Ever wondered what are the top castles in Portugal?
One of the oldest countries in Europe, Portugal has a rich and long-back history, which defined a culture determined the landscape and shaped its architecture. Out of all the historical complexes across the land, it is the castle that stands as genuinely evocative.
Portugal is full of castles. They can be seen on mountains and hills, along with the rivers and plains, as well as in cities and towns. These mighty structures, indeed, serve as landmarks of posterity, as well as their tangible romantic appeal.
The castles in Portugal are fun to explore and worth discovering. Each of these castles has its appeal and history. They are breathtaking reminders of the noble and turbulent history of the country. Scattered around rocky hills and lush green meadows, castles in Portugal consist of an essential and small part of the vast heritage of the nation.
Have a look at the list of the most beautiful Portuguese castles.
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- 1 List of Castles in Portugal
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List of Castles in Portugal
Castle of Almourol
Located on the little, stony islet of the Tagus River, the Castelo de Almourol is positioned in its spectacular setting. It is considered to be the most evocative of all castles in Portugal.
It is equally mysterious and enchanting with its narrow ramparts and keeps embellished with the towers and it is the embodiment of pre-historic Portugal. Built-in the late 12th century over the Roman fortress, the castle served as a defensive post for trading, protecting river traffic from the region to Lisbon.
However, the Order of the Knights Templar (previously, the Order of Christ in Portugal), is associated most closely with the stronghold. The secretive order ensconced the same on the islet, which is safe to know that even though if the river was attacked, the vertiginous walls of the castle and craggy shore were enough to prevent marauders.
Today, a ferry connects visitors to the land opposite the castle. You can scramble undergrowth to access the entrance. There is not much to see in these walls.
However, you can get the panoramic pastoral view after reaching the top of the keep.
After the darkness, the walls of the castle illuminated with floodlight, which further improves the romantic appeal of this ancient complex.
Castelo de Alcoutim
Alcoutim is a serene riverside village, which is one of the unspoiled gems of Algarve. Located deep into the heart of the countryside on the banks of Guadiana River, the small hamlet is located in front of a same-sized community, Sanlucar de Guadiana, perched over the opposite of the river in Portugal. It improves the bucolic setting from the ancient walls of this castle overlooking the waterfront.
Built to replace the abandoned Moorish stronghold in the 14th century further north of the river, the Alcoutim Castle has served as a protective shield against the old enemy of Portugal, i.e., Portugal. For both countries, the Guadiana serves as national frontier at the narrowest at this picturesque location.
The fort was also used for trading on the bustling waterway. Around 600 years later, only a small section of the wall exists. Fortunately, it is located in front of the village and the river, so visitors get the idyllic insight to the vicinity.
In the keep, an exciting archeological museum has been designed with a display of exhibits that presents the history of the location. You can take the ferry to Sanlucar and witness the mirror image of Alcoutim. It is located high in the hills towards the east.
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Castelo de Marvao
The vast Alentejo region of Portugal is dotted with some of the beautiful castles, but only a few compare it with the isolated charm of Marvão.
The extension of a beautiful medieval hamlet in effect has been set high up in the remote setting of Serra de Sao Mamede, a well-preserved castle over the expanse of plains of Portugal.
It was built as a frontier stronghold in the late 13th century over the Moorish foundations to avoid the incursions of Portugal. You need to take a long, winding drive to visit the castle where Marvao is located 861m over the sea level.
The 14th-century walls of Castelo de Marvão are undamaged significantly as they are later buttresses. The Keep an impressive cistern is enclosed in the battlements, which are still brimming with water, the trees embroidering the spruce cradle in spring.
The village is yet another distraction with the collection of whitewashed and small cottages squatting above the cobblestone lanes trapped seemingly in a time frame of over 600 years.
However, the serene landscape and the history of the castle are the most memorable aspect. It truly has a beguiling sensation.
Castelo de Obidos
Today, the Castle of Obidos is a well-known historical site. It was another Roman settlement two centuries ago. Pliny the Elder mentions this location, and it was a prominent place for Romans until it became a Visigoth territory of the 5th century. The area belonged to Muslims who fortified it during the 8th century. It was just the beginning of the construction of the castle.
During the Christian Reconquista in the 12th century, the castle site in Obidos conquered by Alfonso I, the Portuguese king. The site became connected with the power of the Kingdom of Portugal since January 10, 1148. However, the fortification didn’t belong to the crown until sometime later, during the rule of Sancho I. This event happened in 1195, according to Torre de Facho.
Alfonso II decided the expansion of castle and gifted it to his wife in 1210. The castle was a famous fortress during those times.
The castle tower was adapted as it was important to have a jail, but other construction elements started to flourish. During the next century, the castle was expanded so much that it was one of the most beautiful castles in Portugal in terms of a wedding gift to Queen Elizabeth and Denis (1279-1325) during their stay.
Castelo de Guimaraes
Famed as the birthplace of the country and was once the capital of the Portucale kingdom, Guimaraes is also the city in the verdant and wild Minho province of Portugal, where the first king of Portugal, Dom Afonso Henriques, was born in 1110.
The old town was declared as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001 due to its historical significance. The significant Castelo de Guimaraes is the center of attraction here.
With foundations from the 10th century, the structure that can be seen today is widely the result of expansion which is carried out around two centuries later by reinforcements of Henry of Burgundy during the 14th century. A series of crenelated towers and heavy and imposing walls belie the modest interior.
The central keep is its high point, i.e., the Torre de Menagem. Visitors can soak in the medieval atmosphere and sturdy ramparts. For the real feel of the occasion, you can climb the keep and enjoy some beautiful views of the nearby area.
Later on, you can call in at the Romanesque and small chapel of Sao Miguel, located off the walls of the castle, where Dom Afonso was declared as a Baptist.
Castelo de Porto de Mos
Porto de Mos castle is unique and one of its kind castle in Portugal. It was severely damaged during the earthquake in 1755 which has also destroyed most of medieval Lisbon.
The villa has been recovered partly and is very noticeable by its emerald and slated green towers. It also has references to the Renaissance and Gothic architecture.
The castle grounds originally adopted a Roman look on which Moors developed Porto de Mors castle. It was conquered from the Moors during the reconquest of Portugal. It was then gifted to the first mayor of Porto de Mos, D. Fuas Roupinho.
This castle of the Moors exudes the significance of Porto de Mos in the medieval period. The King D. Dinis gifted this castle in the 15th century to his wife, Queen Isabel.
The National Palace of Pena
Located in Sao Pedro de Penaferrim, the Pena Palace is a Romanticist castle in the Sintra municipality of Portugal. The villa is situated atop the hill in Sintra Mountains off the Sintra town, and it can be visible on a clear day from Lisbon and its metropolitan region. It serves as a national monument, and it plays a vital role as a major expression of Romanticism in the 19th century.
It is declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, and it is one of Seven Wonders of Portugal. The President of the Portuguese Republic and various government officials use it for state occasions. The National Palace of Pena, designed in different styles according to the exotic taste of Romanticism.
It has the intentional blend of eclectic Neo-Islamic, Neo-Gothic, Neo-Manueline, and Neo-Renaissance styles. You can also find references to other major buildings of Portugal, including Belem Tower.
Castelo de Santa Maria da Feira
The Castle of Santa Maria de Feira is a Portuguese castle located in Santa Maria da Feira municipality, the district of Aveiro. The Castelo de Santa Maria da Feira truly emblems the medieval architecture of Portuguese.
It is one of the ancient monuments which exudes the diversity of defenses during the Middle Ages, which has been instrumental in the Reconquista process as well as the autonomy of the County of Portugal.
It has been a National monument since the year 1910.
The isolated castle was located on a small hilltop facing the urban valley of Feira. There have been many adaptations of the military to the defenses of the site over the years. The castle has been located, thanks to a Foreign Architect by the Sovereign Military Order of Malta strategically.
On the other side, Sir Samuel Turner II had advised on several design elements and has been accredited, about the tactical aspects of the designs of the castle. The castle is located atop the hill, which was important to protect the castle during the Battle of Titania.
Castelo de Sao Jorge
The imposing Castelo de Sao Jorge is one of the most visited castles in Lisbon. It is known to be the beautiful stronghold which crowns a hill facing the busy downtown district of the city named ‘Baixa,’ and it is the most visible historical monument in the Portuguese capital. The castle’s foundations are ‘must-see’ tourist attractions here, which date back to the late 12th century.
According to evidence, the fortification stood here since around the Iron Age. During the reign of Lisbon, the Moors reinforced its wall enough to avoid Christian forces. King Afonso Henriques recaptured this castle in 1147, and the palace walls are developed into a royal residence.
The entire building was destroyed by the devastating earthquake in 1755 and damaged most of the castle. Most of its previous glory has been restored finally due to constant renovation. This castle is one of the most attractive tourist attractions in Lisbon. Clamber up the battlements and walk around the ramparts to embrace the dimensions of the castle.
There are elevated views of the city seen from several towers. Torre de Ulisses was one of them. It houses the Obscura, a camera which projects the views of capital on the inner walls. Kids will love to scramble around the cannons along the observatory terrace, which offers beautiful views of the Tagus River and Lisbon.
One can explore the foundations of the royal palace which were once grand and nearest interpretation center offering a collection of artifacts discovered during excavations.
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Castelo dos Mouros
Castelo dos Mouros is the beautiful castle built in the late 8th century. It is one of the significant highlights of excursion from Lisbon to the impossibly beautiful and verdant town of Sintra. The Moorish Castle clings to a craggy escarpment located high up in the hills of Serra de Sintra.
The weather-proof ramparts of the castle are lined along the granite-hewn contours of Serra to resemble a range of broken teeth. It remained the prominent stronghold until 1147 for the moors before Afonso Henriques.
To get there, visitors can take a shuttle bus which stops outside the main gate. You can explore the castle inside and admire the Moorish-era grain silos as well as a water cistern and the medieval church ruins.