This 12th-century castle stands in the centre of Cortes
, the southernmost town in Navarre, and is classified as a Site of Cultural Tourism Interest. It was one of the most important mediaeval castles
of the Kingdom
due to its location near the border with Aragon. It was the residence of a number of Navarrese monarchs, who approved a series of restorations that gradually changed its military appearance and gave it a more noble character. In the 19th century it was extended and restored in the neo-Gothic style, as witnessed by its pointed arches and romantic interior.
Inside, an interesting collection of oil paintings
from different eras, styles and schools (16th-19th centuries) has been preserved, together with several toys belonging to Victoria, the girl whose feet were cut off because she was badly behaved. According to the legend, her spirit still haunts the castle.
In the old vegetable garden of the castle there is now a picturesque municipal park
where ducks, geese and swans can be seen. As a curiosity, the park contains a large-scale chess set.
Due to its importance as a work of art and its active presence in the history of Navarre it has been included in the Route of the Castles and Fortresses of Navarre
The origins of the castle of Cortes are very ancient, and may even go back to the period of Muslim rule before the reconquest of the town by King Alfonso I 'the Warrior' in 1119. From 1234 to 1462 it belonged to the Monarchs of Navarre. Its rooms, the scene of royal weddings and institutional ceremonies, hosted King Carlos III 'the Noble' who often visited the area thanks to his love of hunting. Indeed, he instituted the 'Condado de Cortes'. Of all the personalities associated with the castle, we would highlight the Duke of Villahermosa, who made it his residence and brought prosperity to it.
The castle covers 4,538 square metres, plus a vegetable garden (now a municipal park) covering 25,000 m2. It is a complex structure, as the original layout of the castle-palace is practically conserved in its entirety. It contains a large walled triangle around the courtyard, the noble quarters are on the west side and there is a prism-shaped tower with embattlements and machicolations in the south-east corner.
The fortress was renovated and extended in the 16th century, when it took on a noble appearance, and later assumed the romantic air of neo-Gothic interiors (in the 19th century). These modifications are shown in its construction: on the first floor the influence of the mediaeval walled enclosure remains, while on the upper floor an imposing gallery with pointed arch windows is conserved, similar to many Gothic constructions.
Inside, the visitor can enjoy a number of oil paintings, among which the magnificent 16th-century portrait of Don Alonso de Aragón stands out, painted by Roland de Mois.