At the highest point of the municipality of Iznájar (Córdoba), controlling the town and its surroundings, stands a curious jewel full of history and legend: the Iznájar Castle (Hisn-Ashar). Of Arab origin, its remodeling and reconstruction keep, not only the passing of the years, but the evolution of history and its different owners who have left their mark on each stone. His visit does not leave anyone indifferent because, beyond its history, it offers views that are difficult to forget, in fact, it is the only castle in Cordoba from which we can admire a landscape in which water mixes –the one from the Iznájar Reservoir-, sky and earth.
This impressive fortress is in charge of receiving all those who come to discover the small municipality of Iznájar It is located at the highest point of the limestone hill on which the town sits, about 533 meters high in the Barrio de la Villa. A symbol that actively contributes to Iznájar being considered one of the most beautiful towns in Spain and which is also in charge of giving it its name, deriving from the noun “hisn” (castle) and the adjective “al-ashar” (happy).
Inside, in the center of its Patio de Armas is one of the best preserved wells of the time. Currently, this rainwater harvesting system continues to operate and its indoor temperature remains at 16-17 degrees Celsius all year round.
A castle with a legend
There is no castle without a legend and the Iznájar Castle could not be less. The fortress has a natural grotto popularly known as the “Cave of the Queen”, today under the waters of the Reservoir, which connected the Priego stream with La Villa. Legend has it that the queen went down with her servants through this cave to wash clothes in the river and, one day, the Molero knights seized one of them and forced her to hand over the keys to the castle and thus they were able to enter and conquer it.
On the other hand, this fortress is framed by four towers among which the one known as Torre del Homenaje stands out. Its interior is reminiscent of the Spanish poet Rafael Alberti who visited Iznájar several times in the 1920s and who even dedicated a poem to this watchtower in his book “The Lost Grove”.
What to visit
Its almost triangular structure is also special and is the result of the various remodeling that has been applied throughout its history. Traditionally, its construction began in the middle of the VIII century by Hispano-Gothic builders and, after several changes, the plan that currently presents in the SX is finally configured.As a good defensive space, its location is designed so that the steep north and northwest slopes of the promontory serve as a natural wall while the rest of the The area, with a much softer profile, allows the settlement of the houses of the municipality.
Throughout its history, this fortress has not lacked owners due to its strategic location, especially in the Middle Ages as it was a key point on the routes that connected the Genil River valley with the Subbética and the Cordovan countryside. . Finally, in 1991, it was acquired by the Iznájar City Council and became part of the local heritage. The Castle and Walled Enclosure of Iznájar is considered Asset of Cultural Interest and it is registered in the General Catalog of Andalusian Historical Heritage with the type of Monument.
The defensive enclosure is open to the public. In the two interior rooms the visitor can access the first Christian church built within the walled enclosure where, in addition, there are photographs of the restoration work and an exhibition of swords and daggers of the time. And, on the other, the Sala de las Caballerizas, which houses an exhibition of trades of the time and handcrafted pieces and, through it, one of the dungeons is accessed.
Iznájar Castle is the perfect excuse to explore the quiet streets and squares of Iznájar, full of corners such as the Patio de las Comedias, the Plaza Nueva, the Cruz de San Pedro, the Church of Santiago Apóstol, the Plaza de Rafael Alberti or its impressive viewpoints, Las Peñas, La Villa, de las Canteras, from the than enjoying the views of the Iznájar Reservoir, the largest in all of Andalusia.