The Castle of São Jorge is located at the top of one of Lisbon’s hills.

It’s classified as a National Monument and from there you can get one of the best views of Lisbon.

The first occupations date from the 7th century BC. Archeological excavations found what is thought to be a kitchen with pots and other cutlery. In the 9th century, Muslims built a fortification to defend the government representatives who lived inside the citadel. It was the site in which the political and military powers were gathered. The wall was called the Moorish Wall.

In 1147 Lisbon was conquered by D. Afonso Henriques (1st king of Portugal), after a 3-month siege. According to the legend, the noble knight Martim Moniz saw an opened door in the castle and, by lodging his body in the doorway, he prevented it to be fully closed. Thus, his fellow soldiers were able to get inside and occupy the Castle.

The knights were devoted to Saint George and the Castle was given his name. During the Christian era, adaptions and expansions were carried out in the old and existent buildings of the Islamic occupation. The works had the intent to transform the Castle into a royal residence, to serve the King, the court and the Bishop. It was a golden era, where celebrations and acclamations of Kings were held.

Vasco da Gama, when he arrived from the sea route to India was received in the Royal Palace (the King’s residence in the Castle).

In 1580, Portugal was integrated into the Spanish Crown and the Castle gained a military profile. New changes whose aim was to adapt the space to the brand new needs were conducted. The Royal Palace moved from the Castle to the Ribeira Palace, right next to the Tagus River, and the Castle started to serve a military role.

With the 1755 Lisbon earthquake, there was a need to erect new building over the ruins.

Right now, by visiting the Castle, you can see patios, sentry-houses, pits and 11 towers from which these are highlighted:

  • Menagem (Tower of the Keep): the most important and robust one and thus the main command post;
  • Tombo (or Ulisses; Tower of Riches): it started as the royal treasure and then it became the royal archives;
  • Paço (Tower of the Palace): the closest to the site of the Royal Palace, where 2 lions were kept. Later on, it hosted the Royal Archives as well;
  • Cisterna (Tower of the Cistern): where the water tank was located;
  • São Lourenço (Tower of St. Lawrence): a site connected to the outside. In case of siege, it ensured the possibility of escape or a location through which the needed goods could be received.

When visiting the Castle, one can have a rest in its viewpoint and gardens, or seizing the opportunity to attend the permanent exhibit or Câmara Obscura (Dark Chamber). You can also have a drink at Café do Castelo or have lunch at the Restaurant Casa do Leão. Its name is related to the fact that it’s located on the site where the lions, which arrived from Africa, were kept. I recommend the visit. It’s a perfect place to see the great city of Lisbon.

The authorship of the photo included in this article belongs to Anita, The Flight Attendant. I’m deeply grateful for having accepted my invitation. 🙂