All the information you need to visit the castle of Belmonte, this 15th century jewel of La Mancha which is well worth a visit.
If you want to have a sense of time travel and even more so, as in my case, having lived through a whole medieval experience knowing the Belmonte Castle as a tourist site and the medieval combat as a sport that, although it may not seem so, is very new in Spain.
That is to say, not only did I get to see the beautiful castle, an ideal setting for films, but I also witnessed a training session of the Spanish Medieval Combat League.
It was a unique experience for me to visit the Belmonte Castle.
Where is Belmonte? Map!
Belmonte is a municipality in the province of Cuenca, in Castilla-La Mancha. This region of Spain is known for its wheat fields and windmills. It is located about 150 km from Madrid and about 100 km from Cuenca.
The castle of Belmonte is built on the San Cristobal hill, next to the village.
How to get to Belmonte from Madrid or Cuenca?
The best way to get to Belmonte is by car, taking the N-420 road from Cuenca or from Madrid. The trip takes about an hour and a half, and along the way you will be able to admire the beautiful landscapes of La Mancha.
There are also buses that connect the town with these cities, but the journey time may be somewhat longer.
How much is the entrance fee to Belmonte Castle?
You can visit the Belmonte Castle in several ways, and you have 3 types of tickets depending on the activities you can do inside.
- Visit to Belmonte Castle, free and with audio guide, the general rate is 10 euros.
- Visit to the Castle plus Trebuchet Park, the combined rate is from 13 euros.
- National Medieval Combat Tournament, held every September, from 18 euros.
🎟️ Tickets to visit Belmonte Castle can be purchased online and in advance on the official website of Spain Heritage Network. Please note that it is closed most Mondays of the year.
Then, you can choose the option of taking a guided tour of Belmonte, so take a look at this tour.
📷 Get the most out of your visit by booking a tour of Belmonte town with a local guide. The tour ends next to the castle, and then you can visit the inside of the castle afterwards (entrance fee is not included in this guided tour).
Visit the castle of Belmonte
The castle of Belmonte is one of the most visited monuments in Castilla-La Mancha. It is a fascinating place that offers a journey through the history of Spain.
Brief history: why you have to visit it
The castle of Belmonte is an impressive medieval fortress that stands on a hill next to the village. It was built in the 15th century by Juan Pacheco, Lord of Belmonte and first Marquis of Villena, a powerful nobleman who became one of the most influential men at the court of Henry IV of Castile.
Pacheco ordered the construction of the castle to consolidate his power and protect himself from his enemies. The fortress was designed to be a powerful weapon of war, with thick walls, defensive towers and an imposing moat. However, it was also conceived as a palace to house Pacheco’s family and to celebrate the great events of his life. However, Juan Pacheco died before seeing it completed.
The castle of Belmonte witnessed some of the most important episodes in the history of Spain. Within its walls courts were held, political negotiations were conducted and battles were fought. It was also the scene of romances and tragedies.
One of the most famous stories surrounding the castle is that of the love between Juan Pacheco and Maria Pacheco, his second wife. The couple married secretly, and their relationship was very controversial. María Pacheco became a key figure in the power struggle between her husband’s supporters and those of Queen Isabella I of Castile.
The castle of Belmonte was abandoned in the 17th century and suffered severe damage during the Spanish War of Independence. In the 19th century, Empress Eugénie de Montijo, wife of Napoleon III, bought the castle and restored it. Eugenia de Montijo decorated the interior of the castle to her taste, with a style that combined medieval and neoclassical elements.
After the fall of the French Empire, restoration ceased and Belmonte Castle was abandoned again. Although it was declared a National Monument in 1932, during the Spanish Civil War it was used as a barracks and prison.
📝 Funny fact: it has been the perfect setting for the filming of period movies, such as the one starring Charlton Heston and Sofia Loren in “El Cid” (1961). Also filmed were “The Lords of Steel” (1985), “Joan the Mad” (2001) and even “The Lord of the Rings,” albeit Ralph Bakshi’s 1978 semi-animated version.
The interior of the castle
The first impression you get when you arrive at the castle of Belmonte is that of being in front of an imposing fortress. The thick walls, the defensive towers and the imposing moat create an atmosphere of mystery and adventure.
The ground plan of the castle is built in the shape of a star, and the parade ground is an equilateral triangle. These details are very peculiar to the generally square styles found in other castles.
Once inside the castle, one encounters a world of luxury and splendor. The rooms are decorated with frescoes, tapestries and period furniture. The medieval bestiary, a vaulted chamber carved in stone, is one of the main attractions of the castle.
The views from the castle walls are spectacular. From the top, you can contemplate the La Mancha plain and the windmills of the area.
Belmonte Castle is a unique place that offers an unforgettable experience. It is a journey through the history of Spain, love and cinema.
Activities to do inside the Belmonte Castle
- Access with your audio guide to tour the site.
- Attend a Medieval Combat Tournament that is held every year and, if you are lucky, a Medieval Combat World Cup in which the “selections” of different countries of the world attend, even those without a medieval past. See details below.
- Paying an additional fee at the entrance, you can visit Trebuchet Park and its siege machines.
To find out if there will be historical reenactments, workshops and other activities at Belmonte Castle on the date of your visit, just check their Facebook page for updated information.
Trebuchet Park and its siege machines
It is a theme park dedicated to medieval siege weapons from different cultures (Christian, Muslim and Oriental) located outside the castle of Belmonte.
It has a collection of more than 40 siege machines, including catapults, crossbows, trebuchets and other curious war artifacts. The park’s Counterweight Trabuco is the largest life-size replica in the world.
There you will have the opportunity to learn about the history and operation of these weapons. There are information panels for a self-guided tour.
📝 Travel Mate Recommendation: if you visit Trebuchet Park on Saturdays and Sundays, from April to December, you will be able to walk through it with the Master at Arms. This character will explain how the Counterweight Blunderbuss worked and will even demonstrate firing a 30 kg projectile!
⏰ Master at Arms Hours: Saturdays and Sundays at 11 am and 5 pm.
What to see in Belmonte town?
- Collegiate Church of San Bartolomé: It is the main monument of Belmonte. It is a Gothic-Mudejar church built in the 15th century. The collegiate church houses an important collection of sacred art, including the main altarpiece, the chapel of the Pacheco and the chapel of the Virgen de la Paz.
- Walls and gates: The wall that descends from Belmonte Castle has been named in honor of Eugenia de Cortijo, and has several watchtowers. Strolling through the town, you can find 3 of the access gates to the intramural town: the Puerta del Almudí, the Puerta de la Estrella and the Puerta de Chinchilla.
- Birthplace of Fray Luis de León: In this house, the poet and humanist Fray Luis de León was born in 1527. The house was restored in 1961 and houses a museum dedicated to the life and work of the poet.
- Ruins of the old hospital of San Andrés: The hospital of San Andrés was founded in the 15th century with the idea of curing sick beggars and indigents, as well as hosting pilgrims. Only the walls and some remains of the chapel are preserved.
- Casa de Bellomonte: The house was built in the 18th century and preserves its original structure. This house-museum has a collection of objects and furniture of the time to get an idea of how they lived in the past, as well as an exhibition on the history of Belmonte. Admission is free, although there is an exceptional guide who accompanies you on the tour and, at the end, a tip is left at will.
- Windmill: The windmill was built in the 17th century and was restored in 2001. They can not be visited inside, but it is worth approaching to take a picture of them, as they are not only picturesque but also the typical landscape of La Mancha.
Medieval Combat World Cup
One of the activities we were able to enjoy was watching the training of the Spanish medieval combat team that was preparing for the World Cup, which was held in the Belmonte Castle.
Every year since 2014, the Medieval World Cup is held and, from time to time, the castle of Belmonte is the venue. It has had the honor of being the first venue in 2014, it was to be held again in 2020 (suspended due to the pandemic) and in 2023. In 2024, it will be held in Mexico.
📝 Mate fact: If you also want to enjoy a medieval spectacle, make a point of visiting Belmonte Castle in September because the National Medieval Combat Tournament is held there every year.
Medieval combat is a contact sport. To give it the seriousness it deserves, much emphasis is placed on the fact that it is not a game, nor is it a choreographed show. It is a sport, and a real fight for victory.
Everything is regulated: the equipment, the combat techniques and the conduct of the participants, so that they are safe during the confrontations.
🧉Colorful Mate fact: Argentina does not have a “medieval history”, but we do have an Argentine Federation of Medieval Combat Clubs, and they are official members of the International Medieval Combat Federation. Are we everywhere? We are everywhere.
Where to stay in Belmonte?
If you want to spend the night in Belmonte there are several options, from rural houses, old palaces and hotels. Our recommendations for accommodation in Belmonte are:
- La Casa de la Vieja: offers classically and tastefully decorated rooms, flats and penthouses in the city.
- El Paseo: excellently looked after by the owners themselves, it is a small accommodation with three rooms. Clean and cosy.
- Palacio del Infante Don Juan Manuel Hotel Spa: to stay in a former 14th century palace with views of the castle, spa and garden. The communal areas still retain their medieval charm. It has an outdoor swimming pool.
🏨 Do you want to look for other options? Find here the best hotels in Belmonte.
Discounts and useful resources to save on your trip
- Cheap flights with Skyscanner
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