Have you visited any of Spain's most impressive castles?
Have you ever dreamt of being a Knight Templar? Of marching triumphantly into a castle, or exploring passageways steeped in history? Spain is the perfect place to make these dreams come true, as it is full of castles preserved in excellent condition, including the castle where Charlton Heston played the character of the Castilian knight El Cid Campeador. These castles can be visited and some of them even organise dramatised visits. Here we give you some examples of castles that are like something straight out of a novel. But remember – Spain has many more!
Situated in the high part of the city, its walls are privileged witnesses of the history of Spain. In fact, Isabella the Catholic emerged from here to be crowned in the Church of San Miguel, and Phillip II and Anna of Austria got married in the chapel. Some people even say that the Alcázar was the inspiration for Disney's Castle. We recommend taking an audio guide in your own language. You will also find the famous Coca Castle nearby.
It is situated on the island on Majorca, in the middle of the Mediterranean. This alone makes it worth visiting. Why not go on a guided tour in English or Spanish round this building that overlooks the bay? Pretend you are a distinguished visitor, like many others before you: Charles I; Prince Eugene of Savoy; John of Austria; Duke of Montpensier and Queen Elizabeth II; Alfonso XII; Alfonso XIII, to name but a few.
We travel to Huesca next, specifically to one of the best-preserved Romanesque fortresses in Europe. More than 1,000 metres above sea level, this castle was used as setting for Ridley Scott's film ‘Kingdom of Heaven’. The guided tours in this castle can be complemented with cultural routes in the area and natural routes in the Pre-Pyrenees.
It is probably the most emblematic and best preserved castle in Madrid, and it exists thanks to Juan Guas, the architect of the Catholic Monarchs. It is a real pleasure to go to the visitor centre and palatial rooms. If you decide to come, check what's on because it also holds exhibitions, concerts, light shows and a medieval market during the summer.
It was one of the most luxurious castles in Europe, jousts used to be held here, and it even had its own zoo. Don't miss its Gothic windows, the Renaissance main door and the watchtower. And if you want to travel back in time to the Middle Ages, come to this town in Navarre in August, during the Medieval Festival, or plan your visit during the Olite Classical Theatre Festival. You will also find San Javier Castle nearby.
Construction work on the castle in this town in Valladolid began in the 10th century, and it currently houses a Wine Museum. In fact, you can visit a tasting room and enjoy a guided tasting session of the delicious Ribera del Duero Designation of Origin wines. From the castle you can also take in views of the Duero, Duratón and Arroyo Botijas river valleys. The impressive La Mota Castle can also be found nearby.
Do you know what the best thing about this castle in Jaén is? You can stay here overnight, because it is a Parador hotel! It is an exciting experience to sleep in an amazing medieval room. And La Cruz viewpoint is one of the best places to get a view of Jaén. And here's an interesting fact: Jaén and Granada are the regions with the largest amount of castles in Europe. Not too far away, in Cordoba, you can also find the beautiful Castle of Almodóvar del Río. There are also other famous castles that have been turned into Parador hotels, like Sigüenza.
In the museum inside this castle in Catalonia there is a library that you can visit (it contains almost 100,000 books), as well as important collections of glass and pottery, a Gothic church and a Wine Museum. What's more, a festival takes place in the castle gardens every summer – Castell de Peralada International Music Festival. Many world famous musicians have performed here, like Alfredo Kraus, Rudolf Nureyev and Mstislav Rostropovich.
Although it is a Renaissance castle, Eugénie de Montijo, Empress of France and wife of Napoleon III, commissioned much of the renovation work in the 19th century. A historical re-enactment takes place in this castle in Cuenca in May, and scenes for ‘El Cid’ with Charlton Heston and Sophia Loren were filmed here, as well as for other films such as ‘Flesh+Blood’ and ‘Mad Love’. And in August you can even enjoy dramatised visits by night!
The story goes that famous writer Don Juan Manuel spent a lot of time writing and fishing in this castle in Villena (Alicante). He also reinforced the castle's defences so that his future bride, the daughter of James II of Aragon, could stay there for several years until she was of age and able to marry Don Juan Manuel. It is, without doubt, the most famous monument in Villena and is proof of the mixture of Moorish and Christian cultures.