot of the romance it once had. Never the less it has spectacular views over the area and is beautifully lit at dusk There is now a charge to go inside but you can still walk right around the outside.
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Château de Foix

The Château de Foix dominates the town of Foix. An important tourist site, it is known as a centre of the Cathars. Built on an older 7th-century fortification, the castle is known from 987. In 1002, it was mentioned in the will of Roger I, Count of Carcassonne, who bequeathed the fortress to his youngest child, Bernard. In effect, the family ruling over the region were installed here which allowed them to control access to the upper Ariège valley and to keep surveillance from this strategic point over the lower land, protected behind impregnable walls.

In 1034, the castle became capital of the County of Foix and played a decisive role in medieval military history. During the two following centuries, the castle was home to Counts with shining personalities who became the soul of the Occitan resistance during the crusade against the Albigensians. The county became a privileged refuge for persecuted Cathars.

The castle, often besieged (notably by Simon de Montfort in 1211 and 1212), resisted assault and was only taken once, in 1486, thanks to treachery during the war between two branches of the Foix family.

From the 14th century, the Counts of Foix spent less and less time in the uncomfortable castle, preferring the Governors' Palace. From 1479, the Counts of Foix became Kings of Navarre and the last of them, made Henri IV of France, annexed his Pyrrenean lands to France.

As seat of the Governor of the Foix region from the 15th century, the castle continued to ensure the defence of the area, notably during the Wars of Religion. Alone of all the castles in the region, it was exempted from the destruction orders of Richelieu (1632-1638).

Until the Revolution, the fortress remained a garrison. Its life was brightened with grand receptions for its governors, including the Count of Tréville, captain of musketeers under Louis XIII and Marshal Philippe Henri de Ségur, one of Louis XVI's ministers. The Round Tower, built in the 15th century, is the most recent, the two square towers having been built before the 11th century. They served as a political and civil prison for four centuries until 1862.

Since 1930, the castle has housed the collections of the Ariège départemental museum. Sections on prehistory, Gallo-Roman and mediaeval archaeology tell the history of Ariège from ancient times. Currently, the museum is rearranging exhibits to concentrate on the history of the castle site so as to recreate the life of Foix at the time of the Counts.