During the Middle Ages, a period of around one thousand years, erecting a castle was the best form of defence for a landowner. During that time, estimates say more than 700 fortifications went up in Aragon alone. Loarre Castle is one of them.
Aragon was a defensive frontier in a permanent state of alert. The walled towns, the citadels, the towers, the fortified churches and especially the castles that dot the three provinces -Zaragoza, Huesca and Teruel – are a reminder.
In one sense, castles were boundary markers. If you gained land, you erected a castle to protect it. The thick walls of Sádaba castle, for example, from the 12th century, witnessed bloody battles in the northern part of Zaragoza. In lower Aragón, in Teruel, stands the Alcañiz castle – today a national parador. Finally, also in Teruel, the castle of Daroca, today in ruins, it is the largest walled complex in Aragon.
The most beautiful castle in Spain
Loarre Castle stands around 35 kilometres from Huesca city. Located on a rock, it stands 1,070 metres above sea level. You can understand why King Sancho III of Navarra decided on this location. It is impregnable.
National Geographic magazine names it one of the most beautiful medieval castles in Spain, if not the world. Lonely Planet’s Instagram followers also chose it as the most beautiful castle in Spain.
Entrance is only €5; there is the option of a guided tour at €7.
Declared a national monument in 1906, maintenance works were carried out recently. It is one of the best preserved original Romanesque architecture fortresses in the world.
The castle contains thousands of stories, legends and curiosities. For example, the symbolism of the monkeys carved on the columns at the entrance. One of them covers his eyes, another his mouth and the third his ears. That meant that everything that happened inside the castle could not be brought outside. Whoever did, would be sentenced to death.
Although the castle was created for defensive use, it was also a royal residence and monastery. One of the mysteries of the castle is the vault of the church of San Pedro inside. When the king stood below, he became the representative of the power of God on earth. What is incredible is its construction, in a far from easy place to construct.
The highest point of the castle, 22 meters high and made up of five floors, is the keep. In the primitive structure, this tower – also called albarrana – was outside the enclosure. It was attached to the castle and the queen’s tower via a wooden drawbridge that was easily removed in the event of an assault and thus acted as the last inaccessible refuge.
The objective of Loarre Castle was as an outpost in the reconquest of the area with attacks on Bolea, the main Moorish square.
However, once the mission was accomplished, the border moved further south and the Montearagón castle was built to take control of the city of Huesca. Loarre faded into the background and abandoned.
Today, Loarre has a new lease of life as the setting for several feature films: The Kingdom of Heaven, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Orlando Bloom, Liam Neeson and Eva Green is one of them.