The Knights Templar patrolled the Camino, providing protection, places of hospitality, healing and worship, as well as a banking system that became one source of their fabled wealth.
The Castle of the Templar knights of Ponferrada is a magnificent building. It was originally a hill-fort and later a Roman citadel.
At the beginning of the 12th century, the Templar knights took possession of the fortress and reinforced and extended it to use it as an inhabitable palace and for protection, on the route of the pilgrims on the way to Santiago de Compostela. The building has an irregular square plan and the outstanding features are, above all, the entrance which involves crossing the moat on a drawbridge and, further on, two large towers with crenellations joined by an arch. Its twelve original towers reproduced the shapes of the constellations.
Today the Castle houses the Templars’ Library and the Ponferrada Investigation and Study Centre, which contains almost 1,400 books including facsimile editions of works by Leonardo da Vinci.