Situated atop Hondarribia’s highest point, the Castle of Charles V has watched over the colorful Basque fishing town for centuries now. The construction of the historic fortification, in fact, dates back to the 10th century, when it was built under the orders of Navarre’s King Sancho Abarca. Later, in the 16th century, it was updated by King Charles V, hence its modern-day name.
Come the 20th century, the hilltop castle’s former splendor had been turned into ruins. Fortunately, its glory days have been revived thanks to a renovation done in the late 1960s. With its role as a military fortress and once a royal residence in the past, the castle now lives on as a Parador — a hotel belonging to a chain of the same name, whose establishments are typically situated in historic and enchanting buildings.
Within the fortress’s borders, you’ll discover all manner of castle goodness, from its stony, tapestry-covered walls, to its ethereal inner courtyard and its expansive outdoor terrace with views of the Bidasoa River below and the French coastline beyond.
The castle isn’t technically open to the public, as it is now a hotel. That said, anyone can stop by for a drink or meal on the outdoor terrace or inside at the restaurant or inner courtyard. Or, get to know the castle even better by staying the night in one of its rooms.