Moorish Castle – history with a view in Sintra
With more than 12 centuries of existence, the Moorish Castle is one of those places that draw attention even from a long distance. Situated at the top of the Serra de Sintra the site dates back to the time of the Moorish occupation of the Iberian Peninsula. Even those who are not interested in history, are dazzled by the construction and the wonderful view from the top which extends to the Atlantic Ocean, where you can be seen from Cabo da Roca to Ericeira and the countryside to the Palace of Mafra.
The building was built on a rocky mountain and adapted to unevenness of the ground . So for people who intend to visit the Moorish Castle, know that the place is full of steps and it goes downhill and uphill. However believe me, worth the visit! It is the type of tour that draws the attention of everyone, including children, even by the mystique surrounding the place. There are 450 meters perimeter surrounded by walls and towers, a cistern (rainwater reservoir) and a chapel. The Moorish Castle is classified as a National Monument since 1910 and together with the Serra de Sintra was considered Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 1995.
Some other places near the Moorish Castle that worth a visit are the Pena Palace, the Convent of the Capuchos, The Palace of Monserrate and undoubtedly a stop in the village of Sintra for a travesseiro in Piriquita.
History of the Moorish Castle
Archaeological studies verified human presence in the Neolithic period (5,000 BC), though the first village related to the Castle dating from the eighth century, when the Muslim invasion happen in the Iberian Peninsula. At this time lived in this place an ancient people called “as-Shantara”. They built the fort in order to control all land routes linking Lisbon to Sintra, Cascais and Mafra from a strategic location . In 1093, Alfonso VI, conquered Sintra, taken it from the Arabs. However for some time Sintra undergoes an alternation of power between Christians and Moors. In 1147, D. Afonso Henriques conquer Lisbon and the Portuguese people get voluntarily and definite the Moorish Castle. At this time it was announced the construction of the St. Peter of Canaferrim Church.
Over the years the castle was losing its strategic significance and was abandoned during the second dynasty. During this period the vegetation dominated the site and the place was abandoned. The region also suffered a major earthquake in 1755 which destroyed part of the castle and the church built by King Afonso Henriques. In 1839, with the arrival of Romantic Period that it promoted the rediscovery of the Middle Ages, Fernando II began a process of restoration of the Moorish Castle in order to not let disappear what was left of the wall. At this time were made some repairs in the walls, the construction of access roads and afforestation of the site, which 150 years later still cuts in breathing during the visit.
Tip for visitors: The Talking Heritage App available on the App Store and on Google Play offers a “guided tour” of the Moorish Castle (and other places in the Serra de Sintra), where visitors have access to spoken information in several points, giving the feeling that the monument tells its own story.
Moorish Castle – Sintra
Location and Contacts:
Estrada da Pena – 2710-609 Sintra
Tel.: +351 21 923 73 00 / +351 21 923 73 00
April – September: 09 a.m. to 08 p.m. (last ticket 07 p.m.)
October – March: 10 a.m. to 06 p.m. (last ticket 5 p.m.)
Open Monday to Sunday
Ticket for adults (18 – 64 yrs) – 6,50€
Ticket for youths (6 – 17 yrs) – 5,00€
Ticket for seniors (over 65 yrs) – 5,00€
To benefit from a reduction on your visit to several sites, choose combined tickets. Check the options on this link.
Guided tours: +5 euros (by appointment/ contact: +351 21 923 73 00) To find out how to get there CLICK HERE.
*We recommend visitors to validate these infos on the Castle website, before visiting.