We live in the present and make plans for the future, so what’s the use of knowing the past? History helps us to understand the change and the process through which our society has become what it is today (Stearns, 2008). Knowing history, through a book or a visit to a monument, increases the capacity of developing a critical sense, to sustain our choices and make decisions. We created a route of castles in the center of Portugal for a special vacation in Portugal. You don’t have to do everything in one day, nor in two. Remember it is not a marathon, but a suggestion. The idea is to go at your own pace and enjoy the trip.
CASTLE OF OUREM
«The castle is well integrated into the landscape and presents a well-preserved space. The surroundings in relation to the village and nature are very beautiful» is one of the comments highlighted on Tripadvisor. Ourém Castle (conquered from the Moors in 1136) is currently under construction, but even outside it is worth the trip to see the magnificence of the monument. You can always take the opportunity to visit the Medieval Village of Ourém, the whole surrounding area of the castle is wonderful, starting with the small garden and the open views over the city and the mountain.
CASTLE OF LEIRIA
Ordered to be built in 1135 by D. Afonso Henriques, at that time still as a prince, and handed over to his leadership to D. Paio Guterres (first chief mayor), the Castle of Leiria would be reconquered by Muslims, five years later, returning to the hand of Christians in 1142. «For those who like Portuguese castles, this is a must visit. In addition to the fortress and towers, Paços Novos ends up making this castle unique”, says a visitor on Tripadvisor. Guided tours are usually worthwhile. Prices: € 2.10 / adult; up to 10 years: free; from 11 to 25 and over 65 – € 1.05.
CASTLE OF PORTO DE MÓS
As with its neighboring Castelo de Ourém, the origins of the place are also unclear, particularly during the Arab period. The Castle of Porto de Mós has a unique architecture throughout the world, which is more than enough reason for a visit. «It is a small castle, the visit is quick. It is extraordinarily restored, accessible to the blind and people with reduced mobility. They have in one of the rooms some images of how it was before the reconstruction and the difference is overwhelming ”, says a visitors. Adult ticket € 1.57. 6-25 years 0,79 €; free for children up to 6 years and over 65.
CASTLE OF TORRES NOVAS
Anyone who has visited this castle says: «where you can enter for free and enjoy one of the best views of the city of Torres Novas, I recommend visiting at the time of the medieval fair». The origins of the Torres Novas Castle are not clear, particularly as regards a possible pre-medieval occupation. Certainly it is known that D. Sancho I promoted the construction of a fortified enclosure, destroyed in the 14th century in the context of the Peninsular Wars. You can’t miss the castle’s well-kept garden.
CASTLE OF ALMOUROL
The most beautiful in Portugal? They are all beautiful and different. Some say yes because of its peculiar location. Situated on a small rugged island, at Praia do Ribatejo, in Vila Nova da Barquinha, in the middle of the Tagus River, the Castle of Almourol is one of the most emblematic medieval military monuments of the Reconquista and a symbol of the Templars in the country. «Stunning views, superb scenery, is very well maintained, access is good, by boat, and the circuits inside the castle are all accessible», one of Tripadvisor’s comments. Currently, the entrance has access to the TIC (Templar Interpretation Center) and costs €4 for adults; children up to 7 years old and over 65; free.
* At the time of writing this text, the castle of Ourém and the castle of Leira are temporarily closed due to restoration work. Follow the reopening and updates, before your trip.