The most beautiful castles in Portugal
Portuguese castles comprise an important part of the vast historical heritage of the country. Many of them were built over a millennium ago by the Moors, while others were constructed between the 12th and 15th centuries to defend the country from invasion by the other Iberian kingdoms which later formed Spain. Here are the most beautiful.
The area was settled by the Lusitanos (since the 4th century BC) and Romans in the first century, but later occupied by Visigoths during the 5th and 6th century and Muslims, who were responsible for fortifying the town in the 8th century.
During the Christian Reconquista, forces under the first Portuguese king Afonso I (1112-1185) defeated the settlement's defenses through a ruse, but the castle was never completely conquered until the reign of King D. Sancho I in 1195.
Today, the Castle of obidos is a well-preserved medieval castle.... view details
The Castle of Guimaraes is the principal medieval castle in the municipality Guimaraes, in the northern region of Portugal. It was built under the orders of Mumadona Dias in the 10th century to defend the monastery from attacks by Moors and Norsemen.
The castle is a military fortification grounded primarily in the late Romanesque period, and elaborated during the early Gothic epoch of Portuguese architecture. Its area is delineated by walls forming a pentagram, similar to a shield, that includes eight rectangular towers, a military square and a central keep.
The Castle of Guimaraes is a national symbol referred to as the Cradle of Portugal.... view details
The Castle of Tomar is part of the great architectural complex of the Convent of Christ, a historic and cultural monument which was listed in the list of UNESCO World Heritage list in 1983.
The convent was founded by the Templar Knights in 1118. Its construction continued until the final part of the 12th century with the construction of the oratory, in one of the angles of the castle, completed by the Grand Master D. Gualdim Pais.
The castle was built on a strategic location, over a hill and near the river Nabao. It has an outer defensive wall and a citadel with a keep inside. The Keep, a central tower of residential and defensive functions, was introduced in Portugal by the Templars, and the one in Tomar is one of the oldest in the country. Another novelty introduced in Portugal by the Templars (learned from decades of experience in Normandy and Brittany and elsewhere) are the round towers in the outer walls, which are more resistant to attacks than square towers.
The castle and Convent of Christ have examples of Romanesque, Gothic, Manueline and Renaissance architectural styles.... view details
During the early Middle Ages, the Swabians, Visigoths and eventually the Umayyad Arabs began to settle in the area. The construction of the Castle of Marvao was attributed to 8th century Islamic knight, Ibn Marwan.
By the beginning of the 10th century, the settlement was designated Amaia de Ibn Maruan or, alternately, the fortress of Amaia. Christian forces loyal to King D. Afonso I (1112-1185) conquered the region and town from Moorish forces sometime between 1160 and 1166.
The medieval castle post-dates the year 1299, and features numerous characteristic features of a crusader-era castle. These include a tall central keep with raised entrance on the first floor; a series of lower, outlying turrets (some semi-circular); high-placed arrow-slits; and open spaces to aid the sheltering and assembly of villagers and troops.... view details
The first defensive fortifications date back from the period of Roman occupation. This primitive defense would have been increased in the following centuries, successively by Visigoths and Muslims.
Porto de Mos became a strategic point in the defense of Leiria and Coimbra during the Christian Reconquest of the Iberian peninsula. With the encouragement of the settlement under the reign of D. Sancho I (1185 - 1211), the town prospered, and its defense received important works of improvement.
The defensive structure of the castle was severely damaged by an earthquake in 1755 and, again, in 1909. It was classified as a National Monument in 1910.... view details
The Castle of the Moors is a hilltop medieval castle located in the central Portuguese civil parish of Santa Maria e Sao Miguel, about 25km northwest of Lisbon.
Built by the Moors in the 8th and 9th centuries, it was an important strategic point during the Reconquista, and was taken by Christian forces after the fall of Lisbon in 1147. It is classified as a National Monument, part of the Sintra Cultural Landscape, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.... view details
Dominating the valley where the Mondego River runs, with endless rice fields, the town of Montemor-o-Velho is characterized by its imposing castle, the main fortress of Low Mondego during Medieval times.
The land has been successively occupied since Roman times and when the Arabs first settled during the 8th century, the Mondego lands became a constant stage of intense fights between Muslims and Christians. After the Catholic Reconquista and the Portuguese independence, Montemor-o-Velho and its majestic fortress were the stage of countless events of Portuguese History. The stones of the castle have defended the valley and the river and have received Kings and Infantas, being closely associated with tales born out of the people's traditional imagination.... view details
Belem Tower is a fortified tower and a UNESCO World Heritage Site (along with the nearby Jeronimos Monastery) because of the significant role it played in the Portuguese maritime discoveries of the era of the Age of Discoveries.
The tower was commissioned by King John II to be part of a defence system at the mouth of the Tagus river and a ceremonial gateway to Lisbon. It was built in the early 16th century and is a prominent example of the Portuguese Manueline style, but it also incorporates hints of other architectural styles.
The structure was built from lioz limestone and is composed of a bastion and a 30-metre four-storey tower. It has incorrectly been stated that the tower was built in the middle of the Tagus and now sits near the shore because the river was redirected after the 1755 Lisbon earthquake. In fact, the tower was built on a small island in the Tagus River near the Lisbon shore.... view details
The Castle of Almourol is a medieval castle, located on a small islet in the middle of the Tagus River. It was part of the defensive line controlled by the Knights Templar, and a stronghold used during the Portuguese Reconquista.
The Castle of Almourol is one of the more emblematic medieval military monuments of the Reconquista, and best representation of the influence of the Knights Templar in Portugal. When it was conquered in 1129, by forces loyal to the Portuguese nobility, it was known as Almorolan, and placed in the trust of Gualdim Pais, the master of the Knights Templar in Portugal, who rebuilt the structure.
Losing its strategic place, it was abandoned resulting in its fall into ruins. In the 19th century, it was "reinvented" by idealistic romantics, which eventually led to interventions in the 1940s and 1950s, and its adaption as Official Residence of the Portuguese Republic.... view details
The Pena Palace stands on the top of a hill in the Sintra Mountains above the town of Sintra, and on a clear day it can be easily seen from Lisbon and much of its metropolitan area.
It is a national monument and constitutes one of the major expressions of 19th-century Romanticism in the world. The palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal.
It is also used for state occasions by the President of the Portuguese Republic and other government officials.... view details
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