The best castles in Portugal

Castelo dos Mouros Sintra

Portugal's Castles and Fortresses: impressive monuments and witnesses of Portugal's rich history

Portugal's castles stand as timeless sentinels, deeply rooted in the nation's rich history. They first rose from the ashes of the Reconquista, the momentous north-to-south crusade to reclaim lands from Moorish rule, with each conquered territory finding protection behind the sturdy walls of its own fortress. Additionally, these imposing edifices served as formidable bulwarks along the storied border with Spain, safeguarding Portugal's sovereignty.

Each castle and fortress across this vibrant country is a distinct jewel, treasured for its historical significance and breathtaking beauty. A pilgrimage to these sites is a must for enthusiasts of history and heritage.

We've carefully selected the most stunning castles to help craft the itinerary of your dreams. While delving into the detailed history of each would turn our site into a tome, we instead offer a streamlined portal to these ancient marvels. Let our guide lead you to the heart of Portugal's legacy, where each castle awaits to unfurl its regal and storied past.

Navigating the map is easy! Just tap on the castle name that piques your interest, and voilà – a new window pops up with the castle's address. Want to get there without a fuss? Hit the red arrow, and you'll fire up Google Maps' navigation to steer you straight to your regal destination.

Castelo da Pena Sintra

The best castles of Portugal 

  1. Castle Melgaço
  2. Castelo de Valença
  3. Castelo de Vila Nova de Cerveira
  4. Forte da Lagarteira
  5. Forte Santiago da Barra
  6. Castle of Lindoso
  7. Castle of Póvoa de Lanhoso
  8. Guimarães Castle
  9. Forte de São João Baptista de Vila do Conde
  10. Forte de São Francisco Xavier
  11. Fortaleza de São João da Foz
  12. Castle of Santa Maria da Feira
  13. Castelo de Lamego
  14. Castle of Arnóia
  15. Montalegre Castle
  16. Castelo de Chaves
  17. Castle Monforte de Rio Livre
  18. Burganlage von Bragança
  19. Algoso's Castle
  20. Freixo's Castle
  21. Castelo e Vila Muralhada de Ansiães
  22. Castelo de Numão
  23. Castle of Penedono
  24. Castelo de Marialva
  25. Castle of Trancoso
  26. Schloss Montemor
  27. Castelo da Lousa
  28. Castle of Penela
  29. Castelo Rodrigo
  30. Castle Pinhel
  31. Castle of Almeida
  32. Castelo Mendo
  33. Castelo de Celorico da Beira
  34. Castelo de Linhares da Beira
  35. Castelo de Belmonte
  36. Sabugal Castle
  37. Sortelha Parish Council
  38. Castelo de Penamacor e Torre de Vigia
  39. Castle of Monsanto
  40. Castle Of Pombal
  41. Castelo de Leiria
  42. Castle of Ourem
  43. Castelo de Porto de Mós
  44. Castelo de Tomar
  45. Castle Torres Novas
  46. Forte de São Miguel Arcanjo
  47. Castle of Alcanede
  48. Castle of Óbidos
  49. Forte de Peniche
  50. Fortress of St. John the Baptist
  51. Burg von Torres Vedras
  52. Castelo dos Mouros
  53. Castelo de São Jorge
  54. Torre de Belém
  55. Forte de São Julião da Barra
  56. Forte de São Lourenço da Cabeça Seca / Farol do Bugio
  57. Castelo de Sesimbra
  58. Forte de Santiago de Sesimbra
  59. Pousada Castelo Palmela
  60. Forte de São Filipe
  61. Almourol Castle
  62. Castelo de Abrantes
  63. Castle of Belver
  64. Castle of Amieira do Tejo
  65. Castelo de Vide
  66. Castelo de Marvão
  67. Portalegre Castle
  68. Castle of Alegrete
  69. Crato Castle
  70. Castle of Alter do Chão
  71. Castelo Estremoz
  72. Castle of Arraiolos
  73. Castle of Evoramonte
  74. Castelo de Montemor-o-Novo
  75. Castle of Ouguela
  76. Castle of Campo Maior
  77. Elvas Castle
  78. Forte de Nossa Senhora da Graça
  79. Fortress Juromenha
  80. Castle of Vila Viçosa
  81. Castle of Alandroal
  82. Castelo de Viana do Alentejo
  83. Castelo de Portel
  84. Castelo Alvito
  85. Beja Castle
  86. Monsaraz Castle
  87. Castelo de Mourão
  88. Castle of Moura
  89. Castle of Noudar
  90. Castle of Serpa
  91. Castelo de Santiago do Cacém
  92. Porto Covo
  93. Forte de São Clemente
  94. Castelo da Vila de Castro Marim
  95. Castelo de Silves
  96. Castle of Lagos
  97. Fortaleza de Belixe
  98. Sagres Fortress

Historical background

 1. The Reconquista

Step into the pages of Portugal's thrilling chronicle with its majestic castles and fortresses, enduring symbols of a nation's resilience and identity.

The saga begins with the "Reconquista", a chapter of profound change. Over centuries, Christian forces meticulously reclaimed the Iberian Peninsula from Moorish dominion, etching a new destiny in the landscape with every victory. The narrative of Portugal unfolds with Afonso Henriques, later crowned King Afonso I, igniting the flame of autonomy  in the early 12th century—a defining moment birthing the independent Kingdom of Portugal.

The Reconquista was a laborious journey from the verdant north to the Algarve's sun-softened south. Through fierce skirmishes and pivotal engagements, a constellation of castles and fortifications arose, dotting the territory with bulwarks of power and faith. These structures were not just military strongholds; they were symbols of newfound hegemony, tangible affirmations of territory reclaimed.

As the 13th century dawned, the Reconquest narrative reached its denouement in the Algarve, with Portugal's present-day borders finally etched into the map of history.

Now, as silent sentinels of time, these castles and fortresses stand as architectural marvels and historical testimonies, offering a view through the window of time into the complex tapestry that is Portugal's past. For those who wander through these storied halls and ramparts, a profound connection to the rich tapestry of Portuguese history awaits.

 2. Portugal's fight for sovereignty against Spain  

The history of Portugal's fight for sovereignty against Spain is a tale of resilience and national identity. In the 16th century, following the Age of Discovery, Portugal experienced an era of wealth and power through its vast maritime empire. However, the death of King Sebastian at the Battle of Alcácer Quibir in 1578, and the subsequent crisis of succession, weakened the country. In 1580, claiming dynastic rights, King Philip II of Spain seized the opportunity to assert control over Portugal, leading to a 60-year Spanish dominion known as the Iberian Union.

The Portuguese, proud and fiercely independent, never fully accepted Spanish rule. This undercurrent of resistance culminated in the Restoration War, sparked in 1640 by a successful coup by Portuguese nobles. The subsequent conflict persisted until the Treaty of Lisbon in 1668, where Spain finally recognized Portugal's independence. Throughout this period, the struggle to safeguard Portugal's autonomy fueled a sense of national unity that would ultimately forge the country as a sovereign nation, distinct and separate from its neighbour.