Castles in Portugal Guide: From North to South
Portugal’s rich history can be explored through the country’s many castles. We have assembled a “Portugal Castles Tour” – from North to South -, with the most interesting and alluring of these monuments, to make it easy for you. Come find out more with this guide!
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Castles in Portugal
The castles in Portugal are spread across several regions of the country and are true monuments. Entering them is a way to go back in time and appreciate history.
Most of the castles in Portugal were not residences, but fortifications, with large towers – built to keep watch and to defend during battles. However, the ones that were used for habitation are typically also decorated on the inside. Throughout history, there were hundreds of them that were completely destroyed. But there are still many castles in Portugal that you can visit. Come with us on this tour!
Bragança Castle is one of the most prevalent medieval castles in Portugal, as it is still in a great state of preservation to this day. It was also built in the 10th century and restored in 1930, and in its keep you can find the Military Museum of Bragança, from where you can have a beautiful view of the city and the mountains surrounding it.
What better place to go next than to the birthplace of Portugal? It’s even theorised that the country’s first king, D. Afonso Henriques, was born right inside these walls. This is one of the most famous castles in the whole of Portugal, even informally considered one of the country’s seven monument wonders. Located in the historic center, on top of a hill and with seven large towers, it draws attention and has become Guimarães’ main postcard.
Santa Maria da Feira Castle
Santa Maria da Feira’s castle dates back to the 11th century and was crucial to several of D. Afonso Henriques’ victories. It comes alive in the months of July and August when the ‘Viagem Medieval’ (mediaeval fair) takes place. We definitely recommend visiting during this time! This year it will happen between the 2nd and the 13th of August.
Porto de Mós Castle
Located in the district of Leiria, Porto de Mós Castle is known as one of the most beautiful castles in Portugal. It was built on the rubble of a Roman lookout. It contains Gothic and Renaissance influences acquired over the years, and was originally an Arab fortress, conquered by the Portuguese during the 12th century. Today, the castle hosts many events and has its own monthly program – with exhibitions, concerts, theatre plays and conferences.
Also informally considered one of seven monument wonders of Portugal, Óbidos Castle is located in the mediaeval town of Óbidos, district of Leiria, dating back to the 13th century. As a sea port, Óbidos was under control of many different peoples throughout time – among them the Romans and the Moors – so the castle’s architecture has different influences. If you can, try to walk the castle’s wall for the best view.
São Jorge Castle
We have arrived in the capital! São Jorge is a castle in the heart of Lisbon, located right on the city’s highest hill. It’s one of the most important places in the city and a leisure area that’s popular with locals of the castle’s surrounding neighborhoods. It provides a mesmerising view of the city and the Tagus River!
Located in Sintra, the Moors Castle was built during the Moor occupation, dating back to the 8th century. It sits on top of Sintra’s beautiful mountains, providing an amazing view of the landscape. This castle is very special due to its Moor architecture, since most of the infrastructures of that time were destroyed or heavily changed. Be aware of the steep climb to the castle though! You can then visit Pena Palace and ‘Quinta da Regaleira’ on your way down.
Monsaraz castle is located in the highest point of Reguengos de Monsaraz – a small mediaeval Alentejo town. It was rebuilt in the 14th century but occupied before by different peoples. Today, it’s an important touristic landmark in the Alentejo region, driving a lot of revenue and life to the Reguengos de Monsaraz area. Plus, it’s completely free!
Another one of the few lasting Moor Castles, it was a very important part of the Algarve’s defence in the 12th and 13th centuries and the last castle to be conquered. Here you can enjoy a beautiful view of Aljezur creek!