Castle of St. George, Lisbon, Portugal

The Castle of St George stands on the highest hilltop in the city of Lisbon. Due to its prominent defensive positioning the first wooden fortification was built on this site as far back as the 2nd century BC. In the 11th century the wooden structure was replaced with stone castle by the Moors. The castle was built as a defensive stronghold for the elite, the Moorish Governor’s palace was nearby and they city administrators lived in houses just outside the castle walls, which are still visible today. In 1147 Lisbon was conquered by Dom Afonso Henriques and he became the first king of Portugal. The Moorish structure was modified and changed to suit the desires of the king, his court, the bishop as well as the Royal Archives which were held in one of the castles many towers. The transformation of the castle was complete in the 13th century and became a beautiful palace chosen to receive Portuguese nobles and those from abroad. This was the golden age of the Castle and it was the main site for festivities and coronations from the 14th to the 16th century.

When Portugal became part of the Spanish Crown in 1580, the castle took on a stronger military significance. The castle was damaged during the earthquake of 1755 that rocked Lisbon, and many of the older medieval towers were engulfed by stronger military fortifications. By the 19th century much of the original castle had been covered by military buildings and weaponry.

Major Restoration work was carried out between 1938 and 1940 which uncovered many of the original buildings that had been hidden, and the castle was restored and opened to the public.

The Castle of St George is visible from any part of Lisbon and it was a destined I was bound to visit. I was not expecting it to capture my imagination as much as it did, but with its turrets and walkways, little stairs and fortifications I couldn’t help but watch the hours pass by in the shadow of this beautiful structure. I finished up my visit to The Castle of St. George as the sun set, sitting beside a cannon and overlooking the red rooftops of Lisbon, a truly special memory.

GPS: 38.71385, -9.13332

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