Although there are many medieval castles in Spain, many have curiosities and peculiarities that make them stand out. Their location, their architecture or their rooms and passages where secrets of the past are hidden are just some of the most impressive features.
In Fascinating Spain we love castles. Some have been taken to the big screen and others seem to have been taken from a children’s tale. We have also shown you the 6 romanesque castles in Castile and León, as well as other more unknown ones in Albacete and Zaragoza.
In this compilation, we focus on the medieval castles with the most unique features, either because of their spectacular location or because of their peculiar history.
San José Castle or Castell de Guadalest (Alicante)
Guadalest is a small medieval village of just over 200 inhabitants known to be one of the most beautiful in Spain. Here you can also find one of the most curious medieval castles, the San José Castle, located at the top of the town. Although only the remains of the castle have been preserved, it is a must see.
Thus, it is located on a rock at the top of the village. At its feet you can visit the old town. You have to access the village through a tunnel carved in the rock of the mountain on which the castle is located.
The origin of San José Castle dates back to the 11th century. However, the remains that are preserved today are from the 12th century. It is divided into two parts, one was used for the defence of the town and the other as a local cemetery. As a peculiarity, this fortress houses the entire town, which was part of the castle that is surrounded by mountains. It was declared a Historic-Artistic Monument.
Castell de Xàtiva (Valencia)
The impressive Castle of Xàtiva is a double fortress located in the Sierra del Castell, above Xàtiva. On the one hand, the smaller castle is formed, located on the left is the oldest part. On the other hand, it is the larger castle, located on the right and better preserved. Due to its strategic location, the whole was witness to and the scene of a long list of conflicts.
Xàtiva Castle is one of the city’s treasures, from which the impressive walls descend, forming a majestic architecture. Although its roots are Iberian and Roman, the vast majority of the towers and walls are of Gothic or Islamic origin. The tour of the complex can last a morning or an entire afternoon. A walk in which you can observe the architecture and the beautiful views of the surroundings, the canyons, the dungeons in which distinguished prisoners were held captive, the watchtowers, the tomb of the Count of Urgel…
Almodóvar del Río Castle (Córdoba)
Also called La Floresta Castle, Almodóvar del Río Castle is located in the town of the same name. It is located at the top of the mountain “El Redondo”, so it can be seen from a distance. A trip to the Middle Ages in which you can see its imposing towers, its parade ground, its hexagonal chapel and its battlements, among other things. It is one of the best preserved medieval castles in Spain. It can also be visited freely or during the guided, dramatised or night-time visits that they organise.
Butrón Castle is undoubtedly one of the most striking medieval castles at first sight. Although it was remodelled in the 19th century, its origin is medieval. It has a rich decoration full of towers, turrets and battlements with a certain fantastic touch reminiscent of Bavarian castles. As if this were not enough, Butrón Castle in Bizkaia is located in the epicentre of a privileged natural environment.
Its high walls of more than 4 meters hide an interior that reminds us of its days of splendor. It has a hall of two hundred square meters, a courtyard, a library and even a dungeon. It is currently closed and for sale.
Declared a National Monument, Coca Castle in Segovia is one of the most representative examples of Gothic-Mudejar architecture in Spain. Around the castle there is a deep moat that gives even more grandeur to the complex. Located near the Voltoya River, it was built in 1473 as a stately residence. It is also characteristic for being one of the few castles in Spain that does not stand on a hill.
Bellver Castle (Palma de Mallorca)
Bellver Castle, in Palma de Mallorca, is one of the medieval castles, perhaps less well known to the public. However, it is no less impressive. In the Gothic style, it was built in the 14th century by order of King Jaume II of Mallorca. At 112 metres above sea level and surrounded by woods, it stands out as an infrastructure that rises up high among the trees.
It is one of the few existing castles of circular floor plan in Europe, and of them it is the oldest. Moreover, just for its views, the visit is worthwhile, because from the castle you can see the whole city, the port, as well as the Tramuntana mountain range and the Pla de Mallorca.
Templar Castle (Ponferrada)
Whether you are in the town doing the Way to Santiago or going on a sightseeing tour, it is one of the most striking medieval castles. The Ponferrada Castle or Templar Castle was one of the largest fortresses in northwestern Spain in the Middle Ages; with more than eight thousand square metres of surface area. In this fortified enclosure, a multitude of legends and mysteries surround the Order of the Temple and its later tenants.
The Order of the Temple received the donation of Ponferrada by Alfonso IX in 1211. Although the castle belongs to several periods, it is attributed to the Knights Templar as it was a complex military work which they were in charge of enlarging and improving.