There’s more to Spain than just Barcelona, Ibiza, Tenerife and Madrid (what, you didn’t know that?). Why not mix things up a little and set a theme for your next holiday in Spain? Castles, for example, make a very interesting and original place to start.
Over the course of history there have been nearly 10,000 castles built in Spain. Today, about 2,500 of those remain but there’s really no chance to see all of them in one shot unless you have somehow figured out how to travel at the speed of light. Spain’s castles were mostly built during the Christian reconquest after Muslim’s ruled Castilla y León as well as Castilla la Mancha for several centuries. Here are the most emblematic.
Castillo de Belmonte
This stronghold was built in the fifteenth century 65 miles to the south-east of Madrid in the province of Cuenca. Every September a medieval market and reenactment is performed here. Unlike most of the castles in Spain, this one is easily accessible on foot. Just follow the paths that lead up the San Cristobal hill and you’ll find the fortress on the top.
Castillo de Loarre
Loarre Castle, and abbey, is the oldest fortified castle in all of Spain, perhaps even the best preserved one in Roman Europe. It was built in the eleventh century and is located at the very top of a mountain, 30km from Huesca. It has been a nationally protected heritage site since 1906 and many filmmakers have used it as a set. The latest? Kingdom of Heaven, shot in 2003.
Dating from the fourteenth century, experts believe Bellver castle was built sometime between 1300 and 1310 in Gothic Mediterranean style on the island of Majorca. It’s located just 3km away from the historic city centre of Palma. Inside is the Museum of City History which has a number of artifacts from archaeological excavations on display.
Castillo de Lorca
This is the largest castle in Spain, overlooking the town of Lorca in the south of Spain. It’s location was very strategic at the time of its construction and was a key fortification during the time of the Christian kingdom of Murcia and the opposing Muslims from Granada. While you visit, check out the exhibitions inside.
Which are your favourite castles in Spain? In the world?