Spanish Castles

Spain's location, as a peninsula divided from the rest of Western Europe by the magnificent Pyrenees Mountains, was a major factor in its medieval castle architecture. In addition, this country's Moorish history left another indelible mark on Middle Age structures.

Internal political struggles were the rule during the early medieval years, but a dramatic turning point came in 711, when an Islamic army landed in Andalusia. Two years later, the Califs of Damascus claimed dominion over the country. Influences by Germanic kings gave way to those of eastern cultures. Strongholds, called castillos, were built to battle Islamic forces. This is where we get our English word-castle.

Spanish castles were often symmetrical in design, but the countries varied colors of stone were used to create beautiful patterns within the curtain walls. Islamic influences can be seen in rounded towers and in the masonry. Spain's flat landscape gave guards keeping watch in the towers excellent vantagepoints to spot approaching armies. Germanic-influenced architecture can still be seen in northern parts of Spain.

Medieval castles in Spain have a distinct appearance by their frequent use of the torre del hominaje-a keep with round machicolations at, and in between the corners.