Lorca Castle, locally known as Castillo de Lorca or Fortaleza del Sol, lies on a mountain next to the city of Lorca, in the province of Murcia in Spain.
Lorca Castle was first mentioned in the 9th century. It was probably built during Muslim rule, although the site showed archeological evidence of neolithic habitation. The Muslim alcazaba was built on a mountain ridge, running from east to west. It was a very strong fortress, divided into two baileys by a strong wall. The west bailey seems to have been used to store livestock and food during perilous times and the east bailey was a residential site, with several cisterns and even a large Jewish neighborhood.
In 1243, when Ferdinand III of Castile turned the independent Muslim Taifa of Murcia into a protectorate in the Treaty of Alcaraz, Lorca refused to accept the terms. This led to a large Castilian siege army, led by the future Alfonso X of Castile, arriving at its walls in 1244. This forced them to surrender.The castle then became a key defensive point against the Emirate of Granada.
In the last half of the 13th century Lorca Castle was completely rebuilt by the Christians; the outer walls were fixed and strengthened and two keeps were built. First the Alfonsina Tower in the east bailey and then the Espolón Tower in the west bailey. Hardly a trace of the Muslim fortress remained due to this reconstruction.
In 1492 the Emirate of Granada was conquered by the Christians and after two dangerous centuries the frontier disappeared. A couple of months later Jews were expulsed from Spain by order of the Catholic Monarchs. This led not only to the diminished importance of Lorca Castle, but also to its depopulation. As a result the castle deteriorated and by the 18th century was nothing more than a ruin.
Lorca Castle was partly revived in the early 19th century during the Peninsular War. Walls were repaired, structures rebuilt and a battery of cannons was installed which changed it medieval looks.
During the 2011 Lorca earthquake the castle was seriously damaged. When I visited, the Alfonsina Tower was still inaccessible due to repairs.
In the 21th century a Tourism Parador, a kind of luxury hotel, was built in the east bailey. Archeological excavations preceding this led to the discovery of the Jewish Quarter.
At present Lorca Castle can be visited for a fee. A great castle. Recommended.