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Ponferrada Castle: Medieval Templar fortress in Spain




Once mighty and formidable, the Templars built many castles and fortresses. There is such a building in the Spanish province of Leon. In the 12th century, in the city of Ponferrada, on a hill at the confluence of the Sil and Boeza rivers, the Templars built the castle of Ponferrada (or Ponferrada Castle), which was supposed to protect pilgrims going to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela from Arab raids. It is assumed that a Roman fort once existed on this site, and then a Visigoth fortress.

Legend has it that while clearing the forest on the site of the future castle, a statue of the Virgin de la Encina was found in the hollow of one of the oaks, which can now be seen in the Basilica de Nuestra Señora de La Encina.

Ponferrada Castle

Photo: Davidh820, from Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0 es)

Ponferrada Castle

Photo: santiago lopez-pastor / flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

 

Ponferrada Castle

Photo: santiago lopez-pastor / flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

However, at the beginning of the XIV century, the Templar Order was destroyed, and its property became the property of the crown. During the Reconquista Wars, the castle was set on fire by the French in the war for the independence of Spain. Over the course of several centuries, Ponferrada Castle changed its owners more than once. Among them were the rulers of Leon and Castile, as well as their relatives and favorites. The complex was expanded and strengthened.

Ponferrada Castle

Photo: Contando Estrelas / flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

 

Ponferrada Castle

Photo: Contando Estrelas / flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

 

Ponferrada Castle

Photo: D.Rovchak, from Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

But in the middle of the 19th century, Ponferrada Castle became useless and began to fall into decay. In the courtyard of the castle, farm animals were grazed and even football was played, and the walls were used as the material for other buildings.

Ponferrada Castle

Photo: Jaccroube, from Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0 es)

 

Ponferrada Castle

Photo: de:Benutzer:Dietmar_Gikjohann at http://de.wikipedia.org/, via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

 

Ponferrada Castle

Photo: Contando Estrelas / flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Only in 1924 the authorities paid attention to the formidable ancient fortress, which was declared a national monument. The restoration process was started. The results of the reconstruction are already visible. The castle is gradually turning into that grandiose defensive structure, as it was in the distant Middle Ages. Besides, on the first full moon of July, modern Templars spend their holiday here.

Ponferrada Castle

Photo: Contando Estrelas / flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

 

Ponferrada Castle

Photo: Contando Estrelas / flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Ponferrada Castle

Photo: Contando Estrelas / flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The defense complex of Ponferrada Castle includes the Old Castle, built by the aristocrat Don Pedro Fernandez de Castro, and the New Castle, the order for the construction of which was given by the Count of Lemos Pedro Alvarez de Osorio.

Ponferrada Castle

Photo: Contando Estrelas / flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

 

Ponferrada Castle

Photo: Contando Estrelas / flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

 

Ponferrada Castle

Photo: Contando Estrelas / flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

You can get into the castle by a stone bridge, which is thrown over the moat. The huge courtyard, towers and barbicans are amazing. In the New Castle, which is sometimes called the Palace, you can see the armory and dining rooms, stables, storage rooms. The old castle will be remembered by visitors for the towers of Torre del Homenaje and Torre de los Reyes Católicos.

Ponferrada Castle

Photo: Contando Estrelas / flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Ponferrada Castle

Photo: Contando Estrelas / flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

 

Ponferrada Castle

Photo: Rayet, from Wikimedia Commons (Public domain)

Today, the castle in Ponferrada is a real military fortress, which at one time was one of the largest in northwestern Spain. Its ancient walls also house a research center and a library of the Templars.

Ponferrada Castle

Photo: Contando Estrelas / flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

 

Ponferrada Castle

Photo: Contando Estrelas / flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

 

Ponferrada Castle

Photo: Contando Estrelas / flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Ponferrada Castle

Photo: Contando Estrelas / flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

 

Ponferrada Castle

Photo: Contando Estrelas / flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

 

Ponferrada Castle

Photo: Contando Estrelas / flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Ponferrada Castle
Interior of the castle. Photo: Contando Estrelas / flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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