Peñafiel Castle, Spain

If you like your medieval castles intact, then Peñafiel has much to offer. Only guided tours are permitted, but no worries as you’ll see plenty. There’s also a wine museum built into the southern portion of the castle. It’s worth your time. The gift shop has a fine selection of hand blown glassware that is the epitome of class and style. So, let’s have a look at this fortress. Here’s the video:

Impressive, no? I’ll say. It’s hard to imagine someone taking a chance attacking castles like this. There are so may angles for the defenders to launch everything from stones to arrows to boiling oil. Nasty. Climbing those stairs was good exercise, too. There are a few more castle videos and photos essays to come. Stay tuned.

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Lorca Castle, Spain, video

Lorca Castle stands guard over the nearby town of the same name in the region of Murcia in southern Spain. From up here it is possible to see for miles in every direction, and to enhance the experience, a platform with the cardinal directions of the compass has been built atop one of the towers. I made this video to show the general grounds and structure of the fortress.

For the price of admission you also get an audio guide, which is available in many languages. There are some actors about, playing the parts of knights as well as hosting children’s groups with stories of medieval life. The interpretation center is well done, with video and artifacts on display for your perusal. Of course their is a gift shop where you can buy that special postcard or trinket to send home to those not lucky enough to accompany you.

Buenas dias.

Published in: on May 10, 2010 at 11:27 am  Leave a Comment  
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Ballesteros de Calatrava, Spain

Driving through rural Spain can not be overestimated. I’ve been fortunate to make several trips through the countryside by car. Each of them took different paths, revealing parts of the country that are definitely not on the tourist agenda. One such place was a small town named Ballesteros de Calatrava. There is a castle there, perched high on a small mountain. Here’s a look.

This place is straight from the Templer Knight playbook on how to let people know you’re a serious feudal lord. It’s mostly ruins now, but well worth the stop. The drive up the hill takes about 10 minutes because the road is rough and narrow. When you get to the top, however, this is your view:

You can see why they built the castle up there. The commanding view of the surrounding valleys left no chance for any army passing by unnoticed. Of course, then the Templers would be on the march, heading out to break some skulls.

My wife and I stayed at a fantastic hotel in Ballesteros called the Palacio de la Serna. I highly recommend this hotel and its restaurant. Every room is different, every meal excellent. It is owned by an artist who uses some of the outbuildings as his workshops. Thus, you have the benefit of seeing his work, both finished and in progress. It may not be on the itinerary for your first or second visit to Spain. Nonetheless find the time to get there. You won’t be disappointed.

Published in: on September 13, 2008 at 2:08 pm  Comments (1)  
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Belmonte Castle, Spain

Belmonte Castle (Spain) might have been taken from a story book. Or, perhaps it is the other way around. Whatever the case, this place gives the impression that the middle ages are not yet over. Here’s a first look:

The crenelated ramparts, the towers, the long walls down to the village, all lend themselves to medieval impressions. The best part is, you can walk right to the base of those walls, stare up, and wonder what kind of nerve it took to attack such a place. Madness perhaps?

I’ve never been inclined to write about this era. There are plenty of novels set in these times in various locations. Most of them don’t interest me. I’d like to read a book about building castles the way Ken Follet wrote about building a cathedral in Pillars of the Earth. That would be an interesting story. Here’s another look that shows most of Belmonte:

As you can see, there are multiple layers of defense, a gatehouse, a keep, all the trappings of a well designed fortress. It is compact, making it easier to defend with a smaller force. This castle, like so many of them, sits at the top of a hill and overlooks the town and surrounding plain. It would be a challenge to sneak up on this place. Again, I’m not interested in someone pouring boiling oil down on me. I’ll hold off until the battles over and the celebration begins.

In another post I’ll show the castle at Ballesteros de Calatrava. Stay tuned.

Published in: on July 1, 2008 at 3:30 pm  Comments (2)  
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