Castles and palaces, Lisbon
Only a block west of Terreiro do Paço, there's a small and interesting square.
City Hall a palace from the 18Th century, several times destroyed and reconstructed (last time after the fire of 1996) dominates the area, but a large and strange modern sculpture in the facing side brakes the classical look added by the court building, and the 18Th century pillory, in the middle of the square.
At left, the cathedral peeps in the background.
Saint George's Castle is probably THE landmark of Lisbon and it can be seen from almost everywhere in the city. Its oldest parts date from the 6th century, when it was fortified by the Romans, Visigoths, and eventually the Moors. You can climb the towers and walk along and get one of the best views of the city, or relax in the gardens where peacocks, geese and ducks walk around. There is also a restaurant and a small archeological garden.
The views are particularly beautiful at afternoon/sunset as you can see the sun going down on the city and the river.
Take also some time to stroll around Castelo’s neighborhood with its traditional houses where some people still live.
To get there you can either walk up from Alfama or bus catch the bus 37 in Figueira’s Square.
It’s open from 9AM-9PM (March-Oct.), 9AM-6PM (Nov.-Feb.)
The regular ticket costs 7.5€ and students under 25 4€. For Lisbon residents it’s free.
When I think of the castle of Lisbon there is a lot of things that come to my mind. First the view, the beautiful view of the city spraying from the hills, that thought that indeed you are in one of the hills where everything started and then see how it turned out.
The second is the people, it is not like other museums or monuments, since it is free for the people of the city there is a lot of local people around. A lady that goes there to sing in the morning while overlooking the horizon, the man that goes to read the newspaper or the kid running around a ball in its feet is more than a monument, it is a garden for the city filled with native species from the carob to the cork tree.
The castle was built in the XI century during the Moorish period but the history is much older with remains from Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans and even remains dating back to 7B.C. some of them that can be seen in the archeological excavation site and the museum. Unlike most castles the first idea was not to have it as a residence but to house military troops and the elite in case of siege.
In the XI century it was conquered by Afonso Henriques, the first Portuguese king. For some times it used, rotating with other castles around the country as royal residence but in the XVI century the country opened to the sea and the kings descended to the place today called Terreiro do Paço and lived there on top of the werehouses of spices. With earthquakes, fires and time passing by its walls the place loses importance.
The residence is still there, small and no how many imagine palaces. With time it was adapted several time and is today the museum, coffee and restaurant.
In the XX century the place was totally restored and became an important landmark of the city either by it’s historical importance but also by the beautiful space and wonderful view that can be seen from here. In the last years a small multimedia presentation was added in one of the castles room and a dark room with live 360º perspective from the city centre.
If you want to know more, they offer some tours along the day for free.
1 Nov to 28 Feb | 9 am to 6 pm
1 Mar to 31 Oct | 9 am to 9 pm
Castelo de São Jorge is strategic located on the top of one of the highest hills in Lisbon. The castle in its present form dates from medieval times. It was almost destroyed in the earthquake in 1755, but in the 1940s, Castelo de São Jorge was rebuilt and is now a major tourist attraction in Lisbon.
You can explore the old castle... visit the castle museum and the archaeological excavation area (with a few remains of an old Moor castle)... walk the cobbled esplanade around the castle... have a look at the square with some old cannons and a statue of Afonso Henriques (who conquered the site from the Moors)... enjoy the wonderful panoramic views of Lisbon and River Tagus... Interesting and impressive place.
This magnificent castle above Lisbon is a great location to enjoy views over the city. From the castle, you can see across the city and pick out all the famous landmarks. I spent a lot of time here just taking photos and enjoying the views.
The castle of Sao Jorge was built back in the 11th century by the Moors. Following Dom Afonso Henriques' conquering of Lisbon, the castle became home to Portuguese royalty. By the 13th century, the Moorish buildings had been enlarged to accommodate their royal occupiers. Following the great Lisbon earthquake of 1755, much of the castle was destroyed, however, the ruins of the Royal Palace have since been renovated and now house the castle museum and restaurant. While visiting the castle, be sure to take a look at the small museum which exhibits items found in the castle grounds, many which date back to the Moorish period.
The castle is open from 9am till 9pm between March and October and 9am to 6pm between November and February. There is an admission charge for entry and you must validate your ticket at the barriers to enter the main grounds of the castle.
I should start to write about our experience in Lisbon from the highest point of the old city, Castelo S.Jorge.
It was built by the Moors about 1000 years ago (XI century), to protect the elite city in case of emergency, its walls doing their duty only for a short period, because in 1147 the city was reconquered by the Christians.
Now the risk is gone but the siege of the city is wonderful and here you can easily plan "targets" for the days to Venn. It is easy to evaluate the distances here that will seem much smaller than seen on tourist maps.
Old Town seen from here is much smaller than shown there, down the narrow streets lined with buildings covered by so-famous ceramic tiles "azulejos".
I don’t want to write more than this, I hope you’ll appreciate our photos too.
Photo: Hilltop citadel - Lisbon's Castelo de São Jorge
What is it about a group of seven hills that makes them a magnet for a city to take root there? Rome, Amman, Barcelona, San Francisco, Prague, Istanbul - lots of others ... and Lisbon is one also. The historic heart of Lisbon is to found on these hills, and, with their steep narrow streets crammed with terra-cotta roofed buildings, they present something of a challenge to a visitor's lung capacity.
The hills rise up from narrow stretch of land along the Tejo River, the sector known as Baixa - the Lower Town. Whilst the best views are to be had from the heights of the hills (more of that later), it's also interesting to stand in the lower city and look up. Dominating the skyline to the east, the Castelo de São Jorge has stood guard over the city for hundreds of years, but long before this castle was built, the hill it stands on was the natural place to site the main defences of settlements here from the 2nd century BC and perhaps even earlier. Iberians, Romans and Visgoths all built their citadels here but the castle we see today was begun by the Moors and named the Alcáçova.
After some 400 years of Moorish rule, Crusaders captured the castle in 1147 and it finally became the seat of Christian power in the country in 1255 after which it was considerably enlarged and strengthened. King João I dedicated the castle to St George, the patron saint of England, in honour of his English queen in the 14th century. The castle was only home to the Portuguese kings for another 100 years before they moved to an altogether more comfortable palace befitting the monarchs of a powerful seafaring nation.
Centuries of use as a prison and barracks followed until restorations and the creation of lovely gardens in the second half of the 20th century saw a once grim bastion become a favourite place for locals and tourist to visit and relax. With spectacular views from the shady terraces - and occasional peeks into private hillside gardens, walltop walkways and towers, a couple of historical displays and even a small and picturesque residential area (Santa Cruz) right at the entrance, allow at least a half a day to visit the castle and surrounding area.
Within the castle precinct, there's a cafe serving coffee and the ubiquitous pasteis de nata as well as substantial Portuguese dishes for lunch at olive- and pine-tree- shaded tables. Even getting up there is fun - the famous No 28 tram will take you within a short walk via the streets of Santa Cruz.
Be sure to nod to São Jorge in his glass case as you pass through into the castle.
The castle, partly dating back to the 6th century, sits atop a hill overlooking the city. Visitors can climb the towers and ramparts for spectacular views of Lisbon. You can also sit in the castle gardens where peacocks, geese and ducks freely walk around.
St George's Castle proudly dominates the hilltop of the Alfama old town area and can be seen from various parts of the city. Parts of the castle date from the 6th century. It was once occupied by the Moors but was captured from them by Portugal's first king Afonso Henriques in 1147. Today there is quite a lot of the castle walls left and it is possible to go for a walk along its battlements. There are fantastic views over Lisbon from the castle walls. There was a restaurant inside the castle which we did not use. There were peacocks happily roaming the castle grounds. I believe there is normally an entry fee for visiting the casle but when we went on Christmas Eve it was free - not entirely sure why.
Saint George Castle (The Castle of Sao Jorge) is from 6 century and can be seen from almost everywhere in the city. The castle fortified by the Romans, Visigoths and the Moors. This strongly fortified citadel, is located atop the highest hill in the historic center of the city. The great 1755 Lisbon earthquake severely damaged the castle and contributed to its degradation but today is one of the main historical sites of Lisbon
9 am – 9 pm (March – October)
9 am -6 pm (November - February)
As far as castles go, this one has all the fixings. Thick block walls, ramparts of all sizes and forms, towers, thousands of steps, and a market to boot. There are lots of informative signs as you explore.
St. George's Castle sits on a high hill in the Alfama District overlooking the city of Lisbon. The castle was built by the Moors in the 10th - 11th century. Its a little bit of a climb to walk up the castle. There is a bus route that can you there also. But for me I like to walk and explore the streets. The walk up to the castle took us through some fascinating neighborhoods and allowed views of the city below which were beautiful. Once you enter the castle and walk around its perimeter you will find beautiful views of the city and the river below. There are lots of places to sit down, relax, and enjoy the view. There is a small admission to enter the castle.
Built by the Moors in the 11th century and located atop the highest hill in the historic centre of the city, this castle is one of the main historical and touristic sites of Lisbon. Although the first fortifications on this Lisbon hilltop are known to be no older than the second century BC, archaeological research has shown that humans have occupied the site since the sixth century BC, and possibly earlier. The hill was employed in early times by indigenous Celtic tribes, and others, probably Phoenicians, Greeks, and Carthaginians, have also left their cultural footprints there. Afterwards, Roman, Suebic, Visigothic, and Moorish settlers lived where the castle now stands.
The castle didn't actually remain in Moorish hands for very long as it was captured by King Afonso Henriques with the help of northern-European crusaders associated with the Second Crusade during the Siege of Lisbon in 1147. Ownership of the castle helped Lisbon to protect itself against the Moors during the last years of the twelfth century. When Lisbon became the capital of the kingdom, in 1255, the castle became the royal palace, the Alcáçova. It was extensively renovated around 1300 by King Dinis I.
Between 1373 and 1375, a new city wall was built around Lisbon by King Ferdinand I, of which some remnants survive. This wall, which partially replaced the old Moorish walls, was designed to encircle previously-unprotected parts of the city. It had 77 towers and a perimeter of 5400 metres, and it was completed in only two years. The castle and the city resisted the Castilian army several times during the 14th century, notably in 1373 and in 1383–4. The great 1755 Lisbon earthquake severely damaged the castle and contributed to its degradation.
The main castle area features some superb views over the city which can be seen from walking along the castle's ramparts and climbing its towers. There's also a museum (see next tip) but it is a little expensive to visit at €7.00. Has to be visited though...
Open: 9am-9pm. Admission: €7.00
This wonderful palace is located on the western side of Restauradores Square and is where you can catch the Elevador da Gloria up to Bairro Alto. The Marques de Castelo Melhor had it built by the Italian architect Fabri shortly after the 1755 earthquake. Its present name comes from the Marqués da Foz, who inherited the palace in 1869. At the beginning of the 20th century, some of the rooms were used for theatre, cinema, revista, variety and dance presentations. Today the palace houses the main tourist information office, a small gallery and a media and press department.
Palácio do São Bento is the seat of the Portuguese Parliament, known as the National Assembly. This building was originally constructed as a Benedictine monastery in 1598, and the original portions of the building are those that are in the Renaissance style. In 1820, a Liberal revolution led to the suppression of the monastic orders and many of their properties were seized by the State, including the Palace. It then became the seat of the country’s parliament, a role it has served since the 1820, through monarchy, Republican democracy and the Estado novo fascist era. In 1895, a fire caused significant damage to the building and the neo-Classical portico and columns that are characteristic of this massive structure were added. Today, there is really not a huge amount of security around the building, and it’s quite easy to come up close and to be able to take pictures. One of the special treats of visiting it, if you’re there at the right time, is the ability to take shots of the guards as they change sentries.