Castle Concabella

Concabella’s lands are located just in the neighbourhood of the tribe of the lacetans (cat. Lacetans), who occupied the territory of the present districts of Urgell (cat. Urgell), Segarra (cat. Segarra) Anoia (cat. Anoia) and Bages (cat. Bages), and the Ilergetes (cat. ilergetes), who lived to the west, where today lies the border between Catalonia and Aragon (cat. franja d’Aragó), Lleida province, Catalonia, Spain.

Despite the fact that information about archaeological research on the Plain of Sio (cat. Els Plans de Sió) and in the Segarra comarca (cat. La Segarra) was not completely founded, it can be argued that the presence of rocky protrusions on this plateau helped the formation of the settlements. Obviously, there were many settlements, but their size was very small. The towns consisted of one street or were built around one square; initially they were not surrounded by a wall and appeared near a source or river. In Segarra, the walls were made of stone, and on the Urgell plain, stone formwork was filled with compressed earth on the sides; rainwater for household needs was collected in tanks and grain stored in silos.

Many of the local hills revealed tools and items used in the forge, weights for looms and a spindle. Residents used a variety of products from Campanian ceramics, the form of which was local and original, for example, glasses, bowls, cups and plates. Also, old crockery with red figures and other types of decoration, characteristic of the Iberians, who lived on the territory of modern Valencia Autonomy, was discovered. Studies show that the social structure of that time respected the right to property, there was a circulation of money, and writing was used.

The high position of the castle owners ensured a particularly outstanding significance and role in the history of the castle and the church of the town of Concabella.

On 23 October 1040, in connection with the re-consecration of the Church of St. Mary of Seu D’Urgell (cat. Santa Maria de la Seu), Countess Constance (cat. Comtessa Constança), the widow of Count Ermengol II, and her son Ermengol III, confirmed the donation to the capitula of St. Mary of Urgell Castle in Concabella, which he already owned. On November 14, 1051, Arnau Salla (cat. Arnau Salla) made a will in favor of his children and his wife Sansa (cat. Sança), as well as the local church of the Holy Savior (cat. Sant Salvador), leaving them the stables he owned in Concabella.

According to the historian Bonnasi (cat. Bonnaissie), Guillem Arnal (cat. Guillem Arnal) played a prominent role in the court of the Urgell count. In 1081 Guillaume Berril was a señor of Concabella (cat. Guillem Berill); a few years later – in 1102 – Mir Arnal (cat. Mir Arnal) and Guillem Guitart from Concabella were friendly with the counts of Urgell, Ermengol V and Ermengol VI. The high importance of the lords of Concabella is again confirmed by the fact that the signature of a certain “B. de Concabella ”(cat. B. de Concabella) appears on the Treaty of God’s Truce of Urgell (cat. Constitució de Pau i Treba d’Urgell) of 1187.

In a bulletin by Pope Eugenius III (cat. Eugeni III) dated March 11, 1151, with which he confirms the ownership of the Solsona collegiate church (cat. Canònica de Solsona), among other things, the head of the Church of the Holy Savior in Concabella was mentioned. Later, the act of consecration of the Church of St. Marie in Solsona (cat. Santa Maria de Solsona) of November 10, 1163, Bernat, Bishop of Urgell (cat. Bernat, bisbe d’Urgell), ratifies the belonging of the Church in Concabella of the said collegiate church.

For years, there was no news from Concabella; we only know that in 1347 10 families lived in the town. In the same year, according to Antoni Bach (cat. Antoni Bach), Berenguer de Peramola (cat. Berenguer de Peramola) bequeathed the castle of Gombau de Vitalte (cat. Gombau de Vilalta). A year later, in 1376, the Hero d’Oluja (cat. Guerau d’Oluja) is called the “Señor de Concabeli”, and in 1411 the castle belonged to the monastery of St. Jerome of Val d’Ebrot (cat. Sant Jeroni de la Vall d’Hebró ).

The castle is located in this small town and was first mentioned in 1097. In 1098, in the act of consecration of the church of St. Mary in Gissona (cat. Sta. Maria de Guissona), it is referred to as a territory belonging to the Guissona parish.

At the end of the 14th century, only one family lived here. In 1496, “vassals who paid tribute to St. Mary’s Church in Tauladells” (cat. Sta. Maria de Tauladells), which is in the town of Routera, are mentioned.

Description of the castle

Being almost square, the building is surrounded by three towers – only the northeast corner remains free – and is composed of carefully hewn stones, laid in even rows. The main facade faces east and is slightly elevated compared to street level; the entrance is in the form of a semi-circular arch. An octagonal tower stands out on the southern facade, which is almost hidden by modern adjoining houses. On the western facade, which ends with a gallery of small windows in the shape of semi-circular arches, two windows in the Renaissance style decorated with stucco can be seen; one of the windows is decorated with a curiously carved casing: a garland of leaves surrounds the window on three sides, along the upper edge of the frame is a train of human heads, and on the sides are images of animals. On the northern facade, at the height of the main floor, there is a toilet that was later added.

The oldest written mentions of the Concabella castle belong to 1040 and are connected with the house of the Counts of Urgell. Like most of the surrounding castles, it appeared at the time of the Reconquista, being a watchtower at the beginning of its existence. Later, the castle underwent a lot of reconstruction, until in the 16th century the Erill family (cat. Erill), descended from the Pallars comarca (cat. d’origen Pallarès), turned it into a country palace in a Renaissance style. In the 19th century, in connection with the collapse of the feudal order, the castle was bought by the inhabitants of the small town of Concabella and underwent significant alterations, which almost destroyed its original composition. During the civil war, from May to September 1938, the first two floors were occupied by concentration camp No. 4 of the Information Military Service (cat. SIM (Servei d’Informació Militar)). It contained between 800 to 1,300 prisoners from the Model Prison in Barcelona (cat. Model de Barcelona) and was used as a labour camp for fortification in the republican rearguard, in particular, on the so-called L-2 line. Since the 40s there was a school with a teacher’s apartment in the castle, then a ballroom, a stable, then an extension in which a cafe was opened …

In 1991, the Mayor’s Office of Planes de Sio (cat. Plans de Sió) began restoration work, designed not only to restore the walls of the castle, but also to open and explore new premises and turn the building into a cultural centre.

How to get there

From Madrid: 5 hr 12 min (524 km) via A-2

From Barcelona: 1 hr 18 min (111 km) via A-2

From Andorra: 1 hr 35 min (109 km) via C-14

From Paris: 10 hr 23 min (995 km) via A20

See here Pyrenees travel guide

See here France travel guide

See here Spain travel guide

Read more: Castles and fortresses of Spain and France with Mathew Kristes ...