Fortaleza de la Mota

Castillo-Fortaleza de la Mota. 23680, Alcalá la Real How to get

From afar, the majesty of the Fortress of La Mota historical monument site indicates to travellers that they are approaching one of the most complex defensive systems in Al-Andalus, and one of the most important centres of culture and power after the Christian conquest of Al-Andalus. To walk past its walls, pass through the ancient gates and stroll along the narrow streets is an invitation to travel back in time and recreate life in the borderland.




  • Spring-Summer, from April 01 to October 14, Monday to Sunday: from 10:30 a.m. at 7:30 p.m.
  • Autumn-Winter, from October 15 to March 31, Monday to Sunday: 10:00 a.m. at 5:30 p.m. Saturdays: from 10:00 a.m. at 6:00 p.m.


  • All year round: Tuesday to Sunday, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
  • Closed on December 25 and January 1 and 6. Special opening hours from 10:00 to 14:00. on December 24, 31 and January 5.

Information and bookings


The word Alcalá means “fortified town”, an appropriate name given to the town by Alfonso XI after the final conquest of an enclave that marked the border between the Kingdoms of Castile and Granada for over 150 years. The borderland nature of the town favoured its cultural enrichment and growth with the exchange of ideas between two warring cultures forced to compromise during long periods of co-existence. In fact, life in the borderlands is the main theme of the Visitor Centre, which also depicts medieval trades, typical characters and their roles, farming and the role of women in an entertaining and interactive manner, in several settings and a range of methods: panels, re-enactments, plays and videos.

From the beginning, Alcalá la Real was highly valued as a vital hub for the roads that led from coastal to inland Spain. No wonder, then, that defending the town was one of the overriding concerns for Moorish and Christian authorities alike. Defence marked the town’s urban planning and architecture, as well as the life of its citizens, who were mainly dedicated to military activities, their religious ceremonies and leisure.

Alcalá reproduces the general outline of Moorish cities, in three fortified sites: the medina, the alcazar and the arrabal (outskirts). The latter is where you can start the itinerary to the top of the hill where, next to the fortress, another building rises above the walled historical monument site: the Iglesia Mayor Abacial (Main Abbatial Church).

Called the Arrabal Viejo or Arrabal de Santo Domingo by the Christians, some remains of the enclosure are still standing, including a great curtain wall that surrounds the southeast side of La Mota and the church of Santo Domingo de Silos. The latter, now a ruin, is in the Gothic style and was built on top of an old mosque, according to some scholars.

In the old medina, you can observe some of the many gates and ruins of the towers that were part of the complex system that gave access to the summit of La Mota. Some of the gates are the Puerta de las Lanzas (Gate of the Lances), the Puerta de la Imagen (Gate of the Image), one of the main gates to the town – which is very similar to the Puerta de la Justicia (Justice Gate) in the Alhambra in Granada – and the Puerta del Peso de la Harina (Flour Weighing Gate), which gives onto the square known as Plaza Alta. Another tower that stands out is known as the Torre de la Cárcel (Prison Tower), which was a ruin for years after being blown up during the Napoleonic Wars and has been recently restored.

The tour of the old medieval enclosure ends at the top of the hill on which two symbols of the city stand: the Alcazar and the Abbatial Church. The shape of the Alcazar is triangular, comprising three towers: the Torre de la Campana or La Vela (Watch Tower), Torre Mocha (Truncated Tower) and the Torre del Homenaje. The latter is the tallest, and still preserves traces of its Moorish origin.

After the conquest of Granada, the need for defences diminished and the population moved to lower areas. Even so, the Fortress of La Mota continued to be the centre of civil and religious power. The fact that Alcalá became an abbatial seat after the Christian conquest led to the town’s important social and economic development during the Renaissance. The Main Abbatial Church in La Mota, together with the Palacio Abacial (Abbey) in the current town centre, are the fine examples of Spanish Renaissance architecture.

Built in the 16th and 17th centuries on the ruins of the old church that Alfonso XI gave orders to build, it boasts several architectural styles. Whereas La Mota gradually became depopulated over the centuries, the Main Abbatial Church was the only building that continued to function until the French troops arrived in 1810. The French dismantled and set fire to it during their retreat. Abandonment and decay followed, to the point that La Mota was used as a cemetery and even partially demolished at the order of the municipal authorities.

In addition to the magnificent historical monument site of the Fortress of La Mota, Alcalá la Real boasts a very interesting old quarter. It is a medium-sized city of Andalusia that stands at an equal distance from the neighbouring cities of Cordoba, Granada and Jaén. Here, the peace and quiet of the countryside, in the privileged environment of the Sierra Sur region, coexists in harmony with the modern, qualified services of a 21st century city.

Other services

  • Aparcamientos.
  • Acceso y Aparcamiento para Autobuses.

It may interest you