Seven walled cities in Spain you need to discover

Spain as a whole is a land of castles, strongholds and walls. With this article we will discover some of the most wonderful examples of the unknown walls of Spain, which are within our rich heritage. Unknown walls of Spain are found throughout the peninsula and have unique characteristics that reflect the different styles of the historical periods.

The Wall of Niebla, Huelva

Wall of Niebla or Guzmán | Shutterstock

Niebla sits on the remains of a Roman colony, but it was between the 11th and 13th centuries when its wall and castle were built. The wall is two kilometres long and has a perimeter of 16 hectares, with an irregular route that adapts to the terrain on which it is built. The wall has 48 defensive towers and five access gates in a clear Almohad style. It has suffered damage throughout its history, although its greatest destruction took place during the War of Independence against the French.

Throughout the 20th century several restorations were carried out which today present a true image of its original medieval style. The city of Niebla in the province of Huelva (Andalusia) was of great importance during the Muslim Caliphate and the subsequent Taifa kingdoms, Niebla being the capital of the Taifa that bore the same name.

The Wall of Tossa de Mar, Girona

Cove of Tossa de Mar crowned by the walled complex of Vila Vella | Shutterstock

Tossa de Mar in the province of Girona is the site of the Vila Vella walled complex, the last vestige of this type of building on the entire Costa Brava. Built on an elevation at the foot of the sea between the 12th and 13th centuries, it retains almost all of its original perimeter. This wall has undergone intense remodelling, which was carried out between the 14th and 18th centuries with the aim of defending against piracy. The wall has four watchtowers and three towers with a cylindrical base, the most famous of which is the Torre d’en Jonàs, which overlooks the bay. The voussoired gateway is worth noting, which gives access through the parade ground to the walled area of Vila Vella.

At the highest point of the hill there was a small rectangular-shaped castle, which was destroyed to raise the Tossa lighthouse. In ancient times the Villa Vella enclosure housed up to 80 homes, many of which used the wall itself as a wall. Today, visitors can walk through the narrow streets paved with pebbles and part of the wall that offers splendid views of the cove.

Las Murallas Reales, Ceuta

Murallas Reales and seawater moat in Ceuta | Shutterstock

One of the unknown walls of Spain is located in the autonomous city of Ceuta. The walls of Ceuta began to be built by order of the Caliph Abd al-Rahman III of Córdoba in 957 AD and were completed by his son, Al-Hakam II. Due to their strategic position on an isthmus that overlooks the Amina peninsula, the walls were reinforced and extended by the Portuguese after their conquest in 1415. Portuguese erected the two curtains of the Royal Wall and its bastions, the navigable moat and the drawbridge that gives access to the enclosure to this day.

Murallas Reales are a unique architectural ensemble in the Renaissance style, with bastions, crenellated walls, bastions and a parade ground among its structures. The saltwater moat surrounding the wall is 300 metres long and is the only navigable moat in Spain. There are currently two drawbridges, the Puente de Cristo at the northern mouth of the moat and the Puente de la Virgen de África at the southern mouth. When these bridges are raised, the fortification is completely isolated from the rest of the continent.

The Wall of Urueña, Valladolid

Walls of Urueña | Shutterstock

As if it were a small medieval town, Urueña is a village in Valladolid that today lives surrounded by a great wall. Inside, one of the best preserved urban centres in the province, which earned the town the distinction of Historic-Artistic Site. The wall was built in the 12th and 13th centuries and has two gates. The main one is the so-called “Puerta del Azogue”, located in the north. It was built in “elbow” as a defense against possible invaders. The other is called the arch of the town and is located in the south. At present, 80% of this walled enclosure, which hides a surface of seven hectares, is preserved. This wall is all crenellated and is crossed by a path of adarve.

The double wall of Ciudad Rodrigo, Salamanca

Castle and walls of Ciudad Rodrigo | Shutterstock

Another of Spain’s unknown walls is the double wall of Ciudad Rodrigo in the province of Salamanca in León. Commissioned by King Ferdinand II of León in the 12th century with the aim of defending the square, the wall was designed by the Galician master Juan de Cabrera with a height of up to eight and a half metres. In the 15th century a second wall was erected with the aim of defending the city from the attacks of the Portuguese army, which was reinforced by a moat and a countermount.

The wall was reinforced by a moat and a counterweight. Its walls were crenellated with lime and stones and it reached a height of 13 and a half metres, with a thickness of two and a half metres that can still be seen in some parts of the wall. It is more than two kilometres long and can be comfortably walked by visitors, offering a view of the city’s most important historical monuments. The wall is crowned by five square towers and preserves seven of its eight access gates to the city.

The Wall of Galisteo, Cáceres

Galisteo pebble wall in Cáceres | Shutterstock

On the Vía de la Plata in Extremadura, in a small town 80 kilometres from Cáceres and 20 from Plasencia, you can find one of Spain’s marvellous unknown walls. Galisteo is located on a hill, presiding over part of the Jerte Valley, and therefore being an appropriate location for a defensive building since Roman times. The defensive complex of Galisteo is composed of a medieval castle and a wall, which began to be built in the 12th century in an Almohad style and which is splendidly preserved

The walls are built with pebbles and attached with mortar. Pebbles are not a commonly used material for this type of building, but very convenient in this case as they were extracted from the nearby river Jerte. Its irregular layout adapts to the terrain with a total perimeter of 1200 metres. It does not have attached towers; but its defense was based on the battlements finished in a pyramidal shape. It has four entrances to the interior of the city; Puerta de Santa María, Puerta del Rey, Puerta de la Villa and Puerta de Palacio.

The Wall of Alzira, Valencia

Portion of the Almohad wall of Alzira | Shutterstock

The walls of Alzira (Alcira) is one of the monuments to see in the autonomous community of Valencia. It is located 45 kilometers from Valencia capital, 35 kilometers from Gandia and 22 from Xativa. The Alzira wall has its origins in the ninth century, although the set that remains today is mostly from the twelfth century. It has an Almohad style built in a traditional style of limestone masonry. Alzira had an important strategic value as it was on the banks of the river Júcar, and it was witness to battles led by King Jaume I, El Cid Campeador and Alfonso el Batallador.

The wall of Alzira only conserves some fragments, since part of its complex was gradually demolished in the 19th and 20th centuries to make the expansion of the city possible. Today there are several outstanding sections to visit, such as Calle Saludador, which still has eight towers between seven and ten metres high, the old market square, with three restored towers, and the Arrabal Bridge, where two towers stand embedded in houses.

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