The Castle of Zafra (also known as Castillo de Zafra) is something straight out of a George R. R. Martin high-fantasy book. With its tower keep architecture and regal stature, Zafra is one of the most iconic castles in Spain. Zafra’s location was highly strategic and important: it was situated on the boundary between the Muslim and Christian territories. It was deliberately made inconvenient to reach to enhance its defenses. Let’s take a look at how this castle fares n the contemporary world today:
Table of Contents
- 1 Frequently Asked Questions
- 2 Early History
- 3 Current Times
- 4 Interesting Castle Zafra Facts
- 5 Visiting Castle Zafra – Tips and Tricks
Zafra was featured as the “Tower of Joy” in the sixth season of the highly popular Game of Thrones.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where is Castle of Zafra Located?
Perched atop a hill, the Castle of Zafra is located in Spain’s Guadalajara province, smack in the middle of the Caldereros mountain range.
When was Castle of Zafra Built? Who Build It?
The site where Zafra sits now was previously the grounds of a Moorish Castle. It was conquered by the Christians and was later inhabited by the de Lara family, who enhanced its architecture and defenses.
When is The Best Time to Visit the Castle?
Mild seasons like spring and autumn are the best choice for planning a visit to Zafra. You need to walk quite a bit to reach the castle, so the weather needs to be accommodating for you to make the trek.
What Other Monuments are Located Nearby?
Campillo de Dueñas is the nearest village to the Castle of Zafra, almost 5 km away. You can also visit the Parish Church of Saint Catherine in Embid, which is also close to Molina.
FOR HISTORY | BEAUTIFUL IMAGES | INTERESTING FACTS | TRAVEL TIPS
Zafra Castle has been home to many zeitgeists throughout history, but its earliest remains can be traced back to the Moors. Although archaeologists have dug up remains that date back to the Bronze and Iron Ages, along with Romans, Celtic, and Visigoth relics, the Moorish Zafra is what was at this site immediately prior to the castle we see today. It was conquered circa 1129 by the Christians.
The Spanish Nobility
The Castle of Zafra that we see today was built by the de Lara family in order to strengthen their hold on the territory. Don Gonzelos, the third de Lara, stirred up troubles in the territories outside his fiefdom by urging the other Castillian lords to overthrow King Fernando of Castile.
In retaliation, Fernando laid a siege on Zafra that lasted for a few weeks, as the troops couldn’t storm its excellent defenses. In the end, a negotiated peace was reached, the fallout included disinheriting Don Gonzalo’s male heirs and an arranged marriage between his daughter Dona Mafalda and Prince Alfonso.
After the 15th Century
The 15th-century Spanish civil wars saw the Castle of Zafra in the thick of things again, as it stood strong through multiple sieges. Henry II of Castile endowed the castle to his French mercenary ally, suffered through the civil rebellion, and was dethroned. Zafra was inherited by the Castiles again by marriage before Henri IV of Castile gave it to the first duke of Alburquerque. It kept passing hands until it landed in the hands of the Spanish Catholic Monarchs (as opposed to the Spanish Moorish territory the castle also bordered).
Zafra’s strategic location became moot after the conquest of the Iberian peninsula. After that, it began to fall into ruin.
Revisit More Historic Places Below or Read Further
The Castle of Zafra was owned by the Spanish State before being privately purchased by Don Antonio Sanz Polo, a descendent of one of the previous wardens of the castle (Don Juan de Hombrados Malo). He restored Zafra back to its former glory. Today, the castle is not open to the general public, but you can always appreciate it from the outside.
Interesting Castle Zafra Facts
- Zafra was featured as the “Tower of Joy” in the sixth season of the highly popular Game of Thrones.
- The Castle of Zafra stands proudly on a large flagstone rock that has eroded through the course of time and is steeply sloped.
- There’s a rock-cut staircase on the west side of Zafra’s rock formation which leads to a dark tunnel. Keep your flashlight handy for exploration.
- Zafra is said to be able to house at least 500 men in times of siege.
Visiting Castle Zafra – Tips and Tricks
The Castle of Zafra is quite a marvel. Its inherent defenses, proud stature, and distinguished beauty make it Spain’s hidden gem. So if you’re looking for somewhere that most mainstream tourists won’t even think to check, then you should definitely visit Zafra. Here’s everything you need to know to plan a visit:
How to get to Castle Zafra?
You can get to the Castle of Zafra by taking the train from Madrid-Puerta De Atocha to Calatayud. From there, you can rent a car or a jeep and drive directly to Zafra Castle. This entire route takes two hours and thirty minutes, and it would cost you €26-€60 ($30-$70 USD).
Ticket Prices, Visiting Hours & Travel Tips
Information was checked & updated on October 22, 2023.
The Castle of Zafra is now private property and you can only visit it from the outside. You’ll find all the doors locked, but the exterior is well worth the visit by itself!
How Long Will It Take to Tour Around?
There isn’t an official tour, so there aren’t any set hours. You can stay and explore as long as you want.
Some words of advice and tips:
- Wear your most comfortable shoes because you’ll be walking at least 3.1 miles to get to the castle.
- Keep your phone batteries charged or bring along a power bank because you’ll be wanting to snap a lot of pictures.
- The dirt roads leading to the castle are not in the best condition, so it’s recommended to travel in a sturdy 4-wheeler.