We visited Ponferrada Castle this summer in Leon, Spain. While the bulk of the castles we tend to see in Spain are more along the lines of ruins, which I love exploring, Ponferrada Castle is definitely not in that category! It's very well-preserved and makes a striking sight as you approach.
The castle's massive structure towers over the Sil river and pretty city of Ponferrada. Not only is the castle itself immense, but the grounds are quite large, as well, covering about 4 acres.
The original Knights Templar castle building dates from the late 1200s to early 1300s, although structures were in place as far back as Roman and Visigothic days. The castle was built to help defend pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago. While defenses are no longer the order of the day, plenty of pilgrims still walk through town; we met one who was touring the castle on her day off from hiking.
The entrance to the castle is impressive. Walking up along a small roadway, you enter over a moat and through an arched gate as the bright flags flap overhead.
At the time of our visit, the fee was around EUR 8, which was reasonable considering the size and the amount of restoration work that has been done here. Our visit was on a sweltering summer morning in July, so if you are there in the summer, I recommend going as early as possible to avoid the heat.
A docent near the entrance to the courtyard asked us our language, and proceeded to tell us the recommended route to take on our tour.
There were some fabulous details to take in, like this beautiful canon. I am in love with its carved ram's head.
One exhibit room inside was devoted to clothing from a range of time periods. Also, a fascinating display was projected onto the floor in one area. With red lights shining down, you look a couple of stories below at a man's face projected onto the floor. He was saying, um, something, (when will I learn Spanish?), dressed in period costume, then finished speaking and closed his eyes. It was an effective presentation!
I always love the contrast of old and new visible from the grounds of a castle.
Even the walk to the castle is interesting, as you pass an artfully-decorated wall.
I really recommend visiting this castle if you get a chance.