Castillo de Belmonte, the Montijo’s of France!

And again, this is a great story in the family and I need it to bring it to more attention with of course updated text. Great time doing this updates /revisions in my blog, it has brought a lot of memorable moments to share with my boys. One moment was the castle of Belmonte, here is the story.

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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 2017, 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. It is one of the best castles combining the history of my beloved France and Spain! Plenty of free parking at the Castle grounds.

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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!

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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 of culture, the castle has been completely updated and open to the public since 2010. The last phase of renovation was done just this year 2017.

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Initially ,the castle of Belmonte 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(pilgrims). In the beautiful room or Sala de Embajadores (ambassadors) there is a mudéjar design similar to that of Alhambra in Granada!

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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.

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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 (see post); 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.

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

The official webpage of the castle of Belmonte is here in English: http://castillodebelmonte.com/en/

The Belmonte tourist office on things to see: https://www.turismobelmonte.es/visita-guiada/

The city of Belmonte on things to see: https://www.belmonte.es/turismo/

The Castilla La Mancha regional tourist office on the castle of Belmonte in English: http://en.www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/castillo-de-belmonte-20864/descripcion/

We drove a bit on the town, very old and quant 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!!!

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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2 Comments to “Castillo de Belmonte, the Montijo’s of France!”

  1. Wonderful castle, sadly closed when I stayed two nights in Belmonte in 2009. Parts of the movie El Cid were filmed there.

    Liked by 1 person

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