Castelo dos Mouros (the Castle of the Moors) was built - strategically on a hilltop - by the Arabs during the 8th and 9th century, but was captured by Christian crusaders after the conquest of Lisbon in the 12th century. In the following centuries the castle has been remodelled many times, and King Ferdinand II did a lot of improvements on the castle in the middle of the 19th century after it had been damaged by the great earthquake of 1755.
Today, there is not much left of the old castle buildings, but still very interesting to visit... The old castle chapel (which was being renovated when I visited), the towers and outer castle walls built upon huge granite rocks, and the amazing views of the nearby Palácio Nacional da Pena, and the surrounding land and coastline.
High up above Sintra perched on a rocky crag, you will find the ruins of a Moorish castle dating back to the 8th century. From the walls of the castle, known as Castelo dos Mouros in Portuguese, you can enjoy great views over Sintra and the surrounding area. You can even see the coast and the town of Cascais in the distance. One thing I noticed was how much cooler it was up on the castle walls compared to down in old Sintra. This is due to the castle being 1,378 feet above sea level.
Built during the Arab occupation, the castle has endured a tumultuous history. It was ceded to Afonso Henriques' forces following the conquest of Lisbon in 1147. In 1755, a massive earthquake struck the Lisbon area and the castle became unstable and a no-go zone. Fortunately, a grand conservation project under the orders of Ferdinand II in 1840 restored the castle to its former glory and additional reconstructions over the 19th and 20th centuries have made the castle a far visitor-friendly place.
As the castle is situated up in the hills, access is not easy and visitors with disabilities may struggle. I chose to take the bus to the castle ticket booth and it is still a relatively steep climb on a dirt track to reach the castle entrance from there. I'm really glad that I took the time to visit the castle though as the views are amazing and being able to walk the medieval walls was a fantastic experience.
Entry to the Castelo dos Mouros costs 5 Euros. Buy your ticket at the roadside ticket office and make the final ascent via a twisty path to the castle entrance. You can also buy a joint ticket for the castle and the Pena Palace, but I decided just to go to the castle.
If you like heights, this is a place to go… if not, you’ll have anyway to keep the step with your kids, as it happened in our case.
I was so scared looking at my kid running alone in front of me on the top of those walls…
If you read this, that means that the trip had a happy ending but my heart is still beating hard as I remember that experience.
We’ve got anyway the chance to see the entire region from the top tower and everything was forgotten then.
And more than this we’ve noticed a nice lady getting sketches from the walls…
In the era of the Japanese (or Chinese-even worst) cameras, she was so “abnormal” and unusual apparition that I’ve had to get some pictures… and even my wife had enjoyed this :)
Congratulation young lady... keep doing your sketches and I’m sure that I’ll see again your red beret somewhere-sometime.
Do I have to say something about the castle?
Why not… It is a “normal” fortress with an impressive position above the entire surrounding World.
Built by the Moors around the VIII-IX centuries and rebuilt in XIV century by the Christians it is still a nice "story teller", its preferred story being about the confrontation between the two civilizations, the European and the Arab one, more than thousand years ago.
If you want to find more, Wikipedia is exactly what you need :)
Castelo dos Mouros (the Moorish Castle), perches on its hilltop, a silent sentinal above the town of Sintra.
The Portugese of today waves from several of its crenelated towers along the walls.
But these photos here show the approach walk which leads you through a moss draped forest with enormous boulders overpowering you at every step. There is a trail that it is possible to take down to the city of Sintra.
It's nice to see the castle from the city, and its nice to see the views from the castle. But, compared with the other highlights of Sintra, I can't say that it deserves the 3.50 € charged at the entrance.
If you have time, and being so close to the "obligatory" palace of Pena, you may include it in your plans. But there are plenty of more expressive castles in Portugal and expressive buildings in Sintra to see. Anyway, it seems to be one of the oldest (9th century) keeping signs of its later occupation - doors, a chapel, a cistern, so... why not?
This was the residence of the Alcaide, the military governor of the fortress during the Muslim period. It was the stately part, designed to be the last redoubt able to withstand any attack from within or from outside the castles walls.
Located next to the ruins of the Sao Pedro De Canaferrim Church, outside the entrance of the Moorish Castle, the Ossuary was built in the 19th century to receive the remains exhumed in the porch of the old church during restoration work.
Located outside the entrance of the Moorish Castle, this church was built during King Afonso Henriques reign (1143-1185), the first king of Portugal. The church was no longer used in the 15th century and was altered into a romantic ruin by King Fernando II in the 19th century.
Known simply in English as Moorish Castle, this ruined castle is located on a high hill overlooking the town and forms part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Originally, the castle was built by the Moors, possibly between the 9th and 10th centuries. Arab chronicles depict the Sintra region as being very rich in cultivated fields and their castle was one of the most important in the surroundings.
In 1109, the castle became subject to an attack by crusading Norwegians, no less, lead by King Sigurd I, on their way to the Holy Land. Every man at the castle were said to have been killed as they had refused to become christened. In 1147, after the conquest of Lisbon by King Afonso Henriques, the Moorish garrison of the castle surrendered to the Christians without resistance. Afonso Henriques promoted the development of the region by granting a foral (letter of feudal rights) to the inhabitants of Sintra and its castle in 1154. The decline of the castle began in the 15th century, when most of the population settled downhill, in today's old quarter of Sintra. In the 16th century, the castle lost all military relevance and was abandoned by its last inhabitants, the Sintra Jews. In 1830, after a long period of ruin, King Ferdinand II started renovating it in the romantic spirit of the time.
The castle has two walled segments with a total perimeter of 450 metres. The walls at the north segment took advantage of the natural slope of the hill to prevent enemies from approaching the castle. Near the entrance is the Romanesque Church of Saint Peter, which dates from the 12th-13th centuries and some medieval tombs. It's quite some climb up to the castle from the old quarter (which is what I did), so take plenty of food and water with you. The views from it are breathtaking.
Open: 9.30am-8pm. Admission: €14.00 when combined with entry to the nearby Pena National Palace.
We love old ruins.Expecially this kind of ruins.I start to wonder how it would have been at it´s glory days.These ones left as they are,are way more interesrting than restored ones.
Luckily my husband loves them too!And I love takin photos of these kind of places.I took tens of photos here also.
The Moorish Castle of Sintra dates back to the 9th C and was either constructed by the Arabs or they built a new one on the top of an Older one. It served as an excellent observation post as the whole coast line is visable from the ramparts as the castle sits on the mountain some 450 m above sea level.
There are fantastic views from the castle walls but the walls are quite steep and narrow in some parts so please take care as there are no safety barriers.
The castle was mostly destroyed in the earthquake of 1755 and was rebuilt in the 19th c, this can be plainly seen when looking at the walls, The medieval base being made up of regular ashlars with the more haphazard 19th c reconstruction on the top of it.
There is also a secound curtain wall which is still mostly in ruins but can be seen as you walk along the pathway to the castle.
more soon >
I did not get into this castle but took some pictures of it when we went to the national palace.
We also passed it on the way to pena palace with Circuito da Pena bus ticket.
This you can buy on bus 434 and stops Sintra Estacao, Sintra Vila, Castelo do Mouros and Palacio da Pena. We paid 4.50 euro for a return to Pena Palace ( Circuito da Pena)
The castle (fortress) was built in the 8th century by the Moors and was conquered by D. Afonso Henriques in 1147.
Flyer from tourist office in Sintra says
Opening hours 1st of may - 15th September from 10.00 - 20.00 last entry 19.00
admission 5 euro
guided tour 10 euro (with advance booking)
Lisboa card info says
1/5 - 15/9 open 9.30 - 20.00
16/9 - 30/4 open 10.00 - 18.00
The Castelo dos Mouros in Sintra, Portugal is one of the best hiking trips in Sintra. Perched high above the town, the Castelo is the beautiful old ruin of a Moorish castle. The views from the castle walls are unrivaled and the hike up to the Castelo is through a gorgeous wooded area.
Castelo dos Mouros
My friend and I joked how the Moorish castle was so reminiscent of the Great Wall of China from certain angles. Atop Sintra, it offers a great view of the surroundings, after you pay your dues (i.e. exert enough energy to climb the steep walls to the vantage point).
The Moorish castle is a reminder of the extent of the Moorish influence in Portugal and Spanish Andalucia. Also an excellent hiking option if you have plenty of energy...
Overlooking it all is the 8th century Moorish Castle, standing on top of Sintra's highest hill. Snaking along the mountain ridge, it offers breathtaking views of the area.
To reach the Moorish Castle and Pena Palace, take bus 434 that runs every 30 minutes from behind Sintra's train station.