Castell de Tossa


Vila Vella de Tossa was declared National Artistic Historical Monument in 1931. Is the only example of a fortified medieval town that still exists on the Catalan coast. It is located at the foot of the northwest slope of the promontory that faces Cap de Tossa, inside a walled enclosure with a perimeter of about 300 meters built between the 12th and 14th centuries, as a defense for problems with piracy. Almost all of the original perimeter is preserved with rectangular battlements, braces and loops at the corners, and with seven towers of circular plan and cylindrical body. Noteworthy are three large cylindrical towers called Codolar or the Tribute (to the west, next to what was the Palacio del Batlle and currently houses the Tossa de Mar Museum), Ses Hores or El Rellotge (next to the portal from the town) and Joanàs (the eastern most, almost over the sea). Of Romanesque age, they are the sageteres of the wall, made with two or three blocks of stone, and the wall with little rough stones visible at the bottom, while the rest of the walled enclosure belongs to the moment of its reconstruction in the s. XIV. The castle, which was located where the lighthouse is located, has almost nothing left. Instead, vestiges of the primitive Gothic-style parish church dedicated to St. Vincent have been preserved. At the highest part of the headland no wall was required to be erected, as the steep slope of the cliff acted as a natural defense. As much the wall and the towers were made with the granite stone, so abundant in the zone, and with mortar of lime and sand.


These towers had to have three floors with stone vaulted roofs, and access to their interior was made through a door from the roundabout. The other four towers with a smaller diameter and height are interspersed in the curtain of the wall, three between the tower of Joanàs and the one of the Rellotge, and one between this and that of the Codolar. The wall is crowned by rectangular battlements, ornamented at the corners by small braces and with loopholes. At the height of the loopholes, on the inner side, we find the roundabout that surrounds the whole enclosure. The entrance to the villa, open next to the tower of Joanàs, is completely artificial. The true gateway to the sector of the west, and protected by the Rellotge, consists of a double round knit door with rake framed by voussoirs and a wall made different from the rest of the enclosure with perfectly worked ashlars. From this door you pass to a square that retains its character as an entrance courtyard, since from here you can properly access the town center, either along Batlle or the Governor streets. In the Plaza de Armas, there is a staircase attached to the inside of the wall that leads to the roundabout. The houses that we find between the narrow streets are of centuries XV and XVI, with buildings that have certain gothic elements, like the Palace of the Batlle, present Municipal Museum.


On the promontory where the Vila Vella is located there had been an Iberian settlement, and it is assumed that inside the enclosure there must have been another, also walled but smaller in size, in the Roman era. The castle of Tossa was erected in 1187 by disposition of the abbot of Ripoll, who owned the site since 966 by donation of the county of Barcelona to the monastery of Santa Maria de Ripoll. The abbot of Ripoll also granted in the year 1187 a charter of settlement, which allowed to build inside and outside the fortified enclosure, and which is at the origin of the Vila Vella. The lordship of the monastery of Ripoll, very rigorous in terms of the benefits obtained from fishing, will last almost until the end of the Old Regime. According to Enric C. Girbal, in 1240 the castle of Tossa (castrum de Torsa) is mentioned in a document of a lawsuit caused by pasture rights. In 1285, as a result of the French invasion of Catalonia, the population was badly damaged. By the burning of the years 1365-70, we know that at that time there were eighty-one fires in Tossa, all belonging to the abbot of Ripoll. In 1371 it was sold by the Castilian Arnau de Soler to Pere de Riera. There is also news of work being done on the fortifications of Tossa in 1371. It is not clear if the people had a refuge in the castle besides their house in the Vila Vella or if the so-called castle corresponds in fact to this villa closed by the walls. The great variety in the type of apparatus, as much in the wall and in the towers, demonstrates a constant transformation in all the enclosure with works, repairs and restorations. To date and pending further study and neglecting the Iberian and Roman stages, three phases are distinguished. Phase I, construction of a first enclosure at the end of the s. XII. Phase II, reconstruction of the abbot uncovering the s. XIV. Phase III, Repairs and restorations to the present day.

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