The castle of Simancas is perhaps the most important archive in Europe, holding documents from Spain's age of greatness in the 16th and 17th centuries. Its displays include documents signed by Columbus, Cervantes, Charles V, Philip II, Elizabeth I, numerous popes and rulers. Some of the key files on the discovery of America are here.
The archive offers an official tour or visit, led by expert (but friendly) guides. As a building, the archive represents one of the most successful ever pieces of architectural design: its features allowed it to preserve documents of unparalleled historical importance over the centuries.
The castillo was also a prison, the site of some of the most infamous murders and executions in European history. But luckily there seem to be only a few ghosts around the place.
A visit is a must for any history buff or person interested in the development of Spain, America, England, Italy - in fact, most of the world is linked in one way or another with famous - and infamous - Archivo General de Simancas.
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