This magnificent 18th-century regionalist building has neoclassical influences. It was listed as a Site of Cultural Interest on 5 July 2005 by Andalusian Ministerial Order 162/2005 of 5 July. Highlights include the Neo-Mudéjar-style courtyard, chapel and library. The palatial residence was renovated in the early 20th century, and later in the 1940s. It has a 26,000 square metre terraced garden designed and built by the French landscape architect Jean-Claude Nicolas Forestier in the late 1920s.
The building stands on the site of a Roman military camp (castrum), around which several dwellings were grouped. When the region fell under Moorish domination, Castalla –as it was known then– became a hamlet of tenant farmers who farmed the surrounding land. Given its location on high ground, it continued to maintain its strategic role and served as a natural lookout for possible Norman or Castilian attacks.
The much-feared military leader Al-Mansur stayed several times at the palace that is thought to have existed on the site later occupied by the Counts of Castilleja de Guzmán.
After the Christian conquest of the area under King Fernando III of Castile (1248), the town was given to the Military Order of Alcántara, from which it gained independence in the 14th century. For several centuries, the Guzmán family (after which it is named) controlled the town until the abolition of the seigniorial system in the 19th century.
The estate was known as Hacienda de la Divina Pastora, or more commonly Hacienda de Montelirio. The Santa María del Buen Aire residential college was housed here in 2010-2014.