The Castle of Bellcaire: the work of the Count of Empúries, Ponç V

The Castle of Bellcaire (cat. El Castell de Bellcaire) is a castle in the municipality of Bellcaire d’Empordà (Baix Empordà, Girona province, CataloniaSpain) declared a cultural asset of national interest. The castle-palace of Bellcaire, located at the top of the village, has a square floor plan with a central patio and an outer enclosure batter walls parallel to the building, with six circular towers, on each corner and two more inside the walls on north and west side.

All fortification elements are quite damaged, the best-preserved towers are on the southeast and southwest corners. The whole west wing is occupied by a building which possibly served as the main hall, formed by four diaphragm arches that initially supported an artesonado, replaced in baroque period by a vault of lunettes with plaster mouldings. It currently serves as a parish.

On the main (south) facade of the Palace, there are two vaulted doors and gothic crown windows. Of this type of windows, there are remains on the walls of the central courtyard and on the western facade. On the east side, stands out the polygonal apse from the original castle-palace church, dedicated to Santa Maria. It is a one-nave building covered with a pointed barrel vault, crowned by polygonal five corner apse.

The main access door (there are two more, one on each side), of the patio, has three archivolt arches. A row of corbels and another of beam holes above this door and under a triple arch window may indicate the existence of a room in this place, which might have served the counts to perform liturgies.

Inside there are signs of burial grounds. As the whole castle the church must be a work from the 13th and 14th centuries. Later, perhaps together with the transfer of the parochial church of San Juan (the eastern end of the town) to the main hall of the Palace, reforms were performed.


The castle-palace of Bellcaire is the work of the Count of Empúries, Ponç V (1277-1313) who resided there habitually and possibly was buried there. His son, Malgaulí, the last count of the first Emporitany dynasty, also often resided there. The construction of this fortress was the subject of discord with King James II because the Usages preached that only the king could erect new fortifications. Nearby, there was also the royal fortress of Montgrí Castle and Albons castle, feudal of the king. The name Bellcaire may originate in this building, documented in 1309 as “Bellicadro” (meaning square well done), previously the place was called “Bedenga”. In the 15th century, an ecclesiastical community was present there.

Later it was part of the barony of Verges, because of this it did not revert to the crown together with the county of Empúries. This barony belonged from 1418 to the viscounts of Rocabertí, to a side of this lineage connected to barons of Sant Mori. Later, it went to the dukes of Cardona, and in 1587 the barony was incorporated into the crown. In 1698, Bellcaire was part of the Royal Batllia of Verges.

Throughout the complex, reforms of various epochs are evident. Recently, the entire complex has been restored by the General Directorate of Architecture and Housing of the Generalitat de Catalunya.

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