Tower of Estrada
Estrada. Val de San Vicente
Declared a place of cultural interest in 1992

 

The  singularity of this tower, of unique characteristics among the group of medieval fortifications in Cantabria, is owed, not only to its physionomy, of sligh piramidal tendency, but also to the conservation of its walled grounds, the remains of the moat and the chapel-fortress. All these defensive vestiges, which have been covered with abundant vegetation for many years, lie over a mount (a rocky outcrop), giving them a dominant position.

The tower, from its height, watches over its surroundings and the access to the walled grounds, which is through an ogival arch situated under the main facade. So, mount and tower form part of the walls, creating a fortified space of almost circular appearance. The walls are provided with arrow slits and still conserve part of the crenellated battlements. To the north east and outside the walls there are still vestiges of a moat dug in rock and earth. In the angle opposed to that of the tower, taking advantage of another mount and forming part of the wall, there is a small fortified chapel.
This chapel, at present without a roof, has in its presbytery a pointed vault. The access to the chapel is up a stone stair through a pointed arch, over which one can see two small coats of arms: One of Estrada and the other of the Ceballos lineage (this is mistaken, as the other one is of the Duque surname, not Ceballos). The walls of the temple have numerous embrasures for canon, giving a military function to the sacred building, a paradigm of the medieval symbiosis of the sword and the cross. The walls are topped by moldings of romanic traces and a belfry.
The presence of romanic traces in design, united with the preponderance of pointed arches as well as the pointed vaults, date the construction of the chapel in the XIV Century, in relation to the rest of the fortified compound.
The House of Estrada had frecuent litigation and even bloody battles against the expansion of a new feudal power: The Council of San Vicente de la Barquera.

Property and visits
The Tower and the lands surrounding it remain the property of the Count of the Vega de Sella, a member of the Duque de Estrada family. However, as the tower was declared a site of cultural interest in 1992, a temporary grant of the Tower and the walled compound to the Municipality of San Vicente de la Barquera, for 100 years, has been decreed by court order.

Bibliography
Calderón de la Vara, V.: "Towers of Cantabria. Some towers of the valleys of Valdáliga, Rionasa and Val de San Vicente". Altamira, vol. I, 1968-71, pp. 221-232. Muñoz Jimenez, J.M.: "Towers and castles of medieval Cantabria". Santander 1993, pp. 110-111.

Other places of interest in the vicinity
In San Vicente de la Barquera: Old Convent of Saint Louis; Church of Our Lady of the Angels; XVII Century church in Gandarilla. In Herrerías: Cades ironworks; Tower of Cabanzón.

Access and location
From N-634, Santander to Oviedo, take local route from San Vicente de la Barquera through La Acebosa and Hortigal. After 7 Kms. you'll arrive at Estrada. As the place is in a process of restoration, you will easily see the Tower.

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