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History - Banda Gallega

Banda Gallega - Galician Line

by Chris Chaplow and Sam Pulman-Slater

 

The Banda Gallega is the name given to Middle Age fortifications in the north of present-day Sierra de Aracena. These were a line of castles along the border with Portugal, in the northwest of the former Kingdom of Seville.

In 1293, some 40 years after the Catholic Reconquest of the territory which came to be the Kingdom of Seville, the Kingdom's council requested that King Sancho IV of Castile construct castles to fortify the region against possible Portuguese military advances, and to protect the population and trading routes from bandits. The area had been repopulated by citizens of Galicia and Leon after the eviction of the Moors; hence the name Banda Gallega.

The following list shows the castles as divided into three defensive lines:

 

All but two of the above structures were built on top of earlier Moorish constructions. The two new castles were Cumbres Mayores, initially an abandoned settlement, and Santa Olalla, constructed at the order of Sancho IV via a Privilegio de Toro in 1293. The castles both had interior albácares ('quarters') to accommodate the local population in the event of attack.

Some accounts include other castles in the Sierra Norte de Sevilla, near the border with the Kingdom of Leon. These structures, however, would have been built later for various reasons: