Zorita de los Canes

An Andalusian past born of Visigoth stones

By Archaeological Park of Recópolis

Parque Arqueológico de Recópolis

Zorita de los Canes and the Tajo River (2016) by Alfonso RomoArchaeological Park of Recópolis

Under the protection of its majestic castle, one of the most beautiful and important alcazabas of the land of Guadalajara and declared a historic complex in 1931, stands the small town of Zorita de los Canes, whose walls and streets contain the history and memories of their ancestors.

Old Alcazaba of Zorita de los Canes (2006) by Antonio Real HurtadoArchaeological Park of Recópolis

Marked by the footprint of the Military Order of Calatrava and next to the Tagus River, its faithful confidant, now declared a Fluvial Reserve, witnessed the steps of various cultures.

Zorita de los Canes from her castle (2016) by Alfonso RomoArchaeological Park of Recópolis

Let's get to know its history a little...

In the middle of the seventh century the decline of the Visigothic city of Recópolis begins, first with the simultaneous fire of the two palaces and then with the advance of the Muslim troops that occupied this area of ​​the Peninsula in the eighth century.

The Arab occupation of Recópolis extended until the ninth century, when it is abandoned, it is when it begins to be used as a quarry to lift the medina and the castle of Zorita.

Remains of the Arab medina and feudal castle (2019) by Alfonso RomoArchaeological Park of Recópolis

Its history dates back to the Muslim stage, although there are sources that indicate that there was also a Visigothic presence. In the year 926 CE it is mentioned as a key point in the uprising against the Caliph of Córdoba Abderramán III. In 1085 CE the Christians conquered this place.

Ascent to the castle of Zorita de los Canes (2019) by Alfonso RomoArchaeological Park of Recópolis

Years later, Alfonso VII, who had repopulated this enclave with Aragonese Mozarabics, gave the place to the Castros family, who instead of keeping it for royal power, became their feudal lords, sometimes threatening even the monarchy.

Remains of the old citadel of Zorita de los Canes (2016) by Alfonso RomoArchaeological Park of Recópolis

In the year 1169, the young Alfonso VIII, supported by the Laras and the council armies of Alcalá, Guadalajara, Atienza, Toledo, Soria and Avila, plus the support of the Calatravian knights, managed to recover Zorita for the Castilian crown.

The following year, in 1170, Alfonso married Doña Leonor of England, and offered to him in drag the castle and place of Zorita.

Shortly after, in the year 1174, Zorita was handed over to the Order of Calatrava, who received her in the person of her master Don Martín Pérez de Siones, who turned him into the head of an Encomienda, transforming it into a firm bastion full of troops, Knights and armaments.

Interior of the castle of Zorita de los Canes (2019) by Alfonso RomoArchaeological Park of Recópolis

Zorita was the headquarters of the Calatrava Master Table from the end of the 12th century until the beginning of the 13th century. It was Master Ruy Díaz who worked most in this regard.

In the following centuries, this fortress of the Tagus was the protagonist of some warrior adventures, especially revolts and civil strife of the Calatravos.

Zorita de los Canes Castle (2016) by Alfonso RomoArchaeological Park of Recópolis

In 1565 he was acquired from the King by Don Ruy Gomez de Silva, then awarded the title of Duke of Pastrana, where he was also lord. Ruy Gómez de Silva and his wife, the princess of Éboli, made changes in the fortress to be able to inhabit it.

In 1572 this tycoon founded a mayorazgo in which he included the town of Zorita and his castle.

He passed to his son Don Rodrigo de Silva and Mendoza, and then to his descendants, the Dukes of Pastrana, until in 1732, the Dukes of the Infantado, to whom the Pastranera house had corresponded in succession, sold this enclave to Don Juan Antonio Pérez de la Torre, predecessor of the counts of San Rafael.

The title, already only honorary, of Commander of Zorita, continued to exist until the 19th century.

Cistern of the castle of Zorita de los Canes (2019) by Alfonso RomoArchaeological Park of Recópolis

Throughout its history, the castle has fulfilled a double function: defensive-religious function, for example, when it was in the hands of the Order of Calatrava, and residential function when it was, for example, in the hands of Don Ruy Gómez de Silva and of his wife, the princess of Eboli.

Ascent to the castle of Zorita de los Canes (2019) by Alfonso RomoArchaeological Park of Recópolis

Today the remains of the castle show the passage of the different cultures that passed through it.

Details of the castle of Zorita de los Canes (2019) by Alfonso RomoArchaeological Park of Recópolis

The visit to Zorita de los Canes is a must for the curious visitor to know the history of Spain.

Credits: Story

A project promoted by the Provincial Council of Guadalajara, Spain.

Production and realization: Laura Domínguez and Fernando Toquero.

Photographs: Alfonso Romo, Enrique Delgado, Nacho Abascal, Laura Domínguez and Fernando Toquero.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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