Alcazaba Fortress - History and Facts | History Hit

Alcazaba Fortress

Merida, Extremadura, Spain

The Alcazaba Fortress in Merida was a defensive structure built in the middle of the ninth century.

Antara Bate

20 Jul 2021

About Alcazaba Fortress

The Alcazaba Fortress of Merida was a stronghold built in approximately 835 AD, during the reign of Abd al-Rahman II. This commanding ninth century structure with its twenty five bastions remains today, albeit with medieval additions and renovations.

Alcazaba Fortress history

The Alcazaba Fortress of Merida also has characteristics typical of other civilisations, notably the Visigoths, indicating that it may have been constructed earlier.

This great fortress was built in the Muslim Mérida by Umayyad Emir Abd ar-Rahman II in 835 AD. In charge of laying it out was the architect Abd Allah. In building the fortress, inspiration was drawn from Byzantine models.The palace was built to serve as a headquarters for Umayyad administrative offices and as a residence for the local governor. Most importantly, it was used to filter access to the city from the Roman bridge, the shelter of the Arab minority during the repeated local revolts against Cordovan power, and the square where troops belonging to the Emir were stationed – either to quell the revolt of the meridíes Mozarabs or to carry out bullying raids in the Christian kingdoms of the North.

The entire perimeter of this extensive Alcazaba was surrounded by a large moat, except the side that overlooks the Guadiana River. The Albarrana towers, that is to say, those which stand separate from the main body of the fortress were constructed at a later date by the Order of Santiago.

Alcazaba Fortress today

Very little remains of the original interior within the ten-metre high walls of Alcazaba Fortress, though an original well has survived. The ruins of several Roman buildings can also be seen. Overall, this is considered to be an important site, not least because there are few remains from this era in the area.

The Alcazaba Fortress of Merida is grouped as part of the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida.

Getting to Alcazaba Fortress

For those driving, Merida is a one hour drive from Cáceres via A-66. The train from Madrid takes 5 hours and while from Seville the train takes 3 hours.