Travelling around Portugal means reliving the classical yet captivating beauty of medieval times. Castles are beautifully scattered in the country, from high hills to rivers. These are normally considered as landmarks, and not to mention, romantic spots. And over the years, the country has certainly created significant ways to preserve the magnificence of these structures. And to prove that this country is a downright destination for all classical travellers, here are some of the must-see medieval castles in Portugal that have stood the test of time with strength and elegance.
1. Pena Castle
Dubbed as one of the famous structures in the country, Pena Castle or the National Palace of Pena creates an attractive stir to tourists all over the world because of it flamboyant exteriors and striking location— beautifully set at the highest hill of Sintra. Before the castle’s unquestionable prominence, it was created as dedication for Lady of Pena, and eventually developed into a monastery, then a castle. The ornate details of the outside appearance feature the charming Moorish and Manueline architecture. Even if the palace is surrounded with lush forests, you will never miss to witness the splendor of the structure. And eventually because of its significance, the monument has been recognized by UNESCO.
2. Montemor-o-Velho Castle
The Castle of Montemor-o-Velho is strategically situated in the district of Coimbra, where the green fields of Mondego Valley provide stunning views from below. The monument was traditionally used by Romans, and was later fought over because of different ruling families. To reach the castle, you may need to climb some few steps, but the scenery from above will definitely compensate your little efforts.
3. Almourol Castle
The distinct setting of this palace makes it a standout from the others. Almourol Castle charmingly sits on a stony islet in the river of Tagus, where the glistering waters highlight the grandeur of the castle. Built during the late 12th century, the soaring towers of the fortress acted as defensive posts against the rivals. And many years later, the splendor of the Almourol Castle continues to amaze travellers in a very captivating manner. The medieval architectural style can be appreciated even from afar.
4. Belem Tower
Another palace that assembles in the dreamy Tagus River, Belem Tower vaunts of its uniqueness in style and location. With facades ornamented with symbols, the tower always creates a distinctive kind of attraction to tourists. The structure was constructed during the 16th century as means of protection from attacks, as well sign of welcoming the alliances into the place. However, the tower was then converted into a prison, and became the abode of upper class convicts.
5. Leiria Castle
Once a medieval fortress, the Leiria Castle has now become an attractive tourist spot because of its traditional charm and unique character. The structure was once owned by Moors and Christians, until it was turned into a royal castle with intricate Gothic style and exceptional facades. And over the years, it has become a popular site for the cultural events in Leiria. Visiting this elevated structure must be included in your Portugal itinerary as you will enjoy the fantastic scenery, along with the palace’s amenities such as library and archaeological museum. No wonder, Castelo de Leiria is certainly one of the favorite royal retreats in Portugal.
6. The Castle of the Moors
One of the oldest and most noteworthy structures in Portugal, the Castle of the Moors was created during the 8th century. It was originally built to last long sieges. However, the castle was abandoned despite of its strategic location and significant features. Over the years, the deserted splendor has been brought back into eminence. The inimitable block walls surrounding the castle give stunning views of beautiful valleys and blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean. And because of its long stretch of high walls, the castle is often tagged as the Great Wall of China in Europe.
7. Sao Jorge Castle
The Sao Jorge Castle or also called as St. George Castle is also another most visited castle in Lisbon. Just like most castles in the country, the structure was built to defend the Portuguese lands from invaders. However, during the 12th century, it was conquered by a man who became the first Portugal king. He then turned the castle into his royal abode. Now, the castle of St. George remains to be a compelling attraction in the capital. Appreciate the breathtaking setting of the castle by wandering around the fortifications. In the place, there is also an interpretation center that features the fascinating artifacts of the medieval period.
8. Feira Castle
Feira Castle is popularly recognized as the Castle of Santa Maria da Feira in the district of Aveiro. It was named after one of the most significant and oldest fairs in the country— the Santa Maria Fair. Some tales also depicted that the castle was created for a pagan god, but was later converted into a Marian temple. Presently, Feira Castle still continues to provide awesome medieval recreations through their activities and celebrations. The architectural design also reflects the unique diversity of classical defenses and you will never miss the inimitable bell towers that highlight the 17th century glazed designs.
9. Evoramonte Castle
The exceptional shape makes the Evoramonte Castle different from all other castles in the country. It accentuates four cylindrical strongholds that are strikingly combined into a seamless structure. The castle also holds a significant aspect in the history of Portugal as it was the location during the signing of the Concession of Evoramonte— a contract that ended the long civil war during the 18th century.
10. Convent of Christ
The Convent of Christ or also known as the Castle of Tomar is one of the most important buildings and historical legacies in the country. The structure was created by the Knights Templar to protect the Portuguese lands against the intrusion of invaders. It also became the residence of King Manuel for quite some time, consequently adding the Manueline style into the castle’s decorations. The incorporation of rounded towers into the entire appearance makes the castle more distinctive among the numerous castles in the region. Today, the castle now serves as a monastic reference point, and has been granted a UNESCO world heritage status.