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Spanish Castle Magic, Part One

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013 | Posted by Sean McLachlan

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Living in Spain, I’ve had the good fortune to visit many of the country’s castles.

The most stunning, and most popular, is the Alcázar in Segovia, an easy day trip from Madrid. It’s in great condition, mainly because it was never caught up in the Reconquista or blasted apart during the Spanish Civil War. Built on the end of the rocky promontory atop which Segovia stands, it’s literally cut off from the rest of the town by a deep moat cut through the bedrock.

[Click on any of the images in this article for larger versions.]

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While its origins may date back to the Roman period, the castle we see today was built in the early 12th century and was the subject of several remodels. It was a royal residence for several Castilian kings and queens, including Ferdinand and Isabella.

From 1896, it was the site of the Spanish Artillery Academy and there’s a fine artillery museum inside with several examples of medieval cannon as well as the usual arms and armor.

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This cannon dates to the 15th century, is 2.35 meters long, a calibre of 18.5 cm, and has a 52cm chamber.

 

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Two more cannons, the one in the background being 15th century. Plus some nice pavises on the walls.

 

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This mortar is dated 15th century but looks 16th to me.

 

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Closeup of the mechanism for a wheelock musket.

 

A fine crossbow with ivory inlay

A fine crossbow with ivory inlay

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A closeup of the basket hilts from the photo above.

A closeup of the basket hilts from the photo above.

The highest turrets are decorated with this scallop design.

The highest turrets are decorated with this scallop design.

From the tower you can see Segovia, the medieval city wall, and the cathedral.

From the tower you can see Segovia, the medieval city wall, and the cathedral.

One of the original 11th century city gates, with a bit of restoration.

One of the original 11th century city gates, with a bit of restoration.

Read Part Two of Spanish Castle Magic, with more castles from Spain, here.


Sean McLachlan worked for ten years as an archaeologist in Israel, Cyprus, Bulgaria, and the U.S before becoming a full-time writer specializing in history and travel. He’s the author of numerous history books on the Middle Ages, the Civil War, and the Wild West. He is also the author of A Fine Likeness, a horror novel set in Civil War Missouri; and The Night the Nazis Came to Dinner and other dark tales.

5 Comments »

  1. Love it!

    Comment by Joe H. - May 15, 2013 10:43 pm

  2. Great photos, Sean. I’ve been to Segovia many times while visiting my family in Spain, and the Alcazar is one of my favourite places. Is my memory correct? Were Ferdinand and Isabella crowned here? It was their summer retreat, as well, I think.

    Comment by Violette Malan - May 16, 2013 9:24 am

  3. […] part one of this series we looked at the Alcázar in Segovia. Now we’re going to look at another Spanish castle that makes for an easy day trip from […]

    Pingback by Black Gate » Blog Archive » Spanish Castle Magic, pt. 2 - May 23, 2013 12:17 pm

  4. […] and the Wild West. He is an occasional Black Gate blogger; his most recent piece for us was “Spanish Castle Magic.” “The Quintessence of Absence” is a 25,000-word novella, it is available in a […]

    Pingback by Black Gate » Blog Archive » Sean McLachlan’s The Quintessence of Absence Now Available as a Free eBook - July 16, 2013 1:27 pm

  5. […] my previous Spanish castle magic posts I’ve talked about some of the classic castles of Spain. The country is filled […]

    Pingback by Black Gate » Blog Archive » Spanish Castle Magic, Part Three - July 19, 2013 5:44 pm


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