Bellver Castle (Catalan: Castell de Bellver) is a Gothic style castle on a hill 3 km northwest of Palma on the Island of Majorca, Balearic Islands, Spain. It was built in the 14th century for King James II of Aragon, and is one of the few circular castles in Europe. Long used as a military prison throughout the 18th to mid-20th century, it is now under civilian control, being one of the main tourist attractions of the island, as well as the seat for the city's History Museum.
Origins and Evolution
The castle's plan, circular floor with circular towers attached to it seems to have been inspired by the upper complex of the Herodion in the West Bank, which is also circular and has as well a large principal tower and three minor towers. The minor towers are attached while the principal one is coupled to the complex by a high bridge over the surrounding moat.
The main part of the fortification was build by architect Pere Salvà, who also worked in the construction of the Royal Palace of La Almudaina, together with other master masons between 1300 and 1311 for king James II of Aragon and Majorca. Rock from the hill where the castle sits was used for the building, which has eventually led to the appareance of cracks.
Once the castle had been built, and following the introduction of artillery, the battlements on the top balconies and the barbican disappeared, being soon followed by those in every tower, and loopholes were built instead.
The castle originally served as a residence for the Kings of Mallorca whenever they were not staying at mainland Europe, and was seldom used as a residency again for viceroys during the 17th century. As a fortification, it suffered and successfully resisted two sieges during the Middle Ages, the first of them in 1343, during Peter IV of Aragon's campaign to reincorporate the Majorcan territories to the Crown of Aragon, and then again in 1391 during an anti-semitic paesant revolt. The castle has only fallen once into enemy hands in its history, in 1521 after an assault during the Majorcan seconds Revolt of the Brotherhoods.
The castle was usually governed by a Lord Warden. In 1408, King Martin I of Aragon gave the lordship of Bellver to the Charterhouse of Jesus of Nazareth in Valldemossa. Charles of Viana arrived in 1459 to take possession of both the island and the castle, as he had agreed with his father King John II of Aragon, even thouh finally the King granted not the lordship nor the Bellver Castle.
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