A visit to the Castillo de San Marcos

Castles Spain is full and today we are going to focus on a very beautiful one that is in Cadiz, in Puerto de Santa María. Its about San Marcos castle, a monumental site that took shape over the centuries.

The castle stands on the ruins of a XNUMXth century mosque and was one of the constructions that Alfonso X El Sabio ordered after the reconquest of the city. In this case, his idea was to honor the Virgin. Today it is a tourist destination, so if you go to Cádiz read this before.

The Castle of San Marcos

Cádiz is a city that is located in the south of the Iberian Peninsula, an island barely separated from the mainland by a narrow channel, the so-called Caño de Sancti Petri, and only 124 kilometers from Seville. Its history goes back in time, thousands of years, and it has had participation in many important historical events such as the Roman expansion, the Punic wars or the discovery and conquest of America.

The Roman era was one of great splendor and growth, later the abandonment and the Byzantine, Visigothic and Muslim conquest would come. As we said above, Cádiz was reconquered by the Christians within the process of the reconquest of Guadalquivir, becoming part of the Castilian crown. Alfonso X gave great benefits to the city and reinvigorated its growth and brilliance.

Under his reign the old rural mosque that was there on the coast became a church and castle and thus the Castillo de San Marcos was born. Its foundations are reinforced, also taking advantage of an older Roman building, towers and more buildings are built. The mosque thus became a church, that of Santa María del Puerto, with an image that was placed on the altar, which is still venerated today and ultimately gave the city its name.

Today the appearance of the castle, both exterior and interior, is due to some restoration works carried out in the mid-XNUMXth century by a historian named Sancho de Sopranis. But the works continue in the hands of its local owners, the Bodegas Caballero, since the castle it is a symbol of the local cultural heritage. Thus, different cultural activities are combined here: music cycles, art exhibitions, events, a special chair on Alfonso X and things like that.

But how is the castle? In principle, the temple had three naves that were divided into four sections, with a patio, tower, main wall and minaret. Today the quibla and the mihrab remain from the original mosque, that is, the main wall in the first case. Later, in what we could call the second stage of the construction or transformation into a Christian church, the forms began to change.

This transformation from a mosque to a church-castle was made in the middle of the XNUMXth century hand in hand with the conquest of Alfosno X and the "Christianization" of the city. The church was also a very well located site, on the coast, so it could be used for defense and also for supplying the Castilian fleet as part of their expedition trips. A year later, the mosque was transformed into a church between approximately 1268 and 1270, it was transformed again when the city obtained its wall.

Thus, the church was also a fortress and took the name of San Marcos castle. From then on it underwent great transformations, inside and out. Inside, a Gothic-style main chapel with a ribbed vault was opened, which occupies the ground floor of the keep of the castle, supposedly located where the minaret stood. And here is the image of the Virgin of Santa María de España.

The oratory was expanded occupying part of the patio that was smaller, the naves grew to seven and reforms had to be made to the walls to support these modifications. Thus, the old mosque became a church-castle: a Gothic-style building with an octagonal Keep Tower, but with rectangular layout surrounded by eight towers. The Almohad decoration shines in these towers, topped with peaked battlements.

If you like castles, it is really worth going and getting to know it if you are in Cádiz because the Castillo de San Marcos it is very well preserved. Has been declared National Monument in 1920 and also a Site of Cultural Interest. Of course, it is not a public building without it being in private hands.

The truth is that from the middle of the 30th century the castle was in the hands of the lineage of the infant Don Fernando de la Cerda, the eldest son of Alfonso X, Duke of Medinacelli. In the 50s of the XNUMXth century it passed into the hands of the city council but after the Civil War it returned to the hands of the Medinacelli family to become the property of Luis Caballero SA in the 'XNUMXs

Visit the Castillo de San Marcos

Not all parts of the castle are open to the public or 100% accessible as no ramps so if you have reduced mobility you can only easily visit some patios and the winery. Inside there are some steps so it is more complicated.

Access to the building is free and free but you should know that both on Mondays and Fridays it is closed. So the doors are open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 AM to 2 PM. Yes OK on Tuesdays you don't pay entrance the rest of the days it costs 10 euros for adults and only 5 euros for children from 5 to 18 years old.

Our guided tours They are every hour from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm on Tuesdays, from 10:30 am to 1:30 pm from Wednesday to Saturday. There are some guided tours that are in English. Obviously, during your visit you will be able to take advantage of some of the events that usually take place here.

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