Baena castle

The architecture of the castle of Baena essentially responds to the defensive needs of a population that, as a result of the Cora’s head As a Muslim province in its origin, and as a border town with the kingdom of Granada for several centuries afterwards, it required powerful bastions that would make it impregnable to enemy incursions.

The already privileged orography of the hill on the top of which sits the neighborhood of Almedina, with steep slopes on several of its slopes and on its southern slope, as a natural moat, the course of the river Marbella, was favored in the late ninth century with the construction of a large fortress in the worst defense area. Its access was carried out by two doorsthe del Campo (in front of the current building of the Workshop School) and the of the PlacetaThis is the one currently used for the visit and presents a baroque façade from the period when the fortress was used as the palace of the Lord of the Villa. Once through it, there is a rectangular space that must have originally served as a guardhouse, where the modern access to the tower of the Arqueras is located. and on one of its walls the sixteenth-century grille that closed the passage as a first defense to the old moat, later converted into a garden, which existed until recently in front of the main facade of the castle and of which there are still remains in the southern wall at the foot of the tower mentioned.

The large interior surface that today appears as a courtyard, was previously occupied by the different rooms that can be guessed by the remains of its foundations, although it is the circular structures that occupy most of the space, which at the present time attracts more attention. These are the old reservoirs that supplied water to Baena until the end of the 20th century. Next to them, in the space that is shown covered by clay slabs, the primitive medieval cistern of the fortress is conserved, on which existed the parade ground, porticoed in the reforms that from the XVI century adapted the primitive military enclosure as palace. Also from this period is the pebble pavement with geometric figures that can be seen in the first section of the courtyard and some of the stone gorroneras in which the doors that once closed the enclosure fitted.

The tour through the upper part of the old tanks shows the remains of old tunnels in the southern wall and, as the most outstanding element, an intermediate bastion with a angled door of tradition Almohad that communicates directly with the barbican on which stand the tower of the SecretsThe wall was made of brickwork with reinforced brick corners and the one that defended the Campo gate at that angle, made of ashlar.

After visiting the reconstructed tower of the CascabelesFrom the parapet of this tower you can access another smaller tower in the corner of what was known as the Corralón de los Almendros (the old barbican of the north wall). old stables of the castle, a porthole that opens to the wall of Tela street and other openings that communicated with annexed dependencies today disappeared. Finally, the remains of column bases, arches and other architectural elements lead us to a modern metal spiral staircase from which you can access the Trigueras Tower (mostly reconstructed), the banners of the north wall, in which the original pavement and the upper part of the access area, from which you can also visit the tower of the Arqueras, which is the most notable of the complex. It must have been the primitive keep, and until the 19th century it housed a large part of the archives of the House of Baena. Also here were preserved until they disappeared due to the action of time, the 21 flags and the royal banner that were taken from the Nasrids in the battle of the Martín González stream in 1483. This tower, as well as a large part of the historical enclosure, must have been almost completely rebuilt because its materials were plundered at the beginning of the 20th century for the construction of an oil mill and other agricultural buildings.

Castle of Baena. Towers and walls on the north side.

Castle of Baena. Front of the seventeenth century.

An effective place for defense

From Latin castellum (diminutive of castrum), the castle is a strong place, enclosed by walls, bastions, moats and other fortifications, which was generally located on an elevation of land that facilitated the control of a vast expanse of territory. Since the Middle Ages, these fortified enclosures became a safe haven for inhabitants of border areas such as Baena, who had to face the raids or enemy incursions with powerful war machines trying to beat their walls. But the castles were prepared for it and the bollards or large caliber stone ammunition launched by the trabuquetes or fundíbulos, hardly managed to damage their strong bastions. On the contrary, from the defensive bastions these attacks were answered with a rain of arrows and projectiles that prevented the hostile forces from approaching the foot of their walls.

There is a whole set of military buildings such as the fortress, the fort that are similar to the castle, although their most common defining elements would be the following:

  • The mote or mound of land with a flat top that, although often artificial, was sometimes incorporated into a pre-existing feature of the landscape.
  • The pit or ditch around the mote that could be dry or filled with water. In the case of Baena, it was also surrounded by a thick wall and once its defensive functions were abandoned, it became a small garden of which remains can still be seen at the foot of the tower of the Arqueras.
  • The fence or high and thick wall, generally passable in its upper part by the adarve, which had towers interspersed in order to widen the shooting angles and defend it better against an attack. The walls were usually topped by battlements and it was also common to have machicolations and sentry boxes to improve the shooting conditions for assailants.
  • The barbican or ravelin, which was the name given to the additional fortification on the most advanced side of the moat. It used to protect doors or any other place that was a weak point and is easily identifiable on the north and northeast flanks of the castle of Baena.

  • The courtyard or parade groundconstitutes a central space that in some cases recalls the cloisters of the cloisters monastic. Around the courtyard are distributed certain rooms of which foundations can still be seen in the fortress of Baena. The entrance to the castle is through the parade ground; from there you can access the rest of the rooms such as access corridors to the dungeons or even secret escape passages, which are usually reserved for the lord. It was used for military instruction of the garrison.

  • The cistern or cistern is the reservoir for storing water, almost always obtained with contributions from hauling; sometimes the system also allowed the storage of rainwater. It was generally built underground.
  • The Tower of Homage was the most preeminent of all, housing the main rooms and, on occasion, the food stores. It is located in the most sheltered position in relation to a possible external attack, so that if the rest of the defenses succumbed, this tower would provide a last refuge.

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Baena's castle

Although the original vestiges of the ancient citadel of Bayyena may go unnoticed during a visit to the fortress, the details captured by the camera allow us to see what the eye cannot see. The aerial view clearly delimits the old albacar and the plan of the castle delimited by the towers and curtains of the wall.