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The first castle we ever saw was Alcazar Castle, on a vacation to Madrid, Spain. At the time some of the adults weren't too interested in's. seeing a castle. Just this one castle changed that mindset in a dramatic way. Castles aren't just about the wealthy and privileged who once lived in them and often built them over generations -- they are really about the history and the people living in and near them and how they often were very much needed fortresses from invading neighbor or rival counterparts.
I can remember standing in a breezeway on one of the upper outside passage ways leading to the top of a tower. One one side of me was a tapestry portrait of a noblewoman and the opposite side a huge glass-less window overlooking the valley below. You could almost feel the perfume of the romance of Spain and its castles, leading me to think if only . . . . one could just capture the castle in a bottle of historical perfume. One that you just needed to open from time to time, to relieve the scent of all that came before our modern times.
Spain's abundance of castles are unique, inspiring, mysterious, and so varied in style, size, and conditions. Like all castles anywhere else in the world, Spain's castles are often ruins, but just as likely to be either restored or still in private use. Here are some of Dream Travel Today's favorite castles in Spain.
Castles aren't just found in just a few places in Europe, nor were they just built in the Medieval times. Twenty-eight other countries have their own castles to explore.
Coca Castle, Segovia, Castille and León, Spain - When it comes to castle architecture Coca Castle in Segovia, Spain is a marriage of some of the best Mudéjar brick laying style, where architecture building and decoration joined in the 12th century on the Iberian peninsula. Moorish and European cultures make this Spanish castle a must see, especially its chapel and weapons room.
Two centuries of the Knights of Templar building the Castillo Templario de Ponferrada (or Castle of the Knights Templar) are a testament to mystery and history of this castle still standing, as if to look at all of us to say, “You’ll never know the real backstories of all that happened here. This is a huge castle with so many mysteries attached to it, so many unanswered questions. .
Loarre Castle, Huesca, Aragóni, Spain - it’s not enough to have seen Loarre Castle in the epic movie, “Kingdom of Heaven.” Loarre Castle begs to be seen in person. One of Spain’s oldest and most important castles in its peoples history.
Belmonte Castle, Cuenca, Castilla-La Mancha, Spain - Standing outside Belmonte Castle you can almost see Sophia Loren and Charlton Heston in scenes from “El Sid, probably because the castle was the setting for the movie. Despite being built in the 16th century it’s the well preserved backdrop for some of Spain’s Ferdinand and Isabella’s struggles and moments in history. A castle for your memory books of places you loved.
Almodóvar del Río Castle, Córdoba, Andalucía, Spain - originally named “Al-Mudawar Al-Adna” this Spanish castle with its Arab roots started its career not as a castle but as simply a fort or fortress. It’s famous for being one of the castles in Spain that was also a prison for the unfortunate Doña Juana de Lara (wife of Prince Don Tello, stepbrother of King Pedro I). The castle has its have been imprisoned within its walls, the castle has its dungeons of torture and surely witnessed some pretty awful tortured souls last days.
Alcazar of Segovia, Segovia, Castile and Leon, Spain - This castle is every little or big girls dream castle, filled with scenic views looking out from it as you walk through and claim every moment of memories for your castle dreams of forever. Little boys will be thrilled with the swords and armour of knights. While even the adults accompanying them will breathe in history and awe at the art and the stories the walls both inside and outside tell about Alcazar Castle.
New Castle of Manzanares el Real, Madrid, Spain aka Castle de Mendoza -- This fortress castle turned palace is a 15th century castle will be recognized by anyone who ever saw the movie “El Cid” from the 1960s. Today, it is an extraordinary castle museum where you can learn all about Spanish castles and a wonderful depository of woven tapestries. There’s also a role-playing Renaissance reenactment, part history, part fiction that interprets the art of the castle.
Royal Palace of Olite Castle, Navarra, Spain - A little castle, a little palace, once a military stronghold - the Royal Palace of Olite Castle ended up having to be restored after nearly burning to the ground. Quite a blow to the 13th century castle, yet its chapel was unscathed and restored to its former glory. Gone are the hanging gardens, orchards, and zoo but still the essence of the castles grandness remains a treasure for all times in its architecture.
Cardona Castle, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain - sitting practically upon a mountain of salt that still continues to grow Cardona, with it’s castle nearby makes this without a doubt one Spanish castle that should not be missed. The castle that stands today comes from the 11th century but was a fortress at least as early as 886. The “torre de la minyona” tower that is simply amazing.
Castillo de Penafiel - this castle holds a unique place in history as it started out as a humble frontier outpost, morphed into a defense against invading Arabs all before it became a castle. Today its in part a regional wine museum. Be aware there are lots of steep stairs (good handrails tho) and that the tours are in Spanish. Some re-enactments add flavor to this ship shaped castle of unusual castle architecture
Bellar Castle, Palma de Majorca, Spain - Hiking up the mountain to get to Bellar Castle is all part of the adventure for this unusual round castle and its panoramic views, making it a perfect picnic spot. Chose the road vs. the steep steps unless you are athletic and enjoy its museum.
Castle of Zafra, Campillo de Duenas, Spain - strategic castle on the border of ancient Christian and Muslim territories, the Castle of Zafra it holds the distinction of never being conquered. Long ago it fell into ruins, it is perched on a giant rock outcropping. Now privately owned and slowly being restored it still can be viewed by permission and by hiking for entire day and to reach the entrance you must climb a ladder. Well worth the effort if you are up to it physically.
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