If you’ll be traveling near Villena, Spain, you might want to visit the Villena Castle (also called the Castle of the Atalaya). Unfortunately, unless you speak Spanish, you might have a hard time finding detailed information about the castle online. I’m here to help. 😉
I can’t tell you what the castle is like because we weren’t able to see it. What follows instead are some English-language details about the castle, its history, and its hours of operation that I’m sharing from the English language castle brochures I was able to pick up at the tourism office on our unsuccessful attempt to get castle tour tickets.
The Castle’s History
The Castle of Villena was built in the 12th century by the Arabs to protect themselves against the Christian advance. In 1240, the crown of Aragón took over the castle after being taken over by the armies of Jaime I El Conquistador. Four years later, in 1244, the Treaty of Almizra was signed by the Crown of Castile and the Crown of Aragon. The Castle of Villena was passed to the Castilians.
In the mid-1200s, the castle became part of a new feudal Lordship created by Alfonso X the Wise (how cool of a name is that?). Alfonso gave the Lordship to his younger brother, Don Manuel. When Don Manuel died in 1283, his one-year-old son, Don Juan Manuel, inherited the Lordship of Villena. Lucky kid.
The Romantic Union of Two…Kids
Before Don Juan Manuel was potty trained, he was engaged to be married to a six-year-old girl named Jaime II, Doña Constanza. In the true romantic style of Lordships and arranged marriages of six year olds to toddlers, Jaime wasn’t allowed to leave the castle until she turned twelve — at which time she could be married. The teenaged Don Juan Manuel had the castle walls reinforced during that time, and the family even built a chapel on the property to honor the Patron Saint of Villena, the “Virgin of the Snow”.
Damage to the Castle Walls
In 1522 and 1523, the Revolt of the Brotherhoods put Valencian nobles up against the artisan guilds, farmers, and other lower castes (“the Brothers”). The Viceroy of Valencia was defeated by the brothers and retreated to the Castle for safety.
There were other, smaller battles over the years, but the one that you can still see damage from today is the War of Succession in 1707. The castle was being defended by French and Spanish soldiers when it came under siege by the Habsburg forces. You can still see places on the castle’s walls where stone was broken away by cannon fire during the war.
More damage took place during the War of Independence. In 1813, parts of the fort were destroyed entirely during the retreat of the Napoleonic Army.
The Castle in More Recent History
The Castle of Villena was declared a National History and Artistic Monument in 1931, and in 1958, Spain began restoring the castle. The last phase of restoration was completed in 2013, allowing visitors to tour the beautiful Castle of Villena as it stands today.
Visiting the Castle of Villena
The castle is relatively easy to find from the nearest main highway, A-31. I’ll include a Google Maps view and physical address at the bottom of this post.
Tours of the castle are free and are offered from Tuesday through Friday at 10:30 and 11:30 a.m., and at 12:30 p.m.
On Saturdays, Sundays, and Banking Holidays, castle tours are offered at 11:00 a.m. and at 12:00 and 1:00 p.m.
Each tour lasts around an hour, and no more than 50 guests are taken on the same tour. The views from the Tower of Homage (the tallest tower in the castle) over the Vinalopó Valley are supposed to be pretty incredible, if you have the chance to check them out.
Tickets & Prices
General admission tickets are 3€, and can be purchased at the Villena Visitor Reception Centre (see address, below).
You can buy tickets at the Tourism Office or at the Visitor Reception Centre. I’ll provide addresses for both of those locations at the bottom of this post.
Tourism Office Addresses
Pl. Santiago, 5 – 03400 Villena
Phone: (+34) 966 150 236
Hours of Operation:
Monday-Friday: 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Saturday, Sunday, and Holidays: 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Visitor Reception Centre:
C/General Prim, 2 – 03499 Villena
Phone: (+34) 965 803 893
Hours of Operation:
Tuesday-Sunday, Holiday, and Monday Before Holiday: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Tuesday-Saturday: 4 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Closed Mondays, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day
How to Find the Castle of Villena
Calle Primera Manzana, 1A, 03400 Villena, Alicante, Spain