Islamic Fortifications in Portugal

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Silves Castle

Located in the ancient capital of Al-Gharb Al-Andalus (today’s Algarve), Silves Castle retains its red-coloured brick walls. The old city centre, called Almedina, was surrounded by a defensive wall and several fortified towers and gates, these are still preserved for visitors to see today.

Loulé Castle

Loulé Castle is a small fortified and prosperous almedina, belonging to the Taifa of Niebla since 1023 AD, under the command of Ibn Mafom. Of the Almohad structure, built in the early 13th century, the entire northern section of the castle still stands, with it’s ‘albarrana’ tower (Torre da Vela) as well as some other sections of the village wall built in taipa.

Paderne Castle

Paderne Castle has an unusual feature of Almohad military architecture that would also be copied by Christian castle builders: an albarrana tower, which project from the walls allowing defenders to make flanking fire, and connected by removable wooden bridges. The advantage of this feature is that if the tower was captured the castle itself would not be compromised.

Sintra Castle

Also known as Castle of the ‘Moors’, Sintra Castle is an example of the evolution from the ‘Hisn’ to the Caliphal fortifications. Built on an impregnable mountain, it defended the settlement, rather than just a military outpost.

Mértola Castle

Like many other castles in Portugal, Mértola Castle was first a Roman structure and then an Islamic fortification. It was almost completely rebuilt from 1144 to 1151 when it became the capital of a Taifa kingdom with the same name.

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Alcácer do Sal Castle

Alcácer do Sal Castle, standing at the shore of Sado river, originally a stone structure from Roman origin, resettled as an ‘Hisn’ during the early Islamic period. In the 12th century Almohads enlarged it’s walls and built new towers with ‘taipa’ material.

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Alandroal Castle

Alandroal Castle, deep in the Alentejo region, built at the end of 13th Century, after the end of Reconquista in Portugal, but whose architect and stonemason was a local Muslim, called Galvo, who drew a fortification with a clear Moorish influence.

Walls of Elvas

The Walls of Elvas are two Islamic sets of walls dating from the 8th and 12th centuries. Many stretches of these walls and the towers still remain, as it was restored in the 1370s with Gothic additions.

Walls of Lisbon

Known locally as the Cerca Velha, the Walls of Lisbon started out as a late-Roman construction in the 3rd century AD. They were successively reinforced during the Islamic period. Most of the walls still stands as seen in many of the buildings in the historic neighbourhoods of Alfama and Castelo.

Walls of Faro

Rebuilt at the end of the 12th century on top of a previous Roman wall. The Walls of Faro have an ‘elbow’ door and polyhedron towers, both of which are typical features of architecture in the Almohad period.

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Aljezur Castle

Aljezur Castle is an Islamic fortress built on a strategic hilltop that has been occupied since at least the Bronze Age. Muslims settled in the area during the 10th century, but it was not until the 12th century that the Almohads developed the castle substantially, to defend Silves agains the Christians.

Juromenha Castle

Dominating a crossing point at Guadiana River near Badajoz, Juromenha Castle was built as a watch-tower outpost during the Caliphate period. Later in the mid 12th century it was developed into a fortress by the Almohads.

Cacela Castle

Much of the Cacela Castle is a modern structure built in the 18th century. Of the original Muslim wall, which was roughly oval in plan and built with pebbles, some sections can still be seen in the northern and eastern sectors of the village centre.