La Calahorra Castle
La Calahorra Castle, locally known as Castillo de La Calahorra, lies on a hill next to the village with the same name in the province of Granada in Spain.
The first fortification at this site was a medieval castle of Moorish origin. During the 15th century local Moors had converted to Christianity and subsequently offered the castle to the local Christian aristocracy. It is assumed that the castle, an imposing medieval fortress isolated in an inhospitable area, was used as a prison during the Spanish Reconquest. In 1490, the Catholic Monarchs gave the castle to Grand Cardinal Pedro González de Mendoza in reward for his loyal service.
After the death of the cardinal in 1495, his son Don Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar y Mendoza, Marquess of Cenete inherited La Calahorra Castle. This Don Rodrigo was quite a womanizer and after his wife died in 1497, the merry widower traveled to Italy. There he is alleged to have had a relationship with Lucrezia Borgia, daughter of Pope Alexander VI, whom he nearly married. Shortly after his return to Spain, he fell madly in love with the beautiful Maria de Fonseca and intended to marry her. This was, however, forbidden by her father; Don Alfonso de Fonseca. Regardless, Don Rodrigo secretly married Maria with consent from her mother. Queen Isabella I, furious at this blatant act of disobedience, annulled the marriage and imprisoned Don Rodrigo in Cabezón Castle.
Upon Isabella's death in 1504, he was released by Philip I, the new King of Castile. Still madly in love with Maria de Fonseca, he managed to organize her abduction from the convent where she had been leading a cloistered life since their separation. In 1506, they remarried in Jadraque, though officially this time, and then retired to Calahorra Castle. The following years they had two daughters.
For the comfort of his wife and children Don Rodrigo had the interior of La Calahorra rebuilt between 1509 and 1512. It was turned into a magnificent Renaissance palace, with lavish decorations and lots of Carrara marble, by Lorenzo Vázquez, an architect from Segovia and Michele Carlone, an architect from Genoa, Italy. La Calahorra Castle is said to be the earliest example of Italian Renaissance architecture on the Iberian peninsula. The castle was inhabited by Don Rodrigo and his wife for only 8 years after the conclusion of the works. Later the castle was inherited by their daughters.
During the Morisco Revolt (between 1568 and 1571), which was especially violent in the March of Cenete, the local Christians sought refuge in La Calahorra Castle from rebelling Moors. After that the castle stood practically abandoned for centuries.
At the beginning of the 20th century La Calahorra Castle was bought by the Duke of El Infantando and the Marquess of Santillana, after it had almost been bought and moved stone-by-stone to the United States.
At present the exterior of La Calahorra Castle is freely accessible. When I visited the castle was closed, so I wasn't able to visit its famous interior, sadly enough. Also I don't know if visits are possible anyway. Too bad. This is a great impressive castle, beautifully located next to the outskirts of the snowy Sierra Nevada mountains.