La Calahorra Castle (Castillo de La Calahorra)

La Calahorra Castle


Location: La Calahorra, Granada Map

Constructed: 1509- 1512

Tel. 958 67 71 32

Open: 10am- 1pm, 4- 6pm Wed


History of La Calahorra Castle

La Calahorra Castle in La Calahorra, Granada province of Spain is a small, but elegant fortress that was erected 1509 and 1512 to defend the city below. La Calahorra Castle was originally erected during medieval period when the fortress was built by the invading Moors or Arabs. After Christian armies managed to recapture Spain from Muslim control they also took La Calahorra Castle. Original medieval citadel was given by the Spanish Royal family to Grand Cardinal Pedro Gonzalez de Mendoza. After he died in 1495 La Calahorra Castle passed into the hands to his illegitimate son Don Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar y Mendoza, Marquis of Cenete.


Don Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar y Mendoza, Marquis of CeneteDon Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar y Mendoza, Marquis of Cenete (pictured left) was famous ladies' man who had numerous mistresses. After death of his wife Leonor de La Cerda (allegedly due to exhaustion and premature death of their son) in 1497 Don Rodrigo went to have several other relationships. Some even claimed that he had a relationship with Lucrezia Borgia, member of a powerful Borgia family and daughter of Roman Pope Alexander VI. However after he met Maria de Fonseca, Don Rodrigo he decided to marry her. Woman's father Don Alfonso de Fonseca refused to bless the union fearing dubious fame of Don Rodrigo who was famous as a womanizer who lost his previous wife under strange circumstances. The lovers nevertheless married in secret. Once Queen Isabella I found about this disobedience she annulled the marriage and imprisoned Don Rodrigo in Cabezon Castle. His wife Maria was forced to become a nun in a Roman Catholic convent. All this changed in 1504 when Isabella died and new King Philip I el Hermoso released Don Rodrigo. Newly released prisoner didn't waste time and he soon kidnapped Maria from a convent.


The two lovers married again in 1507 in Jadraque and retreated to Calahorra Castle. A year later Maria gave birth to their first daughter and two years later to another daugher. Don Rodrigo decided to rebuild medieval military fortifications to a more attractive private residence for his family.


La Calahorra Castle is perched on a strategic hill at an elevation of 1250 meters above surrounding valleys. It is unique stronghold in a sense that it was one of the castles designed in Italian Renaissance architectural style. One of the architects was local Castilian Lorenzo Vazquez, while another architect Michelle Carlone was introduced from Italy. Many of the stones used in the construction were taken from an old Arab medieval fortress that once stood here.La Calahorra Castle is measured at 46.5 by 32 meters. The exterior of the citadel looks like a classic castle, while the interior courtyard has an appearance of a splendid residence with beautiful mouldings, frescoes and Corinthian columns.


La Calahorra Castle despite its name and imposing appearance never served as an important military stronghold. The closest it came to military actions occurred during Morisco Revolt (1568- 71) when Spanish Christians took refuge within its walls fearing reprisals from the Muslim who rebelled against Spanish rule. Eventually fort abandoned and left to natural elements. Only in the early 20th century it was reconstructed on the orders of Duke of El Infantando and the Marquis of Santillana.