When you think of beautiful Spanish scenery, you might be inclined to imagine beaches, mountains, and other natural phenomena, meaning that man-made structures can often be overlooked. With literally thousands of castles in Spain, it’s hard to pick just a few favorites, but we’ve given it our best shot!
So, without further ado, let’s check out the list! These castles are gonna have you like:
Who were the Moors?Way back in the 8th century, Muslims, known in and around Spain as Moors, entered Christian Spain, and they lasted almost 800 years in Granada (they didn’t last that long in other parts of Spain). This 800-year period is known as the Reconquista (‘reconquest’), which saw Christian forces attempting to expel the Moors from the country. In 1492, the same year that Spain’s monarchy funded Columbus’s trip to America, the Moors in Granada were defeated by the Christians, marking the end of Moorish rule in Spain.
Did you know?Spain is made up of 17 autonomous communities, each with its own unique qualities. Some of the bigger of these regions even have their own languages! Catalonia, for example, uses Catalan in addition to the Spanish that we teach here at MDS (My Daily Spanish). For years, there has been great debate over which language to use in schools and other public spheres, and a strong push from some sides for Catalan independence (you may have heard about this in the news recently!). For many of the castles situated in Catalonia, the Catalan word castell is often used instead of castillo (e.g. this one would be Castell de Peralada)! Check out which region might suit you with our quiz!
Did you know?
You might have figured out by now that the Spanish word for ‘castle’ is castillo. The reason that these two words are quite similar is that they both come from the Latin word castrum, meaning ‘fort’! And, get this, the historic region of Castile (which covered quite a bit of northern/central Spain) is called Castilla in Spanish. It’s thought that this relates to the fact that so many castles were built here as part of the Reconquista (which I’ll tell you about a bit later). The language of Castile became known as Castilian (castellano), which nowadays we often call ‘Spanish.’
What does ‘alcázar’ mean?
You’ll notice that some of these castles are called ‘Alcázar de X’. The word alcázar refers to a castle or fortress, but is often used to describe Moorish castles, as it comes from the Arabic al-Qasr, which, again, comes from the Latin word castrum.
Did you know?
Christopher Columbus’s voyage to the Americas was funded by Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon, known collectively as the Catholic Monarchs. However, Christopher Columbus (known in Spain as Cristóbal Colón), wasn’t actually Spanish! He was actually born in the Italian city of Genova, where he would have been called Cristoforo Colombo.
Did you know?The castle is positioned on top of a hillock (little hill). The Spanish word for a hillock is mota, hence the name!
So, hopefully you’ve enjoyed our little historical tour of Spain. Now that you’ve seen a list of some of the prettiest castillos in the country, you can plan your next trip to visit some of them! Don’t forget to prepare for your travels with our Spanish phrasebook (with audio). ¡Buen viaje!
Annabel is a language-enthusiast from the UK. She studied Spanish and French at the University of Southampton (with an Erasmus study year in Madrid!) and recently graduated. She has interests across the Spanish-speaking world, and is a fan of language in general.
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