Peñas Negras Castle
Peñas Negras Castle is situated ca. 2 km east of the village of Mora, in the province of Toledo in Spain.
The name Peñas Negras means Black Rocks. Peñas Negras Castle was built around 1143 by King Alfonso VII. And because of its position, perched on a rocky ridge, it's probably one of the strongest castles of the province of Toledo. The castle was built as a military base and its commanders lived in the nearby village of Mora. The castle served as a starting point for a lot of raids into Moorish territory and was pretty self sufficient with rain tanks and 3 enclosures which were equipped with barns and stables. The keep was 3 storeys high and had an entrance at the 2nd floor. The keep's plan is an irregular square due to its adaptation to the rock it was build on. The inner enclosure is separated from the second enclosure by a deep dry moat cut out of the rock.
Around 1172 the castle was ceded to the Order of Santiago by King Alfonso VIII. They continued to use it as a military base until at least 1190. In the following centuries the castle was used as a state prison several times because of its strong position. One of its prisoners is said to be Caesar Borgia.
At the beginning of the 15th century however, the castle was inhabited by just its keeper and some poor laborers. By then the castle had already deteriorated so much that the costs of repairing or even maintaining it had become to high and so it fell to ruin.
Nowadays it's a great walk up the hill to the castle and the views of the surrounding plains from the castle are marvellous. Also Almonacid de Toledo Castle can easily be seen from up here. When I visited the castle there were some townspeople from Mora busy clearing the undergrowth in the inner enclosure. They told me this was for archaeological excavations that were scheduled for the next month.
Peñas Negras Castle is freely accessible and seems rarely to be visited.