Most castles in Spain are built solid and look scary. Most of them were not built to look pretty because they have to be practical. The castles need to withstand sieges from the Moors to other kingdoms. The residents of castles are more often political hostages of the ruler though sometimes, royal families lived in them for short periods. These castles can help explain the military strength of medieval Spanish kingdoms.
Here are ten of the most formidable but beautiful castles in Spain.
Scroll down for video
10. Lorca Castle
The Lorca Castle was made to be a defensive fortress. The design worked because it was never taken by invaders. Though the castle’s exhibit today deals with how to storm a castle. Lorca was built on a former Muslim citadel. It’s a heritage center area known as Fortress of the Sun. The exhibits of the castle are spread over a large area in Murcia Province.
9. Coca Castle
This castle is built on a hillside, making its design unique. The castle has only three sides because the hillside provides natural defense against invaders attacking from the rear. Coco Castle’s architecture was influenced by the Moors although it was built by Christians in the mid-fifteenth century. The castle is one trip away from Segovia, and it is open to the public on guided tours. The exterior of the castle is virtually unchanged, but the interior was destroyed during the last century.
8. Castle of La Mota
This castle dates back to the eleventh century. Castle of La Mota is a reconstructed fortress. The kings of Castile and Aragon fought over this structure for centuries. The Castilian are currently holding the castle since the fifteenth century. The castle was built atop the Medina del Campo in Valladolid Province. To enter the castle, people in the olden times had to cross a drawbridge.
At one time, the castle was turned into a prison that held famous prisoners like Hernando Pizarro, a conqueror of Peru, and Cesare Borgia.
7. Bellver Castle
This castle is located at the island of Majorca, an island just off the coast of Spain. It is quite unique in Spain and Europe because of its circular shape. The walls and the towers of the castle and the castle itself are all circular. The castle was built in the order of King James II of Majorca during the fourteenth century. The castle is surrounded by forests and became the symbol of the city of Palma.
The castle also served as prison for political prisoners, and today, it is used to house a historical museum. Various cultural events and concerts are held in the castle grounds.
6. New Castle of Manzanares el Real
The New Castle of Manzanares el Real was built during the fifteenth century as an imposing fortress. This castle is the best preserved castle in the Madrid area. It is built from granite, and it has six floors. It is the best example of Spanish military castle.
The castle became famous because it became the presidential palace of President Mendoza, driving everyone to sometimes call the castle Castle de los Mendoza. It was also featured in the movie El Cid. Today, the castle houses a museum about Spanish castles.
5. Alcazaba of Almeria
Just like any other fortress, the Alcazaba of Almeria in southern Spain sits on a hilltop that overlooks the entire city. True to its name “alcazaba,” which is derived from an Arabic word that means “walled fortification,” the castle served as a formidable fortress. It was built by Muslims during the tenth century, but the Catholics added more structures to the castle later on.
The castle was featured in the movies Conan the Barbarian, Indiana Jones, and the Last Crusade movies.
4. Penafiel Castle
This 150-meter-long castle sits on top of a hill in Penafel town in Valladolid Province. It has a 30-meter-high keep, that’s why people say that it resembles a ship. Built during the fifteenth century, the fortress is transforms into an imposing figure when lit at night.
Today, the castle serves as a wine museum. Guided tours are conducted on one wing of the castle.
3. Olite Castle
Located at the kingdom of Navarre on the northern part of Spain, Olite Castle is also called as the Palacio Real de Olite. It was built on the first-century Roman ruins. Various monarchs added more structures to the original one over the years, using different architectural styles, eventually making the castle something of a blend of different castle styles. The Spanish government has been restoring the castle since 1937.
2. Alcázar of Segovia
The Alcazar of Segovia is different from the other Spanish castles. It was not built to be a fortress. The castle was built to be occupied by royal families such as Isabella I, who was crowned in the castle in 1474.
The castle fits the European mold of fairy-tale castles. Ite is said to be the inspiration of Cinderella Castle at Disney World. It was built on a hill that gives a beautiful view of the town. Today, the castle is a museum filled with paintings and an armory.
The Alhambra in Granada is one of the most well-known structures in Spain. Its name is Arabic that means “red castle.” The details of the castle are intricate Moor designs. The Moors built and occupied the castle for many centuries.
Because of many visitors, taking a glimpse of what’s inside the castle would require you to book your tickets in advance.
Check out the video below