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The enchanting Castelo dos Mouros or Moorish Castle perched atop a rugged hill, blends history and beauty. Explore its ancient walls and immerse yourself in the captivating tales of bygone eras.

Quick Facts about Moorish Castle

Moorish Castle
  • Official name: Castelo dos Mouros
  • Location/Address: 2710-405 Sintra, Portugal
  • Date of opening: Between 8-9th centuries
  • Architect: Unknown
  • Architectural style: Moors and Islamic architecture
  • UNESCO World Heritage Site: 1995
  • Number of visitors per year: More than 500,000
  • Function: Castle

Plan Your Visit to Moorish Castle

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Moorish Castle Location

Things to Do at Moorish Castle

Moorish Castle-Second Ring of Walls

Walk along the Second Ring of Walls

Following its seizure by the King of Portugal, Afonso Henriques, the castle’s defences were entrusted to the Knights Templar. This conquest prompted a significant restructuring, including the construction of a second line of walls to safeguard livestock and crops, transforming the ancient stronghold into a fortified sanctuary for the land's bounties.

Islamic neighbourhood

Explore the Islamic neighbourhood

Moorish Castle holds an intriguing past. You can uncover its Muslim neighbourhood by discovering archaeological artefacts such as pottery fragments and ceramic vessels. Explore the ruins of homes and instruments, where subtle remnants bear witness to the Islamic heritage that once thrived within these ancient walls.

Church of São Pedro de Canaferrim

Pray at the Church of São Pedro de Canaferrim

After the Moors' defeat, the Church of São Pedro de Canaferrim emerged as Sintra's initial parish church. Crafted from sturdy granite masonry, the apse showcases captivating 15th-century Gothic paintings, adding a touch of historical allure to this sacred place of worship. Avoid visiting on Monday and Tuesday as the castle is closed.

Moorish Castle Silos

Learn how Silos helped in food storage

People in the prehistoric era stored their food and crops in storages like Silos. You can learn how the people of the castle stored their cereal and leguminous crops in the crater-like pits. Get to know more about how this technique for storing food grains has been described in various Arabic treatises.

moorish castle - Christian Medieval Necropolis

Understand the castle’s transformation

Moorish Castle had a different use before the conquest of Afonso Henriques. It was a Muslim neighbourhood in the 10th century, but the Portuguese King converted it into a Christian mediaeval necropolis. You can learn about the castle’s transformation from a neighbourhood to a necropolis.

moorish castle - royal tower

History of Moorish Castle In A Nutshell

8th century - Moorish Castle was built around the 8th century to protect an important territory.

11th-century - The King of Badajoz allied with Christian Kings to protect some territories, including Moorish Castle, from the Almoravid dynasty. However, it couldn't prevent the region from falling to the Almoravids.

12th - 14th centuries - Lisbon was captured by Christian forces in 1147 under Alfonso Henriques. 30 inhabitants were granted certain privileges to secure the castle, with the cathedral inside the castle becoming a parish seat. Several inhabitants moved out of the castle by 1375, and King Ferdinand I of Portugal ordered it to be fortified and strengthened for security.

18th century - An earthquake hit Lisbon and caused Moorish Castle in the 18th century. The structure was almost in ruins by 1838, and two years later, Ferdinand II renovated and reformed the castle’s structure.

Who Built Moorish Castle?

The Moorish Castle, officially called Castelo dos Mouros, was constructed by the Moors during the 11th century in Sintra. The impressive castle is a testament to its architectural prowess and cultural influence, showcasing a blend of Islamic design and mediaeval military engineering.

Architecture & Design of Moorish Castle

The architecture and design of the Moorish Castle is a captivating blend of Islamic influences and mediaeval military engineering. Perched on a hilltop in Sintra, Portugal, the fortress showcases the skill and artistry of the Moors.

The castle's strategic location and defensive features demonstrate its purpose as a military stronghold. Its robust structure is constructed with sturdy stone walls and fortified towers, providing a commanding view of the surrounding landscape. The design incorporates elements such as battlements, crenellations, and arrow slits, essential for defence during that era.

The architecture of the Moorish Castle also reflects the Islamic aesthetic sensibilities of the time. Intricate geometric patterns, ornate stonework, and delicate arabesque motifs adorn the walls and arches.

These decorative elements create a visually stunning atmosphere, transporting visitors back to the era of Islamic dominance in the region. Its blend of military functionality, Islamic artistry, and residential elements create a captivating and unique experience for visitors, allowing them to appreciate the region's rich heritage.

More about Moorish Castle

UNESCO World Heritage Site

UNESCO World Heritage Site

Moorish Castle is a recognised UNESCO World Heritage Site with its rich history and architectural significance. It was handed the honour in 1995. UNESCO classified the Sintra Cultural Landscape as a World Heritage Site, with the Moorish Castle representing a fundamental component.

The designation acknowledged its cultural importance and the need to preserve and protect this remarkable fortress for future generations to appreciate and admire.

Frequently Asked Questions About Moorish Castle in Sintra

What is Moorish Castle?

Moorish Castle is a medieval castle built in the 8th century by the Moors. It holds incredible history and is a blend of Islamic and Moorish architecture.

Why is Moorish Castle famous?

Moorish Castle is famous because of its historical significance, architectural splendour, and cultural heritage. It stands as a symbol of the Moorish influence in Portugal and showcases the skilled craftsmanship of the Moors during the mediaeval period.

What can I do at Moorish Castle?

You can walk along the Second Ring of Walls, explore the Islamic neighbourhood, and pray at the Church of São Pedro de Canaferrim.

How can I get tickets to Moorish Castle?

You can get tickets to Moorish Castle online for a hassle-free booking experience.

How much are Moorish Castle tickets?

You can get Moorish Castle tickets for €8.

Who designed Moorish Castle?

The Moors designed Moorish Castle.

When was Moorish Castle built?

Moorish Castle was built between the 8th-9th centuries.

Where is Moorish Castle located?

The Moorish Castle is 3.5 km from the historical centre of Sintra, standing above the ruins of the Castelo dos Mouros. You can reach it in 40 minutes by train from Lisbon.

What are the Moorish Castle timings?

Moorish Castle is open daily from 9:30 AM to 6:30 PM. Tickets and admission to the castle are closed at 6 PM.

What is the best time to visit Moorish Castle?

Early mornings and evenings are the best to explore Moorish Castle.

What is there to see and do in the Moorish Castle?

The Second Ring of Walls, the Islamic neighbourhood, and the Church of São Pedro de Canaferrim are a few things to see in the Moorish Castle.

Is Moorish Castle wheelchair accessible?

Yes. Moorish Castle is wheelchair accessible.

Are there dining options available at Moorish Castle?

Dining options are available close to Moorish Castle in Sintra, Portugal.

Is there a dress code for visiting Moorish Castle?

No. There is no dress code for visiting Moorish Castle, but ensure you dress respectfully.