Spain has a variety of castles purposefully designed for the city and region in which they are located. There are more than 2500 castles in Spain, each with its unique draws. The country is a mosaic of regions that are fiercely proud of their unique and individual history. Each castle in Spain was primarily designed to strengthen the city and to withstand potential sieges. Although many were built with the military in mind, some of Spain’s castles are architectural marvels and monuments of beauty within the region.
Most of Spain’s castles date back to medieval times, with some undergoing restorative works. Spanish castles have had many influences in both their architecture and their role within the local area. Muslims arrived in Spain during the 8th century and remained there until the end of the middle ages, when Christians invaded and took over. While we can’t write about all of Spain’s castles, here are 20 that are a must-visit.
- 20 Incredible Castles in Spain
- 1- Lorca Castle
- 2- Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos
- 3- Aljaferia Palace
- 4- Castillo de Belmonte
- 5- Castle of Almansa
- 6- Castle of San Servando
- 7- Castle of Xavier
- 8- Palace of the Kings of Navarre of Olite
- 9- Simancas Castle
- 10- Coca Castle
- 11- Castle of La Mota
- 12- Bellver Castle
- 13- New Castle of Manzanares el Real
- 14- Alcazaba of Almeria
- 15- Penafiel Castle
- 16- Olite Castle
- 17- Alcazar of Segovia
- 18- Alhambra
- 19- Alcazaba of Antequera
- 20- Castle of Loarre
20 Incredible Castles in Spain
1- Lorca Castle
Lorca Castle in Murcia was designed as a military fortress during the 9th century.
Its positioning on top of a hill and its thick, imposing walls meant invaders never captured Lorca.
Lorca Castle was built on the site of a former Muslim citadel.
There is evidence of a neolithic site through archeological excavations, which could date the castle back even further.
The castle was badly damaged during an earthquake in 2011, which left some areas inadmissible.
Today the castle is a heritage centre and is frequently referred to as the Fortress of the Sun.
Lorca Castle is at Calle Zonas Verdes, 30800 Lorca.
2- Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos
Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos, or Alcazar of Cordoba as it is sometimes known, is a stunning Spanish castle in Cordoba.
The castle played important roles in Spain’s history, as Christopher Columbus was invited to Reyes Cristianos to discuss his trip to America with monarchs Fernando and Isabel.
Within the castle are many intricate roman mosaics and impressive paintings. However, the true allure to this castle is within its grounds.
The castle grounds have terraced gardens and azure ponds with ornate fountains. Orange trees and shaped topiary line the walkways, and colourful native flowers fill the borders.
Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos is at Pl. Campo Santo de los Martires, 14004, Cordoba.
3- Aljaferia Palace
Aljaferia Palace in Zaragoza is an Islamic palace dating back to the 11th century.
Aljaferia was originally built to serve as a place of recreation; however, its design also allowed it to act as a line of defence to protect the city.
The palace is unique in design as it features both a church and a mosque, a reflection of its previous owners.
These days, the palace is the home of the Aragonese Parliament.
Aljaferia Palace is at Calle de los Diputados s/n, 500071, Zaragoza.
4- Castillo de Belmonte
D. Juan Pacheco, the Marquis of Villena, had Castillo de Belmonte built during the 15th century to serve as his private residence.
The castle has remained within the family since 1465.
The castle features both Moorish and Neo-gothic architecture making it stand out from many of its counterparts.
Now, the castle is a museum and cultural centre.
The church and other rooms within the castle have been preserved, allowing visitors to step back in time to soak up the atmosphere of when the castle was fully functional.
Castillo de Belmonte is at Calle de Eugenia de Montijo s/n, 16640, Belmonte.
5- Castle of Almansa
There are many impressive castles in Albacete, but the Castle of Almansa is one of the best-preserved.
The castle sits onto a hill overlooking the whitewashed houses of Almansa below.
Juan Manuel ordered the building of the castle during the 14th century and more alterations were made during the 15th century.
The castle features crenellated walls and a central keep.
The castle features two enclosures over two levels connected by a spiral staircase carved directly into the rock the castle sits on.
Castle of Almansa is at Calle del Castillo, 18 02640, Almansa, Albacete.
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6- Castle of San Servando
The 7th-century Castle of San Servando was originally a Visigothic monastery before being turned into a castle.
San Servando was used by the Knights Templar, who turned the monastery into a fortress.
The castle became a national monument in 1874 and today it serves as a private youth hostel open only to guests staying there.
Guests can join a tour of the castle about the haunting of Don Nuno Alcear, a knight who died there following a vision depicting his many victims.
Castle of San Servando is at Subida Castillo San Servando, 45006 Toledo.
7- Castle of Xavier
The Castle of Xavier was the birthplace and home of Saint Francis Xavier. It has crenellated towers and a drawbridge across a moat.
Many people journey to the Castle of Xavier in March to honour the Saint, the patron saint of Navarre, where the castle stands.
Within the castle are exhibitions on the life of Francis Xavier.
The Saint co-founded the Society of Jesus (or the Jesuits) and was a missionary who travelled the globe spreading the word of Jesus.
Castle of Xavier is at C. El Santo, s/n, 31411 Javier, Navarra.
This palace dates back to the 13th century and was the former seat of the Kingdom of Navarre until 1512 until the Union of Castle turned into a palace.
The palace offers a range of tours for visitors, allowing you to explore the palaces history, architecture, and artefacts.
It’s also a Parador Hotel, which opens up the opportunity for visitors to experience a traditional palace room at night.
Palace of the Kings of Navarre of Olite is at Pl. Carlos III El Noble, 4, 31390 Olite, Navarra.
9- Simancas Castle
Simancas Castle is another example of a Spanish castle that both Christian and Muslim occupations have influenced.
This stunning castle in Valladolid sits in the centre of the town of Simancas on the banks of the River Pisuerga.
The Admirals of Castile built the castle during the 15th century.
Today it is used for the General Archives of Simancas. Documents within the collection include monarchic rights and imperial and state administration documents.
Simancas Castle is at C. Miravete, 17, 47130 Simancas, Valladolid.
10- Coca Castle
One of the most lovely castles in Spain, Coca is unique in construction as it only has three sides.
This is a design feature that allowed the hillside it was built on to be incorporated.
Christians built Coca Castle during the 15th century, and unusually its design was heavily inspired and influenced by the Moors.
Despite some castle areas being destroyed over the last century, Moorish features such as its iconic turrets have remained.
The castle was also influenced by Gothic architecture and is an excellent example of Spanish Mudejar brickwork.
You can explore this castle by joining a guided tour.
Coca Castle is at Av. Banda de Musica de, 40480 Coca, Segovia.
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11- Castle of La Mota
La Mota has stood in Valladolid since the 11th century.
Although it has been reconstructed due to damage over the centuries, its design is true to the original fortress.
La Mota had a tumultuous history, with kings from Castile and Aragon fighting for ownership of the castle thanks to its advantageous position on top of a hill.
The castle was used as a prison and housed famous prisoners such as Cesare Borgia and Hernando Pizarro, a conqueror of Peru.
Castle of La Mota is at Av. Castillo, s/n, 47400 Medina del Campo, Valladolid.
12- Bellver Castle
Located on the beautiful Spanish island of Majorca, Bellver Castle has watched over Palma for more than 700 years. King James II built Bellver in the 14th century.
Bellver has a free-standing keep used as a fortress for the royal family and a political prison.
The castle is unique in its design as it is circular and features three towers.
In the centre of the circular castle is a spacious and open courtyard. Surrounding the castle are pine trees making its landscape just as pleasant to explore.
The castle houses a museum and hosts many events, including concerts.
Bellver Castle is at Carrer Camilo Jose Cela, s/n, 07014 Palma, Illes Balears.
13- New Castle of Manzanares el Real
New Castle of Manzanares el Real became famous thanks to its appearance in the movie El Cid.
This 15th-century castle is one of Madrid’s best-preserved.
The New Castle of Manzanares el Real was built at the foot of the Sierra de Guadarrama mountains close to an ancient fortress abandoned when the castle was built.
The castle is built from granite and features traditional Spanish military architecture. It once served as the presidential palace for the Mendoza family.
Today, the castle is a museum celebrating all of Spain’s castles and features some of Spain’s beautiful tapestries.
New Castle of Manzanares el Real is at C. Canada, s/n, 28410 Manzanares el Real, Madrid.
14- Alcazaba of Almeria
Another of Spain’s hilltop castles is Alcazaba of Almeria, which overlooks the southern city of Almeria.
Built by Muslims during the 10th century, the Catholics who took control of the area years later, Alcazaba was also modified by the Catholics.
Alcazaba comes from the Arabic language and means’ walled fortification’.
The castle was made famous through Indiana Jones, the Last Crusade, and Conan the Barbarian.
Alcazaba of Almeria is at C. Almanzor, s/n, 04002 Almeria.
15- Penafiel Castle
Unlike many Spanish castles compact and well fortified, Penafiel Castle in Valladolid is a long hilltop castle that resembles a ship.
The castle is 150m (490ft) long and features a 30m (100ft) high keep.
Penafiel is one of Spains oldest originating castles, with construction beginning during the 9th century and continuing through to the 15th century.
At night, the castle lights up like a fairytale castle with various spotlights highlighting its key features.
The castle is also used as a wine museum which is open to the public. However, the other wings of the castle are only viewable through guided tours.
Penafiel Castle is at Carretera Subida al Castillo, s/n, 47300, Valladolid.
16- Olite Castle
Olite Castle was built on an ancient Roman castle that dated back to the 1st century.
The castle was used by the royalty of Navarre in northern Spain, and successive monarchs added unique touches over the years.
As such, the castle is eclectic in its architectural styles.
Olite was abandoned and fell into disrepair but underwent substantial renovations and restorations after the Spanish government acquired it in 1937.
Olite Castle is at Pl. Carlos III El Noble, 4, 31390 Olite, Navarra.
17- Alcazar of Segovia
Many visiting Alcazar of Segovia could easily mistake this incredible castle from Germany thanks to its fairytale style.
Alcazar of Segovia was built during the 13th century, and the castle’s style is rumoured to be the inspiration behind Cinderella’s castle in Walt Disney World.
The castle was home to the royal family and where Queen Isabella I was crowned in 1474.
Alcazar is a UNESCO World Heritage Site status and home to a museum filled with paintings and armour housed in the Hall of Kings and Hall of the Throne.
Alcazar of Segovia is at Pl. Reina Victoria Eugenia, s/n, 40003, Segovia.
Alhambra is perhaps the most famous castle in Spain. Located in Granada, this castle is surrounded by thick forest and offers views over the mountains.
Translating to ‘red castle’ in Arabic, Alhambra is made of deep red brick and is heavily influenced by the Moors who lived in the castle for centuries.
Alhambra served as a royal residence during the 13th century before becoming a Christian court in 1492.
It was abandoned during the 18th century but, thankfully, has been fully restored to its former glory.
Alhambra is at C. Real de la Alhambra, s/n, 18009, Granada.
19- Alcazaba of Antequera
Alcazaba of Antequera in Malaga has existed in various forms for more than 8000 years.
The castle was constructed upon the ruins of an ancient Roman citadel.
The Moors built the castle as a fortress to fight against the Christians who were reciting in the north of Spain, seeking to conquer further south.
Alcazaba of Antequera is open to the public, and visitors can explore its streets and church, as well as climb the exterior walls for incredible panoramic views.
Alcazaba of Antequera is at Pl. de los Escribanos, s/n, 29200, Antequera, Malaga.
20- Castle of Loarre
Located in Huesca, the Castle of Loarre is one of the oldest castles in Spain.
The castle dates back to the start of the 11th century; however archeological evidence within the immediate area has found artefacts from Iberian and Roman times.
The castle is partially ruined, however, it is still well worth a visit and is in two parts, a walled enclosure and a Romanesque monastery.
The monastery features a well-preserved church and crypt, both worth visiting.
Castle of Loarre is at A01206, 22809, Loarre, Huesca.