Castelo de S. Jorge is an 11th century Moorish fortress that stands prominently on top of a hill in Lisbon, Portugal. Walking up from sea level allows visitors to see the charm of Lisbon’s neighborhoods and the steepness of the terrain. The strategic location of this Lisbon castle adds to the adventure of hiking up the winding streets and connecting stairways. A taxi or public tram may be a better option for people who are pressed for time or are unable to trek up sharp inclines and hundreds of stairs.Brief History
After the Moors were defeated in 1147, this stone military structure was renovated and enlarged to accommodate the needs of Portugal’s first king. By the 13th century, Castelo de S. Jorge had become the royal palace and the focal point for special gatherings and coronations. After the Portuguese and Spanish crowns were united in 1580, Castelo de S. Jorge lost its prominence in history and became a military barracks. A 1910 Royal Decree declared this site a National Monument. After it was renovated in 1938-40, the grounds and buildings were opened to the public.
Grounds & Views— its pinnacle location offers magnificent views of Lisbon’s shoreline and the densely arranged white and gray buildings with red tiled roofs that are tiered on the streets below. The open spaces and stone
walkways are well maintained and spacious.
Garden— is filled with numerous native species.
Castle—includes 11 towers. Five of the towers are highlighted for their significance in history. The most interesting tower is the Tower of St. Lawrence. It is set off from the castle by a covered passageway. Its unusual location provided access to a well that was outside the perimeter of the massive fortress. Walking along the castle walls provides a hands-on prospective of the strategic value of the fortress.
If Time Allows
Camera Obscura— located in the Tower of Riches. This modern technology enables visitors to visualize Lisbon via a sophisticated system of lenses and mirrors.
Inside Exhibit— showcases a small number of local artifacts dating from 7th century BCE to 18th century CE.
Moorish Quarter, Remnants from the Iron Age (7th-3rd Century BC, & Ruins of 15th-18th Century Palace – all are positioned a short distance from the Moniz Gate.
Casa do Leão Restaurant and Café— these facilities are located in the former royal residences and highlight the architecture of medieval Portugal.
Before You Go
Check Castelo de S. Jorge website for opening/closing times and admission fees.
If you’re looking for scenery shots of Lisbon and a taste of history, add this castle to your list.
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The above article was originally published on November 4, 2015. It is being reposted on this site because the Examiner site shut down earlier this month
Sandra Bornstein is the author of MAY THIS BE THE BEST YEAR OF YOUR LIFE. It is available on Amazon.
Sandra’s memoir highlights her living and teaching adventure in Bangalore, India. She is a licensed Colorado teacher who has taught K-12 students in the United States and abroad as well as college level courses. Sandra is married and has four adult sons.
The memoir was a finalist in the Travel category for the 2013 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, the 2013 International Book Awards, the 2013 National Indie Book Excellence Awards, 2013 USA Best Book Awards, and a Honorable Mention award in the Multicultural Non-Fiction category for the 2013 Global ebook Awards.