The Templars began to build the castle of Ponferrada, in León, in 1178. The monks of the order rebuilt a small Roman fortress that had been destroyed by the Goths. Later they covered the original rampart with lime and pebbles. By 1282 the small fort served as a protection for pilgrims on their way to Santiago. After the Order was dissolved in 1312, the castle had different owners. One of them, Pedro Fernández de Castro, had the towers of the old fortress restored, and, later D. Fadrique Enríquez, Duke of Arjona, began the construction of the Tower of Rastrillo.
The tower was finished by Pedro Alvarez Osorio, who also commissioned the construction of a new Keep, the towers of Cabrera and Monclín, the tile room, the Arms Room and the cellar. In the 15 and 16 C, the tower of Malvecino was reinforced. It was during this period also that the tower of Juan Torres was built, as well as the o Coracha tunnel and its bastions.
The castle remained intact until the year 1811, when the interior fortresses were blown up so that the French could not take possession of them.
After receiving many attacks that gradually destroyed many elements of the original structure, the castle was declared Historical and Artistic Monument in 1924. A restoration plan was approved recently.
The fortification was sorrounded by a moat, except on its west side, where the Sil river provides a natural defence. The drawbridge that spanned the moat has been attached to the doorway. The door is flanked by two fortified cylindrical towers with a double semicircular arch. Both towers are crowned by battlements and a projecting terrace.
The interior of the small fortress, on the left, contains the Tower of Rastrillo or Caracoles, whose front is also flanked by two fortified cylindrical towers, crowned by machicolations. At the end of the fortified structure stands the Old Castle, with a Gothic door surmounted by machicolations.
The New Keep, to the left end of the Old Fortress, is the best preserved tower of the castle. It is 24 m high and has a small turret with a small spiral staircase. The Old Keep is a massive cube with a window, on whose semicircular canopy is the coat of arms of the castle.