Spanish castles, churches and palaces: 10 buildings worth seeing

Spain’s 30 Best Castles

For several centuries, the Spanish Empire was the leading state on the European continent. Conquests in Latin America provided Spain with precious metals and new products that quickly gained popularity in Europe. During the period of prosperity, castles and fortresses were built throughout the country. They became not only defensive points, but also the festive residences of monarchs and wealthy feudal lords.

Today Spain is one of the most popular resorts in the world. Millions of people come here every year and not just for the sunny beaches. Spanish castles attract tourists with their architectural and historical value. They combine elements of architecture borrowed from different cultures. In them the history of not only one country, but the whole Europe is depicted.

The most interesting castles and fortresses in Spain

List, photos with names and descriptions of medieval castles!

Alcázar

The first fortifications in Segovia were built during the Roman conquest, but the modern castle dates back to 1120. The Alcázar was rebuilt and restored several times. It used to be a royal residence, later a prison, an archive, and the building of the artillery academy. Nowadays Alcázar is one of the most popular castles in Spain; there is a museum with weapons, paintings and many historical exhibits.

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Butron

The castle is located near the city of Bilbao. The exact date of construction is unknown, but Butron became a full-fledged fortress in the XIV century, when all the towers and fortified walls were built. There are many legends associated with the period of internecine wars and Butron Castle. According to one of them, the owner of the fortress, distinguished by an ardent temper, stopped to hunt in the possession of the family de Mujico. And after meeting and quarreling with the landowner, he killed him. Since then, the ghost of Juan Alfonso de Mujico has appeared in the halls of the castle.

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Colomares

Construction began to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the discovery of the Americas, in 1987, in Andalusia. One of the most beautiful castles in Spain was built by a doctor of medicine and his two assistants. Colomares combines Roman, Spanish and Moorish styles, reflecting the main phases of Spanish history. Throughout the castle there are symbolic decorative elements dedicated to the expedition of Christopher Columbus.

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Alhambra

The castle was built in the east of Granada, during the Moorish conquest. From the 13th to the 15th century Granada was the capital of the Emirate of Granada, so the Alhambra was of strategic importance. After the conquest by the Christians, some of the buildings were demolished, including the ancient mosque. Many fortifications and interior halls of the castle survived to this day. They are decorated with ornaments in Moorish style and Arabic script.

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The fortress is located near the town of Coca, in Segovia. The courtyard is surrounded by double walls with rounded towers. The castle was built in the 15th century, during the reign of Enrique IV. Today the castle is home to the school of foresters. The Mudejar style in which the castle was built combines Moorish and Gothic architecture. It expresses the mixture of Muslim and Christian cultures in Spain.

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Belmonte

The royal favorite, Juan Pacheca, organized the construction of the castle in the second half of the fifteenth century. Here he sheltered for a time the Castilian princess, the future queen of Portugal, Juana Beltraneja. The first fortifications here were erected by the Romans, who exploited the gold mines nearby. By the beginning of the nineteenth century the castle had been abandoned, but was soon restored by the Empress Eugenia, who also restored many fortresses throughout Spain.

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Javier

In the X century, near the border of Aragon and Navarre, a castle was built that changed owners several times. From the 10th to the 13th century Javier was rebuilt and strengthened. One of its famous owners was Francis Xavier. In 1886, he helped stop an epidemic of plague, for which he was numbered among the saints. Today, the castle is home to a museum dedicated to him, and pilgrims come to Xavier every spring.

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Loarre

The main task of the citadel, built in the tenth century, was to defend against Muslim attack. The castle was fortified and rebuilt until the 13th century. Later it became a royal residence, and by the 19th century it was abandoned. Today the castle is a monument of history and culture, on its territory was built an ancient church in the Romanesque style. Loarre is considered one of the best preserved Roman fortresses in Europe.

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Olita

The king of Navarre, Charles the Noble, built the castle in the 15th century. No construction plan was approved, so the fortress lacks symmetry. The castle in Olite immediately became the royal residence. In 1512 Navarre was conquered by Spain, and the castle was abandoned. The restoration was carried out in the XX century, under Francisco Franco. Today, the picturesque towers and museums with paintings and decorations attract many tourists.

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Tossa de Mar

The castle is one of the last fortress cities on the European continent. Tossa de Mar was built in the XII century to repel the raids of pirates from North Africa. Inside the fortress you can still see ancient churches, the governor’s house, which houses the city’s historical museum, and the hospital. The Tossa de Mar Museum contains archaeological finds and the village is home to many cafes and restaurants.

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San Servando

The site of the present castle was the site of Roman, Visigothic and Moorish fortifications. The first of them appeared here in VII century. The fortress was turned into a monastery in the 11th century, but soon afterwards, because of the numerous incursions of the Muslims, it lost its religious purpose. In the 19th century the castle was in danger of being destroyed. It later became Spain’s first historical and artistic national monument.

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Manzanares el Real

The lands near Madrid were given by Juan I to Pedro Gonzalez de Mendoza, for his help in the battle of Aljubarrot, in the 14th century. The first castle here was built at the end of the fourteenth century, but has not survived to this day. In the 15th and 16th centuries the new fortress was expanded and completed. Today, many tapestries and medieval armor are stored there, and cultural events and concerts are held.

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Lorca

One of the largest castles in southeastern Spain was built in the IX century. Until the middle of the XIII century belonged to the Muslims, but after it was captured and became a stronghold of the Christians during the Reconquista. The castle has survived to this day in good condition but was damaged by an earthquake in 2011. There are medieval plays and staging in the castle.

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La Mota

The modern castle was built in the fifteenth century, but the Muslim fortifications on the site date back to the twelfth century. After the Reconquista there was a prison here. The architectural style of the castle combines Gothic, Renaissance and Mudejar. Nowadays the castle is very popular among tourists. There are concerts, festivals, and night tours of the walls and halls of the castle.

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Belver

The King of Mallorca, Jaime II built a Gothic castle with internal walls of a perfect round shape in the early 14th century. Belver is a copy of the ancient fortress of Herodium in Israel. Today there is a museum of history, which has many exhibits, including a collection of sculptures. Music festivals are also held annually in the halls of the castle.

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Peñafiel

The first written mention of the castle dates back to the 10th century. It was actively used in the Spanish internecine wars and was destroyed in the 15th century. Later it was obtained by the Teles-Hirons family, who owned it for several centuries and restored the castle. Nowadays there is a historical museum and a museum of Spanish wines.

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Almodóvar

The oldest fortifications were built here in the 8th century. The castle was of strategic importance close to an important trade route. In the 14th century the castle was reconstructed and in the 16th century it was sold into private hands. The castle has three levels, including dungeons. There is a royal dressing room, an armory, and many other rooms with museum exhibits.

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Alhaferia

The modern Moorish castle was built in the 11th century, near Zaragoza. One of the few Muslim castles, it has survived to this day in excellent condition. It is largely due to the fact that the Muslim ruler of Zaragoza abdicated, recognizing himself as a subject of the kingdom of Aragon and siding with the Christians during the Reconquista.

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Villena de Atalaya

The fortress was erected in the twelfth century, during the Muslim conquest. The King of Aragon, Jaime I, besieged and stormed the castle several times, but failed to capture it. In the 17th century the fortress was badly damaged and was in a derelict condition. In the XX century, restoration works were carried out, and the castle was a historical museum.

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Almansa

The castle was built by the Muslim dynasty of Almohad in the 12th century on the “Hill of the Eagle”. Later, during the Reconquista, it was seized by Jaime I and in the 13th century it was given to the Order of the Knights Templar. In the 16th century it was abandoned and destroyed, and since the 20th century restoration work has been going on. The castle walls, interior rooms and the citadel have been preserved.

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Ponferrada Castle

In 1178 the Templar Order began building a castle near the town of Ponferrada, in northern Spain. Its main task was to protect pilgrims going to Santiago de Compostela. The castle has survived to this day in good condition thanks to several restorations. There is a Templar library that holds thousands of books, including those written by Leonardo da Vinci.

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Morella Fortress

The fortress of the same name in the town of Morella was built by the Moors in the X-XI centuries, on the foundations of the ancient fortifications of the Romans. It is located on a mountain at an altitude of more than a thousand meters above sea level. In our time, there is a village within the fortress. All rings of fortress walls, towers and donjon are preserved. Few tourists come here, so the streets of the town are almost always quiet, and from the top of the mountain offers scenic views of the valley.

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Cuellar

The medieval castle belonged to the Cuellar family throughout its history and was considered one of the richest in all of Spain. After the eighteenth century it was no longer used as a fortress but as a residence. There was a lot of jewelry and paintings, as well as a famous collection of weapons. But in the XIX century the castle was looted. At present Cuellar is privately owned, but some rooms, including the history museum, are open to tourists.

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Monteagudo

The castle was built by Muslims, presumably in the 10th to 11th centuries, and the first written mention of it dates back to 1078. During the late Reconquista, Monteagudo became a border fortress between the kingdoms of Murcia and Aragon. Today, the fortress is being restored and excavations are being carried out, where many ancient artefacts have been discovered. At the top of the castle is a 14-meter statue of Jesus Christ.

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Alarcon

The fortress is located in the province of Cuenca, on a mountain next to the river Júcar. During the Middle Ages it was an important strategic point to control the surrounding areas. Several rings of fortress walls and the donjon in which the hotel is located have survived. It keeps collections of armor and weapons and hosts costume feasts.

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Santa Barbara Fortress

The castle was built in the IX century, but archaeological artefacts from the Roman and Iberian conquest periods have been found on its territory. It is located on the Mediterranean coast, in the town of Alicante and is open year round for tourists. There are many museums with ancient pottery and weapons collections. Several bastions, a donjon and the ruins of a church have been preserved.

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Santa Catalina

The castle was built in 1931 in the style of 16th century fortresses, on the site of a medieval chapel. During World War II, a network of fortifications and bunkers was built around the tower, which survives to this day. From 1933, Santa Catalina was open to the public, but did not become one of the popular symbols of the city of Tarifa until the end of the twentieth century.

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Gusman el Bueno

The first fortifications on the site of the modern castle in the city of Tarifa were erected at the end of the tenth century. The fortress throughout its history played an important strategic role as a barrier on the way from Africa to Europe. In the XII-XIII centuries it protected the city from the North African pirates. The castle is fully preserved, with a donjon and a chapel behind its walls and a medieval catapult on one of its towers.

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Papa Moon

Fortifications in the town of Peñíscola were built during the Arab conquest, but the modern fortress was built by the Knights Templar in the XIII-XIV centuries. The fortress is well preserved to this day, including a system of secret underground passages. At the time of the church schism, it hid here Benedict XIII, who headed part of the Catholic Church and was nicknamed in Spain “Papa Luna. It was by his nickname that the fortress was named.

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Montearagon

The castle was built and fortified at the end of the XI century, near the village of Quisena, to support the siege of the city of Huesca. Later, Montearagon became a monastery, but retained its defensive functions. At the end of the nineteenth century, a gunpowder warehouse was housed here which soon exploded, destroying the castle. No restoration was carried out, so Montearagon has reached our days in ruins.

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