Historic Sites in Portugal

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There's a host of top Historic Sites in Portugal to visit and among the very best are Belem Tower, St George’s Castle and Pena National Palace. Other popular sites tend to include Lisbon Cathedral, Roman Ruins of Troia and Vimeiro Monument.

We’ve put together an experts guide to Portuguese cultural locations, landmarks and monuments, with our top ten places to visit as well as a full list of Historic Sites in Portugal, which shouldn’t be ignored if you have the time.

What are the best Historic Sites in Portugal?

1. Belem Tower

Belem Tower is an imposing medieval defensive tower on the bank of the River Tagus in Lisbon and a symbol of the Age of Discovery. Built between 1514 and 1520, Belem Tower is sometimes known as The Tower of St Vincent as its construction celebrated the expedition to India of Vasco da Gama, the famous Portuguese explorer. 

Now a UNESCO World Heritage site together with the Jeronimos Monastery, Belem Tower is a beautiful mix of sturdy fortifications and intricate detail. Built during the reign of King Manuel, it is considered one of the best examples of the architecture of its time, known as the Manueline style. However, it also includes distinctive Moorish features such as ornately decorated turrets.

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2. St George’s Castle

St George’s Castle in Lisbon is a medieval citadel resting high atop one of the city’s highest hills overlooking the Tagus River.

Today, people mostly visit St George’s Castle for its beautiful views across Lisbon on Ulysses Tower. The Castle does have some exhibitions, including a multimedia presentation of the city’s history and a space for temporary exhibitions as well as a handful of courtyards and battlements to explore. Also visible are the remnants of an old Moorish wall, which was reconstructed by the King Ferdinand I in the 1370’s.

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3. Pena National Palace

The Pena National Palace is one of the most expressive specimens of 19th century romanticism in the world. This whimsical multi-coloured creation, sitting high on a peak among swirling mists, is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Sintra's Cultural Landscape.

The Palace is open to visitors and combines an almost fairy-tale-like exterior with ornate and remarkable décor. And if the palace itself was not draw enough, the beautifully maintained park includes an array of gardens, grottoes, ponds and fountains with statues and sculptures dotted amongst them.

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4. Lisbon Cathedral

Lisbon Cathedral is one of the city’s oldest structures. Built in the mid-twelfth century, Lisbon Cathedral was constructed after Christian crusaders led by King Afonso Henriques had retaken the city from the Moors. 

Originally built in a Romanesque style, Lisbon Cathedral has since undergone a series of reconstructions and renovations, not least due to damage caused by earthquakes. As a result, today, this imposing fortress-like structure also has elements of other styles, particularly Baroque.

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5. Roman Ruins of Troia

The ruins of the Roman settlement of Troia in Portugal contain the remains of an important trading centre that grew into a small residential settlement.

Visitors to the ruins of can explore the large fish-salting complex, a set of Roman baths, an ancient mausoleum and cemetery and the remains of the residential areas of the settlement. The site also boasts an early Christian basilica, though this can only be visited on guided tours. There is an informative visitor track around the ruins which is dotted with explanatory panels.

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6. Faro Cathedral

Faro Cathedral or "Se" was first built atop the site of a Roman forum turned mosque sometime after the area reverted from Muslim to Christian rule in 1249. Since then, Faro Cathedral has suffered damage and destruction both in the form of attacks and natural disasters, such as the devastating earthquake of 1755.

Today, with its mix of Renaissance and Baroque influences, Faro Cathedral offers the visitor mostly artistic delights, especially its seventeenth and eighteenth century tiling and gold leaf decoration.

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7. Bussaco Battlefield

Bussaco Battlefield in Portugal was the site of a British-Portuguese victory against the French during the Peninsular War.

The Battle of Bussaco took place on 27 September 1810 and the allies were led by the Duke of Wellington. Visitors can see the headquarters of the French Marshal André Masséna and also visit the nearby military museum.

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8. Sao Cucufate Roman Villa

Sao Cucufate Roman Villa, also known as Villa Aulica, in Portugal dates back as far as the first century AD, although most of what can be seen there today dates to the fourth century. At this time, the Sao Cucufate Roman Villa may have operated as a farmhouse.

The ruins are quite impressive and distinctive, even rising up to a second storey. Visitors can also see the remains of the hot and cold baths situated within the villa complex.

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9. Carmo Convent

Carmo Convent is a part-ruined medieval convent in Lisbon now used as an archaeological museum. Built in 1389, Carmo Convent was the work of Nuno Ãlvares Pereira, an important figure in Portuguese military history - including in the victory at the Battle of Aljubarrota - turned member of the Carmelite Order.

In 1755, Carmo Convent was devastated by an earthquake and its picturesque ruins are now open to the public. The convent is also now home to the Museu Arqueologico do Carmo, with its collection ranging from prehistoric to medieval artefacts.

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10. Citania de Briteiros

Citania de Briteiros is a Portuguese archaeological site containing the ruins of an ancient settlement. In fact, dating back to the second century BC, Citania de Briteiros was home to a people known as part of the castro culture, named as such because the high areas on which they settled where known as "castros".

Today, visitors can see the remains of Citania de Briteiros Iron Age hillfort, circular homes and a cremation furnace. There’s also a small exhibition of excavated finds.

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Full list of Historic Sites in Portugal

Beyond the most famous Portuguese cultural locations, landmarks and monuments, there’s many similar places to visit, including Faro Cathedral, Bussaco Battlefield and Sao Cucufate Roman Villa to name but a few. We’re constantly expanding this list of Historic Sites in Portugal and you can view the current selection below.

Ajuda National Palace

Ajuda National Palace was once the official residence of the Portuguese royal family.

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Albufeira Municipal Archaeological Museum

The Albufeira Municipal Archaeological Museum exhibits a collection of artefacts relating to the history of the area.

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Batalha Monastery

Batalha Monastery is a stunning Gothic creation originally built to celebrate a famous military victory.

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Castelo de Almourol

The Castle of Almourol is a medieval castle built by the Knights Templar on an islet in the Tagus River.

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Castelo dos Mouros

Castelo dos Mouros is a picturesque ruined castle with a history dating back to the eighth century.

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Cerro da Vila

Cerro da Vila is an Ancient Roman site housing the remains of a second or third century villa complex.

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Conimbriga

Conimbriga is probably Portugal’s best-preserved Ancient Roman archaeological site.

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Convent of the Capuchos

The Convent of the Capuchos is an historical convent in the mountains of Sintra, known for its extremely humble living quarters.

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Faro Archaeological Museum

Faro Archaeological Museum has a collection of artefacts including prehistoric, Roman, Moorish and medieval pieces.

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Fortaleza de Sagres

Fortaleza de Sagres is closely connected with one of Portugal’s most famous figures, Prince Henry the Navigator.

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Jeronimos Monastery

The Jeronimos Monastery is an iconic sixteenth century monastery in Lisbon.

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Lisbon Maritime Museum

The Lisbon Maritime Museum has an interesting collection of historical naval displays and artefacts.

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Lisbon National Archaeology Museum

The Lisbon National Archaeology Museum contains a range of artefacts, from the prehistoric to the Medieval.

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Lisbon National Pantheon

The Lisbon National Pantheon is a pretty domed church and the burial site of many of Portugal’s most prominent figures.

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Lisbon Roman Theatre Museum

The Lisbon Roman Theatre Museum exhibits finds from the excavations of Lisbon’s first century AD Roman Theatre.

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Mirobriga

Mirobriga was once a thriving Roman town, the ruins of which can now be seen in Portugal.

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Paderne Castle

Paderne Castle was a Moorish stronghold later taken by the forces of King Afonso III.

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Pousada Convento Vila Vicosa

Pousada Convento Vila Vicosa is a 16th century convent turned hotel.

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Roman Ruins of Milreu

The Roman Ruins of Milreu are an important Portuguese archaeological site in the Algarve.

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Roman Temple of Evora

The Roman Temple of Evora was an impressive Roman monument and is now a pretty ruin.

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Silves Archaeological Museum

Silves Archaeological Museum offers an insight into the history of Silves and its surrounding area.

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Silves Castle

Silves Castle is an imposing Moorish stronghold.

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Silves Cathedral

Silves Cathedral is a gothic structure dating back to the thirteenth century.

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Vimeiro Monument

The Vimeiro Monument commemorates the Battle of Vimeiro of 1808 during the Peninsular War.

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Our database of Historic Sites in Portugal is growing all the time, but we may not cover them all. So, if you know of other Portuguese cultural locations, landmarks and monuments, you can always add them to Trip Historic now by contacting us today.