After spending the morning of this particular day visiting the Medina Azahara outside the city of Cordoba, we headed toward the village of Almodóvar del Río to catch some food and see a castle.
There are an endless array of castles around here, just as there are in most of Europe. How to decide which ones are important and which ones you should visit? I don’t really know.
And frankly, who cares? Everything has a unique story, and everything is pretty darn interesting. Some just get famous, and some don’t. (Although, I will concede that some things are more interesting than others. Such is life.)
So, why not visit the Castillo de Almodóvar? These types of things are usually an easy decision for us. Someone says, “Hey, wanna go here?” And we yea or nay it. Usually a yea. Because, like I said, why not?
Nope. We’d never heard of it before. Hadn’t even heard of the town, frankly. It was our friend Cat‘s idea, and so we went with her one weekend to the aforementioned Medina Azahara, and stopped in Almodóvar del Río on our way back. Food. Castle. Sounds good to us!
After walking all over the ruins of Medina Azahara earlier in the day, we needed some nourishment. So, like the food fiends we are, we stopped at La Taberna in the village to stuff our faces before heading to the castle. This place is known for its delicious meats and homemade croquettes, and we took full advantage.
We asked our waiter what he recommended, and we naturally ended up with way too much food. But that’s okay, because it was delicious. We also got to cook the meat ourselves, which is both a good and a bad thing since I’m always unsure of paying to do all the work.
Nonetheless, it was as slamming as it should have been. After a couple hours of eating and lounging, we hopped ourselves up on coffee and headed up, up, up to the castle.
We actually drove most of the way up this very steep hill, but ended up walking our way around the castle and getting some exercise while we admired the sprawling views.
Once inside, we wandered around the castle itself, popping in and out of rooms, being ridiculous (as we are), and just having a little bit of exploration with our imaginations.
The castle itself was built during the Moorish times here, on the foundation of a previous Roman castle. The current structure dates to the 8th century, but fell into ruin after the Muslim rulers were kicked out of Spain and the Spanish got tired of it.
King Philip IV sold it in the 17th century, and I would imagine it went downhill – or at least wasn’t kept up as it should have been – for a while after that.
In the early 20th century, the castle’s owner – Raphael Desmaissiers, 12th Count of Torravala – la di da, decided to refurbish the entire thing and bring it back to its old glory.
Most people on those rehab shows have houses to rehab. Imagine rehabbing your entire castle. Although, I’m sure he mostly stood around, drinking cups of wine with his pinky out and all, but still.
He also put a lot of medieval trinkets – weaponry, armor, etc. – into various rooms, so there’s a lot to see from the early days of Spanish rule.
One can also visit the dungeon, complete with prisoner reenactments and fake skeletons.
The views from the castle look south toward the plains and north toward the Sierra Morena and the Parque Natural de Hornachuelos. The Guadalquivir River – the same one that flows through Seville – passes by here as well, where you can often see people fishing down below.
While this castle isn’t something that gets a page in a guidebook or top recommended status on travel sites, it’s still really cool to see. Especially because ol’ Raphael had everything redone and it can more or less be seen as what it looked like all those hundreds of years ago.
If you happen to find yourself in the vicinity, make a stop over at ol’ Raphael’s place and check out some history, great views, and a good looking castle.
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Have you ever been to Almodóvar del Río? If so, what’d you think? If not, what say ye? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!