The Castle of Calaf (cat. El Castell de Calaf) is at the top of the town of Calaf, at top of a hill. It is declared a Cultural Asset of National Interest (Bé Cultural d’Interès Nacional). From the castle it was possible to control the town and the entire surrounding plain, where two important communication routes passed: one from north to south which connected northern Catalonia (Alt Urgell and Solsonès) with a branch of the Augusta road, going through the Roman town of Sigarra (now Els Prats de Rei) and the other one from east to west, communicating the Segarra and the lands of Lleida with central Catalonia. It is considered one of the most important fortifications in the region and it should be related to other polygonal plan buildings such as the nearby Mirambell Castle.

It is a fortification of a polygonal plan with five sides of slightly different lengths and width and length of 28 m. The walls have a thickness of 270 to 300 cm. It is currently conserved to variable heights, in some sections the wall exceeds 10 m. Above the oldest original wall there is a more modern part with embrasures. Most of the corners of the wall were curved. The easternmost corner makes a strong curvature towards the outside, which makes it to look like a flanking tower from the outside.

At the north-east corner there was a circular floor plan, now completely depleted. The perimeter walls are made of large ashlars (30 x 35 cm), which are well squared and placed. The door is located in the southern part, that faces the town, in an entrance of the wall that makes the doorway stick out from the rest. Outside there are no voussoirs, but inside it is finished with a segmental arch and has a width of 220 cm and a height of about 275 cm.

Inside the wide enclosure closed by this perimeter wall, there is a transverse wall that goes from west to east and is located at about 4.8 m from the south wall. On the east side, on the internal face of the wall there is a stone cornice that can be related to the existence of a terrace.

When it comes to dating, although the characteristics of the perimeter walls might suggest a very remote origin, it is considered that this remarkable fortification was built quite unitarly towards the 12th century or even more towards the 13th century.

History

It is a castle first documented in 1015. After the devastations by Almansor and his son, Abd al-Malik, which seriously affected the entire territory of the county of Manresa, Count Ramon Borrell and Countess Ermesenda, between 1010 and 1015, gave to Bishop Borrell of Vic a territory called Segarra to repopulate. In 1015 the bishop gave the levita (owner of the castle or castles in the service of the Church) Guillem d’Oló, castellani of Mediona and Clariana, this region of the Segarra in which there were the three hills: Calaf, Calafell and Ferrera. The repopulation activity of Guillem de Oló is not known, as there is no more news of the castle until his will from 1031-1033, in which he passed it to a cleric son, who would have it for the church of Sant Pere de Vic.

Differences arose around this castle between the bishop of Vic and the viscount of Cardona, but in 1039, the bishop recognized Cardona’s rights to the castle, to thank him they gave Oliba the superior or eminent right. They also donated the terrain and the castle of ‘Calaph’ to his care, remaining their role as feudatarios who designated castellans, whose families were changing. In the12th century, a family called Calaf was documented in relation to the castle, most likely they were its castellans. In 1318, the castle of Calaf was linked to the viscount. According to the hearth tax record of 1359, Calaf had 63 family units and was part of the vegueria of Cervera. The house of Cardona held the lordship over the town of Calaf.

However, with the 14th century, the predominance passed to Cardona and “castrum et locum de Calaf” was integrated into the county of Cardona, being erected in 1375. The battle of Calaf of the Catalan Civil War (February 28, 1465) occupies a page in the history of Catalonia. The lordship of Calaf ended up in the duchy of Cardona. In 1462, in the war of the Generalitat against John II, the castle was mentioned as “very strong and defensive”. In 1602, there is mention of the chapel of the Castle. In visits prior to 1630, the church of Sant Pere del Castell is often mentioned.

In May of 1710, an Irish Bourbon detachment, under the command of Lieutenant General Daniel O’Mahony, attacked the castle of Calaf, which at the time held an Austrian garrison. After taking and destroying a large amount of provisions of the Austrian army, they set fire to it. About a year and a half later, during the months of September and December of 1711, in the confrontation of Prats de Rei, the town of Calaf hosted the Bourbon general quarter of the Duke of Vendôme, who was installed at the mansion of mossèn Jeroni Abadal. The town was occupied by more than 30,000 soldiers, who were deployed by the town of Sant Martí Sesgueioles, until they left the area in December 1711. In 1781, the castle ended up falling into a ruin. Up to now, when several recovery jobs have been performed.

In March 2011 the restoration works of the castle of Calaf were completed, they have been started in July 2009. They involved the restoration of the monument’s exterior structure, as well as making the interior accessible to visitors. The works have been financed between the Ministry of Public Works, the Incasòl and the City Council of Calaf, through the Cultural program ‘1%’.


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