Historic sites in Portugal

If you’re looking to explore Historic Sites in Portugal and the surrounding area then you can explore our interactive map above or navigate further by using the links below.

There’s a fantastic selection of  Historic Sites in Portugal and you can plan some great things to see on your trips by browsing our selection. Once you’ve explored the  Historic Sites in Portugal you can use our itinerary planner tool to plan out your trip and then print off a free pocket guidebook.

Our database of historic sites is growing all the time, but we may not cover them all. Remember, if you know of other  Historic Sites in Portugal, you can always add them to Trip Historic now by visiting our upload page.
 

Portugal: Site Index

Photo by Bosc d’Anjou (cc)

Ajuda National Palace

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

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Ajuda National Palace (Palacio Nacional da Ajuda) was the official residence of the Portuguese royal family from the reign of King Louis I (circa 1861) until 1910, when Portugal became a republic.

A neoclassical building with a lavish interior, Ajuda National Palace was built from 1802 after the devastating earthquake of 1755, in which the then royal residence - Ribeira Palace - was destroyed. At first, a wooden building was erected on the current site to temporarily house the royals, but this burnt down and was replaced by Ajuda National Palace.

Since 1968, Ajuda National Palace has been an art museum as well as a venue for official state functions. Guided tours are available.

The Ajuda Palace also features as one of our top tourist attractions in Portugal.

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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The Albufeira Municipal Archaeological Museum (Museu Municipal de Arqueologia de Albufeira) exhibits a small collection of artefacts relating to the history of the area dating from the prehistoric to the Roman, the Moorish up to the seventeenth century.

Photo by L-plate big cheese (cc)

Batalha Monastery

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

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Batalha Monastery is a stunningly ornate Gothic creation dating mostly to the reign of King Joao I. This king began building Batalha Monastery - the full name of which is Mosteiro Santa Maria da Vitória - in thanks to the Virgin Mary for victory at the battle of Aljubarrota in 1385. King Joao and his family would also be buried here.

Successive kings such as Duarte and Manuel I continued to add to Batalha Monastery, making their mark on this important structure. Blending a rich history with impressive architecture such as its vast vaulted ceilings, Batalha Monastery is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site and also features as one of our top 10 tourist attractions in Portugal.

Photo by M@rg (cc)

Belem Tower

Belem Tower is an imposing UNESCO-listed medieval tower on the bank of the River Tagus in Lisbon.

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Belem Tower (Torre de Belem) 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.

The Belem Tower also features as one of our top ten tourist attractions in Portugal.

Bussaco Battlefield

Bussaco Battlefield was the site of a victory by Wellington during the Peninsular War.

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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.

Photo by Vic Lic (cc)

Carmo Convent

Carmo Convent is a part-ruined medieval convent in Lisbon now used as an archaeological museum.

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Carmo Convent (Convento do Carmo) 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.

Photo by Historvius

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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Almourol Castle was built in the 12th century, on an islet in the middle of the Tagus River, as part of the defensive line held by the Knights Templar during the Portuguese Reconquista.

Although the site of Almourol Castle had been used as a fortification since at least Roman times the castle that stands today was primarily built under the Knights Templar, who began construction in 1171 AD. Subsequent excavations at the site have found evidence of this earlier Roman occupation, including the foundations of the Roman structure built here.

After the dissolution of the Templar Order in 1312 AD the castle was largely abandoned, particularly as the military situation in the area had changed meaning Almourol Castle was no longer of crucial strategic importance.

It was not until the Romanticist movement of the 19th century gathered pace that the castle became the subject of scrutiny once again, and it was largely restored at this time. Further restoration work took place in the mid-20th century.

Today the castle’s distinctive location and Templar architecture has led to Almourol becoming a popular attraction and a noted symbol of the Reconquest. Small wonder then that it's one of our picks for Portugal's top 10 visitor attractions.

Contributed by nmac

Photo by Morgaine (cc)

Castelo dos Mouros

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

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Castelo dos Mouros (Castle of the Moors) is a picturesque ruined castle overlooking Sintra in Portugal. Believed to have originally been built by the Moors in around the eighth century - hence the name - Castelo dos Mouros was attacked several times until it was finally taken by King Afonso Henriques in 1147.

However, much of the building of Castelo dos Mouros seen today does not date back to these early turbulent times. Left to decay for several hundreds of years, it was only in the nineteenth century that Castelo dos Mouros was restored and a big proportion of the current site formed part of this project. Having said this, there are still several signs of the former Moorish inhabitants, including an old cistern.

Amongst its attractions, Castelo dos Mouros is also home to the ruin of a medieval chapel. This fascinating site also features as one of our top ten tourist attractions of Portugal.

Photo by xornalcerto (cc)

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

Whilst mainly a Roman site, it is thought that Cerro da Vila was inhabited until the eleventh century. As such, the museum at Cerro da Vila exhibits not just Roman, but also medieval finds, including Visigoth and Moorish pieces.

Photo by jlrsousa (cc)

Citania de Briteiros

Citania de Briteiros is a Portuguese archaeological site containing the ruins of an ancient settlement.

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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.

Conimbriga

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

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Conimbriga is probably Portugal’s best-preserved Ancient Roman archaeological site, although it has a history stretching back to the Iron Age. In fact, while the Romans arrived at Conimbriga in the late first century BC, the settlement had been inhabited since the ninth century BC.

Whilst almost certainly not the biggest of Portugal’s Roman cities (although it is yet to all be excavated), Conimbriga thrived under the Romans, the results of which can be seen in its ruins. It was only when Conimbriga was attacked in the fifth century that the Romans abandoned the area.

Things to see at Conimbriga include the remains of houses and public buildings, some quite impressive walls, a road, public baths including their heating systems and some mosaics. There’s also a small museum of finds.

For a sneak peek, the Conimbriga website has a fun virtual tour of the site. Conimbriga also features as one of our best visitor attractions in Portugal.

Photo by Meanest Indian (cc)

Convent of the Capuchos

The Convent of the Capuchos is an historical convent in the mountains of Sintra.

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The Convent of the Capuchos, also called the Convent of the Frairs Minor Capuchin, is a 16th century convent which is characterized by its extremely humble infrastructures. It is part of the Sintra Cultural Landscape World Heritage Site.

Built in the 16th century in an isolated area of Sintra, the convent was home to a small number of Franciscan monks and was comprised of extremely small living quarters and communal areas. Nevertheless over time it became an important religious site, attracting patronage and visits from kings, nobles and travellers from many countries. By the early nineteenth century the convent was very well known and boasted a number of impressive artworks and frescoes.

However, life at the Convent was forever altered in 1834, with the dissolution of the religious orders in Portugal. Following this the site fell into a state of disuse and ruin and suffered greatly through the decades that followed. Despite restoration in the mid-20th century further damage was incurred as recently as 1998 when several artefacts and works of art were stolen.

Today, the Convent has once again been restored and is now part of the Sintra Parks organisation. Visitors can explore the grounds as well as the cramped living quarters and small chapels and prayer halls. Guided tours are also available.

Faro Archaeological Museum

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

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Faro Archaeological Museum, also known as the Municipal Museum or Museu Municipal de Faro, has a collection of artefacts ranging from the prehistoric to the medieval including the Moorish.

Most of the collection at the Faro Archaeological Museum is Roman and includes tombstones, mosaics and other pieces found in the region. In addition to these exhibits, Faro Archaeological Museum also has seventeenth and eighteenth century Italian paintings, mostly of a religious nature. This theme is particularly fitting given the location of the museum in the cloisters of Nossa Senhora da Assuncao (Or Lady of the Assumption), a sixteenth century convent.

Photo by Glen Bowman (cc)

Faro Cathedral

Faro Cathedral was first built sometime after the area reverted from Muslim to Christian rule in 1249.

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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.

Photo by Habladorcito (cc)

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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Fortaleza de Sagres (Fortress of Sagres) is closely connected with the history of one of Portugal’s most famous figures, Infante D. Henrique or Prince Henry the Navigator. It was Henry who built Fortaleza de Sagres in the fifteenth century as well as his famous nearby school of navigators.

In the eighteenth century, Fortaleza de Sagres underwent renovations, the results of which can be seen today. Amongst the things to see at Fortaleza de Sagres are its barracks and related buildings and its famous wind compass.

Photo by tacoekkel (cc)

Jeronimos Monastery

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

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The Jeronimos Monastery (Mosteiro dos Jeronimos), also known as the Monastery of the Hieronymites, is an iconic sixteenth century monastery in Lisbon.

Designated a UNESCO World Heritage site together with the nearby Tower of Belem, the Jeronimos Monastery is one of the great symbols of a period known as the Age of Discovery. In particular, when it was begun in 1502 under the orders of King Manuel I, the Jeronimos Monastery was to be built in honour of the successful voyage to India of celebrated Portuguese explorer Vasco Da Gama.

Da Gama and King Manuel are both now buried at the Jeronimos Monastery, along with other prominent figures.

In addition to its ornate exterior and stunning Manueline architecture, visitors to the Jeronimos Monastery can also visit the museums to which it is now home, including the National Archaeological Museum and the Maritime Museum. Small wonder then that it's one of our picks for Portugal's top visitor attractions.

 

Photo by Matt From London (cc)

Lisbon Cathedral

Lisbon Cathedral is one of the city’s oldest structures.

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Lisbon Cathedral (Se de Lisboa) 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.

The cathedral’s fourteenth century cloisters contain some interesting pieces as well as being home to inscriptions and tombs.

Photo by cubby_t_bear (cc)

Lisbon Maritime Museum

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

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The Lisbon Maritime Museum (Museu da Marinha) has an interesting collection of historical naval displays and artefacts.

From eighteenth century royal ceremonial barges to an adornment from the ship of famed Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama, the 17,000 pieces of the Lisbon Maritime Museum offer an insight into Portugal’s impressive maritime history.

Lisbon National Archaeology Museum

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

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The Lisbon National Archaeology Museum (Museu Nacional de Arqueologia) contains a range of artefacts, from the prehistoric to the Visigoth, the Roman to the Medieval.

Some of the highlights of the Lisbon National Archaeology Museum are its Roman mosaics and its Egyptian antiquities. It’s worth noting that the stunning building in which the National Archaeology Museum is located is the UNESCO-listed Jeronimos Monastery.

Photo by Kyle Taylor (cc)

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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The Lisbon National Pantheon (Panteao Nacional) is a pretty domed church and the burial site of many of Portugal’s most prominent figures, ranging from Presidents of the Republic to artists.

Whilst a sixteenth century church was previously located on this site, the current building of the Lisbon National Pantheon was begun in the seventeenth century, and only completed in the twentieth century.

Photo by Adam Jones (cc)

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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The Lisbon Roman Theatre Museum (Museu do Teatro Romano) encloses the ancient theatre of Lisbon as well as exhibits and finds from the excavations of city’s first century AD Roman Theatre.

Whilst not very large, the Lisbon Roman Theatre Museum is modern and bright. The main attractions are the remains of the theatre itself as well as the columns and sculptures uncovered at the archaeological site.

Lisbon’s Roman Theatre is thought to have been built during the time of Augustus and to have been rebuilt or renovated under Nero in around 57 AD, in accordance with an inscription found there in the eighteenth century. At its peak it was probably able to hold around 5,000 spectators.

Abandoned in the fourth century AD and covered by the rubble of the 1755 earthquake, it wasn’t until the 1960’s that proper excavations of the Roman Theatre of Lisbon began.

Photo by Bruce Tuten (cc)

Mirobriga

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

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

Believed to date back to the first century AD, the remains of Mirobriga are quite extensive, well preserved and include a forum and the country’s only surviving Hippodrome - once the site of fierce chariot races.

Just some of the things to see at Mirobriga are its sewerage system, impressive baths complexes and Roman bridge. There’s also a small visitor centre.

Paderne Castle

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

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Paderne Castle (Castelo de Paderne) was originally built as a Moorish stronghold during the period of the Almohad dynasty. While Paderne Castle dates back to the eleventh and twelfth centuries, the site on which it was constructed has a history which may stretch as far back as Roman times.

In 1248, Paderne Castle was taken from the Moors by the forces of Dom Paio Peres Correia, a commander in the armies of Portuguese King Afonso III.

Now a picturesque reddish-brown ruin, Paderne Castle is one of the seven castles shown on the Portuguese flag.

Photo by leoplus (cc)

Pena National Palace

The Pena National Palace is a picturesque romanticist palace in Portugal, set among 500 acres of beautifully maintained parkland and gardens.

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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.

Although the site of Pena had been in use for several hundred years – as a church and then an important monastery – it was not until the 19th century that the area was transformed into the palace we see today.

It was King Ferdinand II of Portugal who undertook the construction of the Palace at Pena, with works beginning in 1838. The palace was built in a grand romantic style by Prussian architect and engineer Baron Wilhelm Ludwig von Eschwege. Preserving some of the existing structures and developing the entire site around them, the new palace was a grand fusion of Bavarian, Manueline Gothic and Moorish architecture and became one of the most prominent romanticist buildings of its time.

Today the Pena National 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. Small wonder then that it's one of our picks for Portugal's best tourist attractions.

Pousada Convento Vila Vicosa

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

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The Convento do Chagas de Cristo was built in the 16th century by the fourth Duke of Braganza adjacent to his marble-clad Ducal Palace in Vila Vicosa. Today this historic and beautiful building has been restored and houses a hotel. 

Roman Ruins of Milreu

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

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The Roman Ruins of Milreu (Ruinas Romanas de Milreu) are an important Portuguese archaeological site in the Algarve housing remains dating from the first to the sixth centuries AD.

A luxurious manor house turned thriving farm in the third century, the Roman Ruins of Milreu are quite extensive and include agricultural buildings, a temple and a baths complex  - with several of the original rooms - as well as several well-preserved mosaics.

Photo by CorreiaPM (cc)

Roman Ruins of Troia

The ruins of the ancient Troia in Portugal contain the remains of an important Roman trading centre known for its production of the popular Roman fish-based sauce Garum.

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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.

Probably built in the first half of the 1st century AD, Troia was known for its production and trade in the popular Roman fish-based sauce Garum as well as for producing salted fish. It is likely that the settlement remained active until the 5th or 6th centuries AD, when the upheaval of the Germanic invasions changed the political and cultural destiny of the region.

Today visitors to the Roman ruins of Troia 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.

Roman Temple of Evora

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

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The Roman Temple of Evora was an impressive Roman monument which dates back to the second - maybe even the first - century AD and is now a pretty ruin.

Often known as the Temple of Diana (Templo de Diana), The Roman Temple of Evora has been attributed to this Roman deity as well as to the Emperor Augustus and to Jupiter.

Whatever the original use of this now-picturesque ruin, the Roman Temple of Evora is one of the most important sites in this UNESCO-listed city centre. It is comprised of several Corinthian columns rising out of a large base.

Sao Cucufate Roman Villa

Sao Cucufate Roman Villa is a two-storey ruin in Portugal dating mostly to the fourth century AD.

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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 name "Sao Cucufate" derives from the medieval monastery that was built here at a later date.

The ruins of the Sao Cucufate Roman Villa 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.

Silves Archaeological Museum

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

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Silves Archaeological Museum (Museu Municipal de Arqueologia de Silves) offers an insight into the history of Silves and its surrounding area, with a collection spanning from prehistory to the seventeenth century. This collection is divided into four main sections, namely the prehistoric, Roman, Moorish and the Portuguese periods.

The building in which Silves Archaeological Museum is located is also of interest, having been a nineteenth century home and the site where a Moorish water reservoir was uncovered. Visitors can see this today.

Photo by Historvius

Silves Castle

Silves Castle is an imposing Moorish stronghold.

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Silves Castle (Castelo de Silves) is an imposing Moorish stronghold which defended this once thriving Moorish settlement in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Following the re-conquest by Christian forces in 1242, Silves Castle was altered and renovated, this work continuing throughout the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.

Today, Silves Castle is a great remnant of what would have been a powerful Moorish settlement. There are some remains of the buildings which were once housed within the walls of Silves Castle and of the Roman fortification on which it was built, mostly in the form of excavated foundations which visitors can wander around. A couple of cisterns from these periods also remain. However, the highlights of Silves Castle are its well preserved defensive walls, turrets and gates.

Silves Castle also features as one of our top visitor attractions in Portugal.

Main image by graphiclunarkid (cc).

Silves Cathedral

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

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Silves Cathedral (Se Catedral de Silves) was founded under the rule of Afonso III. Although Silves had been a bishopric since 1189, following the Christian conquest from the Moors, Silves Cathedral was only built in the thirteenth century.

Over the next few centuries, Silves Cathedral would become the seat of 26 bishops before losing its status of bishopric to Faro in the sixteenth century. Today, this mostly gothic building, with its range of other architectural influences is open to the public.

Visitors to Silves Cathedral can see the tombs of several regional figures, including the medieval administrators of Silves. King Joao II was once also buried here and, while his remains have now been moved, his stone tomb still viewable.

St George’s Castle

St George’s Castle in Lisbon is a medieval castle which once served as a royal palace.

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

Historical research has shown that the hill on which St George’s Castle sits was inhabited as early as the sixth century BC, with the first fortifications dating back to the second century BC. This hill was of military importance to a number of peoples, including Lisbon’s indigenous Celtic and Iberian tribes as well as the Romans, the Visigoths and the Moors.

The earliest mentions of St George’s Castle date back to the eleventh century, when Arab geographers mention it defending the ‘quasabah’ or ‘fortress’. In 1147, St George’s Castle was conquered from the Moors by Portugal’s first king, Afonso Henriques helped by crusaders as part of the Seige of Lisbon.

In 1255, when Lisbon became the capital city, St George’s Castle served as the royal palace and was later renovated by King Dinis I. The castle was dedicated to Saint George by King João I in the fourteenth century. However, St George’s Castle began to lose its stature in the sixteenth century, when King Manuel I built the Ribeira Palace, particularly when St George’s Castle was damaged by earthquakes in 1531 and 1755 and never properly rebuilt.

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.

St George’s Castle also features as one of our top tourist attractions of Portugal.

Vimeiro Monument

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

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The Vimeiro Monument is an obelisk in the town of Vimeiro in Portugal which commemorates the Battle of Vimeiro, fought between British-Portuguese forces under the (future) Duke of Wellington and French forces.

This battle took place on 21 August 1808, just days after the Battle of Roliça in which the French were defeated. It formed part of the Peninsular War.

The Battle of Vimeiro marked another victory for the British and culminated in the controversial Sintra Convention, whereby the French were allowed to leave Portugal.