Castro Urdiales Photo Gallery

Castro Urdiales

The castle of Santa Ana at Castro Urdiales is perched on the rocky outcrop overlooking the natural harbour and important medieval port on the Cantabrian coast. It is a curious medieval castle essentially comprising of a single large great tower of rectangular design with a round tower on each corner.

It is a very imposing defensive building dating from the 12th century. At a later stage, perhaps in the 13th or 14th century, a fifth circular tower was added in front of the long side of the original tower facing the church and joined to it by a curtain wall thus forming an additional, triangular shaped, extension to the fortress.

To this tower was added a curtain wall thus forming a bailey adjacent to the great tower and overlooking the sea cliffs. Originally the curtain wall was extended on the other side of the tower to defend a much larger area of settlement down to the shore and incorporated within the large outer bailey is the small 12th century Romanesque chapel of St Peter’s, of which some sections of wall and particularly the apsidal chancel remain.

The castle was also associated with the earlier rock-built hermitage of Santa Ana on the shoreline below and access between the castle and the hermitage was via a magnificent medieval bridge, a late version of which survives. This bridge and possibly the hermitage could be of Roman origin.

There are few external openings to the great tower either as windows or as arrow loops and only a small single light opening of the 13th century can be found facing the inner courtyard from the second floor.

The inside of the great tower is vaulted in stone and had a ground floor for storage and a first floor great chamber with external staircase providing access from the inner bailey. Any residential accommodation that the castle had is likely to have been within the bailies, as the formidable great tower appears to be for military or ceremonial use only.

The large 13th century fortified church of St Mary of the Assumption is later and now shares the hilltop with the castle and visible for miles around.

Link to Photos

Photos on this page: The castle of Santa Ana and the church of Santa María de la Asunción overlooking the harbour at Castro Urdiales.