Visit to Albarracín Castle and its Museums
Right at the centre of the original old Muslim quarter, the Albarracín castle stands on a breathtaking cliff top. This impregnable fortress, closely linked to the Islamic origins of the town, provides an excellent view, given its height.
A walled enclosure follows the cliff edge on which the castle rises. There are eleven circular-plan towers, open towards the interior on their eastern side, and a single square tower to the south, dating back to the Christian period, which stands out on a distinct section of the wall where red plaster cement, characteristic of the previous Muslim period, was not used.
This is a significant archeological site where the remains of 12th-centruy palace-houses, once enclosed within the Muslim fortification, are still preserved. The rooms in these small palaces are set around a central courtyard and feature certain unique characteristics. The main dwelling rooms are to be found on the top floor of the premises, which typically also have a large water cistern (aljibe) under the courtyard and the remains of a Muslim sauna (hamman). The other dependencies of the castle occupy the ground floor and are generally set around a well-preserved sandstone courtyard, in which the remains of lobed arches, probably leading into the main chamber of other palaces, are still to be seen.
Excavation works have been very fruitful so far. Among the findings, it is worth mentioning the numerous and varied remains dating back to the first Medieval period, which are exhibited in the Museum of Albarracín and are part of one of the most notable 11th-century ceramics collection. The castle was last inhabited under the rule of Philip II of Spain, although some of the remains found are as recent as the 18th century.
Museum of Albarracín
It is located in the old hospital of Albarracín (18th century), which was used as a district prison after the civil war and has subsequently been restored as a museum in the last decades. The remarkable history of Albarracín is portrayed in this museum, in the original rooms of the old hospital building.
The first floor is especially noteworthy: it is where the interesting Medieval history of Albarracín is depicted through valuable pieces from the Islamic period (assorted ceramics, decorated bones, metals and coins, sandstone tombstones, capital, essence flask…), as well as from the later Christian period (Albarracín law-code, coins, assorted ceramics and a reproduction of Episcopal seals, among others). Most of these pieces were recovered from the archeological excavation works in the castle. Nonetheless, it is the outstanding 11th-century ceramics collection, the main piece exhibited this season, that is above all worth mentioning
The Modern and Contemporary periods in Albarracín are depicted in its beautiful attic through various dioramas representing the resources and the way of life in the region at those times. Beside a loom, a hearth and an office, the ceramic pieces and the 16th-century town flag are also worth mentioning.
On the ground floor we find the entrance hall and the rooms where visitors get to know the region. Other rooms house important temporary exhibitions and cap off the pleasant experience of visiting this museum.
The Museum is, first of all, of great historical and architectural interest. Since it occupies the original rooms of the old palace, a walk through the premises provides an accurate picture of the Diocesan way of life of the period. Its restoration received the Europa Nostra award and the building was inaugurated by the Queen of Spain in 1995.
The Diocese’s most outstanding pieces of religious art are displayed in these unique rooms. The servants’ room provides a proper introduction to history and contains such exquisite pieces as the 16th-century rock crystal fish, among others. The antechamber and throne chamber are found next: an impressive 16th-century Flemish tapestry collection hangs on their walls. A small oratory, where a rich textile collection is exhibited, is accessed through the antechamber, while the main chamber leads into the Baroque Bishop’s chapel, ante-chapel and library-bedroom, where the oldest paintings and a carefully chosen collection of gold and silver work are on display. The paintings take up the private bedroom and original office. In the other rooms (dining room, cutlery room and kitchen) several sculptures are exhibited, together with the remainders of a glorious music past, of which several recordings are provided.
The historic moment when the Muslim taifa (independent Muslim-ruled principality) of Albarracín fell under the rule of Pedro Ruiz de Azagra and became an independent Christian feudal estate is especially enlightening: it provides insight into the remarkable historic position of Albarracín in the Middle Ages, when the Diocese was founded. The ups and downs the town has gone through during its peculiar history find an echo in the town’s landmarks, especially in its Cathedral and Diocesan palace-museum.
The White Tower (Torre Blanca in Spanish) is one of the three castles in the town’s defensive system, later on rehabilitated as a showroom. It consists of three superimposed floors crowned by a large balcony, which constitutes one of the best viewpoints to admire the old city, given its privileged situation.
Torre Blanca is also a excellent showroom where great exhibitions have been housed as part of the Foundation’s programme (renowned painters such as Gonzalo Tena, Vicente Pascual, Ricardo Calero, Oriol Vilapuch, Charo Pradas, Teresa Salcedo, Enrique Veganzones, Alejandro Molina and Solange Triger, to name but a few). Some of the artwork exhibited has been created in Albarracín itself, during the Estancias Creativas (artist-in-residence) Foundation programme, or as it is the case of landscape painters who each year take part in a collective exhibition and receive a grant from the institution.
Clients of partner institutions – 2 €
Groups of more than 20 people – 2 €
To book tickets or to receive further information on the museums, please contact the Foundation Information Centre directly on (+34) 978 704 035, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or send the request form available on this web page.