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The well-preserved Torre del Homenaje, houses the visitor centre. J. A.
Castillo de la Estrella: The Arab fortress that is a monument to the life of SirJames Douglas
TREASURES OF MALAGA

Castillo de la Estrella: The Arab fortress that is a monument to the life of SirJames Douglas

Javier Almellones

Friday, 25 August 2023, 17:00

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In the Guadalteba valley there still stand a number of noteworthy castles, such as the two in Ardales (Turón and La Peña), and Hins-Canit in Cañete la Real. Due to its size and grandeur, the most notable is that of La Estrella (the star), located on a hill adjacent to the town of Teba. This fortress, considered the second largest in the province of Malaga, overlooks both the town and vast swathes of land that include the Guadalteba valley, the plains surrounding Antequera (La Vega), some of Seville's countryside and even the gateway to Ronda's mountain ranges.

It once had 18 towers within a walled enclosure that covered 25,000 square metres. Among the structures that are preserved is the Torre del Homenaje, where there is a visitor centre.

WHAT TO SEEPRICES AND HOURSWHERE TO EAT

  • Castillo de la Estrella Remains of one of the largest fortresses in the province.

  • Visitors' Centre The history of the castle and the siege featuring Sir James Douglas are explained in detail.

  • Nearby Monolith dedicated to Sir James Douglas, the Iglesia de la Santa Cruz Real and the Tajo del Molino.

  • Timetable Thursday to Sunday, 10am - 3pm

  • Prices General: 2€; concessionary 1€. Under 18s free.

  • El Cordobés: Restaurant serving traditional cuisine.

Among the many tumultuous episodes that the Castillo de La Estrella has experienced over time, the best known is the one that took place when the fortress was captured by the troops of King Alfonso XI. In this 1330 siege, Scottish soldiers were also involved. The actions of this small, foreign band of men, led by Sir James Douglas, have gone down in history for many reasons. This knight, who had joined a group of foreign soldiers alongside the Christian army to take the fortress, actually had the greater mission of fulling the last wish of his Scottish king, Robert the Bruce (died 1329), to take his embalmed heart on a crusade to Jerusalem. However, at that time, the closest thing to a religious crusade was the so-called Reconquest of Al-Andalus by Castilian forces. For this reason, Douglas, obsessed with fulfilling his king's last wish, set forth to join the noble ranks of Alfonso XI's armies and participate in the siege of the castle at Teba. Sadly, in the taking of the fortress, this daring Scotsman and some of his compatriots lost their lives. Part of his mortal remains, along with the heart of the Scottish monarch, were returned to his home town, Melrose, a Scottish town that has been twinned with Teba for decades.

Almost seven centuries since this event, it has now transpired that part of the corpse of Sir James Douglas was buried on the battlefield, a custom typical of Scottish soldiers at that time. It was a way of paying tribute posthumously to those who had fallen in battle. The custom involved separating the bones from the flesh, burying the latter in situ. This hypothesis, supported by some historians, was confirmed a few years ago, when it was discovered that a Celtic, funerary stele, (found in 2007 during building work for the high-speed train line), could be the grave marker for Douglas.

Every year, on the last weekend of August, the Douglas' Days festival is held in the castle itself and in Teba town, which includes a medieval market and a historical re-enactment of this particular chapter in the life of the castle.

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