Sant Ferran Castle
History and museums
The Sant Ferran Castle (Catalan: Castell de Sant Ferran; Spanish: Castillo de San Fernando) is situated on a hill in Figueres, Catalonia at the end of Pujada del Castell. It is a large military fortress built in the eighteenth century under the orders of several military engineers, including Peter Martin i Cermeño Juan Martin Cermeño. It is the largest monument of Catalonia.
Following the negotiation of the Treaty of the Pyrenees, the Fort de Bellegarde in Le Perthus passed into the hands of the French state. To replace that bastion and to stop possible future invasions, it was decided to build a fortress on the hill in Figueres. The first stone was placed on December 13, 1753. The name of San Fernando was given in honor of King Ferdinand VI of Spain.
On Feb. 1, 1939, Juan Negrin, last prime minister of the Second Spanish Republic, convened in the castle the final meeting on Spanish soil of the Republican Spanish Cortes. A week later, the fortress fell to the forces of Francisco Franco.
The castle occupies an area of 32ha within a perimeter of 3120m, and cisterns located under the courtyard are able to hold up to 40 million liters of water. At its height, the castle could support 6,000 troops.
Following its ceasing to be used as a prison, in July 1997, it was opened to the public with guided tours to show the characteristics of the fortress. These tours emphasize the sophisticated construction techniques from the military engineering of the time.
The castle, being situated in the north-west of the town, is more accessible to tourists these days, since the Figueres Vilafant station has opened on the western edge of the town (the existing station is to the east of the centre). The castle is a little over 500m from Figueres-Vilafant station (using a footpath).