The castle-palace of La Calahorra is hoisted on a lonely hill in the foothills of Sierra Nevada and visually dominates the vast plain of the Marquis of Zenete and communications. Despite its size, was built in just three years, between 1509 and 1512, becoming a reference and a revolution for the architecture of its time, it was the first project built in the Iberian Peninsula in the Renaissance style marked the abandonment of Gothic aesthetics, prevailing at the time, at an early age that still survived in the hard grounds and medieval tastes.
The exterior is understated mass of a military nature. For its implementation takes advantage of the stonework of the Arab fortress that previously sat on the hill for its ornate interior, high contrast with the exterior, imported Italian materials, techniques and artists.
La Calahorra is considered the first major work in documenting the work of Italian artists in our country. Also represents an exceptional case with anachronistic and military powerhouse of Mendoza, in a time when the monarchy ordered to tear down the strongholds to consolidate their presence to the people and to avoid perpetuating the old relationships feudal nobility.
The archaeological find that preceding the Renaissance fortress was another of the Andalusian period. The current is built in the early sixteenth century by the illegitimate son of Cardinal Mendoza, who founded an entail in this region in favor of his heir, Don Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar y Mendoza, the first Marquis of Zenete and Count del Cid.
The fort is a quadrangular, with approximate dimensions of 46.5 x 32 meters, whose long sides are oriented in a north-south. The west facade is attached another body rectangle of 26 x 15 meters equipped with a gunner bucket inside which has the stairs. The castle consists of ashlar masonry walls and, being located in each of its angles covered by a cylindrical tower dome, 10 meters across the south wall and 13 meters in the north. A half-covered parapet to protect the climate guard, runs along the top of the walls.
Upon his entrance, formed by a semicircular arch voussoir shows the shield of the Marquis's second wife, Maria de Fonseca, where are the weapons of the Mendoza family and lilies that relate to the Duke of Medinaceli.
The lower gallery features arches on Corinthian columns with high collars resting on the alternating decoration or geometric grotesques. The bows adorn her with flowers and garlands soffit of alternate design, rings and threads are highlighted with moldings and reliefs representing the spandrels are the heraldic shields of the Mendoza and Fonseca.
Beautifully adorned the covers of the interior rooms, which are directly related to the character of the room. Among the most important are those of the Hall of Justice, the West Hall and the Hall of Marquis. The access to the Oratory is now in the Museo de Bellas Artes de Sevilla. Among the motifs are animals, fantastic beings, motifs, fruit and flowers.
The cover of the Hall of Marquis is resolved as a Roman triumphal arch, projecting its iconographic program based on classical mythology and a strong influence of Codex Escurialensis drawings. The side pillars are carved with reliefs of four niches Farnese Hercules, Apollo and the goddess of Fortune and Abundance. In the stands, representations of the labors of Hercules: the battle against the Hydra of Lerna and capturing the Cretan Bull. In the upper frieze reliefs lie sea gods and tritons and jambs two busts of Roman emperors.
Because of this, the whole interior of the castle appears as a noble palace of the Italian Quattrocento, solved with a classical sense, refined design and elegant in its composition and ornamental forms.
The castle was inhabited by Rodrigo de Mendoza and Maria de Fonseca just eight years after the conclusion of the works and would be taken as an inheritance for his daughters. Regain an important role during the Rebellion of the Alpujarras or War of the Moriscos (1568-1571), especially violent in the Marquis of Zenete.
It was later abandoned for centuries until the early twentieth century was about to be sold and moved to the United States before moving to its present owner, Don Inigo de Arteaga and Marin, which since 1997 is the current Duke of Infantry.
The castle is listed as a Cultural and has been declared as a monument as published in the Gaceta de Madrid in 1992.