“The Cuellar castle is located on the so-called citadel, in the highest part of Cuéllar, province of Segovia, closing the walled enclosure through this place.”
Castle of the Dukes of Alburquerque
It is not understood to do tourism in Cuéllar without visiting his castle. This castle constituted a true defensive bulwark that went through different reforms until the 18th century, displaying valuable paintings of famous signatures, tapestries and lounges decorated with the utmost luxury, gold and silver plates, weapons of all styles. It is said that it housed the richest and most varied armory in the country. All this and much more was plundered during the War of Independence. It was the headquarters of Lord Wellington and safe refuge of General Victor Hugo during the War of Independence. It was during this period that he suffered the dispossession and plunder of Napoleon’s soldiers.
The primitive castle of Cuéllar was usurped by Enrique IV to his stepsister Isabel, to whom his father Juan II left it to him in his testament. Enrique IV then granted it to his favorite and beloved Don Beltrán de la Cueva, first Duke of Alburquerque, who began the construction of a new and sumptuous castle-palace that would be finished, in Renaissance style, by his successors in the sixteenth century.
This castle was a true defensive bastion that went through different reforms until the eighteenth century. Until that century, the castle-palace boasted valuable paintings of famous firms, tapestries and halls decorated with the utmost luxury, gold and silver dishes, weapons of all styles … It is said that it housed the richest and most varied armory of the country. But the Dukes of Alburquerque left Cuellar to go to Madrid with the Bourbon court, gradually taking away the valuables that were in the castle (dinnerware, tapestries, weapons …). When the French, during the War of Independence, arrived at the castle, it was practically empty.
It was the headquarters of Lord Wellington and safe refuge of General Victor Hugo during the War of Independence. The French soldiers were quartered for several years intermittently in this castle for 4 years.
Many were the events that housed the walls of this castle, such as the festivities organized by Don Juan II to give the children of Aragon, perhaps the tragedy of Doña Juana de Castro, the anguish of Doña María de Molina, the war cries of the Knights of the Count of Treviño (Don Pedro de Manrique) in the time of Henry IV, etc…
In the 20th century the castle was transformed and a teaching center was installed there.
During the Spanish Civil War Italian soldiers were quartered for several months in the castle, by order of the national side. After the war, the national side asks the dukes of Alburquerque to give them the castle as a prison, who gives it to them. It was then when the castle was used as a prison from 1939 until 1962, hosting more than 1,500 inmates. During this stage is when the castle undergoes a major transformation, transforming the palatial dependencies into cells for the prison.
Its plant is rectangular, and is flanked by three cylindrical towers located on each of the vertices, and a square on the remaining southwest.
In the upper part of the south facade you can see a wide Renaissance gallery supported by huge corbels, which breaks with its graceful construction, the monotony of the wall. Under this gallery there is a balcony and a large window give light, respectively, to the dining room and the large reception room.
In the lower part of the quadrangular tower there is still a high brick arch, under which one of the three doors that gave access to the fortress was opened, and which seems to be the remains of an earlier building on which the current part was built. In this way, the visitor can easily observe how the whole lower part corresponds to a primitive construction, in which uncut stones appear between which the brick appears, according to the technique used in previous buildings, and on which it was built in 1464, the current castle, which is almost entirely Gothic in style.