Spain has the most castles per capita in Europe. There are around 10,300 fortified structures, the majority of which are located in the autonomous community of Castile y León, Castile-La Mancha, Catalonia, Aragón, and Jaén.
Local rulers built fortresses and other defenses to protect the regions they had reclaimed from Islam beginning in the early Middle Ages, when the Holy Reconquista began. These monarchs afterwards had to defend themselves against their neighbors amid internecine feudal strife. The continued fight for royal supremacy also resulted in other wars around Spain.
The wonderful architectural heritage of what would become the great Spanish Empire has been constructed century after century.
Here are the 10 best castles in Spain you should add to tour bucket list:
1. Castle of Coca, Segovia
Shut your eyes and visualize a storybook castle with towers, turrets, high walls with battlements, and a crocodile-infested protective moat. Now open them to admire the Castle of Coca on the Voltoa River in Coca municipality, central Spain – one of the country’s most stunning castles.
2. Caudilla Castle, Toledo
The Caudilla Castle is one of the most photographed places in Toledo, because to its opulent appeal, which can be seen in ruins throughout the region. Hundreds of Instagram accounts have featured this. Despite its popularity among tourists and interested spectators, the attraction has not created riches for the neighborhood, nor has a single business established itself nearby.
Hernando de Rivadeneyra built the structure in the 15th century after purchasing Caudilla’s village and municipal district from Fernando lvarez de Toledo (first Count of Alba) in 1447, making it one of Toledo’s “big five” palatial dwellings with machicolations and sentry boxes around each side but lacking military character.
3. Manzanares el Real, Madrid
As you reach Manzanares el Real, you can see why the Mendoza family ruled over this region for generations, with the reservoir, river greens, and Pedriza mountain range in the background.
Manzanares el Real, located atop a tiny hill near a historic chapel built in 1479, is one of Spain’s best-preserved castles to date.
It is a big tourist attraction, bringing in hundreds of millions of euros each year; moreover, it stands as proof positive that when people put their minds to it, things can be done well – if you’re imagining what your perfect castle should look like, go no farther than Manzanares el Real.
4. Alcázar de Segovia, Segovia
The history and destinies of many Spanish royals have been seen by Segovia Castle for many years. It was built by Christian rulers and stands on a rocky elevation at the western extremity of the ancient town, overlooking the surrounding landscape.
Archaeological discoveries indicate that its construction began during the Roman Empire, with references to it in writings dating back to the 12th century.
King Philip II substantially rebuilt and extended this fortress over time, making it one of medieval Spain’s most magnificent strongholds. The Fortress is now designated by Spanish authorities as a Historic and Artistic Monument.
5. Templar Castle, Ponferrada
This Templar Castle appears to be from a chivalric film. It is located in Ponferrada, in the Castile and León area of northwest Spain, atop a hill at the confluence of the Sil and Bos rivers.
Its castle’s beginnings can be traced back to a pre-Roman Celtic fortified hamlet built atop the same hill, but its fame was brought about by the Templars, who owned it until the 14th century.
6. Olite Castle, Navarra
The castle’s full name is “Royal Castle of the Kings of Navarre at Olite.” It functioned as the primary home for Navarra’s rulers between the 13th and 14th centuries.
Currently, this magnificently maintained castle boasts both restored elements and medieval occupants’ secrets. Tourists from all across the Kingdom of Navarre can visit its towers, secret courtyards, and corridors.
Under the reign of the Kingdom of Navarre (13th-14th centuries), Olite Castle was renowned across Europe for its beauty and luxuriousness; it contained 365 chambers, one for each day of the year.
The castle was extensively rebuilt in the twentieth century. Part of it became a Parador hotel chain, where guests can spend the night amidst royal chambers and learn about court intrigues by meandering through its labyrinths.
7. Castle of La Mota, Castile and Leon
The Castle de la Mota at Medina de Campo, Valladolid, is another witness to key historical events in Spain.
Its observation decks offer a panoramic view, allowing you to take in the scenery. An spectacular red brick wall encircles the castle, which was designated as part of Spain’s Historic Heritage in 1904 and is now protected by the state government.
The castle has a difficult and long history; it has seen various wars that have left their mark on its walls, informing us about Spain’s great past. Furthermore, notable figures such as Cesar Borgia were imprisoned within these walls, only to escape by dropping with a rope from one of the towers’ windows.
8. Bellver Castle, Mallorca
Bellver Castle, a circular fortification erected for King Jaime II as his home between 1300 and 1311, sits atop a peak 368 feet (112 m) high overlooking Palma de Mallorca.
This sandstone structure was used as a jail for political prisoners in the 18th century until being taken over by Majorca’s municipality in 1931 and converted into a museum and prison again in 1936.
It has, however, reverted to its original purpose since 1976, serving as an introduction to the ancient historical dynamics of Palma de Mallorca and occasionally organizing cultural events such as classical music festivals.
9. Belmonte Castle, Cuenca
The Castle of Belmonte, a National Monument, is located on the hill of San Cristobal. It was built in the 15th century, before the discovery of America, and became the property of Empress Eugenia de Montijo, who married Napoleon III.
Over the past five years, this castle has hosted International Medieval Fighting Federation championships, attracting over 500 medieval fighters from around the world.
10. Peniscola Castle, Castellón
The castle of Pescola, built in the 14th century, lies atop a rocky hill near Castellón. It was initially built by members of the Templar order, and its design was inspired by strongholds in the Holy Land.
Once the Templars abandoned it, it became home to Benedict XIII, often known as “Pope Luna,” for a short time. Then, during the decades, Peniscola Castle underwent numerous remodels, most notably during the War of Independence (1808-1814), when French soldiers captured it.