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Calle Jaén, 3. 23220, Vilches How to get
Built on top of the hill from which it takes its name, travellers to castle of Vilches enjoy spectacular views of the Guadalén and Guarrizas valleys, in an area that lies between the Sierra Morena mountains to the north and the Guadalquivir Valley to the south. Currently, the chapel of the Virgen del Castillo (Virgin of the Castle) can be visited, as well as the remains of the original castle.
Before undertaking the climb to the top of the hill, travellers may stroll through the streets of the old quarter of Vilches that lead to the castle. The fortress and town were besieged and conquered by the Christians only three days after the Battle of Navas de Tolosa in 1212. As a matter of curiosity, a few relics of the famous battle are preserved and exhibited in the Parish Church of San Miguel.
A corner tower and a tunnel-passageway covered by a slightly pointed barrel vault that gave access to the walled fortress are all that are left of the castle’s original defence system. Over the years, as the Christian culture grew, most castle towers and curtain walls were used as quarry material, normally for building small churches and chapels. The same happened in Vilches, where the chapel of Santiago was built in the bailey and subsequently replaced by the current chapel of the Virgen del Castillo.
Vilches played an important role as a stronghold in the Upper Guadalquivir. It was also a sheltering castle for the inhabitants of the surrounding farmsteads, especially in the second half of the 12th century when Christian troops began to threaten Al-Andalus. Years after Vilches was conquered, Fernando III included the territory within the boundaries of the Council of Baeza, although the King remained the owner of the castle for years.
Moreover, research conducted in the area revealed the existence of an important Visigoth settlement dispersed in small rural population centres along the river valleys. The pottery found in the vicinity of the town and the lintel exhibited in the Provincial Museum provide evidence of the settlement.
Guided tours via prior appointment.