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Medieval fortresses of Castile-León

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  • Coca Castle © Turespaña

    Coca Castle © Turespaña

  • Peñafiel Castle © Turespaña

    Peñafiel Castle © Turespaña

  

Horizons of grandeur

The name Castile means simply 'land of castles'. Throughout the Middle Ages, its condition as a frontier between Christians and Muslims (9-11th centuries) provided the initial motivation for the building of fortresses and castles. Later, the struggles between the various noble families and the crown (12-15th centuries) made it necessary to build new fortifications. A tour of six of the best conserved of these fortifications is the perfect excuse to learn more about these lands and their people.
 

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We propose starting this route, which will take several days, in the village of Ampudia. Its 15th-century castle stands in the centre of the village, and is very well conserved and restored. Its sturdy enclosure is protected by four towers, and it has all the traditional elements of medieval castles: battlements, ramparts, barbicans and a moat. Although it is privately owned it is open to visitors, and its interior is home to a museum of art and antiquity.


Our first trip takes us through the typical Castilian landscapes of plains and countryside to the town of Peñafiel, located 75 kilometres away beside the Duero river. Its medieval castle stands on a rocky spur, and was built in the 11th century, then rebuilt in the 14-15th century. Its peculiar shape (the outline of the walled enclosure conforms to the elongated silhouette of the ridge) has made it one of Spain's most famous images: from a distance, it resembles a boat run aground in the midst of a sea of pastures and wheat fields. It is also home to the Provincial Wine Museum.
We then continue on to the city of Segovia, located about 90 kilometres away, to visit its famous Alcázar fortress, another of Spain's most emblematic images. This imposing Gothic building (14-15th centuries) was transformed by Philip II in the 16th century in the Herrerrian style seen today. It was the residence of the Castilian and Spanish monarchs for two centuries. Its appearance and location (perched atop a gorge beneath which flow the waters of the Eresma and Clamores rivers) conjures up a world of princesses, knights, witches and dragons.


Our next objective is Coca castle. Located 50 km from Segovia, the village of Coca we see today is the descendant of the Celtic-Iberian city of Cauca, conquered by the Romans in 151 B.C. Four centuries later the Emperor Theodosius was born in that same place. Its castle is completely different to the previous ones: it was built in the Mudejar style of the 15th century, using the typical red brick. It has three walled enclosures, a moat with a drawbridge, a bailey and a splendid keep.


The last of the castles on this route is also in the Mudejar style. La Mota castle is located 35 kilometres from Coca in the town of Medina del Campo. It was built in the 15th century using concrete and red brick, and has four enclosures protected by enormous walls, as well as a monumental keep. It was precisely in the 15th century that Medina del Campo reached its maximum splendour: its fairs were the most important in the whole of Europe and it was here that bills of exchange were first used. This is also the place where Queen Isabella I of Castile, known as Isabella 'la Católica' died.


The road passes through the vineyards of Rueda and Toro, and takes us to the last stop on our route, the city of Zamora, located beside the Duero and in the heart of the Silver Route, about 85 kilometres from Medina del Campo. The historic quarter of this capital of the specific Romanesque style typical of the region is presided by its mediaeval castle (12th century) –restored in 2009–, and by the outline of its splendid Romanesque cathedral opposite. The castle is surrounded by three walled enclosures dating from the same period, and which encircle the historic centre of the town.


Some of the greatest attractions of this route are the many popular festivities on offer for visitors to enjoy. The Easter week celebrations in Zamora, Segovia and Medina del Campo are among the best known in all of Spain.

 

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What to see on the route

Other routes of interest

More information

Calendar See more

The Caridad procession. Easter week in Medina del Campo © Castilla y León

Mar 25, 2018 to Apr 1, 2018

Festivity of International Tourist Interest

Medina del Campo
Easter week in Medina del Campo

Participants in a procession. Easter week in Zamora © Junta de Castilla y León

Mar 25, 2018 to Apr 1, 2018

Festivity of International Tourist Interest

Zamora
Easter Week in Zamora

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Apr 1, 2018

Festivity of National Tourist Interest

Peñafiel
Descent of the Angel in Peñafiel

Discover the surroundings See more

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