The castles, fortresses, palaces and walled enclosures of Spain are a reflection of the country’s history and visiting them is a good way to learn about all the different cultures that have lived here. You will find interesting sites ranging from ancient Roman forts to large medieval fortresses. Some of them have been immaculately preserved and offer cultural tours that are like embarking on a journey through time.
Did you know that there are more than 10,000 castles and palaces in Spain? Many of them are open to the public, host exhibitions or have even been converted into luxury accommodation or unique spaces for organising events. Take advantage of your visit to Spain to discover some of them, spend an unforgettable night in one, or enjoy the tourist activities on offer. You can consult more detailed information at many of them on the Palaces and Castles Network of Spain website: https://www.spainheritagenetwork.com.
Castles and palaces open to visitors
The list is very extensive and you can look many of them up on the map on the Palaces and Castles network website. You can find some iconic and very well known ones that offer periodic or regular dramatised tours, such as the castle of Manzanares el Real (under an hour away from Madrid), the Olite Royal Palace (in Navarre), Sotomayor castle (in Pontevedra, Galicia), Belmonte castle (in Cuenca, Castile – La Mancha) or the castle of Almodóvar del Río (in Córdoba, Andalusia). Whereas, others organise a whole host of children’s activities like the ones on offer at Lorca castle – Fortress of the Sun (in Lorca, Region of Murcia) and at Loarre castle (in Huesca, Aragón).
Some of the castles house interesting museums within their walls. For example, Peñafiel castle (in Valladolid, Castile and Leon) houses the Provincial Wine Museum. Viana palace is an art gallery with some noteworthy works by Julio Romero de Torres. The Hospital of Tavera (in Toledo, Castile – La Mancha) is the headquarters of the Duque de Lerma Museum-Foundation with paintings by El Greco, Zurbarán, Tintoretto and Luca Giordano, among other works of art. If you are visiting during the summer months, some castles stage different cultural shows and festivals. For example, Peñíscola castle (in Castellón, Valencian Community) hosts a classical theatre festival and plays host to the Ancient and Baroque Music Festival of Peñíscola. Cuéllar castle (in Segovia, Castile and Leon) is home to the “Así Cantan las Corales” choral music event and the National “Jota” Dance Festival. The Castle of Mora de Rubielos (in Teruel, Aragón) is one of the venues of the Festival of Castles. Olite palace is the setting for a prestigious classical theatre festival.
Unique accommodation in fortresses
They are palaces, castles and convents that have been converted into unique accommodation. You can find them spread out over practically the entire country. We recommend looking them up on the map on the Palaces and Castles network website to find the nearest one to your destination.
Some of the most special ones belong to the Paradores hotel network. Their locations allow you to organise super-appealing trips such as a tour of some of Spain’s World Heritage Cities. By doing this, you can discover Parador hotels set in historical monuments in places such as Alcalá de Henares, Ávila, Cáceres, Cuenca, Granada, Mérida, Santiago de Compostela, Úbeda and just ten kilometres from Segovia, in La Granja de San Ildefonso. These luxury hotels also provide a fantastic option for enjoying two of the most famous theatre festivals in Spain: the International Roman Theatre Festival of Mérida (staged in an immaculately preserved, 2000-year-old Roman theatre) and the International Classical Theatre Festival of Almagro (the main performances are staged on a corral de comedias (a theatrical courtyard) that has remained intact since it was first used over 400 years ago).
There are lots of other options. You can opt for a combination of nature and culture with a getaway to Asturias, staying in a converted 11th century Benedictine monastery (the Parador de Corias, in Cangas de Onís), or travel to Galicia to visit the Ribeira Sacra and stay at the Parador hotels in Monforte de Lemos or Santo Estevo. If you love the sea, why not spend a few days in one of the Basque fishing villages and sleep in the Castle of Carlos V (the Parador de Hondarribia, in Gipuzkoa). If you prefer to travel inland, a very appealing alternative is to make a tour of Extremadura and stay at the Parador hotels in Guadalupe, Trujillo, Oropesa, Plasencia, Jarandilla de la Vera, Zafra, Cáceres or Mérida. And if you choose to venture further south, you can discover the Andalusian equestrian art in Jerez de la Frontera, in Cádiz, and stay at the Virrey Laserna palace.