The eleven oldest and best preserved castles in Spain

Travel

Caesar Justel

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It is difficult to say which are the oldest castles in Spain, since almost all of them were watchtowers before, in many cases Roman. It was the Arabs who, to defend their borders, built the first ones, back in the 8th, 9th and 10th centuries, which later, after the Reconquest, were enlarged by the Christians. These are the eleven oldest and best preserved.

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  1. Almodovar del Rio, Cordoba

    Castle of Almodovar del Rio – valerio merino

    8th century. National Monument. It was built on an Iberian site, then a Roman fortification and -in 740- the Umayyads built a castle: Al-Mudawar. where it derived its current name. In the 12th century it passed to the power of the Almohads and in 1240 to Castile. It was the subject of several restorations in later centuries. There are guided or free tours. And also a specific one focused on Game of Thrones. The castle gave birth to two different kingdoms: the dungeons were part of the Kingdom of Casterly Rock, and the fortress in its entirety was the Kingdom of House Tyrell, Highgarden.

  2. Alquezar, Huesca

    The town of Alquézar, under the shadow of the castle
    The town of Alquézar, under the shadow of the castle – Alquezar Tourism

    Early 9th century. Historical monument. Erected by the Muslim leader Jalaf-Ibn-Asad in a border area with the territories of Christianity. It was conquered in 1067 by Sancho Ramírez, who made it a religious-military complex. It is a spectacular fortress converted into a collegiate church that preserves much of the Romanesque period, highlighting the enormous quadrangular tower and the church.

  3. Frias, Burgos

    cold from the castle
    cold from the castle

    9th century. Historical monument. The first dates date back to the year 867. It is one of the most impressive rock castles in Castile. Its importance was accentuated in 1201 with Alfonso VIII, who reformed it. The interior is accessed by a wooden drawbridge over a moat excavated in the rock and a small door with a pointed arch, designed for an effective defense that has battlements and embrasures. Its Torre del Homenaje stands out, which is independent of the fortress.

  4. Zorita of the Dogs, Guadalajara

    Citadel of Zorita
    Zorita Citadel – Romanoski / CC

    9th century. Historical monument. Built by Mohamed I in 853 (from that time is the horseshoe arch). It was ceded to Alfonso VI by an alliance and in 1174 Alfonso VIII donated it to the Order of Calatrava, who built a Romanesque church inside in the 13th century.

  5. Encina Baths, Jaen

    View of Burgalimar castle in Baños de la Encina
    View of Burgalimar castle in Baños de la Encina – Jose Manuel Pedrosa

    X century. National Monument. The foundation stone indicates that it was raised by Alhakam II -968-. He named it Burch al-Hamma (Tower of the Baths), which ended up in Burgalimar. Today only the exterior remains while the interior once served as a dance floor. It passed several times from Arab hands to Christian ones until in 1225 Castile definitively took control of it. The Torre del Homenaje, known as Almena Gorda, was reformed at the beginning of the 15th century. It conserves fifteen towers, ten meters high.

  6. Tarifa, Cadiz

    Castle of Tarifa
    Castle of Tarifa – Martin Haisch // CC

    X century. Monument of Cultural Interest. It is from the Caliphate period -Abderrahman III, in 930- on Roman defenses. Known as the Castle of Guzmán el Bueno due to the fictitious story that, in 1294, he threw a dagger from the albarrana tower (which is still preserved) so that the besiegers would kill his son (Guzmán was sometimes a friend of the sultan Yusuf and other of Alfonso X). According to that legend, he would have been willing to sacrifice his son’s life rather than surrender. Restored in the XVII to defend against pirate attacks. Thirteen towers are preserved. There are visits all year round, from Wednesday to Sunday, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.

  7. The Vacar, Cordoba

    Castle of El Vacar
    El Vacar Castle – Raphael Carmona

    X century. Monument of Cultural Interest. Next to the town from which it takes its name (30 km from Córdoba). From the same period as the one in Tarifa. Raised by Alhakén II and conquered in the XIII by Fernando III el Santo. Only the exterior remains, with eight towers. Its name was Castillo de Manoyerro, but it was changed to the current one, probably because cattle ended up being kept inside.

  8. Gormaz, Soria

    Gormaz Castle
    Gormaz Castle

    X century. National Monument. Built by Alhaken II in 965, it was considered the largest fortress in Europe at that time and was the most important Muslim enclave in the struggle with the Christian kingdoms of the north. It changed hands several times, including Almanzor (a tower still bears its name). In the middle of the 11th century it was definitively taken by Fernando I de León. El Cid was Lord of Gormaz in 1087. His appearance is still impressive.

  9. Penafiel, Valladolid

    Penafiel Castle
    Penafiel Castle

    X century. National Monument. In 983 Almanzor conquered it. Count Sancho García reconquered it in 1013, changing its name from Peña Falcón to Peñafiel: “It will be the most faithful rock in Castile.” In the shape of a boat where the Torre del Homenaje stands out, the outer wall is from the XI. Inside it is today the Provincial Wine Museum.

  10. Monterrey, Ourense

    Monterey Castle
    Monterey Castle – Ramon Piñeiro // C

    X century. National Monument. Located in the parish of Santa María de Monterrei in the municipality of Monterrey. It was remodeled in the 12th century, changing hands several times. It is considered the largest Galician acropolis and is made up of three walled enclosures. The church is Romanesque from the XIII. Most of what survives today is from the 14th century.

  11. Almeria

    Citadel of Almeria
    Citadel of Almeria – Calapito // CC

    X century. Historical Monument. The citadel -which was always a military fortress- was built by Abderramán III in 955 on the remains of a previous castle. Later Almanzor widened it. Two parts are Arab and the third Christian. It has three enclosures and several towers, among which the tribute tower stands out.

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