The Castle of Benedormiens or Aro Castle is a historical monument of the municipality Castell d´Aro, belonging to the Catalan region of Baix Empordà in the province of Girona, declared a cultural asset of national interest.
The castle of Benedormiens is located next to the parish and church of Castell d´Aro, in the upper part of the town, and is the result of numerous restorations that have significantly altered its original appearance. The oldest part is preserved attached to the east side, located next to the temple. They are remains of medieval times (XII-XIII centuries) although the rest of the building is totally altered.
The first document mentioning the castle called Benedormiens (“castrum appelatum Benedormiens”) dates back to 1041 and refers to a meeting held to decide the future of the newly built castle in order to protect the valley’s territory due the danger of Saracen invasions. The Countess Ermessenda, widow of Count Ramón Borrell, Bishop Pere Roger of Gerona, Abbot Landrid of the monastery of Sant Feliu de Guíxols, Gaufred Vidal and his wife, Lords of Pals, met in the church of Santa Cristina. The castle was ceded, not to a layman, but to the monastery of Sant Feliu de Guíxols, together with tithes from the parish of Santa Cristina and the castle area.
In 1099 it is documented that the abbot of Sant Feliu de Guíxols yielded the castle to Ramon Gaufred, member of the family of the lords of Pals. In 1197, the abbot of Sant Feliu gave the possession of the castle to Guerau de Lledó in exchange for an act of homage. After the 12th century, news of ‘Benedormiens’ are no longer available. From the thirteenth century, appears the name of “castrum of ARED”, that we also found in the fourteenth century, in a document of Peter the Ceremonious that in 1372 sold the right of the Castell d´Aro. The census (1359 or 1381) gave 73 fires in Castell d´Aro.
In 1462, during the war of the Remensas, the castle was burned down, suffering important damages and entering in decadence. During the seventeenth century, Castell d´Aro no longer belongs to the monastery of Sant Feliu de Guíxols and becomes dependent on the crown, forming the royal town hall of Vall d´Aro. In 1879 it was another fortuitous fire that affected considerably a good part of the building. The current castle is a construction of remarkable dimensions resulting from the restoration started in 1970. Now, it is municipal property.
On the east side, there is a large semi-circular doorway, from where it leaves towards the church until it reaches the bell tower, a wall with five narrow loopholes, one touched by a firearm, and almost all located in the lower part of the wall. In the upper part there is a three-lobed Gothic window. This wall conserves in its internal face the start of two pointed arches, as if there had been a parallel ship. Next to the lintel portal, the wall rotates at right angles and has two narrow loopholes distributed at different heights. The facade where the portal is located has several loopholes distributed at different heights, a window and a balcony with lintel lintels. The facade ends with a gallery and below this we find a row of loopholes. The window, the gallery and the balcony correspond to a later reform of the building that can be clearly seen in the change of the wall, that from this point is constructed of irregular stones. The south side has a facade with three exits to the roof, which was built by adding four large vaults in the building, and three windows also with lintel over the doors.
The corridor is covered with a barrel vault. It has a semicircular arcade and well cut voussoirs and gives access to the patio. From the patio you have access to the entrance of the building, this sector has been completely renovated. On the east side there are old walls built on the rock that still have loopholes in the lower part. The tower on this side is completely redone and it is difficult to distinguish the oldest parts. The oldest vestments can date from the XIIth century with reforms possibly from the XVI-XVII centuries. The restoration of the 1970s damaged the original appearance of this building.
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