Almodóvar del Río Castle

Almodóvar del Río, Spain

The town of Almodovar del Rio played an extremely important role in the Middle Ages owing to its strategic location on a hill around 252 metres high next to the Guadalquivir river, which at that time was navigable for small vessels. The traces of multiple cultures, amongst which are Islam and Christianity, can be evidenced in the architectural style of this unique building. In the year 756, this fortress became the estate of the Moorish Prince Al’delMalik Ben Qatan and from 758 onwards it passed into the hands of the Emirate of Cordoba in the reign of Abderraman I.

During the 10th century it was tied entirely to the Caliphate of Cordoba, going on to belong in the 10th and 12th centuries to the Taifa of Carmona, subsequently to the Taifa of Sevilla and finally to the Almohad Empire.

The Moorish King Abed Mohammed de Baeza would later die at the gates of the Castle during the 13th century in 1226, the year in which the fort fell into Christian hands having been handed over to Fernando III ‘The Saint’. Henceforth, the castle would go on to be subjected to successive extensions initiated by the Castilian Kings D. Pedro I of Castile and Enrique II of Trastamara. Meanwhile, Alfonso XI ‘The Just’ and Pedro I ‘The Cruel’ would also end up getting involved in these extensions.

The castle has played host to myriad events over the course of its history. Figures such as Doña Juana de Lara (wife of Prince Don Tello, stepbrother of King Pedro I) have been imprisoned within its walls, it has housed the treasures of Castile and its dungeons have been impenetrable witnesses to the agony of illustrious prisoners such as the 1st Duke of Benavente. Amongst other to have figured in its history are governors Don Alfonso Diaz de Vargas, Diego Fernandez de Cordova and Gonzalo Fernandez de Cordova.

Al-Mudawar Al-Adna went on to be called Almodovar del Rio, in reference to the municipality in the province of Cordoba which is home to one of the most magnificent and best kept castles in Spain.

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Founded: 8th century AD
Category: Castles and fortifications in Spain

Rating

4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

G. Silviu (2 years ago)
Very nice Castle, you can take also a guided tour, definitely recommend it
Wanxin Xu (2 years ago)
It's very nice but on Agoda it said there was private parking but there wasn't. Turns out it needed reservation. Otherwise, its good
Andrew Catmur (2 years ago)
Absolutely fabulous place. Great for children and adults. We were there late afternoon and the light was fantastic. A dream castle with a fascinating history.
Richard Froggatt (2 years ago)
Very enjoyable couple of hours. It helps, of course, if you have an interest in history and castles but this is a well preserved (partly rebuilt) example and the additions of armaments displays and other information enhance the experience. Almost worth the admission fee (9 euros/adult) just for the views!
KELLY HENDRIX (2 years ago)
It was a fun place to spend an hour on our drive to Seville. I was watching season 7 of game of thrones on the plane home and saw quite a few of the places in the castle we had just visited. Fun! A lot of the people walking through the castle were GOT fans. The restoration was incredible. They've obviously put a lot of time, money, and effort into restoring this castle.
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Pembroke Castle

Pembroke Castle is a Norman castle, founded in 1093. It survived many changes of ownership and is now the largest privately owned castle in Wales. It was the birthplace of Henry Tudor (later Henry VII of England) in 1457.

Pembroke Castle stands on a site that has been occupied at least since the Roman period. Roger de Montgomerie, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury founded the first castle here in the 11th century. Although only made from earth and wood, Pembroke Castle resisted several Welsh attacks and sieges over the next 30 years. The castle was established at the heart of the Norman-controlled lands of southwest Wales.

When William Rufus died, Arnulf de Montgomery joined his elder brother, Robert of Bellême, in rebellion against Henry I, William's brother and successor as king; when the rebellion failed, he was forced to forfeit all his British lands and titles. Henry appointed his castellan, but when the chosen ally turned out to be incompetent, the King reappointed Gerald in 1102. By 1138 King Stephen had given Pembroke Castle to Gilbert de Clare who used it as an important base in the Norman invasion of Ireland.

In August 1189 Richard I arranged the marriage of Isabel, de Clare's granddaughter, to William Marshal who received both the castle and the title, Earl of Pembroke. He had the castle rebuilt in stone and established the great keep at the same time. Marshal was succeeded in turn by each of his five sons. His third son, Gilbert Marshal, was responsible for enlarging and further strengthening the castle between 1234 and 1241.

Later de Valence family held Pembroke for 70 years. During this time, the town was fortified with defensive walls, three main gates and a postern. Pembroke Castle became de Valence's military base for fighting the Welsh princes during the conquest of North Wales by Edward I between 1277 and 1295.

Pembroke Castle then reverted to the crown. In the 15th and 16th centuries, the castle was a place of peace until the outbreak of the English Civil War. Although most of South Wales sided with the King, Pembroke declared for Parliament. It was besieged by Royalist troops but was saved after Parliamentary reinforcements arrived by sea from nearby Milford Haven. Parliamentary forces then went on to capture the Royalist castles of Tenby, Haverfordwest and Carew.

In 1648, at the beginning of the Second Civil War, Pembroke's commander Colonel John Poyer led a Royalist uprising. Oliver Cromwell came to Pembroke on 24 May 1648 and took the castle after a seven-week siege. Its three leaders were found guilty of treason and Cromwell ordered the castle to be destroyed. Townspeople were even encouraged to disassemble the fortress and re-use its stone for their purposes.

The castle was then abandoned and allowed to decay. It remained in ruins until 1880, when a three-year restoration project was undertaken. Nothing further was done until 1928, when Major-General Sir Ivor Philipps acquired the castle and began an extensive restoration of the castle's walls, gatehouses, and towers. After his death, a trust was set up for the castle, jointly managed by the Philipps family and Pembroke town council.

Architecture

The castle is sited on a strategic rocky promontory by the Milford Haven Waterway. The first fortification on the site was a Norman motte-and-bailey. It had earthen ramparts and a timber palisade.

In 1189, Pembroke Castle was acquired by William Marshal. He soon became Lord Marshal of England, and set about turning the earth and wood fort into an impressive Norman stone castle. The inner ward, which was constructed first, contains the huge round keep with its domed roof. Its original first-floor entrance was through an external stairwell. Inside, a spiral staircase connected its four stories. The keep's domed roof also has several putlog holes that supported a wooden fighting-platform. If the castle was attacked, the hoarding allowed defenders to go out beyond the keep's massive walls above the heads of the attackers.

The inner ward's curtain wall had a large horseshoe-shaped gateway. But only a thin wall was required along the promontory. This section of the wall has a small observation turret and a square stone platform. Domestic buildings including William Marshal's Great Hall and private apartments were within the inner ward. The 13th century keep is 23 metres tall with walls up to 6 metres thick at its base.

In the late 13th century, additional buildings were added to the inner ward, including a new Great Hall. A 55-step spiral staircase was also created that led down to a large limestone cave, known as Wogan Cavern, beneath the castle. The cave, which was created by natural water erosion, was fortified with a wall, a barred gateway and arrowslits. It may have served as a boathouse or a sallyport to the river where cargo or people could have been transferred.

The outer ward was defended by a large twin-towered gatehouse, a barbican and several round towers. The outer wall is 5 metres thick in places and constructed from Siltstone ashlar.

Although Pembroke Castle is a Norman-style enclosure castle with great keep, it can be more accurately described as a linear fortification because, like the later 13th-century castles at Caernarfon and Conwy, it was built on a rocky promontory surrounded by water. This meant that attacking forces could only assault on a narrow front. Architecturally, Pembroke's thickest walls and towers are all concentrated on its landward side facing the town, with Pembroke River providing a natural defense around the rest of its perimeter.