There are over 150 known castles in Portugal as of this moment. Some of the oldest castles date back to the eighth century, whilst most were built between the 13th and 18th centuries. This means that there is a variety of architectural styles, especially because many were modified over the years.
Luckily, Portuguese castles are scattered everywhere. The Lisbon, Algarve, and Alentejo regions are most dense with these famous gems.
Most Famous Castle In Portugal
São Jorge Castle
São Jorge Castle is a popular castle in Portugal, especially as it is in the capital. More specifically, you can find it in Santa Maria Maior, Greater Lisbon. It is otherwise known as St George’s Castle.
Whilst this is a historic castle dating back to the middle of the 11th century, there is a greater meaning behind its fortification. Previously, the hill on which it was built has remains from the 1st century, meaning that its significance is much more important than we initially believed.
Nowadays, the castle serves as a museum and military monument. Notable attractions which you should consider visiting here besides the building include the garden and panoramic viewpoint. Additionally, there is a black chamber that showcases the concurrent appearance of the city.
Lisbon, Portugal Castles
Cascais Castle is located in the parish of Colares in the town of Sintra. Like many other castles in Portugal, it was built for the protection of the city and its coastline. In this case, it was largely against England.
Centuries later, King Luis I decided that the function of the castle should be changed. Consequently, it became one of the royal palaces in Portugal. The fortress became the place of residence for the President and his regal family, however, is now open for viewing.
Sesimbra Castle is found in the lesser-known peninsula of Setúbal. In contrast to other castles in Portugal, it is considered a hidden gem, despite its significance in the history of the country.
The castle was built on a hill dominating a large area of land and hence was conquered multiple times. It is considered a medieval castle. However, due to these invasions, there are structures built during different eras.
This is a quick castle to visit because it is mainly remains of the former glory. Therefore, it does not take much time to explore. Additionally, you can take a trip to the enchanting church on the grounds.
Mouros Castle, or Castle of the Moors, is located in Sintra. This is a municipality of Greater Lisbon. The castle is one of the most famous castles in Portugal. It has a rich history and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The castle was built during the 8th century and suffered many disasters, leading to several reconstructions. The first of these was due to the Almoravid invasion, but other adversities included abandonment and earthquakes.
Remaining structures to explore include the Church, Islamic Quarter, stables, and tower.
Algarve, Portugal Castles
Alcoutim Castle is located on the southeast border in a charming town called Alcoutim. To reach it, you can walk through the old town which has traditional stores and a friendly atmosphere. You must then walk up the hill on which it is situated, surrounded by greenery and a peaceful landscape. From here you can see the San Marcos River.
This is one of the older castles of Portugal, built in the 13th century. It is small in contrast to the other fortifications in the country but makes up for this because of its location.
Tavira Castle is in Algarve, in the Santiago region. It is unknown when exactly it was constructed, but the evidence dates back to the 8th century, making it one of the most historic castles in Portugal. This is reflected by the Almoravid style of architecture, demonstrated by the arches and complex repeating patterns.
Although the castle is mostly remains, it stands tall and is still fun to explore. As it is located in a quiet town, you can peacefully stroll around the castle and gardens, as well as the Church.
Castro Marim Castle
Castro Marim Castle is a castle in the quaint town of Castro Marim, which is found in southern Portugal. If you are searching for a tranquil place to visit, this is the castle for you.
King Afonso III ordered the construction to be built in the 13th century, although the history of the structures dates back to the New Stone Age. Due to earthquakes, invasions, and such, there is not much left of the castle. It was small, to begin with, but it is pleasant to explore.
Silves Castle is one of the oldest castles in Portugal. It is believed to have been built around the 4th century, although this has been disputed as archaeological evidence is varied.
The castle is oddly shaped, in that there is no specific style. It is made up of a gate surrounded by four towers and four columns, as well as remnants from different eras. Despite this, there is a restaurant and other modern features, which works well in contrast.
Governor’s Castle is a medieval castle in Portugal, in the town of Lagos. If you are looking for a modernized castle with plenty to do, this is not the best place to visit. There is not much to do here in terms of general entertainment, so children may not enjoy it.
However, if you are inspired by the history of castles, you will be pleasantly surprised. The ancient ruins are captivating, and there are monuments peppered around significant figures.
Alentejo, Portugal Castles
Castle of Evoramonte
The castle of Evoramonte is located in the central part of Alentejo. It is one of the most historic castles in Portugal as it is found in Evore, the historical capital of Alentejo, making it easy to spot.
The initial construction of the castle was triggered because of an invasion of the town in 1306. King Denis, the reigning monarch in that period, ordered the castle to be built as a form of further protection.
Although much has been altered since then, the original four doors, turrets and arch remains the same. The castle prevalently exhibits gothic architecture, although natural disasters and natural aging have significantly impacted the structures.
Guimarães Castle is found in central Alentejo. It is hugely famous because it is well-preserved, in contrast to other Portuguese castles which have been destroyed.
The architecture is a combination of styles ranging from Romanesque to Gothic. Because it was constructed in the 10th century, there are different elements to the castle.
Functions before have included a jail, and military building and even underwent periods of abandonment during invasions. This is a huge reason why it is considered one of the “Seven Wonders of Portugal.”
Monsaraz Castle is another Portuguese landmark found in central Alentejo, where several castles of Portugal are found close to each other. If you are in the area, you should consider planning your route efficiently to include them all!
Because it is located on a hill, this spot offers a captivating view of the town. Some of the best attractions which can be seen from here are the Alqueva Dam and River Guadiana.
Mértola Castle is located in Baixo Alentejo. It is a medieval castle in Portugal, built in the 10th century and then rebuilt many centuries later. The site, however, dates back to 318 BC.
The remnants of the castle are two towers South, and two towers North. Additionally, there is a vault and tower.
Because the castle is built on a hill, it overlooks the majority of the city. This includes the beautiful river, as well as many parks and cathedrals.
Beja Castle is another Portuguese castle in Baixo Alentejo. It was built in the 4th century mainly of limestone, but the majority has understandably not survived.
Although this is a relatively quiet castle, there is one reason that it attracts so many visitors. This is because it is one of the tallest castles in Portugal, and the view from the top of the tower is magnificent. After climbing the narrow staircase, you can revel in the panoramic city view.
Palmela Castle is one of the most family-friendly castles in Portugal. Because it is well-preserved, there are enough structures to be able to offer a guided tour.
The tour consists of more attractions than just the castle. There is also an interactive museum where you can learn interesting facts about the history of the castle, as well as ask questions.
If you are visiting with a partner, the romantic wine tours may also be of interest!
Belver Castle is a significant Portuguese castle because it holds heavy importance in the protection of its country.
Because of its proximity to the Tagus River, the castle was able to defend a large area along the coastline. Especially in 1914 at the time of its construction, this was especially important, due to the high likelihood of invasion.
Inside the castle are many attractions. An example of this is the chapel, which has a beautiful 17th-century altarpiece.
Other Famous Castles In Portugal
Almourol Castle is a medieval Portuguese Castle in Medio Tejo. It was built in 1171, making it incredibly old, which contributes to its beauty.
This castle is one of the most natural castles in Portugal, as it is located in the middle of the Tagus River. This means that it can be explored via a boat cruise if you want to fit in other interesting attractions nearby. On the other hand, you can visit on foot and discover its structures more closely.
The architecture of Almourol Castle is Romanesque, which is beneficial due to its purpose. These castles are sturdier and better for protection, yet intricately designed.
Óbidos Castle is in the municipality of Oeste. It is a great place for family visits, as the castle is large and perched on a steep hill. This is great for young children because it is more fun than the ancient ruins on other sites, and exerts more energy.
The castle remains standing despite being conquered many times, the first of which was in the 12th century. Not only has it been modified and reconstructed after disasters, but also been improved and expanded for the public.
Leiria Castle is in the Centro region of Portugal, in the city which it is named after. Like many castles in Portugal, it was built in the 12th century as a defense against invaders. However, it became abandoned several times due to wars, disasters, insufficient funds, and other causes.
The architecture of the castle remains seen because, despite adversity, it remains well-maintained. The style reflects a combination of Romanesque and Gothic characteristics, typical for medieval castles.
Leiria Castle is potentially one of the most beautiful castles in Portugal. We can see dramatic arches, domed roofs, and intricate designs lacing the interior. If you plan to visit, it is especially picturesque at sunset, when the orange glow of the sun beams through the arcs.
Tomar Castle is in Medio Tejo, the Centro region of Portugal. It was built under the instruction of Afonso I and cleverly designed to protect the area.
By building the complex on a hill, invaders would inevitably become tired whilst charging toward it. Similarly, the people inside had a clear view of the city, and could easily spot enemy troops. The king also introduced the addition of round towers, because they were increasingly more resistant to obstruction.
Currently, the castle is open to the public and you can identify these protective features!
Discovering Famous Castles in Portugal
Castles in Portugal are more than just scenic attractions. They hold many stories within them, as the majority date back to Medieval times, and some even further.
Due to their age, several Portuguese castles exist as ruins, which can be poignant to visit. This is just as interesting as well-preserved castles, where you can benefit from guided tours and modernized amenities.
If a trip back to history is your thing, make sure to also check out some of the beautiful palaces in Portugal.