The Spanish Association for the friends of castles
The aims of the Association are the following: to contribute to the preservation, revitalization and protection (both moral and material) of the Spanish heritage of fortified monuments; to encourage the study, knowledge and interest in our castles’ artistic, historical and cultural importance. These aims are to be achieved by way of assuring that knowledge and research on the topic is facilitated through adequate means.
This non-profit cultural association was founded in 1952 under the Decree 22 in April 1949, which sought to protect castles and recognise them as national monuments. On 22 December 1966, the A.E.A.C (The Spanish Association for the friends of castles) was declared public by the Council of Ministers. Since 197, the King and Queen of Spain have held the presidency of the Association.
We have 27 regional boards with more than 280 shared partners for all of the autonomous communities. We organise training courses, seminars, and an annual series of conferences focused on the rich historical heritage of our country. We also organise a series of cultural trips to various places in Spain and abroad, and we hold the annual “Corchado Manuel” award ceremony for research on castles. Furthermore, since 1953, we have been editing the “Spanish Castles” magazine (which is published quarterly) and of which 159 issues have already been published.
Since 1958, we have been associated with a number of awards (medals and diplomas of the Association) with which we annually reward individuals and institutions who contribute to the defence, research, conservation, restoration and rehabilitation of the monuments of military architecture of our country. For more than 30 years, the A.E.A.C have been celebrating “National Castle Day”, when a dinner is organised in or to hand over these awards.
The Frederick Bordejé library (a man who is recognised as the most distinguished investigator of Spanish fortresses) is open to the general public at the headquarters of the Association. There, one can see examples of art, history, historical heritage, and castle research. Library staff advise and attend consultations on castles and compile a bibliography, both through meetings, and by phone, fax, and email.
Other projects developed by the A.E.A.C. are: a book about the fortification and the military engineers of the Spanish monarchy in the 17th and 18th centuries. This book follows on from our previous project (The Fortification of Charles V), which enjoyed much success, and which was produced with the collaboration of prominent national and international researchers, and published in 2006. Another project has been the inventory of Spanish military architecture, compiled in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport. Of this inventory, more than 95% of the data and computerisation have been completed, along with a cataloguing library (with more than 2,000 works on castles) and the A.E.A.C.’s photography archive (which is made up of approximately 15,000 photograohs).
The Association owns the Villafuerte Esgueva Castle in the province of Valladolid, which is currently being restored, with the help of the Proder funds (U.E), the Junta de Castilla y León (the Dept. of Culture), the regional council of Valladolid, the city council of Villafuerte, and the generosity of our partners. This castle has its own museum, with rooms furnished in the style of the medieval era. Within the castle, among many other things, there is a library for young people, which holds works on the most important castles in Spain.
In 2010, the regional council of Valladolid will sign an agreement of transfer from Valladolid library to the general library of Castilla y León, along with all that photo files, so that this rich educational material and training is available to the general public and castle researchers in particular.
The Spanish Association for the friends of castles
The Local Council of Portillo
In 1976m the regional council of Valladolid signed an agreement with the University of Valladolid (the owner of Portillo Castle) for the improvement and upkeep of the former, as well as to facilitate visits. Restoration and cleaning works began on the dilapidated castle on that date. Thanks to this, in 1982, the local council of friends of castles in Portillo was established, furthering the work done on the castle.
These improvements include the cleaning of the exterior corridor, dungeons, the “bajada a la poterna, bajada al portillo”, the patio of arms, the adjacent rooms, the prison, the well, the silo, as well as deweeding the walls. Of all of this, the most important is the well, due to its architectural importance, which is unique, and which is 30 meters deep with an interior spiral staircase of 123 steps which leads to a large water spring and which gives onto 3 vaulted rooms along the way. In addition, the prison has been adapted and renovated and is now houses exhibitions. These enhancements were made possible thanks to the collaboration of the volunteer staff association and local residents.
In 1996 this Association began to collect old photographs of the municipality and to organise annual exhibitions, held in the old prison in the castle. So far, there have been 14 editions with the title “Photos to remember”, with an archive of over 1,200 photos donated by locals. All of this was possible thanks to the collaboration of volunteers from the Association and local residents.
Other activities carried out in the castle with the collaboration of the Association for the friends of castles are: The garlic and craft fair of Portillo at the end of June; “Evenings at the castle” concerts organised by the delegation of Valladolid; the “Estival concert” organised by the University of Valladolid; “night of terror” organised by the town council of Portillo, as well as other cultural activities.
During weekends and holidays (morning and afternoons, March-October), visitors can be met by a member of volunteer staff, and will find a variety of pamphlets and information provided in order to improve visits. During the week and the rest of the year, these visits must be reserved in advance. In the Association’s office information about other castles can also be found.
In 2005, during the 6th craft and garlic fair of Portillo, the annual “Feria de Portillo” award was given to our association, and was received by our national vice-president D. Amador Rubial, accompanied by the provincial president D. Javier Bernard Remond, recognising his work over the last 25 years in defending, maintaining and promotion of Portillo castle.
The association is open to any form of cultural initiative, and welcomes anyone who, in any way, would like to join in on this project and protect our historical heritage for the benefit of everyone.