When you think of castles, you’ll probably be picturing Scotland, Ireland or Germany, but Spain is actually home to many amazing castles. In fact, the region of Castilla y Leon in northern Spain was actually named after the Spanish word for castle – castillo – as it’s home to so many. Here’s our pick of some of the region’s most incredible castles.
The Alcázar de Segovia is one of the most amazing castles in the whole of Spain. It’s just like a fairytale palace, set high on a hill, with round turreted towers. You’d half expect a princess to toss her long golden hair out from one of them. In fact, this castle, along with Neuschwanstein in Germany, was the inspiration for Disney’s Cinderella castle. It is not known exactly when this fortress was built, but the first known reference to it was in the 12th century. Some more gothic aspects were added later, in the 13th century. The castle was once the home of King Alfonso VIII, and later became the Royal College of Artillery. Today it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of the most visited monuments in the whole of Spain.
Located in the province of Valladolid, the Castillo de Peñafiel was built in the 10th century and was declared a National Monument in 1917. Today, it houses the Provincial Wine Museum, where visitors can learn about the culture of wine and how it’s produced. There’s also a tasting room, where you can sample some of the best wines from the region.
The Castillo de Coca is located in the province of Segovia and is an impressive sight with its slightly pink hue and great number of turrets. It’s unique because of its fusion of gothic and Mujedar architecture, and is considered one of the most beautiful examples of this in the country. It dates back to the 15th century and has a very sumptuously decorated interior, also in Mudejar style.
The Castillo de la Mota, found in the Medina del Campo in the province of Valladolid, originally dates back to the 12th century. Much of what can be seen today, however, was built in the 15th century. It’s a magnificent, almost sandcastle-like, building. Over the years it has been the Royal Archive, a military centre, a prison and a training school during the Civil War. It was also where the infamous Juana la Loca, the ‘mad’ queen of Castile, once hid in seclusion for a while.
The Castillo de Ampudia is one of the most important monuments in the province of Palencia. It dates back to between the 13th and 15th centuries and is a classic square castle with four towers and a central courtyard. It has belonged to various owners over the years, including Juan Alfonso de Alburquerque, Sancho de Rojas and Pedro Garcia Herrera. Today, the castle is a private property, but part of it is open for guided tours.
Also known as the Castillo Templario, the Castillo de Ponferrada was the spectacular castle of the Knights Templar. It was originally built as a Roman citadel, but was taken over by the Templars at the beginning of the 12th century for use by pilgrims on the pilgrimage route known as the Camino de Santiago. Today, it houses Templars’ Library and the Ponferrada Investigation and Study Centre, which contains around 1,400 books, including works by Leonardo da Vinci.