The Castillo de Zafra in Spain Is So Fantastical It Was Actually Used on Game of Thrones

Castillo de Zafra: A Spanish Castle That Looks Like Something Out of a J.R.R. Tolkien Fever Dream

Castillo de Zafra: A Spanish Castle That Looks Like Something Out of a J.R.R. Tolkien Fever Dream

Atlas Obscura
Your Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders
Sept. 23 2015 1:00 PM

The Fantastical Castillo de Zafra of Spain 

castillo1
Castillo de Zafra, in all its glory.

Photo (cropped): Borjaanimal/Wikimedia Commons

Atlas Obscura on Slate is a blog about the world’s hidden wonders. Like us on Facebook and Tumblr, or follow us on Twitter.

Like something out of a J.R.R. Tolkien fever dream, Spain's Castillo de Zafra sits atop a regal promontory in a setting that may as well be populated with roaming dragons

Built back around the 12th and 13th centuries, the stunning castle has been passed around amongst the Spanish nobility for hundreds of years. The tall towers of the castle sit atop a massive rock located on what was once the border between Christian and Muslim territories. The flat surface atop the rock is crowned with a high defensive wall that makes accessing the castle inconvenient even for those who live lived there.

Advertisement

By the 15th century, the castle had come under siege by a Castillian king who was fighting with the then owner of the castle. But unsurprisingly the imposing defense held.

The castle has been owned by a long list of noblemen, some of whom repaired or expanded the grounds. There are even rumors of secret rooms that were carved into the rock beneath the structures. While these have never been found, Castillo de Zafra absolutely looks like the type of castle that would have them.

By the modern day, the towers and buildings had been badly damaged and many were crumbling. But thanks to restoration efforts by the castle's 20th-century owner, Don Antonio Sanz Polo, it once again looks like something out of fantasy. Today the Castillo de Zafra is privately owned and anyone wishing to tour the castle grounds must get permission to enter the premises, and it is said that the only way in is by climbing a ladder. Up the rock. Awesome.

The Castillo de Zafra is also slated to be the stand in for the "Tower of Joy" in season six of Game of Thrones.

Eric Grundhauser is a head writer and editor at Atlas Obscura. He lives in Brooklyn with his comic book collection. Follow him on Twitter.