An Albarrana tower (from the arabic word barrani = exterior) is a defensive tower detached from the wall and connected to it by a bridge or an arcade.
They were built by Muslims when they occupied Iberian Peninsula between the 8th and the 15th centuries, especially from the 12th century during the Almohad dynasty and mainly in the south of Spain where the Islamic influence was the longest. In Spanish, they are called torre albarrana.
The towers of standard appearance with a square section were built several meters in front of the curtain wall. They were accessible by a bridge walkway from the curtain wall. More often, the bridge had a removable wooden section allowing the tower to be isolated from the wall if the tower is occupied by attacking forces.
In France and the north of Europe, flanking towers remained a part of the wall. Even the keep were sometimes built as a part of the wall instead of inside the yard at the center of the castle. They were philippian towers.
The main albarrana towers are :
- Torre de Espantaperros in Badajoz, Spain. Probably the first albarrana tower, built by Abu Yaqub Yusuf in 1170. Its plan is octagonal.
- Torre del Oro, Torre de la Plata in Sevilla
- Torre de la Malmuerta in Cordoba
- Town of Talavera de la Reina near Toledo with several albarrana towers
- Òdena castle near Barcelona
- Castle of Paderne in Portugal
- 2 albarrana towers in the Santa Catalina castle in Jaén
- Castle of Loulé in Portugal
Albarrana towers are quite confined in the Iberian Peninsula. In the other parts of the medieval Muslim world this defensive feature seems not to be used or was not preserved until today.
- Burton, Peter, Torre Albarrana, Castles of Spain, retrieved 29 July 2014
- Burton, Peter (2007–8), "Islamic Castles in Iberia" (PDF), Castle Studies Group Journal 21: 228–244
- Burton, Peter (2011), "Islamic Castles in Iberia", Postern 21
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- (Spanish) http://www.elperiodicoextremadura.com/noticias/noticia.asp?pkid=435528