Fortaleza de La Mota sits on a hilltop dominating the little town of Alcalá la Real, Spain. This interesting fortress-citadel is less than 60 km (37 miles) northwest of Granada, right on the way to Córdoba. It was one of those fun, unplanned discoveries. The night before we left Granada, I was just browsing the internet to see what interesting sights we might find on our way to Córdoba, and came across this gem! Its origins date back to the 8th century although what remains is largely 13th – 14th centuries and later. Originally a Moorish stronghold, it was the last defensive bastion standing in the way of the reconquest of Granada by the Christians in the 15th century.
Unfortunately the weather on the day of my visit was super windy, rainy and cold. So, I grabbed my umbrella and rain jacket and checked out the fortress on my own while my family stayed warm in the car. I am so glad I made the effort! The entrance to the citadel is not hard to find, just drive uphill by car from the modern town center. There is a little parking area, restrooms and visitors booth where you purchase your ticket before taking steep path up to the fortress.
Once you reach the citadel, there are several things to check out:
Tower of Homage
I welcomed a visit to this tower, which gave me a few minutes respite from the cold wind and rain.
Mayor Abbey Church
While no longer a functioning church, this structure is quite interesting with several displays and large screens in the nave, where the history of the citadel is explained in a short film.
On the plateau outside the tower and church are numerous ruins of the once prosperous citadel. Sign posts help explain the layout and various activities that occurred there. Around the 18th century, the townspeople left the citadel and began to populate the area below it, which was much better suited to agricultural pursuits and population growth.
For a little history on Fortaleza de la Mota check out Wikipedia. If you take the drive between Granada and Córdoba, don’t miss this interesting sight! During my visit, I saw two other tourists – I pretty much had the whole site to myself – of course, the weather probably had something to do with that!