This castle, built by order of Carlos III in 1770, is one of the best preserved examples of 18th century fortifications on the entire Andalusian coast.
It complied with the Vitruvian principles of firmitas, utilitas and venustas (solidity, functionality, and beauty) when carrying out its construction.
Currently, in addition to the historical visit, it offers temporary exhibitions in its rooms.
Nowadays La Herradura, with its bay, is a quiet place to enjoy the good weather, the beach and the delicious fried fish, but this was not always so, because until the 18th century it was an area of continuous attacks and incursions by Berber pirates and corsairs. For this reason, in 1764, King Carlos III ordered the construction of a defensive castle-fort.
Its original name was “Battery for 4 cannons of La Herradura”, and it was built following the project drawn up by the engineer José Crame in 1765, and the construction work was completed 6 years later.
All of this was to protect the work of the local fishermen and farmers from the attacks of the aforementioned corsairs and pirates.
From its construction until 1839 the Castillo de la Herradura was used by the army, when, once piracy was completely extinguished, it was ceded to the Carabineros.
Its main purpose was to guarantee the security and surveillance of the coasts and borders, as well as to prevent smuggling.
It was in the service of the Carabinieri Corps for a whole century, because in 1940, this corps was suppressed, and from then until 2003 it was used as a barracks by the Guardia Civil.
A couple of years later, at the beginning of 2005, the Castillo de la Herradura was acquired by the Town Hall of Almuñécar, which commissioned its restoration to the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), being finally restored by a multidisciplinary team made up of architects, restorers, archaeologists, and an expert in characterisation of materials from the Escuela de Estudios Árabes, and the whole team directed by the doctors architects, Antonio Orihuela Uzal and Antonio Almagro Gorbea.
Restoration work began in 2007 and was completed in March 2011, both on the exterior and interior of the fortification, as well as work on the surrounding area, for use as an antechamber to the monument itself.
Open to the public since then, the visit to the castle, regardless of the time of year, is a proposal for the whole family. The visit takes about an hour, which allows you to enjoy the other attractions of La Herradura, and the castle is open to the public both in the morning and in the afternoon.
Recently in the year 2021 the Historical Museum “1562-La furia del mar” has been inaugurated, becoming a cultural space that will keep alive the memory of the shipwreck that occurred off the coast of La Herradura in the year 1562, in which 25 galleys of the Armada sank, in which more than 5,000 people lost their lives, a naval disaster greater than that of the Titanic at the beginning of the 20th century.
The Castillo de la Herradura is located 120 metres from the bay, and curiously it is only 8 metres above sea level, it is not on a hill. Although it is of great strategic importance because it communicates with the watchtowers of Punta de la Mona and Cerro gordo.
The entire walled enclosure is rectangular and its main façade is horseshoe-shaped. It also has two semicircular towers in the northwest and northeast corners. It should also be noted that to the south there is a large semicircular battery for artillery.
Inside, there is a large central courtyard, around which the different rooms used for the troops are distributed. On the right side of the courtyard is a pool, probably built over an old cistern, while in the southeast corner is the staircase leading up to the terrace that occupies the entire surface of the building.
At both ends of the horseshoe-shaped main façade there were two walls that originally formed a moat in front of the gate, although this has now been covered.