Llers Castle (cat. El Castell de Llers) is a fortress in the municipality of Llers (Alt Empordà), Girona province, Catalonia, Spain declared a cultural asset of national interest.
In the Middle Ages, Llers was a border place between the counties of Besalú and Empuries. It was a strategic point since ancient times, and this strategic importance is one of the probable reasons for the construction of the castle in this area. Llers Castle, along with the other eleven castles that depended on it, formed a defensive network of great importance.
The first written records of the site are from the 10th century. In 1090 Arnau de Llers is mentioned in a contract concluded between Guillem Hug and Bernat II of Besalú. The importance of the lords of Llers in the county of Besalú is reflected in the fact that Arnau de Llers was a witness in a donation document of Count Bernat II of Besalú to the monastery of Santa Maria de Ripoll in 1097. It seems very likely that at the end of the 11th century there was a castle in Llers. Arnau de Llers is also a witness in a document by which Count Bernat III of Besalú ceded the county to the Count of Barcelona Ramon Berenguer III in 1107.
After the disappearance of the privative counts of Besalú (1111) and under the counts of Barcelona, the lords of Llers continued to play an important role, as the main castle was located in a border area, initially with the county of Empúries. Thus, in the year 1128, Count Ponç Hug d’Empúries seized several castles, including Llers. He was defeated and Llers returned to his former lord. The lords of Llers often act as witnesses and trusted men of the counts of Barcelona. Arnau de Llers was appointed mayor of the queen Peronella d’Aragó and in 1162 made a testimony of the sacramental testament of her husband, Ramon Berenguer IV.
During the second half of the 13th century, the castle passed to the Rocabertí family, which in 1276 built there important fortifications. Before the siege of Girona (1285), the French army found great resistance in the castle of Llers, a key fortress of the Empordà, which was taken after long effort. The “king of the land of Catalonia”, prince Charles I of Valois, son of Philip the Ardit was crowned in the castle of Llers. Subsequently, Llers Castle continued to play an important role in defending the northern Catalan border. In 1292, it had a garrison of 15 men.
The viscounts of Rocabertí continued to possess the dominion. In 1319, they made an oath of fidelity to the bishop of Girona for ecclesiastical rights related to the fortress. It seems that a century later, in the year 1409, the castle of Llers had already been incorporated into the crown. During the war of remences (1485), the peasants seized the castle of Llers. From the middle of the 15th century, the viscounts of Rocabertí and Els Perellós-Fenollet-Torrelles-Lanuza shared the lordship, but in 1625, the viscount Francesc Jofre de Rocabertí recovered the total domination of the barony, it maintained under their descendants until the end of the ‘Old regime.
The Llers castle was the scene of clashes during the War of Succession, when it was very damaged, and during the French Revolution.
As most of medieval castles, it is composed of a keep tower surrounded on four-sides by a wall and has several interior parts attached. The door was on the east wall, it has a thickness of 1.50 m and a current height of 10 m. The circular tower has a diameter of 11.80 m and 2 m thick wall. It currently has a height of 12 m. surely inferior to the original. The constructive body is of ashlars of about 25 x 35 cm in horizontal rows united by lime mortar. The old door seems to have been located at 6 meters of the ground. The tower was encircled by a rectangular enclosure. Next to the south side of this enclosure there was a rectangular hall of 28.5 x 6.35 m, from which four walls are conserved up to the beginning of the vault, where there is a row of holes that must have held the beams. On the north wall there is a door of 150 cm outside width, and a height of 200 cm, which ends in a semicircular arch formed by 8, 35 cm long voussoirs.
To the west of the walled enclosure, there is another hall, about 11 m x 5.7 m and between them another room of 12.6 x 5.7 m which is guessed to have been covered by a vault. One of the two doors of this last building is clearly preserved and is finished with a semicircular arch. The curtain walls keep a height of 10 m. Inside the east wall there is a piece of wall with inclined stones forming a sort of “opus spicatum”. At the base of the wall there are rows of large, well-sized ashlars. These two fragments of wall are the oldest remains of the Llers castle.
The construction of the Llers castle is very homogeneous and well organized. Although it is considered to be built (or rebuilt) in the 13th century, it is clearly adapted to the defensive castle model of the Romanesque period: a central keep tower and a circuit of walls with quite majestic adjoining rooms. A very remarkable castle that, despite the pressure of time, has survived pretty well conserved.
Coordinates: 42° 17′ 44″ N, 2° 54′ 42″ E
Catalunya Romànica,vol. IX L’Empordà II. Barcelona: Enciclopèdia Catalana, 1990, p. 548 a 552.