Castillo de Belmonte, the Montijo’s of France

And luck comes around when you insists on doing something. I was here last year and we arrive late,the castle was closed; I was very mad ,because it was one of the intended visits while in the area. Well, I was back this August and this time made sure the castle was open, and it was!!!

This is the Castle or Castillo of Belmonte! In Belmonte, Province of Cuenca, autonomous region of Castilla La Mancha, Kingdom of Spain.  We came here by car straight from Cuenca on the road N 420. Check the main site below for hours and months of opening as it can change, the admission is 9€ adults and 1€ in summer for audioguides.

Plenty of free parking at the Castle grounds.  The city tourist office tells you about things to do in town here:  http://www.turismobelmonte.es/

And the city hall page has more info on many things to see and do in Spanish here : http://www.belmonte.es/turismo/

However, the main thing here and the reason to come is the Castle of Belmonte, impressive to say the least.  It has been preserved as it was constructed and kept by the family for generations. It was built by 1468 on orders of Don Juan Pacheco, first Marquis of Villena who was involved in many conflicts in the war of succession in Spain. The castle went thru periods of abandoned for several centuries and it was finally, Eugenia de Guzman, heir to the house of Villena and better known as the Imperatrice of the French Eugenia de  Montijo (wife of Napoleon III) who ordered the renovation which began in 1857.  After the fall of Napoleon III, the castle falls under the care of the French Dominicans monks that use it as a monastery. After they left, the nephew-grandson of the Imperatrice , Duke of Peñaranda, Hernando Fitz-Stuart y Falco continues the renovation and even lived in it. Currently, it is the property of the Ducal house of Peñaranda descendant of the Duchess of Alba, sister of the Imperatrice Eugenia or Eugenie of France , wife of emperor Napoleon III. Thanks to a collaboration with the owners and the local administration and the ministry the castle has been completely updated and open to the public since 2010. The last phase of renovation was done just this year 2017.

Initially ,the castle was built as a fortress but eventually it was accommodated more like a luxurious palace. The main building is surrounded by a artillery barrier to defend its lower parts and has three gates or Puertas such as Puerta del Campo (Field), Puerta de la Villa( city), and Puerta de los Peregrinos(pilgrimages). In the beautiful room or Sala de Embajadores (ambassadors) there is a mudéjar design similar to that of Alhambra in Granada!

There is a visual audio guide aspects throughout with explanation of the different rooms very modern ! One of the highlights was to climb to the top of the towers and see a wonderful view of the countryside windmills and city of Belmonte such as the nice Church or collegial of Colegiata de San Bartolomé ; also, ordered built by the Marquis of Villena; the old fortress alcazar of the Infante Don Juan Manuel (today a venta or hostel of Don Quijote), the hospital of  San Andrés, convent of Madres Concepcionistas (conceptionists mothers) , Plaza del Pilar, convent of the  Trinitarios (Trinitarians) , and the rampart wall of the castle that protected the old town of Belmonte. There is a basement underground cave to see and a nice boutique shop in the beautiful courtyard with a friendly attendant , as well as a restaurant cafeteria.

As an anecdote, several movies have been done here such as El Cid by Anthony Mann, 1961 appearing Charlton Heston and Sophia Loren !!!. Juana la Loca, by Vicente Aranda, 2001. Amongst my favorites.

The regional tourist office has a nice picture of it and more info here: http://www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/castillo-de-belmonte-20864/descripcion/

And of course, the official webpage of the castle is here in English: http://castillodebelmonte.com/en/

We drove a bit on the town, very old and quaint and of course, can’t forget the windmills it reminds me of Don Quijote !!! And of course, the history of two countries dear to us, nice. Enjoy Belmonte, I was finally here!!! Cheers

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