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Moorish Castle

Set amid the forests of the high Portuguese countryside, the crumbling ruins of this gray stone castle offer commanding views of the surrounding region. 

Though the Moorish Castle of Sintra has been reduced to ruins, it is still a powerful presence on the forested slopes of the Sintra Mountains. Wander up to the hilltop ruins, trekking past fortified stone walls and precariously placed ramparts. Enjoy views that extend over the surrounding hills of Serra de Sintra and the Atlantic Ocean. 

To help put the ruins into context, read up on the history of the castle before you visit. The structure was originally built by the Moors in the 8th and 9th centuries and was conquered by the Christians in 1093. The conquest was, however, only temporary, with the Moors regaining control of the fortress the following year. In 1147, the Christians returned once more and took the castle, this time for good. 

Over the following centuries, the castle fell into disrepair, with several natural disasters, including an earthquake and a fire started by a lightning bolt, helping to accelerate the process of decay. In the 19th century, King Ferdinand II took ownership of the castle and began stabilizing and restoring key parts of the complex. As you stroll around the site today, note that much of what you see is the result of Ferdinand II’s 19th-century restoration project. 

The castle stands on a hilltop about 1,300 feet (400 meters) above sea level. Because of its elevated position, the site offers incredible views of the surrounding region. Walk along the castle walls for views of the Atlantic Ocean in the distance. The colorful Pena Palace is perched on a nearby hill. 

Before leaving, take some time to properly explore the Visitor Support Centre. Browse the on-site store, have a snack in the cafeteria and ask staff to tell you about recent restoration efforts. 

The Moorish Castle is located about 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) from Sintra. Choose from several ways to reach the Moorish Castle. If you’re feeling fit, embark on a steep uphill route on foot, winding up the hillside past several attractive gardens. Alternatively, ride a bus or take a tuk-tuk.


Guide to Exploring Moorish Castle


Map

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