When visiting Portugal, you’ll notice a large number of ruins, from different times. From castles to churches, palaces to villages, there is plenty to discover and explore. Portugal is a very rich country, historically speaking.
The Castle of the Moors is one of the best examples of these ruins. Located in the charming and mysterious Sintra Mountain, this old construction takes you back in time, to an era of Moors and Christians, steep hills and fierce combats.
Come along and visit one of the most well-preserved ruins in the country with us!
A brief historical summary
The Moorish invasion of the Iberian Peninsula started in 711, had two main goals: spread their faith and conquer fertile territories. In two years they dominated the territory, from South to North, militarily and culturally. This dominance lasted for 800 years.
Contrary to what most people might believe, the Moorish invasion was not always violent and based on military supremacy. Some villages accepted to convert and live under the Moorish rules. As every conquest, there were confrontations, people died and it was a delicate period in history.
The Iberian Peninsula people put up a fight. 800 years later, they manage to expel the invader, for good. Though this period was characterized by violent episodes, the truth is that the Moorish influence in the Iberian culture and way of living lasts to this day.
The Castle of the Moors
Construction dates back to the early years of the 8th century when the Moorish invasion started. It stands out in the landscape, as it is located on the top of a hill, at the Sintra Mountain and it overlooks the Sintra village and the territory from the mountain to the Atlantic Ocean.
It suffered a lot of structural changes throughout the centuries. First, when it was conquered by D.Afonso Henriques (first Portuguese King), then, after being abandoned for years, it was renovated by King Fernidand to be part of the Pena Park, as a romantic setting.
The Castle of the Moors has two rings of walls, running irregularly around the steep cliffs. Part of the fun of visiting this site is to walk along (and around) the castle and admire the landscape. As you roam the walkways, you can breathe in and feel the breeze while admiring one of the best views of the Sintra Mountain and its surroundings. You can also imagine what it was like, back in the day, as the guards surveilled and protected the Castle, from that wall. Let us give you some advice: wear comfortable, stable shoes. And if you suffer from vertigo, you should pass the walk along the walls. But don’t be sad: there is an alternative for those who can’t walk along the walls to the Royal Tower: climb up the steps, from the ‘square’ up.
One of the most interesting features of the walls is the fact that they were built on irregular terrain, meandering over granite boulders. The Castle of the Moors was built on the top of a steep hill in order to protect the population on the valley. This used to be one of the strategic Moorish sites, for its location and broad view.
As mentioned earlier, the Castle of the Moors suffered a lot of transformations throughout the centuries. It was not only remodeled as it was also expanded. In 1755, when the Lisbon earthquake happened, the Castle was affected.
King Ferdinand II decided that the ruins should be part of the park and would contribute to a more romantic atmosphere. Nowadays, as you walk towards the entrance of the Castle, you will feel as if going back in time, in an atmosphere of mystery and adventure, but also in a very quiet and peaceful environment.