Olite Castle (Spain)
Navarre See list of castles in Spagna
Olite’s claim to fame is definitely the the Royal Palace of Olite. The palace is often referred to as Olite Castle, probably because it looks more like a military bastion than a residence. It was, however, used primarily as a home for Charles III, the Noble, King of Navarre. In the 14th century, the king commissioned a new palace to be constructed next to the original palace from the 11th century. The Royal Palace of Olite became his favorite residence and is where the Seat of Royal Court of the Kingdom of Navarre was established.
The French-born Charles was more known for his luxurious lifestyle than for his military campaigns. The evidence of which could be seen within the palace’s furnishings and its many courtyards and hanging gardens. In addition, the king kept many exotic animals at the palace such as giraffes and lions. During King Charles reign, the Royal Palace of Olite was said to be one of the most beautiful of Europe.
In 1512, Navarre was invaded and the palace began to deteriorate. Afterwards, it was only used occasionally as a residence for noblemen. Then, during the Peninsular War in 1813, the palace was intentionally burned by the Navarre General, Espoz y Mina, in an attempt to prevent the french troops from using it for strategic purposes. As a result, all of the furnishings and palatial artifact were lost and the palace was left in terrible shape. In 1937, a restoration of the palace began and continued for another 30 years until it was finally completed.
Today, the Royal Palace of Olite is only a shell of its former self but it still retains much of its fairy tale characteristics. There are countless towers that are scattered throughout the palace that conjure up images of Cinderella, Rapunzel, and even Super Mario. Each one of them is slightly different and has its own appeal. The towers are a lot of fun to climb and have really amazing views of the rest of the castle, the town, and the surrounding landscape filled with vineyards. In addition, there is a sense of disorder to the palace that is the result of continuous expansion efforts made throughout the years. These expansions were never built according to an overall plan. The towers and overall disorder only add to the palace’s charm.