Perched imposingly on a rocky, arid mountain peak above the white village of Pruna, Spain in the northern Cadiz mountains, this partially restored fort ruin was famed for being one of the last Moorish strongholds in the region. Because of this, it was christened El Castillo de Hierro, or the Iron Castle.
Being pretty far off the tourist trail and located near no large cities (Ronda is the closest at about an hour away by car), the site retains the isolated, paranoid feel, probably much like what it felt like 700 years ago when a small band of Moors was in residence, defending this remote corner of their caliphate.
The trailhead has a century-old natural spring-fed fountain and a nice picnic table. The stairway to the top was restored several years ago, but it’s still a sometimes perilous feeling ascension. Circling Griffon vultures add to the spooky ambiance.
The castle itself is well preserved, with the remains of an old cistern, many defensive structures, and a new viewing platform reached by a set of iron stairs that the Pruna city counsel installed in 2014. From the hilltop stronghold, the views are miraculous. Pruna sits below, surrounded by olive groves. In the other direction is Olvera, a larger village with a similar Moorish castle atop it.
To communicate from castle to castle, occupants once used shiny objects to create reflectional flashes, ensuring accurate communication and strategy during sieges and battles.
Know Before You Go
Free entry. There is free parking at the trail head.