Welcome to the medieval city of Ponferrada, home to the Castillo de los Templarios, or Knights Templar Castle.
Recently reopened for tourists and made into a national monument, the Castillo de los Templarios marks an important time in history. Officially endorsed in 1129 by the Catholic Church, the Order of the Knights Templar grew in membership and power. They were among the most skilled fighting units in the Crusades. By decree of King Fernando II in 1178, Ponferrada came under the protectorate of the Templar Order, however the power of the Knights Templar, coupled with their esoteric traditions, caused them to be outlawed only 134 years later, in 1312.
The castle of the Templar knights of Ponferrada is a stunning building.
It was originally a hill-fort and later a Roman citadel. At the beginning of the 12th century, the Templar knights took possession of the fortress and reinforced and extended it to use it as an inhabitable palace and for protection, on the route of the pilgrims on the way to Santiago de Compostela. The building has an irregular square plan and the outstanding features are, above all, the entrance which involves crossing the moat on a drawbridge and, further on, two large towers with crenellations joined by an arch. Its twelve original towers reproduced the shapes of the constellations. For more information, please see Spain Info, including hours of operation.
If you have time, it is worth stopping to explore the ancient Templar Knights Castle. We got there too late in the day to fully appreciate the work that has been put into the castle, however if you have the time, an audio guide is available to you which will give more detailed information. I only had time to quickly run through the museum before climbing the walls to the top – the views are outstanding – no wonder it made for such a fortress – there would be no surprise attacks here!
The evening I was in town, as with so many nights along the Camino de Santiago, a group of us gathered after the days walk. What made Ponferrada so special was a special serenade by one of my newly found friends … bagpipes in front of the ancient walls of the Castillo de los Templarios.