Castles in different parts of Spain date back all the way to the early period of the Medieval Ages. Some of the most iconic castles and fortifications were built in Spain during the Moorish rule from the 8th century onwards.
In regions not under Moorish reign but bordering their territory, castles were frequently a form of frontier fortification.
These fortification castles on the Christian side of the border became critical to the success of Reconquista forces. Because of the confluence of many cultures, castles in Spain usually employed elements from many different cultures in their architecture.
Alhambra of Granada
Originally, the site of the modern-day Alhambra was occupied by a small fortress dating back to the 9th century. In the 13th century, the Moorish Emirate of Granada became one of the most important Muslim entities in Andalusia. Granada’s ruler, Mohammad ben Al-Ahmar had the castle built together with a royal palace and took it as his seat.
The structure of the castle is fairly elaborate, with the exterior including thirteen towers connecting a well-fortified wall. The interior of Alhambra is more notable for its exquisite arabesque windows, honeycomb vaults, and other artistic embellishments which belie a beautiful blend of the cultures of the East and the West.
The castle is the prime example of Moorish architecture in Spain and is a modern-day UNESCO heritage site.
The Aljaferia Palace was constructed in the 11th century by the Moorish rulers of Zaragoza. Originally, the site held an immense tower of lofty height meant primarily to serve as a military garrison. Later, the Moorish rulers had other architecture built around the tower and used the structure as a residential palace.
The palace is marked for having a large troubadour tower and a concrete exterior that does not reveal the five floors within its construction. The castle came into the control of Reconquista rulers in the 12th century and underwent many modifications in subsequent centuries.
Castle of Tarifa
The original construction at the site of the castle of Tarifa was done during the reign of Abd ar Rahman III in 960. It came to be so named because of its location in the coastal town of Tarifa. The region was conquered by the Christian forces in the 13th century and the castle was taken over by Alonso Perez de Guzman.
Because of this new owner, the castle also came to be called the Castle of Guzman el Bueno. The castle’s structure has remained well preserved over the centuries and it is a popular tourist attraction today.
Alcazar of Jerez de la Frontera
The Alcazar of Jerez de la Frontera was originally constructed by the Muslim rulers of the Frontera taifa in the 11th century. This original structure included a large pavilion included in the castle and royal baths. Located in Andalusia, the castle passed from the rulers who had it built to the control of the Al-Mohad dynasty.
The Al-Mohad dynasty then undertook significant reconstruction and expansion of the structure. Among the new additions made by the Al-Mohad rulers to the original structure was a huge octagonal tower. The castle passed to the hands of the Christian rulers after Reconquista. Today most of the castle’s structure stands intact and it is a very popular tourist attraction.
Alcazaba of Almeria
The Alcazaba of Almeria was constructed under the orders of Abd ar Rehman III in southern Spain during the 10th century. Abd ar Rehman had the castle constructed as a heavily fortified complex. The defensive elements of the castle’s structure included huge curtain walls and a sizable tower overlooking the exterior.
Inside the castle was a square keep and royal residences. The structure of the castle itself was ensconced inside multiple enclosures, making it very hard to penetrate by any outside attacker. After the end of the Muslim rule in Spain, the castle remained in the ownership of King Charles III of Spain for some time, who had further defensive structures added to it. Today, most of it stands well-preserved and is open to tourists.
Jimena de la Frontera
The Jimena de la Frontera is one of the oldest medieval castles that exist in Spain. This castle was originally constructed in Cadiz province in the 8th century. Built by the early Grenadian Moors, the castle served as a Moorish stronghold near Gibraltar, which was the very point from which Moorish armies began the invasion of the Iberian Peninsula.
The castle’s original structure included a huge polygonal tower and numerous watchtowers were later added, making it a formidable fortification. The control of the castle passed to Jerezanos in 1430. It was briefly wrested back by the Grenadian Moors in 1451 but a few years later, it decisively fell to the control of the Kingdom of Castille. Most of the structure of the castle is extant today.
The Loarre castle is located at what was historically the frontier between Christian and Muslim territories. Given its location, the castle was constructed as a fortress in the 12th century. The actual structure of the castle included the main tower, three additional towers, and a large chapel.
As the Reconquista geared up to push the Moors out of Spain in the 14th century, further fortifications were added to the castle to make it more secure. These included the construction of another exterior wall set up with another eight towers, making it a very secure structure.
Most of the structure of the castle remains erect to this day and it is open to visitors.
The original structure erected at the site of the Sadaba castle dates back to the 12th century. The modern-day structure of the castle was added in the 13th century. Located in Aragorn, the castle primarily served a defensive purpose for the later Kingdom of Aragorn as well as a royal residence.
The exterior of the castle was heavily fortified with an exterior wall lined with seven towers. The interior included a sizable courtyard, chapel, well-embellished living quarters and other lively elements meant to make it suitable for royal residence. Most of the structure of the castle is very well preserved to this day.
It is open to visitors and is a popular attraction located in Aragorn.
The Alcázar of Segovia (literally, “Segovia Fortress”) is a stunning Castle that rises out of the Rocks, it is located in the Guadarrama mountains in the town of Medina del Campo. It was designed to be a fortress originally but has changed uses over the years.
It is currently a museum and military archives building which is great news as you can go inside and have a look around.
Castle of La Mota
The Castle of La Mota or Castillo d located in the Spanish town of Medina del Campo in the province of Valladolid, Spain. La Mota Castle is a beautiful looking castle that is located at the top of a hill hence the name ‘Mota’ which means hill in Spanish.
La Mota Castle is a beautiful looking castle that is located at the top of a hill hence the name ‘Mota’ which means hill in Spanish.
It looks down on the town and has a dominant presence over the town – it is well worth a visit.