Gaucin Castle, Andalucia
The abundance of castles and fortresses that are liberally scattered across Spain are testimony to a war-torn history, and most especially to the long period of Moorish occupation. Today these numerous castles offer a multiplicity of fascinating places to visit and explore.
One such castle is the Castle of the Eagle at Gaucin, in Andalucia. Gaucin is the village with a view of three countries, two continents, one sea and one ocean, so the strategic value is pretty self-evident. (Find a hotel in Gaucin here.)
The Romans were the first to build a fortess on the craggy hilltop, and subsequent incumbents enlarged and strengthened it. Between 10th and the 15th centuries (yes, a small matter of just 500 years!) the castle was one of the many focal points of the struggle between the Moors and Christians. It finally came into Christian hands for good in 1485, just seven years before the reconquest was completed.
Now Gaucin was able slip back into a more peaceful way of life and it wasn't until Napoleon set his sights on Spain that the castle saw further action. In 1810, just a handful of Spanish defenders beat off the might of Napoleon's army, which is probably further evidence of the defensive qualities of the position.
The Castle of the Eagle had just a few more years of military use to follow, before it quietly settled down into the role of a picturesque ruin, a job it fulfils more than adequately to this day.
The irregular layout of the castle is a legacy of the site it occupies. The walls are well preserved in many places, you can still see the archers loopholes, and there are the remains of a hermitage and a hospital within the inner precincts.
You can freely visit the Castle of the Eagle whenever you choose. It's quite a climb, but at least you won't have to face the robust defence encountered by some of those who have gone before you.