A short guide to the castles and fortresses in Andalucia to wet the appetite. Where to go and what to look for.
Zuheros Castle, Córdoba province
Although the region of Castille, the modern precursor of Castille la Mancha is, rightly, famous for the number of castles within its borders, Andalucia also has its fair share. In fact, Jaén province has the largest concentration of castles and fortresses in Europe. There are over 270 castles in Andalucia.
The Alcazabar, Alhambra, Granada
The majority of the castles in Andalucia were built by the Muslims and the Christians between the 10th and 15th centuries during the long reconquest. They range in size from the huge and opulent Alhambra Palace at Granada to single watchtowers, most of which were within sight of a hilltop castle dominating a town or village. Many of these castles and towers found themselves on the border between Muslim and Christian lands between the 13th and 15th centuries and gained the suffix ‘de la frontera’ as a result. Many of the castles, and the towns and villages they protected, changed hands many times.
Castillo de Baños, Jaén province
The oldest castle in Spain is Castillo de Baños, also known as Burgalimar Castle, in the town of Baños de la Encina in Jaén. Castillo de Baños was built in 968 AD.
Colomares Castle, Benalmadena
The newest castle in Andalucia is Colomares Castle in Benalmadena in Málaga province. It was built in 1987 as a monument to Christopher Columbus.
Castillo de la Duquesa, Málaga province
Other castles include the coastal defences, built to warn the inhabitants of coastal towns and villages of imminent raids by the Barbary pirates, particularly those commissioned by Carlos III during the 18th century. Most of these are solitary watchtowers, built on the top of cliffs. Some, such as those at San Juan de Terreros in Almeria province and Castillo de la Duquesa in Málaga province, are proper castles, all built to a standard pattern. Together, the watchtowers and coastal castles form a continuous chain up the coast, each being visible from the last.
Castle of San Miguel, Almuñecar
All the castles in Andalucia have a story to tell. One of the saddest is that of the unknown and forgotten prisoner at the Castle of San Miguel that overlooks Almuñecar in Granada province.
In the late 20th century, excavators were surprised to find, in one of the dungeons of the castle, a skeleton still chained to the walls of the dank cell. It turned out that the skeleton was a 16th century Muslim male, a victim of the Inquisition, chained to the wall and forgotten about for 400 years.