The imposing castle of Burgalimar or Bury Al-Hamma, is a textbook example of a Spanish Muslim stronghold. Its current appearance, however, is very different from what was in the tenth century, when it was built: originally it would have been completely covered with lime and adorned with countless geometric and plant motifs made by the master-builders responsible for its construction. Presiding over a vast territory of olive groves in the upper Guadalquivir, between the hills of Sierra Morena and the reservoirs of Rumblar, the original Muslim castle is complemented by the fortress added by the Christians, with its circular tower and Almena Gorda or keep.
The Caliph Al-Hakan II ordered the castle to be built in the year 968, immediately converting it into a symbol of Muslim strength. Tradition says that the Christian king Fernando III el Santo ("the Saint") was born within its walls, when his father, Alfonso VIII, took possession between the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, before the battle of Las Navas de Tolosa, one of the key episodes of the Reconquest. After a long period of neglect, during which it was used as barracks, stables and cemetery, the castle was restored to celebrate its thousand year anniversary and that of Baños de la Encina, the village in which it is set. The flag of the Council of Europe that waves from the keep marks this event. A long history for a humble fortress that the Muslims built from tabyya a mix of clay, sand, lime and stones from the river.
The castle is easily accessible via the A-4 motorway from the south, which connects Madrid to Andalusia. The village of Baños de la Encina is six kilometres from the exit at kilometre 288.
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