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Castles in Cadiz

Guzmán El Bueno Castle

Castles in Cadiz

Tarifa Castle, Guzmán El Bueno Castle

Guzman El Bueno Castle – Tarifa´s Castle
Tarifa – Cádiz – Andalucía

Castillo de Tarifa

Guzman el Bueno Castle


The catapult is a war machine, used to destroy walls and towers through the launching of stone balls, wich finding is usual in Tarifa underground.

It worked when a cord was tensed by a lever and ratchet. The cord tensed the bowring, wich pilled the pan when it was freed.

This is an exact reproduction, to the original scale, constructed at the Municipal wood workshop in Tarifa.

Caliphal Castle

The Caliphal Castle

You are now in front of the heart of the original castle, dating from the Xth Century. It was built by the first Omeya Caliph in al-Andalus, Abd al-Rahman III, as an answer to the challenge of the Fatimid Caliphate in North África.

He created a fleet and a system of fortresses along the coast, which the best preserved is this. Its construction follows the propagandistic scheme common to all the official architecture from the Omeya State, as is the squared plan, here in Tarifa trapezoidal, a little bit narrow in this side because is adapted to the rocky platform.

Castillo de Tarifa


The small Christian chapel was the first vision when someone came into the city coming from the harbour. It is possible that there pride for protection for the sailors. In the botton there is a recess for the cult images.

It was discovered in the 1994 season of Archaeological Research, but some XIX Century pictures shows it ruined, with an arched gate.

Castillo de Tarifa, Puerta de la Inscripción Fundacional castillo-de-guzman-el-bueno-puerta-de-la-inscripcion

The Foundation Inscription Gate

It was them main entrance of the Caliphal castle, facing to the sea as a Triumphal Arch. On the external arch, originally a horseshoe arch, still remains the original Foundation Inscription, in the official Kufic alphabet, something exceptional in al-Andalus.

The gate was closed by wooden doors one in the external arch and one in the internal, where we can see the pivot holes for the vertical axis, both in the arch and in the floor. The interval between both archs is covered with a stone vault, and in both sides there were estances for the guardians.

All the rest of constructions inside of the gate were added in recent times.

Castillo de Tarifa, Puerta del Recodo castillo-de-guzman-el-bueno-escalera-de-los-adarves

The Winding Gate

This is a zig-zag gate, defilated, planed in order to difficult the entrance of troops or horsemen. Originally it was opened laterally, but the Christian added a new entrance with a big arch.

An open space in the ceiling serves for darting all kinds of objects in the defence.

It´s necessary passing through this gate for trespassing the first wall (“barbacana”) constructed to preserve the main castle. All this complex dates from the Almohad period (XII-XIII th Centuries).

Staircase to the Battlements

This beautiful staircase gives access to the welling palace halls (now closed by restauration works), that shows mural paintings in the interior and that should have a rich image in the XV and XVI centuries.

It´s also the way to the terrace and the battlements, crowned with pyramidal merlons, that creates a curious visual game.

The panoramic views from the top are gorgeous.

Guzman el Bueno Castle Castillo de Tarifa

Stairs to the Barrier or First Wall

These steps give access to the first wall (Barbacana). As we have already said, this is a barrier constructed around the castle, during the Almohad period (XII-XIII th Centuries), for protecting it from a direct attack. The Winding Gate and the tower named of Guzmán el Bueno were constructed all in the same project, making the castle so much strong.

Western Courtyard

Not too much is known about the original plan inside the castle, where the archaeological research is just beginning. The garrison must have been housed in some type of buildings. The actual division of two courtyards and all the buildings have its origin after the Christian conquest.

Only Roman and Phoenician ruins have been found in the subsoil.

Castillo de Tarifa castillo-de-guzman-el-bueno-torre-del-homenaje

Castle Passage Way

This narrow space between the castle and the first wall, generically known as liza”, was in this case one of the streets of the city for many years.

In the higher part of the walls of the castle there are several windows, decored with Renaissance styles tiles, belonging to the palatial works undertaked by the I Marquis of Tarifa, in the XVI Century, that changed in part the purely military character of the castle.

Homage Tower

Its name is a reference to the Homage Ceremony, in wich the “alcaide” take the castle in the name of his King, and make oath of defending it. Guzmán el Bueno was its second alcaide, and made honor to this oath, but the tower was built after his feat.

That tower is, then, a Christian work, that make use of one of the small Caliphal towers as a alley. It was doubled higher, with some rooms in the top, where the alcaide teorically might to live.

castillo-de-guzman-el-bueno-puerta-del-lado-oeste castillo-de-guzman-el-bueno-cimientos-torres-califales

Eastern Gate

This gate of the castle, smaller that one in the opposit side, allows the comunication with the city, once it was growing under the castle protection. It has been modified, as cutting the arch stones, but some resturation has been carried out.

In the facade a salient square surround the arch, and over it a molding point out the limit of the original Caliphal wall. Inside, the gates is covered with a stone vault.

The gate is flanked by two towers, also ver changed along the time. The tower situated to your right was modified in the XII or XIII century, envolving the small original tower.

Under your feet there are remains of a ancient floor.

Fundaments of Caliphal Towers

The original castle datin from the X Century was flanked by small towers built at regular intervals. In the eastern flank, all the towers were modified, and even two of them disappeared, that one in the NE corner and other in the intermedium.

Only the fundaments remains, located in the 1994 season of Archaeological Excavations.

When they falled, in the castle passageway remain the slope or reinforcement in the lower part of the wall between two towers.

castillo-de-guzman-el-bueno-muro-a-zoga-y-tizon castillo-de-guzman-el-bueno-subida-torre-atalaya


In front of you, in the low part of the wall, you can see the characteristic constructive proceeding used in the Caliphal castle. It is formed by big prismatic stones (ashlars) disposed alternating one of them showing its larger face, with others showing the smaller edge, but penetrating in the wall(called “soga y tizón”). Such disposition and even the size are exactly the same, as other elements, that the technic used in one of the highlights of Caliphal architecture, the palatial city of Madinat al-Zahra, in Córdoba, built by order of the same Caliph.

In the top of wall, you can see a balcony belonging to the Hall of Weapons, built in Christian time, that holds all the south nave.

Stairs to the Watch-Tower (City Wall)

The Watch-Tower, also called Tower of Santa Maria, is the first of the towers of the walled area of Madina or Islamic City.

Tarifa has 3 walled enclousures apart from the castle, successively built: the Almedina(wich has preserved a spectacular Gate with the same name), the Aljaranda (with some remains in the Exhibition Hall in the Old Real Jail) and the last one and bigger enclosure, with the Jerez Gate.


The granary or Pósito or is a building for storing grain. The Pósito as an institution was run by the local government. Its purpose was to provide grain to farm workers in difficult times and to regulate the market for wheat whenever its price was increasing at an alarming rate.

Tarifa´s granary dates from the XVIII Century, and as usual is built with a solid structure, with large naves covered with archs and vaults in the ground floor. At present houses the Municipal Archives and other cultural services.

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2 comentarios

  1. Orlando Peña escribio:

    Cordial saludo. Soy ingeniero y estudiante de Algeciras., Me gustaría conocer castillos cerca de la ciudad donde vivo. me preguntaba horario y precio de la entrada para visitar Castillo de Guzmán El Bueno. ¿hay algún día gratis para estudiantes con carnet?

    • Domingo Marquez escribio:

      Pues la verdad es que no me acuerdo cuanto me cobraron el día de mi visita, normalmente suele ser barato…..e imagino que habrá precios especiales para colegios, personas mayores, etc….
      En cuanto a los Castillos, en Andalucía hay bastantes fortalezas medievales, torres vigía, etc…. muchas en buen estado y visitables:

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