An Andalusian castle built on the foundations of an Arab fortress, in the site where – some historians claim – Julius Caesar defeated his opponents in the civil war of 45BC, triumphantly returning to Rome to reign as the elected dictator. The rich history of the Castillo de Monda can be witnessed in the original tower and foundations preserved until today, but this is only one of its many charms.
     Previously included in this guide but recently dropped due to a period of neglect and closure, the Castillo de Monda has now been renovated by three Dutch hoteliers who have breathed new life into the ancient walls. The entrance retains its impressive character, but it has been made gentler by an inviting reception area that doubles as a small coffee bar.
     There is a large dining room with wooden furniture and stained glass windows, and a bar serving tapas and snacks. Leading off the bar is the jewel in the crown: the terrace and swimming pool. Awash with flowers and shrubbery, it provides plenty of cosy little nooks in which to ferret yourself away and enjoy the tranquil, panoramic views. You get views from the salt water pool too: it is built on to the side of the castle, looking down on to the ancient town of Monda. The bedrooms, with new, large beds set against colourful Moorish tiles, large bathrooms (some even with Jacuzzis) and column arches, are relaxing and refined.
     The restaurant has a varied menu, from oysters to lamb ribs and risotto. The staff are friendly, dispensing plenty of smiles and local tips. A very promising start for this new venture – reports would be welcome.