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Charles V Castle

Hondarribia, Gipuzkoa

Audioguide of the Charles V Castle

What to see in the Charles V Castle

Classified as an Artistic Historic Monument, there is an ancient legend that says that “due to the numerous passages that run below this castle, there has been more than one occasion on which someone went in and never came out”.

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Classified as an Artistic Historic Monument, there is an ancient legend that says that “due to the numerous passages that run below this castle, there has been more than one occasion on which someone went in and never came out”.

And it so happens that this building, like many castles, can boast its own ghost... What is more, bear in mind that this is a region with a history of rituals, the setting for stories of akelarres (Witches' Sabbath) and a cradle for witchcraft.

Constructed by King Don Sancho over the ruins of a former castle, some time around 1200, this palace-castle is located on the highest point of the town's old quarter, from where both the border with France and the mouth of the river Bidasoa can be watched, to which Sofía Loren, the soldier and poet Garcilaso de la Vega, the painter Velázquez, along with various other princes, dictators, cardinals and kings, can all testify.

Its initial function was of course military, as was the case with every building erected in border areas during the Middle Ages. A huge mass of solid stonemasonry, with very few rooms and walls between 1 and 2 metres thick. That's right! Walls measuring up to two metres in width capable of withstanding countless attacks, the scars of which can still be made out all over its façade. The scars of wars that are difficult for us to imagine, given the rural aspect of the place and its surroundings... But yes, all those cannon shots and marks of impact are real.

According to some 1737 plans of the building, which still survive to this day, the building was made up of six floors which were comprised of military barracks, dungeons, stables and a munitions dump. On the upper terrace was a formidable set of ten cannons with which to defend the square. All of which was topped off by a defiant red flag which, in the summer of 1638, was raised by way of a warning to 20,000 soldiers, sent by Cardinal Richelieu to lay siege to the town, that the town of Hondarribia would never surrender... and nor would they allow their enemies to surrender.

Unsurprisingly after so much fighting, by 1800 the building was in such a state of ruin and, having become a privately owned property by that time, there was little the local council could do... It was only by the turn of the 20th century that the council was able to purchase it, for a price now equivalent to €13,000.

By the year 1959, two intermediate floors had been built and the rest of the building was entirely renovated. More recently, in 1968, huge improvements were made to the rooms; a foyer was added as well as a catering area, thus transforming it into a Parador, one of a chain of luxury hotels dotted all around Spain, and which it remains to this day.


Charles V Castle

Plaza de Armas, 14
20280 Hondarribia
(+34) 943 64 55 00

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Tags: Renaissance

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