Castillejo of Monteagudo
Murcia, Spain

The Castillejo of Monteagudo is located in southeastern Spain just north of Murcia. It is speculated that this palace dates to a period of great prosperity for the region, under the rule of Muhammad ibn Mardanish (1147-1172), vassal of Alfonso VII, however it is uncertain who commissioned its construction and what purpose it served.

Situated at the height of a small hill, the castle follows a rectangular plan. It is encompassed by clay walls measuring sixty-one by thirty-eight meters that are supported by projecting towers, two of which flank the main entrance positioned in the middle of the northeast façade. Directly opposite, this same space served as a balcony. The central towers on the short sides of the palace both feature reception halls on the ground floor. The site shows evidence of an additional wall approximately fourteen meters away from and parallel to the northwest side.

The palace is organized around a central courtyard that features a highly structured garden recalling stylistic similarities to the Alhambra and Madinat al-Zahra. One looked down into the sunken garden (by 1.4 meters) from paved footpaths that provide access across the garden and partition it into quarters, at the center of which is a fountain. Connected through water canals to pools at either end of the court, the fountain is the heart of the irrigation system that sustains the vegetation. Extending out over the pools are two pavilions. A noria (waterwheel) transported water up to the palace.

While the Castillejo remains in ruins today, there are remnants of ornamentation influenced from both North African and the taifa building traditions, including painted geometric decorative details and stucco carved into a variety of vegetal motifs.


Barrucand, Marianne and Bednorz, Achim. 2002. Moorish Architecture in Andalusia. Koln: Taschen, 146-8.

Ruggles, Fairchild D. 2000. Gardens, Landscape, and Vision in the Palaces of Islamic Spain. University Park: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 160-62.

Murcia, Spain
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