If I was asked to name one European country that is vastly underrated in terms of natural beauty, I would definitely have to say Portugal.
Portugal is a country that seemingly has everything a holidaymaker, tourist, sun-seeker, or travel lover like me, could ever want. It’s got amazing countryside, glorious beaches, hot sunshine, rustic towns, modern cities, a rich and storied history, plus it’s home to one of my favourite tipples – port.
If you’re familiar with my writing, you’ll know that I adore castles and can’t get enough of them. I’m thankfully not alone in my love of castles, which is why I spend so much time writing about them and recommending them to others.
If you’re thinking of booking your next holiday to Portugal, if you’re looking for fun-filled ways of passing the time, a trip to anyone of Portugal’s many castles comes very highly recommended by Moi.
Here’s a look at se7en of the most beautiful castles in Portugal.
Pena Palace is one of the most popular attractions in all of Portugal.
It is a palace that looks like something you’d find at Disney World.
This bright and vibrant colourful castle sits prominently on the top of a hill in Sintra and is actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site so that alone shows just how important it is.
This palace can be traced back to the Middle Ages, when a chapel which was dedicated to the Lady of Pena was created.
Over the years this would continue to grow and expand until it became a monastery, before yet more work was carried out to turn it into a castle.
This is not a subtly designed palace, it is decorated on the exterior with bright red, yellow, and blue colours.
Castle of the Moors
The next castle I have for you today is the Castle of the Moors.
This castle was constructed between the 8th and 9th centuries and is actually one of the very oldest preserved fortresses in all of the country.
Surrounded by a high wall and placed in the centre of a dense forest atop a hill, you can see why this castle was so difficult to attack.
The castle was built to last and to withstand long sieges. In fact, located within the grounds of the castle there was a reservoir with drinking water.
Despite being so useful, in the 15th century, the castle was abandoned and quickly fell into a state of decay and disrepair.
A visit to this castle is strongly recommended as it offers amazing views of the valleys and the Atlantic Ocean.
This next castle looks like something you’d expect to find in Game of Thrones, or a Tolkien fantasy epic.
Almourol Castle sits on its very own small island in the centre of the Tagus River.
Built from sandstone, this castle can be traced back to close to 2,000 years and despite being so old, it was been maintained incredibly well.
The castle has proved to be a focal point for controlling waterways located along the Tagus.
Incidentally, the castle gets its name from the Arabic word ‘Almorolan’ which translates to ‘high rock’. If you see the castle and where on the island it is positioned, you’ll get why this is.
Tomar Castle used to belong to the Knights Templar, making this a great castle to visit if you’ve an interest in history.
It also happens to be a convent, which was erected in the 12th century.
If you’re looking for a slightly unusual castle, perhaps one which was ground-breaking at the time of its construction, Tomar Castle is ideal. This is because it featured rounded towers, which were certainly not the norm back then.
The castle was built to help protect Portuguese land from invasion by the Arabs, and in the 13th Century the Knights Templar were actually forced from Europe.
Many years later, Tomar Castle became the home of King Manuel of Portugal.
This family-friendly castle is the perfect place for a day out with the family, just make sure to have your camera handy, as the castle is very photogenic and will look great on Instagram, or ‘The Gram’, as the kids say.
My next offering for you today is Belver Castle.
This castle was initially constructed to keep enemies away and stop them from accessing the River Tagus.
As a result of its rich military history which can be traced back to Medieval times, it is a firm favourite for people with a keen interest in military history.
From the outside, the castle doesn’t look very appealing and features a lot of discoloured greys and browns, but if you appreciate historic monuments in their natural glory, you certainly won’t mind this in the slightest.
Abrantes Castle was actually one of the very first key locations to feature in the reconquest of Portugal from the Moors. As a result of this, it is a very important historical site in the country of Portugal.
Again, from the outside, it isn’t much to look at, and it certainly doesn’t compare aesthetically to Pena Palace, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder and as this castle has played such a key part in Portugal’s natural history I’m willing to let a few missing bricks here and there slide.
Abrantes castle is well worth visiting, if not for the history then purely for the amazing views of the surrounding countryside instead.
And finally, last but by no means least, allow me to present to you, the castle of Evoramonte.
Evoramonte is an unusually shaped castle which features four cylindrical towers, blending the entire building into one seamless structure.
What’s especially interesting about Evoramonte Castle is the fact that it was the location for the signing of the Concession of Evoramonte, which brought to a close a period of civil war in the 18th century, which lasted almost six entire years.
When he reigned over the country, King Afonso Henriques was “demoted” to this castle in the summer as his summer residence.
He and his wife, Queen Mafalda of Savoy, enjoyed it here that much that they would often return to Evoramonte Castle when they needed a break. Not many people can say they have a second castle as a holiday home, so that’s certainly something to brag about, right?
If you’re a castle lover like me, you might want to check out these castles in Germany, France or the UK.
Until next time stay safe, stay curious and don’t stop wandering!