Spain is a land of countless castles, from sober fortresses perched on the highest cliffs to castles and palaces located along their cities’ most elegant boulevards. With some many to choose from, it is difficult to agree on the best. Let us introduce you to three of the most impressive Spanish castles, famous for their location, architecture, and history and perfect for a sightseeing trip. The Alcázar of Segovia, which was—during the Middle Ages—the favorite residence of the Kings of Castile; the Castillo de La Mota in Medina del Campo, former home of Queen Isabella, and the Castillo de Almansa, silent witness to the eponymous battle that took place on April 25, 1707 to settle the succession to the crown of Spain. Review our curated selection of luxury destinations around the world.
The Alcázar de Segovia
Segovia, located in Autonomous Community of Castile-Leon, is a city of monuments as lavish as the Alcázar, a hill-fort situated atop a hand carved rocky outcrop between the Eresma and Clamores Rivers. The oldest visible parts of the building date from the 12th century. But in the 15th century, the Royal House of Trastámara filled the castle with magnificent lavish decorations. Catherine of Lancaster ordered the carving of the roof of the Hall of the Galera, and Henry IV requested the same for the Solio and the Pineapple Halls. On December 13, 1474, Isabella left the Alcázar to be crowned Queen of Castile. King Philip II stayed behind and is responsible for building the current Patio de Armas (Arms courtyard). Later, King Carlos III found the Aláazar ideal for a military college where the young cadets would be trained to become officers of the Royal Artillery. Today, the Alcázar of Segovia is among the ten most admired monuments in Spain and receives more than half a million visitors every year.
Castillo de La Mota
In Medina del Campo, also in Castile-Leon, the traveler will find this magnificent 15th-century castle. The construction of the Castillo de La Mota began under the reign of Juan II, who installed sturdy barriers that rested on top of the original medieval walls from the 12th century. King Henry IV finished the interior and the construction of the great Torre de Homenaje (Homage Tower). Later, the Catholic monarchs equipped the castle with an even more powerful defensive barrier, a modern shooting range, and ordered the excavation of the moat that surrounds the massive structure. In addition to its military might and architectural significance, Castillo de La Mota holds countless secrets within its walls. In one such episode, Doña Juana, Queen of Castile, who went down in history as “The Mad Queen”, tried to leave the castle—in a fit of rage—and run to Flanders to join her husband Philip the Handsome, unaware that her parents had confined her. Another remarkable anecdote is Caesar Borgia‘s escape—in 1506—from the Torre de Homenaje, where he had been held captive.
Castillo de Almansa
The historic town of Almansa in Albacete, also boasts a magnificent castle. The Castillo de Almansa—originally an Arab palace—was taken by the Christian King James I of Aragon and subsequently assigned to the Knights Templar, to eventually become part of the kingdom of Castile. Considered a marvel of Gothic architecture, the castle stands out for the lack of windows and defensive battlements, and for its Tower (Torre de Homenaje)—whose entrance is hidden behind a hillside to avoid easy access. The famous Almansa battle was fought near the castle in 1707. The brave troops of Philip of Anjou defeated Archduke Charles of Austria during the War of Spanish Succession. The triumph of Philip of Anjou, the successor to the last monarch of the House of Austria, marked the final victory of the Bourbon dynasty to conquer the Spanish throne. The reign of Felipe V of Bourbon, Duke of Anjou, lasted 45 years and three days–the longest for a Spanish monarch. ■