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Wednesday, 15 May 2013
The Castelo dos Mouros (Moorish Castle) in Sintra, Portugal
This national monument lies near to the town of Sintra, west of Lisbon. The heavily wooded area is a National Park and is very beautiful, with the trees growing on and around huge granite boulders. The area around the castle is so special that it is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Castelo dos Mouros is a castle begun in the ninth century by the Moors, the Muslim rulers of the area at the time. It was modified by later Christian occupiers after 1147 AD, having passed backwards and forwards between Moors and Christians until then. It was also altered by King Fernando II in the 19th century. There isn't much of the associated buildings left, but the castle is very beautiful even so, with the forest that surrounds it now also filling it's courtyards.
The photos below shows the castle keep, where the Alcaide would live (the castle governor during the Muslim period).
Another national monument, the palace of Pena, sits on the next hill and so both can be visited in a day.
An adult ticket for both in high season costs 17 euros. However, there isn't much in the way of disabled access.
You might also need a good head for heights in parts of both the castle and the palace!
When we visited, the castle was in the middle of a large project to restore and improve it, including the building of a visitors centre. Once the large metal mast nearby has gone, it should look good, I think. The holes in the ground next to it are the cisterns, where water stores were kept in case of a siege.