Hins Qannit Castle Cañete la Real
Hins Qannit Castle – Cañete la Real Castle
The Hins Qannit Castle is located in the andalusian town of Cañete la Real, in the province of Malaga.
This was one of the main fortresses of the War of Borders in the Region of Guadalteba. Inside Hins Qannit we can find a medieval enclosure taht conserves its doors and walls, the houses of its defernders, wells to gatber water, several kitchens and a keep, which is currently used as the Centre for the Interpretation of the Lookouts of the Territory.
THE DEFENSIVE FEATURES OF THE CASTLE OF CAÑETE LA REAL
The Curtain Walls
The curtain walls were shorter tham the main wall. They acted as an external ring that surrounded the bigger core walls and keeps. The curtain walls were used in the weakest parts of the castle as a first defensive line.
THE MEDIEVAL CASTLE OF CAÑETE LA REAL
The Military Structure
The fortress of Hins Qannit was a characteristic example of a “border castle”. It had three big enclosures inside its walls: the first one defended the gate and the rest of the accesses to the fortress through a curtain wall and few towers. The second had a more active funtion, containing the houses and the water wells neccesary for the army. The third enclosure conserves the structures of bedrooms, kitchens, wells and a big keep, which was used as the residence of the head of the castle. The banner of the kingdom to which the fortress belonged, hanged from the keep balcony. The natural gorge outside the fortress was used as sheepfold and stables. This enclosure was called “albacara”, and although it was locate outside the walls, it was strongly connected with the daily activities of its inhabitants.
THE DEFENSIVE FEATURES OF THE CASTLE OF CAÑETE LA REAL
Gates, posterns and apertures
The accesses to a castle which is meant to be and impregnable defensive construction were always scarce and limited to three different sizes and funtions. The main entrance gate was protected bt the curtain walls and the control towers. It was strong and wide in order to allow the access to machinery and horse-drawn vehicles or, at least, beg enough for a person on horseback.
The posterns were secondary doors or gates, smaller than the entrance gate but bigger tham the apertures. In the Castle of Cañete la Real, these posterns were used to access the “albacara”, a well protected enclosure located in the external part of a fortress, which communicated the inside of the castle with the woods and were the horses and cattle were kept. Finally, the apertures were small doors which allowed the access by foot. Two of these apertures were found hidden between rocks in the northern part of the Castle of Cañete la Real.
The walls were wide, tall and strong constructions which were mainly used to prevent the enemies from access the fortress. In this case, the wall drew an irregular perimeter, adjusted to the natural from of the mountain. The outer part of the wall was built out of big, irregular stones and the inside was filled wth a mortar of sand, lime and small stones.
The patrol corridors
The walls and towers of the fortresses were crowned by a patrol corridor. This corridor was used by the patrol guards, who supported the duy of the guards in the sentry boxes. They were also used for the changing of the guard and as a defensive-offensive support in case of attack.
The perimeter towers
These towers were part of the walls they so strategically supported, creating a visual and offensive obstacle. They also reinforced and stylized the long walls allowing a better surveillance. Their interior was solid and they could include a terrace or some sort of room, which could have been used as the guard´s chamber or as an access to the patrol corridors.
THE LIFE INSIDE THE CASTLE OF CAÑETE LA REAL
The water wells
The water wells were key elements for the fortress´s water supply. In the castles usually located at the top of a mountain and, therefore, far away from natural water reservoirs, the wells were conscientiously excaveted and waterproof in order to avoid water loss and contamination. They were filled with rainwater and the constrant collection of the castle inhabitants from nearby water resources.
The water wells played a key role for the survival of the population during war times.
The garrison accommodation
The interior of the castles were used as accommodation for the garrison and also as refuge for the population during war times. The houses were always very ephemeral and poor. That is why some of the rooms and compartments found in the Castle of Cañete la Real are so interesting. The numerous rooms discovered linked to an octagonal water well and played a key role for the accommodation and survival of the fortress garrison.
The residencial tower
The keep was an standard element in medieval castles. This type of tower was located at the highest part of the castle and it was protected by several defensive enclosures. They were used as accommodation bt the head of the army and eventually, by the mayors of the town. On the keep hanged the standar of the kingdom and inside were the headquarters, the main residence and several warehouses, distributed in three or four stores. Nevertheless, the main funtion of the keep was to bee seen, exerting a real coersion power upon the population, who would feel the pressure of being constantly watched.
Castles needed a place to shelter the horses and other beast of burden like donkeys and mules as well as herds, flocks and some bovine animals like oxen and cows. In the Castle of Cañete la Real, this enclusure was located outside the walls, in a big mountain fault that naturally built a space limited by two big stone walls. This is the origin of the “albacara”, a place where the garrison and the people linked to the castle kept their animals.